Missiology

James Butler, Harvey Kwiyani, and Cathy Ross

This article highlights key themes from history, current practice, and future directions in missiology. It traces the development of missiology as a discipline, highlighting some of the key voices, groups and movements along the way. It provides a brief overview of the history of missiology, noting voices and influences from the Majority World. The social, political, and religious changes of the twentieth century had a significant impact on missiology, and the article considers some of the missiological movements and organisations which emerged during that time. The issue of evangelism and social action in ecumenical councils receives particular attention. Contextualization and attitudes to culture are considered in some detail, and a critique is offered of some of the contemporary understandings of contextualization.

Various themes in missiology are explored, including liberation; the significance of women’s voices; the increasing importance of contextual theologies; the urgency of caring for creation; issues around land; and the emergence of Indigenous voices and theologies in each of these areas. Questions of ecclesiology are also discussed from a missional perspective.

The article concludes with some key questions for missiology. Colonial assumptions of mission are considered, arguing that in the non-Western world, mission and colonialism were two sides of the same coin of imperialism. Therefore, more recent missiological reflection from the Majority World is urgently needed to correct this. A non-Western approach to mission is considered via a brief study of missio Dei and the Bantu concept of ubuntu, which argues for a holistic approach to mission and careful stewardship of creation. Finally, the role of pneumatology in mission is highlighted, and an integrated understanding of divine and human action in mission is called for, based on participation in the work of the Spirit, which has sometimes been lacking in missiological reflection. The entire article is written with a commitment to listen to and learn from diverse and global voices. It considers mission from liberative, communal, and collaborative perspectives.

1 Introduction: what is missiology?

Missiology, or mission studies, is the study of the theory and practice of mission. It is interdisciplinary, and not only draws on but also interacts with other disciplines such as theology, history, social sciences, anthropology, and cultural studies. Missiology is wide-ranging as a discipline because it is about Christians’ engagement with the world and therefore needs to be aware of current concerns and issues.

It is vital that missiology is stimulated and fed by the practice of mission. The authors of this article are deeply aware of and impacted by the contexts and practice of mission. Each has worked in different global contexts and is engaged in teaching and learning from mission practitioners. Missiology needs close engagement with practice to enable it to remain grounded and rooted in current realities, otherwise it is in danger of becoming abstract and esoteric. By working as a group, the authors seek to model the collaboration necessary for missiology. Collaborating with others from other places enriches, challenges, and reveals unknown blind spots. This is why it is so important to engage with the global community when reflecting missiologically.

If missiology is the study of mission, the question arises: what exactly is mission? Mission is the longing to see all things renewed – human relationships with God, with our societies, with one another as well as with our environment and our species. It is the healing and redemption of all things under the lordship of Christ. This means that missiology is far reaching, and must be in tune with current trends and realities and able to read the signs of the times. It addresses many theological questions and issues which are considered urgent in the twenty-first century. Missiology is always done in a time and place, and is enriched through engagement with a broad array of perspectives: what you see depends on where you stand. At this period in the twenty-first century, missiology is responding to injustices and issues highlighted in movements such as #Metoo, #BlackLivesMatter, Extinction Rebellion, calls for decolonizing, and reparations for past atrocities such as enslavement and the slave trade. This involves missiological reflection on issues such as what it means to be saved, how to relate to other faiths, responding to migration, poverty, violence and war, climate change, and caring for our planet, species, and cosmos. Moreover, with a growing awareness of the impact of colonialism and white privilege, missiology will actively seek out Majority-World and Indigenous voices to explain, reflect, and challenge from their perspectives.

While mission is the Bible’s ‘grand narrative’ (Wright 2006), the challenge is to offer a missional hermeneutic that is contextually appropriate. Mission has been framed in various ways. In the twentieth century, South African missiologist David Bosch offered four historical paradigms (patristic, medieval, Reformation, and Enlightenment) embodied by four corresponding biblical texts (Bosch 1991: 339ff). He suggested John 3:16 as a biblical expression of the patristic understanding of mission, while Luke 14:23 with its element of compulsion in Jesus’ parable of the Great Banquet encapsulates the biblical understanding of mission during the medieval Roman Catholic period. He regarded Rom 1:16 as the missionary text for the Protestant Reformation. For the Enlightenment era, Bosch expands on four biblical texts, as he claims that mission was more diverse during this time:

  1. Acts 16:9 (Paul’s Macedonian vision), which appealed to Western Christians who believed that other nations and religions needed their help.
  2. Matthew 24:14, which resonated with the premillennialist understanding of mission.
  3. John 10:10, which the English priest, missionary to India, and missiologist Lesslie Newbigin stated was the verse that appealed to those who were more focused on a justice-oriented gospel with its emphasis on abundant life now.
  4. Matthew 28:18–20 (known as the Great Commission), the last words of Jesus to his disciples, the biblical text which was perhaps most widely appealed to concerning mission in this era.

Building on Bosch’s biblical work, there has been a growth in missional readings of the Bible and missional hermeneutics, exploring the Bible with a missional lens (Goheen 2016).

Bosch also developed thirteen different ‘emerging ecumenical missionary paradigms’ (1991) to frame mission with ‘mission as […]’. Twelve years later, North American theologians Stephen Bevans and Roger Schroeder identified further theologies of mission such as: mission as participation in the triune God; mission as liberating service of the reign of God; mission as proclamation of Jesus Christ as universal Saviour; and the most comprehensive category, mission as prophetic dialogue, which includes witness and proclamation, liturgy, prayer and contemplation, justice, peace, the integrity of creation, interreligious dialogue, inculturation, and reconciliation (Bevans and Schroeder 2004). Decolonial frameworks and Indigenous critiques which ‘reframe old constructs’ (Woodley 2022) are also being offered in contemporary missiology.

This article traces the development of missiology as a discipline highlighting some of the key voices, groups and movements along the way. It will focus on key themes around liberation, contextualization, and ecclesiology, before turning to ask questions and suggest key areas which the discipline needs to explore further. This will be done with a commitment to hear diverse and global voices, however, given the breadth of global mission reflection, the voices which can be included will always be a drop in the ocean, and the authors acknowledge their own need to listen, learn, and grow in their missiology.

2 The development of missiology as a discipline

2.1 A brief history

Trying to give a precise date to the advent of missiology as a discipline is tricky. If, as Christopher Wright argues, the Bible has a missiological focus, then missiology begins as soon as the people of God started reflecting on the nature of God. In the Western world, many believe that founders of Protestant and Roman Catholic missiology are Gustav Warneck (1834–1910) and Josef Schmidlin (1876–1944) respectively. Warneck was the first editor of the first scientific missionary journal the Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift in 1874. However, the Jesuit Jose de Acosta (1540–1600) was already thinking about mission 300 years earlier with his publication in Peru of Predicacion Del Evangelio en las Indias (Preaching the Gospel in the Indies, 1577). The University of Utrecht had a professor of missions from 1878. In 1867, a Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Bengal, Alexander Duff, was appointed to a chair of evangelistic theology at the Free Church of Scotland’s New College in Edinburgh. Theological reflection on mission has a long history.

In the nineteenth century, theology was being scrutinized and studied more rigorously and scientifically, especially in Germany, and this same approach was applied to the study of Christian mission. Those engaging in this missiology considered such questions as: what were the biblical and theological foundations of Christian mission? What were the best methods to employ to evangelize the non-Christian world? What hindrances might there be to the gospel and how to overcome them? The nineteenth century was also the high tide of the missionary movement, and of colonialism, with missionaries going all over the world, mainly from Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was also an important century for Orthodox mission, with a call from the Holy Synod in 1828 for missionaries to reverse a movement of eastern Russians who were leaving Christianity. Orthodox missionaries travelled to Alaska and also to East Asia.

This, however, represents a primarily Western and male perspective. Someone living in India might trace their Christian origins back to St Thomas the apostle. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the prophetess Kimpa Vita (1682–1706) might be considered one of the founders of the faith. In Malawi, one may look back to John Chilembwe. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the young girl Tarore (c.1824–1836) is now remembered as a Christian martyr. In Korea, one may think back to those early unnamed Bible women who so faithfully spread the gospel. This is not to overlook or ignore the contribution of the names and scholarship of those cited above, but it is to note that views of Christian and mission history can be limited, and sometimes dominated by a Western perspective. It is also important to remember that the main reason for the spread of Christianity is because of the practices and beliefs of many ordinary Christians typically operating below the radar and beyond the purview of academic missiology.

There have been huge developments in missiology since the nineteenth century. Probably the most significant was the introduction of the missio Dei (the mission of God) paradigm, foregrounded by David Bosch and now largely considered as the normative approach to mission. In this new frame, mission was seen as primarily an attribute of God, and God seen as a missionary God. Mission is seen as a movement from God to the world and the church participates in that mission. This understanding has gained widespread ecumenical consensus across nearly all denominations.

It is widely accepted in the Western world that the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910 was a key moment in the development of missiology and for modern ecumenism (Stanley 2009). The conference was intended to apply rigorous study and reflection to the practice of mission in the ‘field’. There were 1,215 delegates, of whom only nineteen were from the Majority World. Probably the most significant legacy of the conference in terms of missiology was the founding of an ecumenical journal, International Review of Missions. Initially there were contributions by Asians but none by Africans, just as there had been no Africans at the 1910 conference. The journal has remained ecumenical and is published by the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The social, political, and religious changes of the twentieth century had a significant impact on missiology. One way to tell this story is through noting some of the missiological movements and organizations which emerged during that time. For Protestants there have been two main streams: the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) and the Lausanne Movement. The CWME formed when the International Missionary Council merged with the WCC in 1961; the Lausanne Movement was founded by evangelicals in 1974, after growing tensions with what they saw as liberal theology in the WCC. For the Roman Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council was hugely influential for missiology when it described the church as ‘missionary by its very nature’ (AG2). More recent papal encyclicals, such as Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel, 2013) and Laudato Si’ (On Care for our Common Home, 2015), have deepened Roman Catholic missiology around evangelism and care for creation. The Orthodox church developed a strong incarnational theology of presence during this period. African Independent churches have flourished along with Pentecostal churches, all of whom have a strong focus on evangelism.

There have been movements which have sought to challenge the status quo by drawing in voices which has previously been marginalized. The Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) has sought to foster new models of theology which are relevant for peoples of the Third World to promote their struggle for liberation. Comprising of Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theologians, they have made significant contributions to the development of contextual theologies and missiology. They use and have kept the term ‘Third World’ prophetically, to express what they feel is their position in the world. A significant moment for EATWOT happened in New Delhi in 1981 – ‘the irruption within the irruption’ (Oduyoye 1994: 24), when women within EATWOT declared that they had had enough of being marginalized and unheard. Marianne Katoppo from Indonesia pleaded for inclusive language, and patriarchal perspectives were challenged. Since then, women have contributed much to EATWOT. The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, founded by Mercy Oduyoye from Ghana in 1989, has been an important forum for women of all religions in Africa. Its purpose is to undertake research, writing and publishing on African issues from women’s perspectives.

Along similar lines, in 2006 North American missiologist Dana Robert asked what the study of global Christianity would look like if scholars put women at the centre of their research (Robert 2006: 180). The invisibility of women’s voices and faces in missiology is well documented (Ross 2012: 361ff), and the significance of the role and agency of women in both mission practice and study is slowly being recovered. Women have typically been involved in mission in the areas of hospitality, service, teaching, healing, and evangelism, always in the context of relationship. Women’s service in mission has been overlooked, but this is gradually changing with the work of women missiologists such as Dana Roberts, Gemma Cruz, and Kwok-Pui Lan.

The decolonizing movement, and especially the emphasis on decolonizing the curriculum in education, is another key moment that has forced missiology to listen to voices outside the West. Missiologists from the Majority World are urged to shape their missiological conversation so that a diverse and multicultural perspective becomes ‘the new normal’ (Kwiyani 2020b: 13) in missiology. This is linked to the emerging category within missiology called ‘World Christianity’. The centre of gravity for Christianity is no longer in the West, and has not been for some decades, and so previously marginalized voices need to be heard. World Christianity explores and investigates Christian communities all around the world, the diversity of their expressions, and how they interact with one another. It is still concerned with those expressions that have been underrepresented or marginalized, which means mainly those outside Western Christianity, poor and marginalized communities everywhere, and the experiences of women and Indigenous communities. This has implications for the practice of mission and the need to tread gently when engaging in mission in those areas where the gospel has yet to take root: missiology must listen to the voices of local and Indigenous believers as they express their own values and beliefs in their own ways, and must acknowledge Indigenous believers as guardians of the gospel and theologies for their own contexts.

2.2 Evangelism and social action and mission in ecumenical councils

The development of the relationships between evangelism and social action has been a significant feature of twentieth and twenty-first century missiology, and it offers an example of the way missiology has developed through movements and councils. In the first half of the twentieth century there was a split in evangelicalism between conservative and liberals, with one of the key differences being their attitude to social reform. Conservatives claimed that liberals had abandoned the true gospel to turn to a ‘social gospel’ (Bebbington 1995: 211). Conservatives, in contrast, increasingly prioritized evangelism and personal salvation over social reform (Bosch 1991: 403–404). This continued, with the emphasis on missio Dei seen in some circles as further emphasis of the liberal abandonment of the gospel. The WCC assembly in Uppsala in 1968 is often held as evidence of such a move, building on Johannes Christiaan Hoekendijk’s work which prioritized God’s work in the world and downplayed the role of the church in mission (Hoekendijk 1967). Some named this a ‘secularized notion’ of the missio Dei, where the church pointed to God’s work in the world and little more (Bevans and Schroeder 2004: 291). This may be a slightly unfair assessment of Hoekendijk and Uppsala, and many of the same ideas are again being discussed in contemporary missiological circles (e.g. Barrett 2020).

At the same time as these developments, evangelicals were returning to social issues, partly influenced by wider trends in 1960s Europe and North America. In 1966, in Wheaton, Illinois, evangelical leaders produced the Wheaton Declaration affirming an evangelical commitment to social action. The 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization made an even clearer statement. While the likes of Ronald Sider (2015) and Billy Graham in the USA and John Stott in the UK were ready to affirm social action, it was the influence of the Latin American delegation, – particularly Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar – who pushed this agenda. They introduced the concept of misión integral (holistic or integral mission) which saw evangelism and social action as part of the same whole. Integral is also the word for wholemeal in Spanish, with Padilla and Escobar expressing how these things are a whole like in wholemeal flour (Padilla 2021). Similarly, they argued that discussing whether evangelism or social action was more important made as much sense as asking which wing of a plane was more important, the left or right. Their intervention led to a strong commitment from Lausanne on the integration of social action and evangelism, with the resulting Lausanne Covenant confessing its neglect in regarding ‘evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive’, and emphasizing salvation for the whole person (‘The Lausanne Covenant’ 1974). However, subtle changes followed, with western evangelicals continuing to emphasize evangelism over social action. The Lausanne movement would later describe how

social activity not only follows evangelism as its consequence and aim, and precedes it as its bridge, but also accompanies it as its partner. They are like the two blades of a pair of scissors or the two wings of a bird. (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization 1982)

While Padilla’s point was that distinguishing the role of the two wings made no sense, here they are seen as working in partnership. As Bosch points out: ‘The moment one regards mission as consisting of two separate components one has, in principle, conceded that each of the two has a life of its own. What is more, if one implies that the one is essential, the other is optional’ (1991: 405).

While some would contend that the issue of the relationship between social action and evangelism was put to bed by the work of Lausanne, the tension continues in both practice and missiology. The Lausanne Movement’s Manilla Manifesto describes how ‘evangelism is primary’ in relation to social responsibility, and the Cape Town Commitment from 2010 describes evangelism and social action as important parts of Christian duty but kept separate. Jesse Zink identifies something similar in the way the five marks of mission was introduced within the Anglican communion and the discussion which has followed. He identifies them as trying to overcome the evangelical divide of evangelism and social action, and notes that since this introduction the discussion has been about the order and priority of the different marks (Zink 2017). Other missiological documents offer some ways forward. The WCC’s second mission affirmation, Together Towards Life, sees the place of integration in the work of the Spirit and within the spirituality of Christians and churches (2012). Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium (2013) has a similarly integrated sense of evangelization, with evangelism and social action interwoven in all of life. As Padilla, Escobar, and others have argued, until an integrated vision is embraced, those approaches which assume evangelism and social action are separate entities that need to be brought together will continue to hold them artificially apart and continue to haunt missiology.

2.3 The focus on context and the question of assimilation

As discussed above, missiology must always be aware of its context. Contextualization as a word finds its origins in the WCC’s consultation of the Theological Education fund in Bossey, Switzerland, in 1971. However, rather than seeing contextualization as a new way of doing theology, it is perhaps better to see it as naming a feature which has always been present in theology, acknowledged or not. The turn to contextualization was a challenge to the assumption that the theology done in the West automatically had universal significance. Contextualization proposes that theology needs to be made sense of within each human culture. Theology also needed to be understood from within the culture, whether this was within a liberationist approach which began ‘from below’, in the lived experience of the oppressed, or in the inculturation approach done in relationship and in dialogue with local people, their cultures, and customs. Key texts around inculturation approaches include Robert J. Schreiter’s Constructing Local Theology (2015), Stephen Bevans’ Models of Contextual Theology (2002), and Gerald A. Arbuckle’s Culture, Inculturation and Theologians (2010). Insights from the discipline of anthropology also alerted both scholars and practitioners to the importance of understanding culture when engaging in mission (Hiebert 2009; Kraft 1997).

Bevans discusses six models of contextualization: translation, anthropological, praxis, synthetic, transcendental, and countercultural. He describes how each has a different theology of revelation, a different understanding of scripture, and a different approach to culture. To describe them he offers a series of horticultural analogies: is the gospel seed planted in native ground (translation), or is the seed of the gospel already in the ground and needs to be watered (anthropological)? Perhaps it is already growing but needs the weeds of distortion removed (praxis), or is it that the soil of culture needs thorough weeding and cultivation before it can be planted (counter cultural)? Maybe it is cross-pollination (synthetic), or even that a well-cultivated garden inspires others in other cultures to do something similar (transcendental). In naming these different analogies, some of the questions around contextualization and inculturation begin to come to light.

The first is about the soil, the culture. As Arbuckle argues, cultures were classically seen as somewhat discrete and fixed, whereas in reality culture is dynamic, complex, subject to hidden political, gender, or ideological assumptions, and impossible to observe objectively. Far from being discrete entities, cultures are increasingly overlapping, particularly in a globalizing world (Arbuckle 2010: 10). It must not be assumed that culture can be easily understood or categorized, and it certainly cannot be observed from a neutral perspective. All studies of culture take place from a particular cultural position, and the increasingly complex accounts of culture need to be included in the work of contextualization. The second question the turn to culture and contextualization raises is about how far one can go: at what point does contextualization become assimilation and syncretism? There is clearly a risk that practices of contextualization can end up sacralizing particular cultural practices or sociological trends. Each of Bevans’ models has different approaches to such questions, and, through their theologies of revelation and scripture, different ways to navigate such issues – if they see them as issues at all. Insider movements are an interesting case in point: can one be a Christian Buddhist, or is this a kind of syncretism which needs to be avoided? Many argue that there is an integrity to such a position, one which might make sense within an anthropological or synthetic approach to contextualization, but would be avoided in a translation or countercultural model (Talman and Travis 2015).

Contextualization came about as a direct challenge to the epistemological superiority given to western theology, but that does not mean that issues of Western superiority and universality do not continue to affect the approach. Even naming the gospel as a seed risks thinking that there is a universal essence which can be effectively imparted between cultures. In reality, what is identified as the gospel in a particular culture is itself already implicated and interwoven with culture, and whether it is possible or desirable to disentwine it from culture is an important question: is there a kernel of gospel and a husk of culture, or is it more like an onion, in that once you have peeled back every layer of context you have no gospel left?

African American theologian Willie James Jennings’ critique of Scottish mission historian Andrew Walls and Gambian missiologist Lamin Sanneh offers a cautionary warning about the work of contextualization. Walls and Sanneh both read the development of Christianity through a lens of translation, with Walls in particular basing this in Christology, through the incarnation (Walls 2009; Sanneh 1989). Jennings’ concern is that they do not read the development of Christianity within the wider changes taking place in the world, such as the changing approaches to empire, race, and land. He accuses Walls and Sanneh of having ‘imbibed a subtle form of supersessionalism’ which has ignored the way ‘Christians are, through Jesus Christ, brought into the story of Israel, which is indeed, God’s story’ (Jennings 2010b: 99–100). Another critique comes from Guyanan theologian Michael Jagessar, who highlights the one-sided nature of contextualization and conversion which still has underlying assumptions in eliding Christianity with white Western culture (Jagessar 2009). These and similar critiques are important and a continual challenge to missiologists, particularly those working in western contexts and paradigms, to allow their assumptions and biases to be challenged and checked.

Contextual theologies have tended to be seen as something exotic rather than integral to the theological task. In naming some different contextual theologies in the next section, it is important not to emphasize their otherness, but what they offer to the theological task in terms of constructive accounts, critique, and fresh formations of historical problems.

3 Themes in missiology

3.1 Liberation and Indigenous theologies in mission

Liberation in all its aspects is a key theme for the Christian faith. This means liberation from sin – both personal and systemic, so that healing, wholeness, and newness of life can be experienced for all peoples and all of creation. Liberation as a theological concept was renewed and expanded with the publication of Roman Catholic Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez’ seminal text A Theology of Liberation (1973). In this book Gutierrez opens up new ground in theological method and in what theology means. He writes about theology as wisdom and relational knowledge and that the role of theology is critical reflection on praxis. He gives an extensive analysis of the social and political realities in Latin America at that time and accuses the church of living as ‘a ghetto church’ (Gutierrez 1973: 101). He denounces poverty, calls for a new understanding of salvation, and for a spirituality of liberation which is to do justice, to see Christ in our neighbour, and to exercise a preferential option for the poor. His works have been hugely influential globally in restoring a belief that God cares for the poor and is a God of love and justice. They have also contributed to the idea that the work of theological reflection is to emerge out of the lived experience of ordinary Christians in their own contexts. This has sparked a new wave of contextual theologies emerging from different contexts all over the world. Black theologies developed out of the crucible of the civil rights movement in the United States and the apartheid era in South Africa (Cone 2014; Boesak 2015). Feminist theologies were birthed as women began to understand their own oppression, lack of voice, and absence of representation (Kwok Pui-Lan 2021). Womanist and Mujerista scholars have similarly offered important liberation critiques (Coleman 2008; Isasi-Diaz 2005). African theologies emerged as African countries began to expel their colonial masters and become independent (Orobator 2018; Magesa 2014). Asian theologies emerged in the many and varied contexts of Asia, many of which are concerned with how to live as a minority faith in their own contexts (Phan 2018). This turn to and awareness of local context has been enriching and challenging for theology and missiology. It means that missiology must be attentive to context, aware of the local issues and listening to and learning where God’s Spirit is at work. It also means that a rich diversity of views is emerging in missiology globally.

Perhaps the most marginalized and silenced of these voices have been the Indigenous peoples of the world. As they begin to come terms with their remarkably similar histories all around the world – of silencing, invisibility, forced assimilation, and forced removal from their lands – Māori missiologist Jay Mātenga from Aoteaora/New Zealand reminds us that ‘Indigenous theologies have been silenced by the dominant Industrial voice in the global church conversation until recently’ (Mātenga 2023). First Nations missiologist Richard Twiss writes of his deep disillusion of current missionary endeavours among First Nations people (Twiss 2015). Randy Woodley agrees, picking up language from liberation theology, claiming that mission to his people has been a ‘pedagogy of the oppressed’ and that ‘Christian mission has been, from the start of modern American history, a destructive and oppressing juggernaut among America’s Indigenous people and around the world’ (Woodley 2022: 37). However, Mātenga is hopeful that, with a decolonizing agenda, there may be more space for Indigenous voices and approaches to missiology to be heard.

Creation care and awareness of the climate crisis is a vital issue for contemporary missiology to respond to. The Anglican Communion realised this over thirty years ago, when it added the fifth mark of mission concerning creation care to the other four. The fifth mark of mission is: ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. These five marks of mission are widely accepted and used as a basis for mission throughout the Anglican Communion (Walls and Ross 2008). Many in the world are experiencing climate grief, eco-anxiety, and solastalgia (homesickness in a dying world) and there is a growing body of missiological literature and mission practice engaging with creation care. Indigenous voices have much to offer as missiology reassesses its relationships with creation. In an Indigenous worldview, everything is interconnected, and they seek to develop harmonious relations with all of humanity, creation, the cosmos, and the land. This is very different from a Western or industrial worldview which Mātenga describes as one of dislocation and fragmentation, and a worldview that accompanied consumerist, colonialist settlement. Rather than a resource provided by God for humanity, Indigenous communities see the world in much more relational terms. Jennings elaborates how the early missionaries brought a very different perspective on the land from Indigenous peoples:

[T]hey offered peoples a relationship with the world that was basically one dimensional – we interpret and manipulate the world as we see fit, taking from it what we need, and caring for it within the logics of making it more productive for us. (Jennings 2018: 33)

Tongan biblical scholar Jione Havea explains how the land is gendered, both male and female for island peoples in the South Pacific:

As mother, the land is the primary carer of us […] As father, the land connects us to those who have passed, to one another, to those who are to come, and to the circles of life around us. (Havea 2021: 6)

This relational and sustainable view of the land resonates with Pope Francis’ assertion that a preferential option for the poor also applies to our planet:

[W]e have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. (Pope Francis 2015: para. 49)

Over fifty years ago, CMS General Secretary John V. Taylor reflected on the importance of living simply and modelling a theology of enough. He wrote that a Western lifestyle is marked by ‘ruthless, unbridled, unthinking excess’ (Taylor 1975), and that Westerners need to develop an economics and theology of enough. His words were prescient then and apply even more today. He encouraged families to start living simply, to value people, and to practice hospitality. Hospitality has always been a key practice in mission, especially modelled by women, and has proved to be a generative metaphor for mission (Pohl 1999: 17).

3.2 Missiology and the church

Questions about what church looks like in different contexts and cultures, whether something is church, and the relationship between churches and mission all demonstrate the church’s increasingly contested nature. While the Reformation in the sixteenth century was an important time for ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, Finnish theologian Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen notes how it is in recent decades that ecclesiology has become a central concern of theology. He identifies modern ecumenism as the catalyst for this resurgence, and sees the rapid growth of Christianity outside the global north, and the rise of ‘Free Churches’, as key contributing factors (Kärkkäinen 2021). The nature and practice of the church has been a key point of discussion within missiology, as the implications of missio Dei have been worked through and questions around secularization, post colonialism, and post-Christian Europe have become increasingly pressing.

Even with this missio Dei conviction that mission comes before church, questions remain about the place and role of the church. Healy suggest that ecclesiology has often operated as a blueprint theology, where grand theological schema of church are produced but which have little connection to the lived practice of church (Healy 2000). Healy’s challenge was to take seriously the lived practices and the messy reality of church when approaching ecclesiology. In light of this, the remainder of this section will seek to highlight the way lived practice and experience has shaped mission ecclesiology.

Liberation theologies have sought to do theology from below, beginning with the experience of the oppressed. Roman Catholic Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff explored ecclesiology through the experience of Base Ecclesial Communities, small groups, often lay-led, which had sprung up in the barrios and favelas of Latin America as church communities of liberation (Boff 1994). Pentecostalism, similarly, has had a strong influence because of the way such churches are growing, particularly in the Global South. While more systematic approaches to Pentecostal ecclesiology are not as developed as in other traditions, their influence on mission and on ecclesiology cannot be denied. In thinking about mission and ecclesiology in the West, Lesslie Newbigin has been particularly influential. He brought his missiological perspective from his missionary work in India to help him to understand the Britain he returned to in the 1970s. His work was continued by the Missional Church Network through the work of scholars such as North Americans George Hunsberger (1998), Darrell Guder (1998), Craig Van Gelder, and Dwight Zscheile (2011), and Australians Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost (2013), who have sought to develop the ecclesiological insights from the missio Dei. Church planting has also had a big impact, which is explored in detail by Dutch missiologist Stefan Paas (2016). He is critical of many of the approaches to church planting, and advocates for an approach based on innovation and experimentation. This is at the heart of the Fresh Expressions movement, seeing new forms of church emerge in their context (Cray 2004; Moynagh 2012). In trying to make sense of these new churches, the idea of the mixed economy or mixed ecology has emerged, exploring how these different expressions of church operate together rather than compete with each other.

As stated in the introduction, it is practice which so often drives missiology and there are countless examples. The rise of the Alpha course from Holy Trinity Brompton was a form of evangelism, which grew rapidly from middle-class west London and now has a global impact, encouraging a ‘course’ approach to evangelism and shaping mission practice of churches all around the world (Booker and Ireland 2010). Practical theology and ethnographic approaches have seen practice influence missiology in countless ways, such as emerging practices of mission and church (Duerksen and Dyrness 2019; Bar 2021); a focus on disability has challenged practices around mission and justice (Raffety 2022; Conner 2018); and the turn to social action and social justice has also been a rich source of inspiration for mission (Morisy 2009; Ruddick 2020; Rich 2020). The rise in a social action and social justice agenda has shaped initiatives including the Jubilee 2000 project for debt relief (Pettifor 2006) and Micah Challenge (‘Micah Declaration on Integral Mission’ 2001). The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a focus on digital church, where most churches were forced to embrace digital technology to continue their mission and ministry. The internet and increasingly affordable technology offer opportunities to access church services in increasingly diverse ways, and open up new possibilities for mission. A key voice has been Heidi Campbell, an American sociologist who released one of the first texts on online religious communities (Campbell 2005). More recently, her edited volume shows the wealth of engagement in digital religion (Campbell and Tsuria 2021). There have been reflections on missio Dei in a digital age (Kurlberg and Phillips 2020) and online church continues to develop and change. Artificial Intelligence offers further challenges and possibilities for mission and church, and the influence of the digital on mission and missiology is only set to increase.

The wealth of engagement in this section on missiology and the church points to the diverse and exciting ways missiology has engaged with church and ecclesiology and the possibilities which continue to emerge. In a similar vein, missiology has begun to engage with and critique the colonial assumptions of both church and mission.

4 Key questions for missiology

4.1 Colonial assumptions of mission

Some scholars argue that Christian mission is irredeemably married to colonialism (Kwiyani 2020a; Stroope 2017). South African theologian Michael Stroope, and Ugandan bishop and activist Zac Niringiye, among others, suggest that even the word ‘mission’ is too contaminated to be useful today. This is a fair critique. Contemporary mission is a creature of European imagination (Kwiyani 2020a). It comes from the context of European Christendom of the fifteenth century, when Europeans began to travel across the seas to convert other people in Latin America, Africa, and Asia in order to extend the kingdom of God. The age of exploration (marked by the ‘voyages of discovery’) in which the two great maritime empires of the time, Portugal and Spain, sought to extend their powers over the seas, was accelerated by the fall of Constantinople in 1453. By the end of the fifteenth century, both Portugal and Spain had developed their maritime powers enough to explore seas beyond the Mediterranean. The Spanish, having employed an Italian sailor, Christopher Columbus, reached the West Indies in 1492. The Portuguese, under the leadership of Infante Dom Henrique (1394–1460), developed the capacity to reach India in 1498. In 1500, another Portuguese seafarer, Pedro Álvares Cabral, landed in Brazil, probably unintentionally, while attempting to follow Vasco da Gama to India. Willie James Jennings makes a direct connection between the first voyages and the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade (Jennings 2010b).

Reflecting on the colonial legacy of mission, English bishop and historian Stephen Neill observed that the Roman Catholic Church was deeply involved in the Age of Exploration (Neill 1966). Europe was Christendom, and the growing awareness of new peoples outside Europe had both economic and ecclesiastical potential. The people who lived in Latin America, Africa, and Asia would be converted to Christianity and come under the Catholic hierarchy and its related monarchies in Europe, including the Portuguese and the Spanish. The lands they occupied, and all their untapped resources, could not be left unexploited. Thus, the world was theirs for the taking, and the Popes blessed their endeavours. To legitimize the Portuguese and Spanish rights to convert and colonize any lands they explored, Catholic Popes issued several bulls between 1452 and 1493. In 1454, for example, Pope Nicholas V wrote a bull, Roman Pontifex, that gave the King of Portugal full rights to all present and future Portuguese possessions overseas, with the primary purpose of forbidding other Christian nations from infringing the King of Portugal’s rights of trade and colonization in these regions, particularly amid the Portuguese and Castilian competition for ascendancy over newly-discovered lands (Tomlins 2010: 101). It also effectively made the Portuguese king and his representatives the church’s direct agents of ecclesiastical administration and expansion (Stroope 2017).

In 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued a new bull, the Inter Caetera, which established four important principles: firstly, the church had the political and secular authority to grant Christian kings a form of title and ownership in the lands of infidels; secondly, European exploration and colonization was designed to exercise the church’s guardianship duties over all the earthly flock, including infidels; thirdly, Spain and Portugal held exclusive rights over other European Christian countries to explore and colonize the entire world; finally, the mere sighting and discovery of new lands by Spain or Portugal in their respective spheres of influence – and the symbolic possession of these lands by undertaking the rituals and formalities of possession, such as planting flags or leaving objects to prove their presence – were sufficient to create rights in these lands (Miller et al. 2010: 13).

These bulls set the tone for Europe’s engagement with the world (Kwiyani 2020a). Ethiopian scholar Mekdes Haddis adds that they were the basis for the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ – a set of laws that gave Christian governments in Europe the moral and legal right to seize lands they ‘discovered’, despite those lands already being populated by Indigenous peoples (Haddis 2022). Legitimized by the church and justified by what is now normally considered a misreading of scripture, the Doctrine of Discovery said any land could be considered empty and therefore free for the taking if inhabited by ‘heathens, pagans, and infidels’ (Augustine 2021: ch. 1). The doctrine was

the tool of empire – whose effectiveness depended upon a complex ontology of non-European human beings that simultaneously affirmed the humanity and subjectivity of Natives, albeit in diminished or infantilized way, and denied their humanity and objectified them as savages and beasts. (Green 2014: 82)

It gave the Christian monarchies of Portugal and Spain the right of conquest, sovereignty, and dominance over non-Christian peoples, along with their lands, territories, and resources.

As part of their mandate to ensure conversion to Christianity, Europeans nations could use any means, including the coercion, slavery, and extermination of those who resisted conquest and conversion. This drive to convert the peoples of the newly discovered lands was understood to be mission. As such, from the fifteenth century, ‘colonialism and mission, as a matter of course, were interdependent; the right to have colonies carried with it the duty to Christianize the colonized’ (Bosch 1991: 227). ‘Where there was a Portuguese presence, there was a church presence, and the church was by agreement under the supervision of the King of Portugal’ (Walls 2002: 93). To a great extent, in some places in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, colonialism was part of Christian mission, and mission was part of colonial conquest. Ogbu Kalu observes:

Christened as the quest for gold, glory, and God, the admixture of commerce, politics and religion at the root of the enterprise provided an indelible colouring and left a big question as to which was dominant. (Kalu 2006: 10)

The template of patterns of power, and power relations between the conqueror and the conquered, was formed at this time, creating ‘social hierarchies; economic, racial, and sexual inequality; economic and cultural dependency’ (Moraña, Dussel, and Jáuregui 2008: 9).

4.2 White supremacy and mission

Some key European philosophers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries provided the foundations for European exclusivism and supremacy over the rest of the world. This is evident in European thought about Africa at the time. Hegel (1770–1831) wrote that ‘[Black Africans] are to be regarded as a race of children who remain immersed in their state of uninterested naïveté’ (Hegel and Inwood 2007: 41–42). Emmanuel Kant (1724–1804) adds that ‘[t]he Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises above the ridiculous […] are stupid (because of being ‘black from head to foot’)’; and ‘vain and careless’ (2011: 61, 181). David Hume (1711–1776) wrote: ‘I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites’ (1963: 213–214). This dehumanizing of peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas by Europeans was an important strategic part of Europe’s interaction with the world and the spread of Christianity. For instance, it was used to justify the Trans-Atlantic trade of enslaved Africans which in turn produced great economic reward that built European and American cities.

The belief that white Europeans were superior to other ethnicities served to justify the sins of racism, slavery, and colonialism. It was because of this philosophy that the advent of Christianity also sought to advance Africans from being a ‘race of children’, steeped in animism, to actually become human like Europeans (see Hegel and Inwood 2007: 41–42). Edward B. Tylor (1832–1917), widely celebrated as the father of the discipline of anthropology, published his Primitive Culture in 1871, in which he claimed to have carried out a ‘systematic study of the religions of the lower races’ (Tylor 1993: ch. 11, also summarized in Lambek 2008). He understood animists to be persons who hold to ‘extreme spiritualistic views’ or ‘the general belief in spiritual beings’, which can intervene in the lives of human beings and in the natural world (Lambek 2008: 26). Later, he added: ‘Animism characterizes tribes very low in the scale of humanity’ (2008: 26). Essentially, animism was believed to be the religion of ‘savages’, which continued to evolve up until the age of ‘civilized men’ (2008: 26). Therefore, it would take colonialism to eradicate animism.

Because of the connection between mission and colonialism, Christian missionaries have been called the religious arm of the colonial empires, the ‘ideological shock troops for the colonial invasion whose zealotry had blinded them’ (Silverman 2005: 144), ‘the spiritual wing of secular imperialism’ (Afigbo et al. 1968), or even ‘imperialism at prayer’ (Sanneh 1989: 88). Just as the missionary enterprise was closely associated with the imperial expansion of the West, the word ‘missionary’ was also attached to this expansion effort and was often taken to imply ‘the earliest foot-soldiers of colonial empires’ (Darch 2009: 1) or even ‘colonial administrators’ (Beti 1971: 153). In a nutshell, to many in the non-Western world, mission and colonialism were two sides of the same coin of imperialism. However, more recent missiological reflection is rejecting this colonial worldview and drawing on insights from Majority World perspectives to enrich missiological understanding.

4.3 Missio Dei and Ubuntu: affirming a non-Western understanding of mission

New non-Western ways of discussing mission are emerging. In Africa, for example, a missiology informed by an Africanist philosophy of ubuntu offers not just a critique of Western missiologies but also points towards other ways of imagining mission. Theological and philosophical works – by such scholars as Malawians Harvey Sindima, Augustine Musopole, Kenyan Mwenda Ntarangwi, South Africans Desmond Tutu, Johannes Kritzinger, and others – have been drawn on to imagine what an umunthu-shaped missiology could look like. Umunthu is the Malawian word for ubuntu and, just like ubuntu, it means ‘personhood’ or ‘humanness’. To be a muntu – to have umunthu, or to have a spirit (as it is sometimes translated) – is to be at peace with oneself, God, the community around (which includes ancestors), and nature. Essentially then, to have umunthu is to be someone who humanizes others through the life-affirming acts of hospitality, inclusivity, generosity, and listening – acts that share one’s umunthu with others, thereby enlivening them. To dehumanize others is to exclude or oppress them, which only reflects one’s lack of umunthu and is equivalent to being a beast – chinyama or chirombo.

For Malawian Christians, then, an umunthu-shaped mission is primarily about humanizing others. Such a missiology stands on the belief that the Triune God, who is understood to be the Great Munthu, came to earth to restore human beings to their full humanity – their personhood, their umunthu. The culmination of this humanizing begins with regeneration whereby the Spirit (breath, Hebrew ruach and Greek pneuma) of God brings human spirits to life (Gen 2:7). Thus, the real munthu begins with salvation; the unregenerate munthu is only a shadow of the munthu that is made possible through Christ. The apostle Paul testified to this when he said: ‘We were once dead in our sins […] but God made us alive together with Christ’ (Eph 2:1–7). Peter added: ‘You were once not a people, but now you are the people of God’ (1 Pet 2:10 NIV). Mission, in this context, includes all that Christians do to humanize others which, in turn, can lead them to Christ. When the everyday acts of umunthu are supported by prayers and faith, they become anointed avenues through which God’s Spirit draws God’s people to God’s humanizing love. This humanizing principle of missio Dei extends the concept of salvation in Africa to include many ways in which life and personhood are shared. Many scholars have shown how salvation in Africa is more than the saving of the soul (Asamoah-Gyadu 2005). Salvation, in an umunthu-shaped missiology, must be holistic. The Greek word sozo which is translated as ‘salvation’ includes healing, deliverance, blessing, empowerment, liberation, feeding, clothing, etc. All of these are humanizing acts through which people can have the abundant life that Christ gave to humankind. In all of these acts, plus many others, Christian witness is made, and the gospel is proclaimed, often without words.

The implications of this interpretation of missio Dei are many and huge. For instance, by suggesting the possibility – or likelihood – of God’s mission manifesting itself in umunthu, mission can be articulated in theocentric terms (missio Dei) while also acknowledging the evangelist-hood of all believers. Every follower of Christ ought to be involved in mission, and God can use them anywhere, not just in church. In addition, it becomes possible to speak about a holistic mission that pays attention to the whole human being, not just the person’s soul. It also pays attention to nature, as any person with umunthu would do. Such missio Dei is rooted in healthy, loving, and humanizing relationships between Christians and the community in which they live and the nature that is their home. Missio Dei understood through umunthu encourages good stewardship of God’s creation, for to have umunthu is to be in harmony with God, the spirits, the community, and nature. The desertification of the land and the exploitation of the lakes are contrary to umunthu, and therefore also contrary to missio Dei. In this sense, missio Dei also leads to a Christian identification with people living in poverty and at the margins of society. Christian shepherds living by umunthu are generous people who take good care of their flock (including their lost sheep, and not only those members who contribute financially to their churches). Extortion for the sake of enriching themselves – a hallmark of prosperity gospel – is thievery and a sign of lacking umunthu. Of course, the Spirit plays a vital role in this also.

4.4 The role of pneumatology

Over the last century, pneumatology (the theology of the Holy Spirit) has become more prominent. It is therefore somewhat surprising that pneumatology remains underdeveloped within missiology, and, despite some notable exceptions, such as John V. Taylor and British missiologist Kirsteen Kim, there remains a lacuna in the pneumatological work in mission (Taylor 2021; 2008; Kim 2012b). Once again it is Pentecostalism and its strong emphasis on mission which places a pneumatological emphasis within mission practice, although it is interesting to note that Pentecostalism is often strongly christological in its missiology, with the Spirit’s emphasis being the empowering of the Christian through the gifts of the Spirit and the experience of the Spirit leading to conversion (Yong and Richie 2010). One reason for an under-emphasis on pneumatology in missiology may be due to the way that the Great Commission has continued to shape the imaginary of mission (Bosch 1991: 56–79). The focus on sending and making disciples continues to be dominant, particularly within evangelical and Pentecostal approaches. As discussed above, the focus on sending and disciple-making can exacerbate the tension between evangelism and social action, and tend to emphasize personal salvation against the more ecumenical emphasis on social transformation. English Anglican priest Andrew Lord, developing a Pentecostal mission ecclesiology, suggests that a missiology grounded in the work of the Spirit offers a way through this tension, where the Spirit is both universal and active as well as focused on the particular and personal (Lord 2005).

If mission is to be conceived as missio Dei, then, as Together Towards Life (TTL) alerts us to, the Holy Spirit and a spirituality of mission must be at the heart of missiology (Commission on World Mission and Evangelism 2012). According to Kim, who led the working group which put together this Ecumenical Affirmation, TTL promotes ‘renewed appreciation of the mission of the Spirit’ and ‘re–imagines the Church in the power of the Spirit as missional: that is, life-affirming and life-giving’ (Kim 2012a: 316). More recent discussion in the CWME has returned to more Christological language (e.g. discussion in Bevans 2018: 363–365), but Kim is clear that TTL has an integrated vision, emphasizing ‘Life with a capital L: not only biological existence but the life in all its fullness, or abundant life, that Jesus promises (Kim 2012a: 317; John 10:10).

As well as an emphasis on the Great Commission, a Western post-Enlightenment dualism may also be feeding into the discussion. In this dualism there is an assumed divide between material and spiritual, and one which has not been able to keep theological and spiritual things together in formal academic theology (Cocksworth 2018; McIntosh 1998). Malawian missiologist Harvey Kwiyani makes such a point, arguing that the holistic understanding of African diaspora approaches to mission, which begin with prayer and see prayer as integral to the work, offers an important corrective to western mission practice, overcoming the problem of the western ‘buffered self’ (Kwiyani 2019). Western approaches to missiology have been guilty of writing off global voices and global theologies as primitive or animist, but as critiques around the Enlightenment are increasingly taken seriously and discussions progress around integrated theologies, these global perspectives offer important points of integration and fresh perspectives, particularly on the work of the Spirit. As North American theologian Walter Wink has insisted, Pentecostal approaches which explore ‘the powers’ and the spirit world should not be seen as primitive mysticism, but as complex theological readings of ‘principalities and powers’; not something happening in a different, spiritual, realm, but a careful reading of the powers at work within politics, institutions, and public life (Wink 1993).

The book of Acts is seen as a primary text for Pentecostalism, one which has a lot to say if one is to truly develop a pneumatological account of the missio Dei. Jennings’ recent commentary offers important perspectives, writing as he does from a post-colonial perspective informed by and engaging with a careful reading of race and what Jennings terms ‘whiteness’. According to Jennings, whiteness ‘does not refer to people of European descent but to a way of being in the world’, a structure which has ordered society to predominantly benefit white people (2020: 9). ‘There is only one central character in this story of Acts. It is God, the Holy Spirit’, Jennings writes, and it has a dynamic of divine and human agency (2018: 2). It is this integrated understanding of divine and human action in mission, based on participation in the work of the Spirit, which is what makes Acts such a fruitful starting point and is what missiology greatly needs. What is needed is a missiology informed by a pneumatological reading of history, a trust in the work of the Spirit in the present, and a confidence in the eschatological future of the Spirit’s reconciling working in Christ.

5 Conclusion

This article has considered what missiology is and looked at its development since its inception. It has named some of the key scholars in its development, as well as highlighting the contested nature of the discipline with the roots of mission so often embedded in colonial expansion and empire. It has attempted to show that there can be various stories and narratives in how the history and development of missiology is framed, depending on where one is located. The brief survey of some of the important mission conferences, statements, and documents has allowed the writers to draw out some of the important issues over the last century in mission such as evangelism and social action. How one understood the relationship of these to each other has had a major impact on different streams of missiology and led to very different emphases in mission. The same can be noted in the different approaches to contextualization and inculturation. However, the growth in understanding that all theology is contextual has led to a greater appreciation of the nature of culture and how contextualization is fundamental to the theological task. This has also led to the birth of many contextual theologies around the world with the most recent being Indigenous theologies from First Nations peoples. This has helped missiology to be more attentive to the climate crisis and to creation care. Contextual approaches and other voices have also helped contemporary missiologists to become more alert to the injustices of empire and how missiology needs to break out of this framework, to name oppression, white supremacy, and other legacies of empire. Missiologists can then can work towards a more liberative, communal, and collaborative missiology. This is why missio Dei and the role of the Spirit are so important, as mission is God’s mission, inspired by the Spirit for the healing of all creation.

Attributions

Copyright James Butler ORCID logo, Harvey Kwiyani ORCID logo, Cathy Ross ORCID logo (CC BY-NC)

Bibliography

  • Further reading

    • Church Mission Society. [n.d.]. ‘Anvil Journal of Theology and Mission’, Anvil Journal of Theology and Mission. https://churchmissionsociety.org/anvil-journal-theology-and-mission/
    • Bevans, Stephen B. 2024. Community of Missionary Disciples: The Continuing Creation of the Church. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.
    • Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. 2004. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.
    • Escobar, Samuel. 2019. In Search of Christ in Latin America, from Colonial Image to Liberating Savior. Carlisle: Langham Global Library.
    • Jennings, Willie James. 2023. ‘Bampton Lectures 2023: Jesus and the Displaced: Christology and the Redemption of Habitation’, YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWCAltzb4KrORSI9r8KLs8AIlWEPNyryI
    • Kim, Kirsteen. 2012b. Joining in with the Spirit: Connecting World Church and Local Mission. London: SCM Press.
    • Kwiyani, Harvey C. 2021. Africa Bears Witness: Mission Theology and Praxis in the Twenty-First Century. Nairobi: Africa Theological Network Press.
    • Kwok Pui-Lan. 2021. Postcolonial Politics and Theology. Unraveling Empire for a Global World Louisville: John Knox Press.
    • Reddie, Anthony, and Carol Troupe (eds). 2023. Deconstructing Whiteness. Empire and Mission London: SCM.
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