TOWARD A POST-COLONIAL BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
Abraham Kupyer gave the Church a beautiful model for understanding the biblical worldview: a Creation-Rebellion-Rescue-Recreation paradigm. As the Western Church re-thinks how She should approach global missions in the 21st Century, She should use Kuypers paradigm to construct a post-colonial biblical worldview of global missions.
Through Creation, we see a creative God who pronounced His Creation good. While only two Humans are depicted in the Creation narrative, the sheer diversity of Beings within the created order, from fungus to maple tree and swan to whale, suggests Humanity would not escape the diversely, creative hand of Elohim, either. In fact, anyone can sense that tribal and national diversity are embedded within the very blueprint of the Human structure. Asian expressions of life are different from African expressions. European cultures differ from South American societies. Even within continents there are varying ways in which people live and breath through history. This embedded diversity within the fabric of Humanity exists within the Body of Christ, too. Rather than shun differing expressions, the Western Church should celebrate the variety of created Humanity within the Global Church. A post-colonial worldview of global missions begins with an embedded diversity in the Created Order. It begins by affirming and celebrating the Otherness found in Humanity and recognizes that this diversity is derived from the Triune Creator God who is Himself diverse in Persons, though one in essence. Traditionally, the West began with itself as the arbiter of what was good and proper, rather than Creation; Western global missions has assumed the primacy of the West resulting in excessive confidence, rather than starting with and appreciating the variety of Humanity in Creation. This must change if we are to restore the effects of rebellion within Creation and share His redemption.
While the Genesis narrative explains how we find our Being in the Creator God, it also explains why the world is so broken and disrupted. Though they were created to exist in an eternal relationship defined by mutual love with their Creator, free Humans chose to rebel instead. That rebellion plunged all of Creation into brokenness, resulting in what French lay theologian Jacques Ellul called, “The Great Rupture.” Primarily, our relationship with God ruptured, but our relationships with each other have, too. Not only do we not love God as we ought, we do not love other Humans as we were originally designed. Even though we were made for each other, made to live together and created to find our meaning and purpose not simply in ourselves but in one another, we find doing so is incredibly difficult.
Thus, almost every generation in every part of the globe has experienced for itself a Crusade, the Conquistadors, Trails of Tears, Holocaust, Rwanda, and Darfur; on every part of the globe The Great Rupture is evident in broken, oppressed Human relationships between tribes and nations. Additionally, Creation itself is broken, resulting in famine, massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and drought. No part of Creation’s original shalom has not been disrupted. As Paul writes, every corner and crevice of Creation groans in anticipation of Rescue. Thankfully, the Creator launched the greatest rescue operation known to man; through the death of God’s Son Jesus Christ, the consequences of Rebellion and evil powers are conquered and God’s rescue operation for the whole cosmos can be unrolled and put into dramatic operation.
Despite the Human Rebellion against the Creator, all was not without hope. For even at the beginning the Father intended to Rescue His Creation by sending His Son to restore Humans to relationship with Himself and the Other, while eventually restoring all Creation. Jesus is the Rescuer, the Victorious Obedient Substitute, who through His Redemptive Act rescues and restores Creation in this way: Through His Life, Jesus obeyed God perfectly after the First Adam did not, while demonstrating how we are to live as Humans; through His Death, Jesus paid the final penalty to God for Rebellion on behalf of all Humans through a final sacrifice, thus restoring Humans to relationship with God; through His Resurrection, Jesus defeated the Dark Powers to liberate all Humanity from Satan’s control and free us from the bondage of Evil and Sin. Through this Rescue operation, the Creator intended to Rescue and eventually Restore all of Humanity. Thus, in coming to Earth, Jesus intended to redeem all of Humanity through His Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension; His Redemptive Act is sufficient for all Humans and effective for everyone who will eventually embrace Jesus as Lord. And a post-colonial worldview of missions will realize that God is truly global and Jesus’ Redemptive Act is also global, allowing people from all tribes to bow before Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord.
Furthermore, this Rescuer incarnated Himself as a Human among Humans; God the Son dwelt among us by embedding Himself in the world as a real Human. Like Jesus, the Western Church must embed Herself within particular global cultures by incarnationally living, eating, and working closely with its surrounding community to build strong links between Christians and not-yet-Christians. And like the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Western Church is called to bringing the full weight of the identity and mission of the Church as a community of adopted Sons and Daughters to bear upon global cultures in order to articulate the gospel and ethical implications of the Kingdom of God. While the identity and mission of the Church is as a discipling community, the Body of Christ is also an eschatological community that embodies the good news of Jesus Christ and Reign of God within particular contexts, just like Jesus. And as the Church we are called to join in with God’s Act of Recreation now.
The final ‘act’ of God’s Story and a post-colonial biblical worldview of global missions is Recreation. Through Jesus Christ, God is making all things new, a Recreation that began with Jesus’ announcement of the in-breaking of the Reign of God and continued with the commissioning and establishment of the Church. Just as God set apart a group of people (Israel) to be a blessing to the world around it by testifying to the one true God, He chose the Church to bear prophetic witness to the salvation and restoration found in the Reign of God through Christ; by way of choosing, calling and sending a particular people to be the bearer of blessing for all, God is uniting the whole cosmos through his plan of shalom restoration. A post-colonial worldview of missions will be centered on the articulation of the moral and ethical truths of this Reign to all nations by using it’s prophetic voice, while also influencing the tribes of the world in such a way that they pattern their lives and lifestyle after Jesus, to cause the nations to be pupils and disciples of the Son of God. As an eschatological community, the Church represents the values, authority and Way of the Reign of God by giving a foretaste of God’s ultimate act of Recreation while pointing people toward this better way of being Human and living together on Earth. Through a post-colonial worldview, Western global missions will truly be this community for the entire world, for the glory of God.
A post-colonial worldview of missions, then, affirms and celebrates the diversity of Creation in Humanity and the Other, grieves over the oppression and fractured relationships between and within the nations, embraces a furious love of God that extends to all tribes through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and lives embedded within these tribes as an eschatological community that offers Life in Jesus and represents the values, authority and Way of the Reign of God, giving a foretaste of what is to come. Because God is global, not simply Western, the Body of Christ must be global. And a worldview of global missions in an era of globalization must embrace and celebrate the Otherness of Creation by being post-colonial. Consequently, a post-colonial posture toward global missions will affect how the Western Church does both theology and missions.