HOLISM or PRIORITISM The Good News for Who? Drawn From: Paradigms in Conflict by David Hesslegrave, 2005 Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott, 1975 QUESTIONS? • Are the poor a particular object of our Mission? – In what sense are we to “reach the poor”? – Who are the “poor” anyway? – Does salvation incorporate deliverance from oppression & poverty? QUESTIONS? • What is the relationship between preaching the gospel and reaching out to the poor? – Between offering the water of life, and giving a cup of cool water? – Between saving the soul and saving the body? Poor as a “god-term” • Assumed meaning – So important it governs assumptions & feelings • What does it mean to be “poor”? • What is the proper Christian response? – – – – Resolving the causations… Alleviating injustice / suffering… Determining West’s liability – to or for the poor… Intervening: social development or evangelization… Emerging Emphasis on “Poor” • Modern missions always ministered soul & body • Ecumenical missions shifted focus / priorities • Evangelicals readjusted focus in 1970’s Three Positions Regarding the Poor 1. Radical Liberationism • • 2. Marxist informed Salvation = deliverance from injustice & cultural transformation Holism • Dynamic partnership of socio-political action and gospel proclamation • • 3. Revisionist: evangelism and social action as equal partners Restrained: evangelism takes priority over social action Prioritism • Maintains sharp distinction between primary (spiritual) and secondary (social) missions VISUALIZATION “A” SPIRIT body health body mind mind SPIRIT educ soc. wealth VISUALIZATION “B” Spiritual transformation – Social transformation Spirit/Soul — Mind/Body Evangelism – Social Action VISUALIZATION “C” Liberation Holism Prioritism Theology Theology Theology Radical Revisionist Restrained Traditional The mission is to promote justice in society and establish Shalom on the earth. The mission is to minister to society and individuals without dichotomizing between the physical and spiritual or the body and the soul/spirit. The mission is to minister to society and individuals socially and spiritually while giving certain priority to evangelism. The mission is primarily to make disciples of all nations. Other Christian ministries are good but secondary and supportive. Alleged Inadequacies of Holism • Holistic “cradle” built of one fiber: – No Priorities! • Bough #1 -- Argument from reason – Christianity begins with absolute dichotomy between the Creator and his creation” • Bough #2 -- Argument from revelation – Misinterpretation of biblical motifs, obscuring biblical priorities regarding the mission of the Church Biblical Arguments (Hesselgrave) • Premise: – If we can prove “the poor” does not mean those in material need, we can legitimize a clear priority on spiritual over material ministries. • The Poor in the O.T. – Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy (Isa. 61:1-2) • Employs Hebrew term anao in “figurative” sense. • The Poor in the N.T. – Luke’s record of Messianic fulfillment (Lk. 4:18) • Employs Greek term ptochos in “metaphorical” sense Biblical Arguments (Hesselgrave) • Some Conclusions – A limited concept of “salvation”? • Platonic or Hebraic hermeneutic? – If salvation is the spirit alone, poor necessarily are poor in spirit alone. • Christ’s ministry not that dichotomized • John’s teaching in I John 3:17-19 • Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 25:31-46 A Holistic Theology of Salvation • Bible is Heilsgeschichte – salvation history – God’s continuing intervention into affairs of lost & suffering humanity to save • O.T. multiple deliverances • N.T. ministry of Jesus (Yeshua = God is salvation) – Our “mission” is to join Christ in his rescue mission • What all is mission depends largely on how broadly we interpret salvation A Holistic Theology of Salvation What Salvation is NOT • NOT principally psycho-physical health – Post WWII equation of salvation with wholeness/health – Salvation is used in NT to denote physical deliverance (sozo) – Central meaning of salvation in Christ is moral, not material – To overly blend the two realms generates missional confusion – To overly distinguish the two is to Westernize NT intention A Holistic Theology of Salvation What Salvation is NOT • NOT principally political-social liberation – Ecumenical trend in 1970’s toward a theology of liberation – Goal of mission: Establishment of new humanity, or shalom, or K.G. • Promoted by Gustavo Gutierrez (A Theology of Liberation, 1973) – Noble / proper missional pursuits – but not the essence of biblical salvation • Problem: Evangelism is replaced by social/political action A Holistic Theology of Salvation What Salvation is NOT • NOT principally about our bodies or societies – But neither does it disregard them – God is greatly concerned for our bodies and our societies – One day, both body and society will be redeemed – Godly love compels us to labor meanwhile in both spheres • Lausanne Covenant (par. 5) A Holistic Theology of Salvation What Salvation IS • Freedom (liberation): past, present and future – Past: • Freedom from judgment for sonship – Present: • Freedom from self for service – Future: • Freedom from decay for glory Four Proclaimed “Confident” Conclusions • The Christian gospel is both true and good news • The Good News is first and foremost spiritual salvation of sinners • Christian missionary is primarily about proclaiming gospel to the most spiritually poor/lost • Missionaries do best when they prioritize ministry to the most spiritually receptive The Wesleyan Tradition in Missions • Historically – Began in very holistic spirit of John Wesley – Reacted to social gospel / ecumenical liberalism – Recent resurgence of holistic approach • Current Vision Statement (WGM) – World Gospel Mission will minister through preaching, teaching and healing ministries. World Gospel Mission will assist in forming culturally relevant congregations comprised of maturing disciples of Jesus Christ who will evangelize and reproduce themselves within their own cultures and across cultural boundaries and call believers to the deeper work of God in the human heart of being cleansed from all sin and filled with the Holy Spirit by faith.