countercultural (a missiology for the west)

September 22, 2008

(This post is part of a series reflecting on David Bosch’s six distinctives for a missiology of Western culture. See the introductory post for a little background.)

a mission to the West must be countercultural, though not in an escapist way

I wasn’t planning on spreading the posts in this series a week apart. But, maybe it’s providence, since we had some discussion last night that stirred some thinking for me on this topic.

A few years ago, I sat in one of my core classes at Mars Hill called Faith, Hope, and Love. The lecturer was Dan Allender, and the class served as the foundation for much of the theology (and therapy) that was taught there. In our first session, we watched a few clips from The Lion King that focused on interactions between Rafiki and Simba.

As we discussed the clips, the idea emerged that Rafiki was seen as a fool, yet his words had invited Simba to desire and hope. His folly was a subversive invitation to life. Dan went on to make the following comments (though he said them in the context of therapy, I think they hold true for the church as well):

The work of a therapist is to be a fool. In that foolishness is the breaking and transforming of paradigms. Rafiki has reframed reality and in that has told a deeper truth then what could be viewed as nominative truth. Yet, in play a therapist knows how to play with reality.

In the Old Testament, we see the prophets often acting in ways that seemed foolish to those who heard them…and even to us today. I wonder what it means to have a missional stance of a prophet toward our culture. Not as the angry prophet who denounces all, but as the fool — the voice that is engaged with culture in ways that sound insane, but invites us to abandon our destructive patterns in the pursuit of life.

Next post: ecumenical

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