Vancouver School of Theology

Forming thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders for the church in the 21st century


SAH-TH6/724 – Imagining Mission: Critical and Constructive Studies

View outline (PDF)   Instructor(s): The Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Paul

The mission of the church in its many historical forms and current expressions is often imagined to be something it is not. It is sometimes idealized, with missionaries regarded as spiritual super-heroes and certain historic figures achieving legendary status. It is sometimes demonized, with missionaries vilified as religious agents of colonialism. Some see missions as a hallmark of Christian faithfulness, while others have said the whole enterprise is inappropriate in the midst of religious plurality and cultural diversity and should be abandoned. These differing views all have their reasons, but sweeping judgments do not provide an adequate account of a subject that is complex and multi-faceted, and may overlook important learnings that might be gained by a more nuanced evaluation.
The purpose of this course is both critical and constructive. It will evaluate Christian missionary practices, such as the Residential Schools in Canada for instance, with interest in what was done, the outcomes that can be observed, and the theologies that motivated, shaped, or were used to rationalize missionary practices. This critical work is not an end in itself, but a starting point for exploring historical, biblical, and theological resources that help to imagine the church’s mission as a creative and constructive engagement with the worlds’ many cultures and contexts in ways that are faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prerequisite: TH500

This course is available via Zoom technology for off-site students

Related Courses

TH500—Christian Theology 1

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