Finding Our Own Voice: The Quest for Authentic Conversion

International Bulletin of Missionary Research, July 2005 | Go to article overview

Finding Our Own Voice: The Quest for Authentic Conversion


Charles Forman is to be thanked for his masterful overview of theological developments in the Pacific Islands, a part of the world too seldom mentioned in this journal. His title, "Finding Our Own Voice," aptly reflects a ubiquitous and quintessentially human quest that manifests itself at all levels of life--individual, community, ethnic group, and nation--and across the spectrum of languages, societies, and religions. This quest is implicit in several of the articles in this issue of the IBMR.

To be spoken for implies a degree of powerlessness on the part of those who are represented by the voice of another. This incapacity may issue from intrinsic reasons having to do with one's degree of maturity, mental development, or medical condition; or it may be the result of extrinsic conditions that foster and perpetuate marginalization, rendering certain individuals and groups voiceless.

Representation does not always reflect the wishes of those represented and sometimes is brutally imposed, as with colonies and possessions of empires. Those on whose behalf the powerful voice of domination is raised are obliged to sit mutely by while others explain what is "really" on their minds. In other cases, socially amplified voices represent or misrepresent others in matters pertaining to the Ultimate and the innermost. Theologians speak for God, bishops speak for dioceses, clergy speak for congregations, and missionaries speak for converts.

Anatoliy M. Ablazhei's article, translated by David Collins, illustrates ways in which a people can be rendered voiceless through the well-intentioned actions of missionaries. Through his careful study of the religious worldview of the indigenous population of the northern Ob', in western Siberia, Ablazhei reminds us that while the Christian Gospel should be good news for all peoples, regardless of their cultures, destructive forces are unleashed when insensitive outsiders too quickly presume to represent God within a complex cultural and linguistic milieu that they neither adequately comprehend nor fully appreciate. Such ignorance has at times issued in the evisceration of indigenous cultures through the agency of Western boarding schools for the young. Years spent on the Procrustean bed of Eurocentric education inevitably spawn sterile hybrid cultures whose indigenous memories and traditions have been obliterated or so denigrated as to no longer serve as trustworthy guides to life. The indigenous cultures having been exorcised, the inrush of an incoherent concoction of values and orientations has produced miserably dysfunctional communities whose condition is worse now than before the "Good News" arrived.

Yet, as Jennifer Trafton reminds us in her article on Samuel Fairbank, missionaries often got things right. It was the adaptation of the kirttan (an indigenous style of teaching and singing) to Christian purposes in the mid-nineteenth century that most compellingly and effectively communicated the Gospel to the people of Wadale, India, resulting in what today is a socially vibrant and predominantly Christian region. The story of Fairbank's agricultural work is a sober rebuke to doctrinaire insistence on Rufus Anderson's "self-supporting churches" ideal, whatever the cultural and economic circumstances of a people. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Finding Our Own Voice: The Quest for Authentic Conversion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.