Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship

Article excerpt

Abstract

Together towards Life (TTL) holds together a theology of the God of life and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit with the renewal and transformation that begins with a commitment to justice and peace at the margins and anticipates the eschatological vision of the renewal of the whole creation. The theme of the forthcoming World Mission Conference in 2017 in Arusha (Tanzania), "Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship," marks the intersection between TTL and the Busan call for the pilgrimage of justice and peace. The theme invites participants to advance reflection on the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit and the role of transformative communities moving together in hope of God's reign to come. The example of the World Council of Churches' work on a Theology of Life shows that choosing this direction has implications for the practices of doing theology and even the organisation of the forthcoming World Mission Conference. A fascinating task indeed!

Together towards Life and the pilgrimage of justice and peace

Confessing a belief in the triune God, Together towards Life (TTL) (1) warns against "the denial of life as a rejection of the God of life" and speaks of "Life in the Holy Spirit" as "the essence of mission, the core of why we do what we do and how we live our lives." (2) TTL

* points to the reversal of mission as mission from the margins,

* denounces the false faith in mammon as expressed by global market forces,

* calls for vibrant mission and evangelism proclaiming God's love and justice,

* affirms the need for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, and

* speaks of the church as inclusive community with the mission to announce the loving presence of God in the world and to bring new life.

This basis is further elaborated in four chapters, starting with reflections on the Spirit of Mission as ru'ach--the breath of life. It is indicative that reflections on transformative spirituality are part of this section because "authentic Christian witness is not only in what we do in mission, but how we live out our mission." (3) The section includes a thorough critique of neoliberalism as an ideology that leads to the destruction of the basis of life and pleads instead for an economy of life. The following paragraphs speak of transformation in the light of the cross and resurrection of Christ, repentance for the misuse of power and empowerment of the powerless, the promise of life in its fullness in solidarity, the surprising interventions of the Holy Spirit through people at the margins, and the anticipation of life in the Spirit.

It is impressive to see how TTL holds together a theology of the God of life and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit with the renewal and transformation that begins with a commitment to justice and peace among people at the margins and anticipates the eschatological vision of the renewal of the whole creation. TTL reminds us of

* the conversion of the individual, the holistic proclamation of the good news,

* the need for transformation of societies that got caught in a self-destructive spiral in the pursuit of economic growth,

* the search for just and sustainable alternatives building up the new life in justice and peace that is discernible in liminal spaces and communities at the margins, and

* the wide eschatological and cosmological horizon of Life in the Spirit, where all belong together and inform each other.

The theme of the forthcoming World Mission Conference in 2017 in Arusha (Tanzania), "Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship," provides the opportunity to advance this framework further. The emphasis on the Holy Spirit opens the horizon towards the life-giving presence of God beyond the churches. TTL has begun to explore what this implies for our understanding of life and creation and also for inter-faith relationships and cooperation. …

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