What are some weaknesses in current missional thinking?
- Historical revisionism. Many missional authors make a far bigger deal out of our culture’s move to postmodernity than a sober biblical assessment warrants.
- Theological reductionism. Missional authors say that the church is a people, not an event. (But can’t it be a people constituted by an event?)They say that God’s mission was attractional in the Old Testament but is centrifugal and missional now. (But can’t God’s mission involve sending people into the world to gather a people together out of the world?)
- Ambiguity in their understanding of the gospel. When missional authors use the word “gospel,” it’s not always clear that they mean the good news about Jesus Christ’s atoning death and resurrection that paid for the sins of all who would believe in him. Missional authors often seem to use the word gospel to mean something broader, vaguer, more here-and-now, and less cross-centered.
- Their use of the term “incarnational.” While it gestures toward a biblical idea, missional authors’ use of the term “incarnational” sometimes obscures the uniqueness of the work of Christ and wrongly inflates our understanding of the church’s role in bringing in God’s kingdom.
- Equating ethnicity and worldviews. The Mandarin and Cantonese languages are morally neutral. Nihilism and materialism are not. But missional authors sometimes treat worldviews as if they are simply one more morally neutral feature of a culture.
- Anti–conversionism. Some missional writers are reluctant to talk about conversion as a one-time event, speaking instead of a journey. Why not both? This is combined with a reluctance to talk about the “inside” and “outside” of the faith or of the local church since they eschew anything which sounds remotely exclusivistic.