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Migration as a Theologizing Experience

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The Promise of Interculturality for Transformative Mission

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AbstractThe suggestion by Hanciles that migration is a “theologizing experience” is the starting point for exploring the way in which mission in a western context, in partnership with non-western migrants, can be a mutually transforming experience. Hanciles suggests that non-western migrant people bring a new paradigm of mission which is radically different from the way Western mission has been done in the past because it offers itself in weakness, risk, diversity, and dependency. However, theologically and experientially, migration brings with it many ambiguities and creative tensions, which means that Hanciles’ analysis may need to be more nuanced. In particular the notion that migrants are involved in a “reverse mission” to the West “from below” which characterizes the new paradigm has a number of problems in reality. This is explored particularly in a British context, in which we find that the contribution of migrants to mission, though sometimes encouraging, is varied, and that issues which have mired western mission in the past are re-appearing “in reverse”. It is therefore suggested that a mutual inter culturality between migrants and indigenous Western churches from the very beginning of the encounter may provide the promise of a more transformative mission experience. They have more in common than they realize: the irony is that the western church finds itself also in a situation of “exile”, though in a very different sense. Marginalized, alien to the secular culture, in decline, with their religious identity no longer “at home”, the Western Christian experience of exile resonates with the migrant experience of exile, which is ground for a genuine partnership in mission. It is concluded that mission as a theologizing experience can work for transformative mission where there is genuine interculturality, and that this could mitigate the problems of thinking of migrant mission purely in terms of “reverse mission”.

Affiliations: 1: Queens FoundationBirminghamUKrevjohncorrie@gmail.com

10.1163/15733831-12341306
/content/journals/10.1163/15733831-12341306
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1. Bevans Stephen Groody Daniel G, Campese Gioacchino"“Mission among Migrants, Mission of Migrants: Mission of the Church”" A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration 2008 Indiana University of Notre Dame Press
2. Bosch David J. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission 1991 Maryknoll, NY Orbis Books
3. Bouma-Prediger Steven, Walsh Brian J. Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement 2008 Grand Rapids, MI Wm B. Eerdmans
4. Catto Rebecca"“From the Rest to the West: Exploring Reversal in Christian Mission in Twenty-First Century Britain”" 2008 PhD Thesis, University of Exeter, UK
5. Escobar Samuel A Time for Mission 2003 Leicester IVP
6. Fornet-Betancourt Raul Groody Daniel G., Campese Gioacchino"“Hermeneutics and the Politics of Strangers”" A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration 2008 Indiana University of Notre Dame Press
7. Freston Paul"“Reverse Mission: A Discourse in Search of Reality”" Pentecostudies 2010Vol 9 2 153 174
8. Frost Michael Exiles: Living Missionally is a Post-Christian Culture 2006 Peabody, MA Hendrickson Publishers
9. Gorringe Timothy Spencer Stephen"“Rethinking ‘Migration’ and ‘Mission’”" Mission and Migration 2008 Sheffield Cliff College Publishing 141 157
10. Groody Daniel G., Campese Gioacchino A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration 2008 Notre Dame, IN University of Notre Dame Press
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14. Nava Alex Groody Daniel G, Campese Gioacchino"“God in the Desert: Searching for the Divine in the Midst of Death”" A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration 2008 Notre Dame, IN University of Notre Dame Press
15. Nazir-Ali Michael From Everywhere to Everywhere 1991 London Harper Collins
16. Olofinjana Israel Reverse in Ministry and Missions: Africans in the Dark Continent of Europe 2010 Bloomington, IN Author House
17. Olofinjana Israel Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the Global South in the UK. 2013 Watford, England Instant Apostle
18. Porter Andrew Religion Versus Empire? 2004 Manchester Manchester University Press
19. Prill Thorsten Global Mission on Our Doorstep: Forced Migration and the Future of the Church 2008 Munster Monsenstein und Vannerdat / MV Wissenschaft
20. Sagovsky Nicholas Spencer Stephen"“Exile, Seeking Asylum in the UK and the Missio Dei”" Mission and Migration 2008 Sheffield Cliff College Publishing 141 157
21. Senior Donald Groody Daniel G., Campese Gioacchino"“Beloved Aliens and Exiles: New Testament Perspectives on Migration”" A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration 2008 Notre Dame, IN University of Notre Dame Press
22. Snyder Susanna Asylum-Seeking, Migration and Church 2012 Farnham Ashgate Publishing
23. Ustorf Werner Cartledge Mark J., Cheetham David"“The Cultural Origins of Intercultural Theology”" Intercultural Theology 2011 London SCM
24. Walter Natasha"“The Human Spur to Action”" The Guardian 2012 May 30 2012
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/content/journals/10.1163/15733831-12341306
2014-02-26
2016-12-07

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