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Healing as a Missiological Challenge

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The formal approbation of the study project "The Church as a Healing Community" by I.A.M.S. Executive Committee (see: Mission Studies No. 5, Vol. III-1, 1986, p. 77) sets the scene for missiologists to embark upon the whole issue of healing on a large scale. It is hoped that by tapping the resources of the international, ecumenical and cross-cultural membership of the association the long felt need can be met to adequately respond to the challenge healing puts before us not only by the new religious movements all over the world and by the traditional societies, but also by the African Independent Churches and the charismatic movement within the established churches. There do exist monographs on several aspects of healing from nearly all over the world of course. But mostly they are concerned with a particular technique or with the health system and healing methods of a certain ethnic group. When it comes to missiology the phenomenon of healing outside the Christian fold often is looked at as something demoniac which as such has to be refused for the sake of the gospel. The only more recent missiological thesis I came across so far addressing the issue in a broader sense is Harold E. Dollar's "A Cross-Cultural Theology of Healing" (1980, Fuller) which actually tries to develop a cross-cultural liturgy or model of healing instead of a theology. This article tries to identify some of the most relevant issues any qualified study of the matter in question has to pay attention to.

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