Saturday, 7 February 2009

Mission and Apologetics

This is a particularly brilliant new opening for Christian mission:
In religious matters love precedes knowledge and, as that love is God's gift, the very beginning of faith is due to God's grace. On this showing, not only is the ancient problem of the salvation of non-Christians greatly reduced, but also the true nature of Christian apologetic is clarified. The apologist's task is neither to produce in others nor to justify for them God's gift of his love. Only God can give that gift, and the gift itself is self-justifying. People in love have not reasoned themsleves into being in love. The apologist's task is to aid others in integrating God's gift with the rest of their living. Any significant event on any level of consciousness calls for adjustments elsewhere. (Lonergan, Method in Theology 123, cited in Lovett, For the Joy Set Before Us 206 n 23)
God's gift is given - to all. It is not our job as Christians to produce that gift or to justify it, much less to tell people that we alone have been privileged to receive it. But it is our job to be able to recognize it. And it is our job to aid others to integrate that gift with the rest of their living.

Here we could of course ask ourselves: how exactly might we 'aid others'? How could we be of help?

And again: what exactly is the 'rest of their living'? Could that 'rest' be as large as the world? And what would it mean to integrate the gift of God's love in contemporary India? The question of how we relate to other groups and to the world arises inevitably. There is an inevitably boundary-breaking component in any apologetic task.

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