Traditional Mission Theology and Contextual Mission Theology: A Response/John LeMond

John LeMond


The purpose of this passage was to respond to ideas of Dr. Wan relating to mission from the perspective of traditional Western mission theology.

The author suggested that the chart of figure 1 needed some revision. He agreed with Dr. Wan that there was a need for a reevaluation of theology relating to mission within the Chinese context, a reevaluation that took very seriously the great wealth of Chinese thought and cultural expression. 

Traditional Western theological categories served an important function, especially within a non-Western environment. There were some cases that it was traditional Western theological categories, expressed in architecture, liturgy and theology, that provided a new world-view, that challenged the traditional concepts and expectations of the person’s own setting. The importance of this should not be minimized. As bold and innovative as contextual Chinese theology might be, it ran the risk of losing the ability to call the culture itself to account. An example of this was the concept of ‘guanxi’. The church that rose from within such a contextual theology might appear quite different from the Christian church we had come to know and expect. In rural China, the contextualization of Christianity was taking place. It was being lived out in the daily lives of Christians. And it often looked as much like Chinese traditional religion as it did Christianity.