Contextual Theologies of Mission: Samuel Escobar and Jeremy Wynne Compared (Pt. 3)

Today we conclude this series by comparing Samuel Escobar’s theology of mission and Jeremy Wynne’s interpretation of Moltmann’s theology  of mission.

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Comparison

The fundamental difference between Escobar’s and Wynne’s way of doing theology of mission is how they address the existential realities of human beings. Escobar stresses how social and political realities have affected Latin theology of mission and how any good theology of mission in Latin America must account for these realities as well. This is displayed in his study of the history of Christianity in Latin America. Wynne on the other hand, does not address the existential conditions of humans whatsoever. Although Wynne does not really attempt to construct a theology of mission he argues that Moltmann’s eschatology can serve as a starting point for doing missiology. For Wynne, systematic theology is the foundation for missiology. This difference in method reflects the difference between most western and non-western theology, that is, that non-western theology does not attempt to do theology in an abstract realm far away from the way humans actually live. Although Wynne mentions that for Moltmann salvation is holistic, addressing all aspects of life here and in the future, he does not mention this because he sees the need for holistic salvation but because it logically follows from the meaning of salvation that it would be holistic.

Conclusion

Escobar’s theology is constructed out of biblical revelation and the social sciences whereas Wynne’s theology is constructed out of systematic theology. Should we say that one method is better than the other? I believe that we should not. We must realize that our systematic theology is profoundly affected by our existential conditions. Thus the social sciences which study the human condition must inform our way of doing systematic theology. Yet we must attempt to be faithful to the biblical revelation in our doing systematic theology. If we are faithful to properly interpreting the Bible, as Escobar proposes, then we can allow other areas of systematic theology and the social sciences inform our mission theology. The act of balancing our personal experiences, information from the social sciences, and systematic theology while attempting to give the Bible a privileged position is quite difficult; yet if we are going to do theology of mission properly it is something we must try to do.

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