Why You Should come to the Inaugural Missio Alliance National Gathering – Part 4
Today is my final installment in this series on why you should come to the inaugural missio alliance national gathering, which is just around the corner. (Regular registration rates ends on March 15th, along with good rates for hotels). I write this from the UK in the middle of my PhD studies, because I really want you to participate in what could be a historical event.
Let me review my first three reasons and then give you my final one.
1. You will be stirred and inspired to foster a deeper theological praxis in mission from some of the leading theologians and practitioners in North America. (Yes, we have a number of significant presenters from Canada)
2. We need to re-imagine evangelicalism in North America in light of a faithful understanding of the narrative of Scripture and in a way that is genuine to our context (i.e. living in the world, for the world, in the way of Christ).
And finally, here is my fourth reason you should participate in the inaugural missio alliance national gathering.
4. This gathering of over 550 people will not be the same without YOU, for this is the beginning of a movement of people seeking to renew evangelical imagination for mission together.
We need to recover a robust gospel that involves joining God in the renewal of all things. We need an inspiring theological praxis in mission. We need an evangelical posture that allows us to engage in conversation and even debate with critical openness. In other words, we must allow people room to freely explore the truth under the vast umbrella of God’s grace, not naively, but with intelligence, wisdom and love. Critical openness allows us to fully listen to anothers perspective without pre-judging them or their viewpoint. It’s about having mutual respect as we converse over revelation and reality. As we grow in Christ, our understanding should expand incrementally, which means our understanding will continually be evolving. Critical openness is the opposite of indoctrination, and it is necessary for nurturing.
Abraham Lincoln when being criticized for changing his mind replied, “I don’t think much of the man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” The more I study scripture and the life of Jesus, the more I realize how much I am like the disciples; half blind, thinking that I clearly see. Critical openness acknowledges this reality and gives people the permission to lovingly engage in the Grand Theological Conversation freely without leaving one’s heart and mind at the door.
Being open acknowledges the complexity of hermeneutics and the realization that we all tend to look at scripture, God, and reality through tinted eyeglasses. The tint on my glasses is different than others because our experiences, background and enculturation differ. Yet being critical is vital because as G.K. Chesterton once said, “Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”
I advocate critical openness because to listen carefully and sympathetically to others is an act of humility. And according to James, with humility comes grace, perhaps grace to see as in a mirror dimly. Without grace I’m blind.
I hope you will come, bring your team, an expectant heart, with a desire to engage and participate in a tribe seeking to address current issues of our day in a spirit of truth and love.