Original Research

The state of the church in a postcolonial era from Newbigin’s perspective: Challenges and opportunities for mission

Phemelo O. Marumo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1862 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1862 | © 2018 Phemelo Olifile Marumo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2018 | Published: 13 September 2018

About the author(s)

Phemelo O. Marumo, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, South Africa


As the Christian church engaged in the so-called foreign mission, an unfortunate perception ensued that mission was of service to the colonial aspirations of the sending countries. Subsequently, labour missionaries came under suspicion as they were regarded as oppressors who robbed local communities of their culture and the way of thinking. It is in this regard that Newbigin pondered the question whether the West could be converted from ignorance and religious imperialism that exploited the local population. This gave rise to the thinking that related missiology and ecclesiology to a missional church which is Trinitarian in nature and based on missio Dei (God’s plan). In this research, it is argued that mission will always be a suspect of colonial and imperialist motives that cannot contribute to the society in which it works unless the mission is conducted through a missional church which is embedded in missio Dei as presented by Newbigin. In order to address this, the research initially highlights how the mission was conducted from a missiology that was not embedded in missio Dei and how this has adversely affected the spreading of the Christian message and undermined the transformation of society. Secondly, the research shows that lack of contextualisation and not taking cognisance of the culture and the worldview of the colonised has greatly affected the mission in the postcolonial era. And thirdly, the research indicates how a missional church as advocated by Newbigin could contribute towards an effective missiological agenda that could bring unity and glorification to God in the postcolonial era.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article focuses on how the mission was conducted, not taking cognisance of the worldview of those it preached to. This is the philosophical implication. The other issue is that contextualisation was not taken into consideration which means the socio-cultural issues were not addressed. This article brings forth that if the blending of both philosophy and social science could be infused in missiology, then missiological attributes like koinonia and evangelism would serve as an appropriate vehicle to transport missio Dei.


Missio Dei; mission; church; contextualization; koinonia; culture and worldview


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