Transforming Mission

David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (first published 1991 [2012 reprint])

Transforming Mission is a classic text of Missiology. It is often used as the key textbook in Bible colleges for mission studies, and is the ‘second Bible’ for the Gen-X emerging church guys.  It includes a mammoth survey of the history of mission, and draws thought-lines into the present.  This is mission studies written for a Christian context (as opposed to a secular university).  Thus, Bosch assumes a gospel worldview and agenda rendering it an ‘insider study.’  This is not to dismiss its worth but to explain why it gets limited exposure in the broader scholarship of church and mission history.  Nevertheless, for the missionary, church planter or church leader, this is essential reading and should be read first before moving to the more recent popular writing of Hirsch, Frost, Breen, Cole, Keller etc…


“Until the sixteenth century the term [mission] was used exclusively with reference to the doctrine of the Trinity, that is, of the sending of the Son by the Father and of the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son.  The Jesuits were the first to use it in terms of the spread of the Christian faith among people (including Protestants) who were not members of the Catholic Church.” p. 1 (cf Thomas Ohm, Machet zu Jüngern aloe Völker: Theorie der Mission, 1962:37-39)

“In a volume written in preparation for the 1938 Tambaram conference of the International Missionary Council (IMC), Kraemer (1947:24) formulated this as follows, “Strictly speaking, one ought to say that the Church is always in a state of crisis and that its greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it.”” p. 2

“In earlier ages the church has responded imaginatively to paradigm changes; we are challenged to do the same for our time and context.” p. 4

“…crisis is the point where danger and opportunity meet.  Some see only the opportunity and rush on, oblivious of the pitfalls on all sides.  Others are only aware of the danger and become so paralysed by it that they back off.  We can, however, only do justice to our high calling if we acknowledge the presence of both danger and opportunity and execute our mission within the field of tension engendered by both.’ p. 7

“The entire Christian existence is to be characterised as missionary existence… or, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, “the church on earth is by its very nature missionary” (AG 2).” p. 10

“…mission is God’s “yes” to the world…in respect to the realities of injustice, oppression, poverty, discrimination, and violence.” p. 10-11

“…Mission is also God’s “no” to the world…”no,” as an expression of our opposition to and engagement with the world.” p. 11

“…neither a secularised church…nor a serperatist church…can faithfully articulate the missio Dei” p. 11

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