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Missio Dei

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Introduction to Pastoral Theology (P7101B) Assessment 2 – Class Presentation

DEFINITION OF MISSIO DEI What is ‘missio dei’?

It is a Latin theological term, which literally means ‘the mission (or the sending) of God’. Although the concept is as old as the Bible itself, the theology of missio dei originated in an essay written by noted theologian Karl Barth in 1932. It did not gain wide acceptance until 1952, when it was presented at the Willingen Conference of the International Missionary Council Meeting.

Throughout history, God has been working towards the restoration of His creation – this is the essence of missio dei. God has been calling on His people, from within and beyond the church, to take part in this ongoing mission to build His Kingdom on earth. David Bosch in ‘Transforming Mission’, defines missio dei as: “God the Father sending the Son, God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit, and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world”. He goes on to state that, “Mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God. Mission is thereby seen as a movement from God to the world; the church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.”
The Missionary Council of 1952 wrestled with the concept of missio dei, and the extent of God’s missionary activities in the world. 1. One view defined God’s activity in the secular world, over and above the church, where the world provided the agenda. 2. The opposing view held that the church was the principal vehicle of God’s mission.
As a result, missio dei,...

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