Monday, February 21, 2011


Andrew, the Tall Skinny Kiwi blogger, who's currently in New Zealand at the moment, (at the Ngatiawa Contemplative Monastery as he calls it, though Ngatiawa Contemporary Monastery seems to be what they call it) wrote in a recent short post:

Praxis focuses on what they call the "emerging postmodern paradigm of mission". Which reminds me of David Bosch who suggested we were in the 'postmodern' paradigm, a term he wanted to replace with the word "ecumenical". As we all know, this never happened, probably due to his untimely death in 1992 and the reluctance of the evangelicals to embrace the "ecumenical" word, despite the fact that it occurs in the New Testament. But "the emerging postmodern paradigm of mission" would probably have his stamp of approval.

I'd hope that some other word or shorter phrase would eventually take off rather than 'emerging postmodern paradigm of mission' which quite honestly apart from being an awful mouthful doesn't tell us anything much. 'Ecumenical' now has a dated sound, and it lacks any sense of mission in it, as far as I can see.

I'm just reading Bosch's magnum opus, Transforming Mission, for the first time, after having sold it to innumerable customers over the years. It's quite some book and is full of good insights, particularly in relation to Matthew and Luke (by which you can guess that I'm probably not a very long way through it). Possibly Bosch would have used 'the emerging postmodern paradigm of mission' but he strikes me as a writer who's clearer than that, and I suspect he might have come up with something more useful. [Though I've just noticed that he uses 'paradigm' in the subtitle...!]

My sniping here isn't helped by the fact that 'postmodern' is a word without meaning, 'emerging' isn't much better, and 'paradigm' has been on my list of don't use words after I kept hearing it being overused in my office here in my first year (2008). Paradigm shift is a scientific term, primarily, which has become popular in other circles.

Note this paragraph from the Wikipedia article:
In the later part of the 1990s, 'paradigm shift' emerged as a buzzword, popularized as marketing speak and appearing more frequently in print and publication. In his book, Mind The Gaffe, author Larry Trask advises readers to refrain from using it, and to use caution when reading anything that contains the phrase. It is referred to in several articles and books as abused and overused to the point of becoming meaningless.

I'll leave Bosch with the last word:
Our mission has not life of its own: only in the hands of the sending God can it truly be called mission. Not least since the missionary initiative comes from God alone.

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