Emerging theological consciousness and a spirituality for mission

Daniel L Martin, Fordham University


The history and the present situation of missionary activity in the Catholic Church was researched and analysed. It was concluded that there was an extreme crisis in both the understanding of mission and in the numbers who were offering themselves today as missionaries. It was hypothesized that the root problem lay in Western civilization itself where mission, as we know it, developed. It concerned the basic relationship of the human to his/her environment: a distorted earth-human relationship that lent itself to attitudes of superiority and arrogance, that became increasingly destructive with the growth in Western man's ability to control and exploit his world. The same attitudes were found to have been present in the understanding and practices of mission. The response of the church to this situation was studied and the present position noted. It was concluded that the steps being taken were not penetrating deeply enough to the root causes. A study of change and growth, in both individual and society, showed that the present situation was a time of major transition and transformation for all society and consequently for the understanding and practice of mission. A further study searched for a solution to the problems in a new vision of life, a new world view and a new understanding of the human as species, that would be the foundation for all human activity in the future. The basic elements of a new common story for religion and society were uncovered. This 'functional cosmology,' it was suggested, was the essence of a new spirituality that would direct any new approach to the whole question of mission. A second survey showed how, in fact, this new vision is already being lived out in ways that could be a useful guide to new missionary initiatives. The study puts the question of mission into the much larger context of the emerging cosmos. The study was successful as the beginnings of a new approach, but it was forced to cover a lot of areas. It did succeed in at least opening the door of today's paradigm for the missionary process. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

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Recommended Citation

Martin, Daniel L, "Emerging theological consciousness and a spirituality for mission" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8904649.