At CIU this weekend (March 18) we are hosting the Southeast regional Evangelical Missiological Society meeting on the theme theology in global context. Because of studies this past year on missionary monasticism and Francis of Assisi, I will be presenting a paper called, "Francis of Assisi’s Medieval Christology of Mission and Its Implications for Mission Today." My abstract for the paper is below.
In recent years, global theologians of mission have emphasized a posture of mission from below—missional engagement from a place of weakness and vulnerability. In part a reaction to the mistakes of Christendom and Christian mission’s alliance with political and economic power, mission from below aims to recover first century mission that emulates the way of Christ and the apostles. This approach to mission is also relevant in contexts today where Christian freedom (for worship and witness) is limited by tyrannical or resistant governments. As we strive to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves in mission today, it seems fruitful to explore the theology of mission of a medieval Italian mendicant monk who served in mission to Muslims during the Crusades.
In this paper, following a brief narrative of Francis of Assisi’s (1181-1226) life and journey in mission, I will focus on Francis’ Christology and how that shaped his approach to mission among Muslims and others. Finally, I will conclude with some reflections for what the church on mission today might gain from Francis.
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