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Gospel Proclamation, Ideology, and the Other

In his book, The Church Inside Out, J.C. Hoekendijk makes some fascinating missiological and ecclesiological observations about the nature and mission of the church in the Western world. He concludes his chapter, “Apostolate: Communicating with Fellow Travelers” with the following four points (p. 65-66):

1. The proclamation to the outside can never be a rehash of the sermon. Structurally this is something entirely different  from a sermon. To state this more strongly: it is an illusion to suppose that the communication of the gospel will be possible only through the word. …

2. Apologetics, which moves on the level of ideology, can virtually never serve the communication of the gospel, because on this level the gospel will be misunderstood as another ideology. … I believe that it would mean a liberation, if for once, this was taken very seriously. …

3. In the present situation in Western Europe, communication of the gospel will have to be seen primarily as a demonstration of our willingness to really enter into the living situation of the other. …

4. This demonstration cannot take place as long as the church fearfully protects its members in its own world and wants to keep them there alone. Apostolate in our situation presupposes that ecclesiastically one is willing to enter no-man’s land.

Some provocative points to my reading, especially the stuff about apologetics as ideology.


  1. parishioner wrote:

    I could kiss him for point #2!

    Monday, March 2, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  2. CTN wrote:

    Hoekendijk is great for pointing out many of the problems related to a Christendom church-centric model of Church and Mission. It’s really too bad that he ends up collapsing the church into mission, which leads him to put all his theological eggs in the world, especially in secularism and urbanism.

    Monday, March 2, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Halden wrote:

    Say more on this, Chris. Also, what other books by him have you encountered. I’ve just started reading Hoekendijk.

    Monday, March 2, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  4. CTN wrote:

    I have not read the Church Inside Out, so I’d be interested to know what you find there. My experience with Hoekendijk is limited to two articles he wrote for International Review of Missions: “The Call to Evangelism” (#39, 1950, pp. 162-175) and “The Church in Missionary Thinking” (#41, 1952, pp. 324-336). The critical comments come from my work in David Bosch’s “Transforming Mission” in his discussion of the emerging ecumenical dialogues of the 20th century (especially 382-386), which is where he left his theological mark (one could say that much of what we call the Emergent Theology today is just a lame rehash of Hoekendijk’s recovery of “the world” in the economy of salvation). The most helpful and nuanced assessment of Hoekendijk is “The Legacy of J.C. Hoekendijk,” by L.A. Hoedemaker in The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (19 #4, 1995, 166-170).

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink

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