I have recently become aware of a new theology in the Church called “Incarnational Missiology.” It invites us the “rethink” the nature of missions.
As with so many “cutting edge theologies,” Incarnational Missiology employs many, many words and scriptural references to explain a systematic approach to “rethinking.”
Essentially the idea is we must engage the world with sensitivity, focusing on relationships. We must present “incarnationally” and influence people by maintaining a soft and accepting proximity. The proclamation of the Word and the call to repent of sin are sidelined in deference to people’s feelings or comfort. In other words, the real medicine they need for the healing of their souls and minds is withheld.
At a church we no longer attend, that we would discover, is proud of their practice of “incarnational missiology,” our daughter was enjoying middle school youth group. While the scriptural teaching was a bit on the light side, we believed she was growing in faith. We would soon be jolted back to reality.
She came home one evening after youth group and reported that a “transgender” individual had joined the youth group. Apparently the girl had immediately notified everyone that she was actually a boy in a girl’s body. This caused a great deal of confusion for our daughter and concern for us.
When we asked church staff how they planned to handle the advocacy of transgenderism within the youth group, we were told, “These things take time.” There was no plan to intervene on behalf of the child’s welfare, and no plan to disciple Christian kids on how to rightly respond in love. The staff said their priority was to make sure the child felt warmly welcomed and as they had demonstrated, prevent any other children from speaking into the situation from a biblical perspective. The Christian kids were told in words and actions by staff, that they were to be silent regarding the issue.
There was no reconciliation between my feelings and the theology being applied: I was concerned about “sin in the camp,” but called by church staff to ignore it. It felt as if my daughter’s spiritual growth was not as important as accommodating and even affirming aberrant behaviors and unhealthy beliefs. Then it dawned on me: I wasn’t about feelings. It was about God’s will for people. It was about redemption.
God’s Word calls on all unbelievers and believers to repent of their sin—no matter the sin—and enter the newness of life. Only by repentance can we experience the marvelous liberation God delivers!
It has been a year since the “transgender” girl declared that she was a boy. Reportedly, she now insists people call her by her new male name. She is apparently further away from salvation. It is wrong then to doubt the value of “incarnational missiology?”
The work of the church is to present the Gospel, urge repentance, evangelize the lost and disciple believers. It is a mission presented straightforwardly in the Scripture. It is not complicated. And it is not a soft, accommodating mission. It can be very rugged.
Please consider the wise words of 19th-century Scottish churchman and poet, Horatius Bonar:
“For there is danger of falling into a soft and effeminate Christianity, under the pleas of a lofty and ethereal theology… The religion of both Old and New Testaments is marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case may be sentimentalism, but it is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness. If anyone should be frank, manly, honest, cheerful (I do not say blunt or rude…), it is he who has tasted that the Lord is gracious…”