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We Salute Evangelical Fellowship of India On Mission Language

May 24, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Persecution

General Secretary of Evangelical Fellowship of India

General Secretary of Evangelical Fellowship of India

The Theological Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India on Mission Language and Biblical Metaphor met at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bangalore, 4 – 7 October, 2000, with representatives from across India. Here is a statement released after the meeting.
We accept the need to be sensitive in our language to show consideration for others and how they may perceive our words. This applies to what we say or write for any medium at all, including letters, reports, songs, prayers, and material on the Internet, for the boundaries between in-house and public domain are disappearing.
Offensive Terms
We acknowledge that some churches and Christian missions have borrowed offensive secular terms, and over-extended military metaphors from the Bible. For example, the Bible uses “soldier” to illustrate how we should obey God, but not to encourage an aggressive attitude to other people. While we want to avoid inappropriate military language, we profit from Bible metaphors that call us to respect and obey God and those in authority.
However, warfare words, such as “army”, “advance”, “attack,” “battle”, “campaign,” “crusade”, “conquer”, “commandos”, “enemy”, “foe,” “forces,” “marching orders,” “mobilize”, “soldier,” “tactical plan,” “target”, “victory,”  “weapons,” have been wrongly used as motivational tools for missions. Other offensive words include “pagan,” “darkness,” and “heathen.” Emphasis on such vocabulary is unloving, inappropriate and counter-productive. Language that excludes women also offends. We must continuously examine both our attitudes and our language.
The Danger of Labeling
We believe evil in all its forms is in conflict with the rule of God. Evil is our enemy and not people. We object to language that can wrongly label people as enemies, or appear aggressive. Although the gospel call to follow Christ may cause offence and be opposed by some, we must take care to avoid vocabulary that can be distorted to justify that opposition.
Our Motivation
Warfare language is not our motivation for mission. We share Christ because we experience the love and grace of God, leading us to worship and proclamation. As God loves all people without discrimination, so should we. We respect and serve all in words, attitudes and actions, regardless of caste, race, class, creed and gender.
A Call to Christians
We call upon our brothers and sisters to take care not to offend with words. We also ask the church outside India to be aware that inappropriate mission language not only offends people of other faiths, but also brings harm to Christians here.
Words that lead us Forward
Let us draw our mission terms from biblical concepts. Let us use words like family, relationship, love, welcome, embrace, reconcile, hope, serve, peace with God, promoting justice, offering gifts of life and blessing.

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