I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with some honors students at the University of Pretoria's Theology dept. We talked our way through Leslie Newbigin’s book “The open secret”. It was an interesting conversation. The class consisted of mainly black pastors of the United Reformed Church. Newbigin’s book is a crackerjack text with a lot of wisdom and insight into missions. In the first half of the book he explores missions within a Trinitarian framework encompassing the proclamation, presence and prevenience of the kingdom. In the second half he works with this framework in terms of world history, church growth, mission as justice and interaction with other faiths.
Hidden in Chapter 8 where Newbigin engages liberation theology and the Marxist emphasis of it; he mentions that with the fall of Marxism our capitalistic system have nothing contending against it … he says that,
There is no visible countervailing power. There seems no sign of a check to its relentless advance. And its destructive potential, both for the coherence of human society and for the safeguarding of the environment, are formidable. The ideology of the free market has proved itself more powerful than Marxism. It is, of course, not just a way of arranging economic affairs. It has deep roots in the human soul. It can be met and mastered only at the level of religious faith, for it is a form of idolatry. The churches have hardly begun to recognize that this is probably their most urgent missionary task during the coming century. (p95)
These words were penned in 1978 and seems prophetic in light of last year’s economic crash. What interests me in these words is that Newbigin saw the church’s most urgent missionary task to deconstruct capitalism in its brutal forms.
Yesterday at Claypot we celebrated Pentecost and spoke about the effects of the Spirit on that first community. We spent a lot of time on the fact that the Spirit rearranges our economics. Our inbuilt resistance and rationalities against texts like Acts 2,4 are immense. In Johannesburg the biggest lord is mammon. How can we make mammon subservient to the Lord of all? Is this a valid missionary task? And if so what are some of the ways in which we can engage in this task?