Academic Programs 

The Rehabilitation of Mission: Christian Mission and the Interfaith Reality (TH-657)
Fall 2004

Mission, traditionally defined, has often seemed to be at odds with interfaith dialogue and with the nurturing of relationships among people of different faith traditions. In this course we will examine the theory of mission in light of Biblical sources, and review historical concepts of mission, with particular focus on the early American missionary movement, with its original goals of conversion and the extension of “civilization.” We will then consider the theory and the praxis of the creation of “three-self” or “partner churches,” with a focus on the “center-periphery” dichotomy of “us” and “them.” Following will be a look at a mission rehabilitated to our contemporary interfaith environment, with special attention to the implications of such an understanding of mission for vitality and faithfulness of the local church. 


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
D.Min. Schedule – Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 21, October 12, November 2 and 30 and December 14

Dale Bishop
Faculty Associate in Interreligious Understanding

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

  Required texts:

Bosch, David J.  Transforming Mission, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1991.

Knitter, Paul F. No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes toward World Religions, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1985

Knitter, Paul F. Jesus and the Other Names: Christian Mission and Global Responsibility, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1996.


I. Introduction to Mission (September 21, 2004)

A. Mission and its various meanings and contexts.
B. Mission and witness
C. Biblical Resources for understanding mission.

1. The Gospels
2. The Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Paul.

Reading: David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, pp. 1-178.

II. Mission and the Church (October 12, 2004)

A. The early church, orthodoxy and Catholocism.
B. The American missionary movement, its origins in the Second Great
Awakening: the Haystack, the foundation of the American Board and its early history.
C. Rufus Anderson and the development of the "three-self" movement.

Readings: Bosch, pp. 178-345; William E. Strong, The Story of the American Board, pp. 1-105 (on reserve or photocopied).

III. Mission and ecumenism
(November 2, 2004)

A. Partnership and indigenization.
B. The encounter with orthodoxy: from proselytism and efforts at conversion to partnership and a new understanding of "church."

Readings: Bosch, pp. 345-519., Strong, selected readings.

IV. Mission and people of other faith traditions
(Date to be set in consultation)

A. Case studies in interfaith encounters: Laubach in the Philippines; the American Board in Turkey, "anonymous Christianity.
B. From dialogue to relationship

Readings: Knitter, No Other Name?; Knitter, Jesus and the Other Names.

V. Mission and the local church (December 14, 2004)

A. A revisiting of the manifestations of the church; the implications of ecumenical oneness and the universality of the church for the local congregation.
B. Case studies in partnerships

Readings to be provided, class presentations.

Course requirements: take-home essay test; project involving research on current mission policies of major denominations.


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500