Mission Without Conquest: An Alternative Missionary Practice
Almost sixty years ago, the Mennonite missionary team working in the Argentine Chaco decided to look for ways to be effective in their ministry while being faithful to Jesus’ lifestyle and teaching. They left behind paternalistic models and “conquering” methods and were liberated from the mindset of forming a denominational church. As a result, they found an alternative missionary style of walking alongside those they worked with, giving priority to the integrity of the local people. “Mission Without Conquest” is a historical narrative of how the Toba Qom people of the Argentine Chaco followed Jesus’ way from the time of their conversion until the formation of an autochthonous church. This book embodies a new way to approach the church’s missionary task – a way that makes the mission of Jesus Christ the paradigm for Christian mission until his return.
CONQUEST MISSIONARIES are not for TODAY
From its beginnings, Christianity has been an apostolic, or missionary faith based on Jesus’ exhortation to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). When the Spanish and the Portuguese initiated an era of global exploration and conquest in the late 15th century, the reaping of souls became inextricably woven with the conquest of land, peoples, and resources.
George Tinker’s fascinating probe into U.S. mission history pierces the romantic veil of most history writing and shows how four of the most noted Christian missionaries—men of the highest moral character, the best of intentions, and sincere commitment to the gospel—confused gospel values and European cultural values, often with lethal results.
God’s Purpose – To re-conquer His usurped kingdom and reconcile the nations to himself
Religious and cultural difference was part of the landscape of America long before the period of European arrival and settlement. The indigenous peoples of this land Europeans called the “new world” were separated by language, landscape, cultural myths, and ritual practices. Some neighboring groups, such as the Hurons and the Iroquois, were entrenched in rivalry. Others, such as the nations that later formed the Iroquois League, developed sophisticated forms of government that enabled them to live harmoniously despite tribal differences. Some were nomads; others settled into highly developed agricultural civilizations. Along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, ancient communities of Native peoples developed ceremonial centers, and in the Southwest, cliff-dwelling cultures developed complex settlements.
When Europeans arrived in the Americas, most did not even consider that the peoples they encountered had cultural and religious traditions that were different from their own; in fact, most believed indigenous communities had no culture or religion at all. As the “Age of Discovery” unfolded, Spanish and French Catholics were the first to arrive, beginning in the sixteenth century. Profit-minded Spanish conquistadors and French fur traders competed for land and wealth, while Spanish and French missionaries competed for the “saving of souls.” By the mid-century, the Spanish had established Catholic missions in present-day Florida and New Mexico and the French were steadily occupying the Great Lakes region, Upstate New York, Eastern Canada and, later, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta.