Since the Conference hosted by the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch and Communitas from 18-20 May 2009 on the theme “What can we learn from the book of Acts about being a Missional Church?” the Book of Acts has suddenly become the new Magna Carta for the missional church in South Africa.
Several questions ensue from the Dutch Reformed Church’s unexpected interest in Acts. If Acts is a trailblazer in regard to effective local and global missionary work, why has the church delayed its imperatives to study and implement what Jesus Christ’s apostles taught and practiced in Acts?
What has motivated the DRC to embark at this late stage in the history of the church on a research programme that will work on seven themes in the Book of Acts over a period of three years?
Are they aiming to reach the lost with the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ so that as many lost sinners as possible may be saved? Or, is she working toward the inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth in which every conceivable religious ragtag and bob-tail is welcome?
Why is the DRC’s younger generation clergy obsessed with the ancient practices and experiential theology and disciplines of the so-called Desert Fathers, i.e. contemplative prayer, centering prayer, labyrinths, breath prayers, the silence, solitude etc., when these disciplines do not feature in the book of Acts?
To find some answers to these questions it might be feasible to pay attention to the names of distinguished missiologists who keep on popping up in the on-going discussions on the blogs of DRC pastors and students on the internet.
A name that seems to be on every “Acts-orientated” follower of Jesus’ lips is David Jacobus Bosch. He was a missiologist in South Africa who died in 1992 in a tragic car accident only a year after he published his monumental book, Transforming Mission.
He formulated the concept of AC, the “Alternate Community” in South Africa which was born out of his strong aversion to the Apartheid system. In his book “Mission and the Alternative Community,” pp. 8-9. Bosch wrote:
“The church has tremendous significance for society precisely because it [exists] as a uniquely separate community . . . . We have to work consistently for the renewal of the church—the alternative community—and precisely in that way at the renewal of society.” (Emphasis added)
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