Concerns of identity in multi-faceted and changing contexts
Mission and cultural identity
In the years leading up to the 1996 world mission conference in Salvador, Brazil, the WCC engaged in a worldwide study on the relation between gospel and cultures. Based on the results of that study and conference, the following questions need to pursued:
How identities are formed, changed, challenged and blended, in particular in contexts - in both the North and the South - influenced by trends towards secularization and post-modernity. Particular emphasis should be placed on the way youth cultures are impacted by globalization, and how they challenge mission.
Multicultural ministry: how to be church in increasingly plural contexts. Experiences and dialogue coming out of the work of the International Network Forum on Multicultural Ministrywill inform the conference deliberations on this topic.
Identities in conflict: In their struggles for justice and dignity, marginalized groups need to affirm their particular identities, so as to resist oppression and move towards liberation. Cultural or religious identities, however, are also being misused to fuel conflicts, and can lead to exclusion and violence. How to affirm one's own identity, and recognize the dignity of the "other" as both being rooted in God's purpose is one of the main mission challenges in terms of gospel, cultures and reconciliation.
Mission and religious identities :
What is the necessary dialogical approach to life in plural communities and to Christian witness in contemporary contexts? The WCC has done much work and gained much experience on this topic. A dialogical approach has immense importance, in particular as a way to overcome violence and witness to peace and reconciliation.
What is the significance of religions in Christian mission theology? A consensus on this question was reached at the 1989 world mission conference in San Antonio. In summary, it was: We cannot point to another way of salvation than Jesus Christ. We cannot put a limit to God's saving power. There is a tension between these affirmations which we acknowledge and cannot resolve.
A study is being launched to discern whether this is still what we can and need to affirm together today.