Credo: the average Anglican is a black, female teenager -Times Online
Recently a friend informed me that missiology is really just “a white man’s theology.” As a student of missiology and a woman, I felt the need to counter this. Yet what is missiology? Well, my friend was right that it began with white men taking Christianity, commerce and civilisation beyond Europe. This is exactly what missiology endeavours to study. It is a critical reflection on theories of mission, research into mission and critique on how mission is done.
It’s a moot point, however.
Missiology, like ecclesiology, is indeed pretty recent as an academic discipline. Both began within the last 150 years, if not more recently. But their field of study goes back a long way before — the Christian church and mission began long before there were names for academic disciplines devoted to studying them, and go back to a time before there were any Christian white men in Europe.
Yes, Christianity did first reach North and South America from Western Europe, but missiology can also study they way in which Christianity first reached some of the countries in Western Europe that took Christianity to those places. Christianity began in Asia, and reached parts of Africa before it reached northern Europe, even if it was people from northern Europe who first brought Christianity to southern Africa.
It actually works both ways. African missionaries evangelised parts of Europe long before and European missionaries came to Africa.
It depends on your perspective, that’s all.