I am currently reading Translating the Message by Lamin Sanneh. His thesis is that translation is the process of entering the vernacular and allowing the Gospel to find its own voice within the host culture. It is a helpful revisioning of the standard polemic against the colonization of Christendom to the Global South. However, it reminded me of a conversation we had in my Congregation class with Dr. Keifert this Spring. The following illustration is my note page from Keifert’s response to the question, “isn’t it translation (a reference to Sanneh’s work)?” I looked at it again today and was reminded of the deep theological and ecclesial significance of listening.
It is with these two models in mind that I would like to propose what a missional engagement with the Word of God might be. We encounter the Word of God in three ways: in scripture, in communication, and in the world. We are then invited to listen to this word, discern the voice of God from the voices that move contrary to God, tend to the community, and be ready to move when the Spirit moves.
The three forms in which the Word of God speaks are not distinctive, separate modes, but are interdependent media that are at once separate and definable while also entangled and interdependent. It is helpful, albeit somewhat artificial, to address them separately. We are called to dwell in the Scripture, to dwell in the community, and to dwell in the world.