Forgetting the Incarnation: A Critical Examination of the Incarnational Approach to Missions in the Netherlands
Secularism in Western Europe, and The Netherlands specifically, shows the need and the chal- lenge for proper contextualization of the Gospel message. A justifiable biblical foundation for each specific kind of contextualization ought to be a main concern for evangelicals. Many have found the incarnation of Jesus Christ to be an inspiring foundation for their way of doing ministry. In the context of Western Europe and The Netherlands this has been the case for the creative church planting movement “Urban Expression,” as represented by Stuart Murray. In this thesis we give an extensive amount of attention to the context and content of several Scripture passages (like John 20:21; Philippians 2:5-8 and the notion of the Church as the “Body of Christ”) that could possibly support their positive view on and defense of the incarnational approach to mission. Treating these passages exegetically, however, make us argue that Scripture does not support such a thing as undertaking mission work “incarnationally.” Moreover, the incarnational approach to mission is found to be very precarious, especially because of its dangerous implications concerning systematic theology and praxis. Therefore, two alternatives to the incarnational model are considered and discussed; representationalism and the model of union with Christ. All of the above leads us to the conclusion that if one desires to live and work in a way that is currently described as “incarnational,” paradoxically, one is very likely to forget and to devalue the unique incarnation of Jesus Christ.