Roland Allen suggest that our obsession with (wat we perceive to be) correct doctrine and our own standards of morality are significant hindrances to the ‘spontaneous expansion of the church’ as he calls it.
What does he mean?
Doesn’t he value doctrine or morality?
Not the case at all, but he does say that when we get more obsessed with teaching people to follow ‘Christianity’ rather than Christ we end up dulling the edge of their faith. Its a bit like the Bible college experience many of us have had. You know the drill – get all excited about following Jesus – decide to go to Bible college to ‘grow in that faith’ and finish up more informed but bored to tears with it. By restraining young Christians from mission activity until they have a sufficiently develoed understanding of doctrine is counterproductive. Allen argues we trust the spirit to guide them into truth rather than having to drill them before sending them out.
On morality he doesn’t see it as a dead issue – not at all – but he does argue that we need to allow Christ to do the convicting and shaping much moreso than we do. While his application is to tribal culture where issues like polygamy are (were) signifcant it does also have bearing on the western world. He describes the problems missionaries have had in the past trying to move tribal people to monogamy before accepting them as followers of Jesus. While this might seem a critical issue to us, to them it may be a non issue. To declare them not ‘Christian’ because they remain in polygamy is akin to declaring our ancestors to not be Christian because they practiced slavery.
When you look at questions of mission and faith thru the eyes of a missionary you see a very different picture than if you look thru the eyes of a western ‘pastor’.
He’s not an easy read, and not everything he says is ‘gold’, but he’s well worth the effort.