Spring 1999 · Vol. 28 No. 1 · pp. 4–5 

From the Editor: Mandate for Mission: A Tribute to Hans Kasdorf

Douglas B. Miller

Dr. Hans Kasdorf

The mission of the church calls us to consider why we human beings are here and the purpose for which God has called Christians to be the redeemed community. A variety of scriptural texts and images address this: rulers over creation (Gen. 1:26), a blessing to all the nations (Gen. 12:3), the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13), the light of the world (Matt. 5:14), those going forth to baptize and teach disciples (Matt. 28:19-20), witnesses of Christ to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), those preaching good news to all creation (Mark 16:15), and a people unified so that the world might believe (John 17:23).

The essays in this issue help us explore various dimensions of the church’s missionary calling. Last year in Germany, a Festschrift, Die Mission der Theologie, was published in honor of Dr. Hans Kasdorf. Publisher Thomas Schirrmacher (of Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft) along with editors Stephan Holthaus and Klaus W. Müller were eager to see its contents made available to a wider audience. As a result, they graciously gave permission for Direction to publish the nine English-language articles found in that volume plus the bibliography compiled by Prof. Holthaus.

Readers are referred to Direction’s Spring 1994 issue (23:1) for additional articles of value in the field of mission, including two by Prof. Kasdorf himself. As with that issue’s tribute to Kasdorf, we are pleased here to acknowledge his contribution to mission among Mennonite Brethren and other recipients of his ministry.

Henry Schmidt, a longtime colleague, chronicles Kasdorf’s roles both as missiologist and as biblical theologian. David Ewert argues for the importance of lifestyle for the integrity of the church’s evangelism. Klaus Fiedler urges that the history of German-speaking evangelical missions be written while giving a thorough summary in the process. In an essay focused on the current German context, Arthur Glasser presents the case for a distinctive worship among messianic Jews. Paul Hiebert and Sam Larsen evaluate the role of metaphor—misers, accountants, stewards—in helping or hindering a healthy understanding of mission.

Embracing distinctiveness but rejecting tribalism, Donald Jacobs weighs the pros and cons of ethnicity. Elmer Martens examines the book of Ezekiel and demonstrates its sometimes overlooked concern for knowledge of Yahweh to the nations. Calvin Shenk explores the encounter of Jesuit missionaries with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, an exercise in imposing one context upon another rather than letting the gospel adapt itself to the Ethiopian setting. Finally, Wilbert Shenk argues that renewal will come to the church only when it eagerly concerns itself with mission. {5}

In Ministry Compass, Karol Hunt shares the joys and challenges of ministry at high altitude. The issue is concluded with four book reviews and Current Research. There is no Books I Recommend department in this issue; readers are referred to books and articles on mission cited in the major essays.

Douglas Miller, General Editor