Missional Journal Vol. 4 No. 1 – Theological Hospitality

David Buschart argues that theological boundaries are not an obstacle to hospitality but actually a necessary concomitant.  He writes, “Not only do boundaries help define who we are, but also the recognition and maintenance of boundaries constitutes a necessary condition for effective and sustainable hospitality.  Without boundaries, hospitality is impossible.  People in “helping professions” know this.  It they are to be of help, therapists, nurses, ministers and doctors must establish and maintain appropriate boundaries between themselves and the people they sesrve. Would-be helpers will be of little use if they lose a sense of their own identity and  completely identify with the person they hope to assist.  The same is true of those who extend hospitality.”  What do you think?


7 Responses to Missional Journal Vol. 4 No. 1 – Theological Hospitality

  1. Steve says:

    Dear Dave,
    I think that biblical unity is emphasized in scripture, and that the barrier is broken down between Jew and Gentile in Christ.
    I also think that Jesus approached others with absolute purity and love. He knows we are but human and identifies with our weaknesses. However, He said that we should love our neighbor as we love ourself. So the point of the matter is to respect others but to also extend the love of Christ through us.

  2. Jack Merzig says:

    Dear President Dunbar,
    Eugene H. Peterson has written, “A culture of inhospitality forebodes resurrection famine.” (Living the Resurrection, 2006)

    Your article on theological hospitality shifts the discussion of generous orthodoxy forward in a more productive direction. Your direction offers hope for the maturing of both intra-evangelical and Kingdom-culture relationships. Your writing opens a path of faithfulness to be in our present world and yet not like our present world. In this way, as you highlight Buschart’s insight, our boundaries are not a barrier to a proper hospitality. True hospitality embodies (incarnates) the Trinitarian life of God Himself. This is The Hospitality that God desires to be reflected (and nurtured) in His redeemed community — the Church — as we relate to Him in worship and as we relate to the world in witness.

    Do the mysterious “boundaries” of divine identity diminish the Almighty? Not at all.

    I rejoice that our Lord Jesus intends us to be a counter-culture light of gracious hospitality which presages a resurrection feast to His honor and glory!

    Blessings and Peace, Jack

  3. David Wiggin says:

    Dear Dr. Dunbar,

    Thank you for an excellent article. I look forward to reading more about it in John Armstrong’s book.

    As I read your article, I was reminded of the recent Manhattan Declaration. Despite the many good dimensions of the declaration, I believe it crossed the line of a “robust, historic, Trinitarian orthodoxy” to what one author described as a “confused sort of ecumenical theology”.

    Would you care to comment?


  4. Dave Dunbar says:

    I hadn’t seen the quote from Eugene Peterson before. Not quite clear on what he means by “resurrection famine” but it sounds intriguing! Thanks for the comment.

    The Manhattan Declaration references “the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love.” Is there any problem with that? Certainly if we were to develop a fully blown statement of trinitarian belief much more would need to be said. But the declaration is a statement of social and political ethics. It is a fine statement. It what sense is it theologically “confused”?

  5. David Wiggin says:

    Dr. Dunbar,

    I support the unity of social and political purpose of the groups included – “Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians”.

    While theologians in each of these categories are monotheistic and trinitarian as you point out, the the shared commitment to “proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness” varies significantly among the three (e.g. justification), and thereby isn’t really shared.

    It’s the context of the shared commitment and the variations in theology that led me to say it was confused.

  6. Chang says:

    Thank you for your journals…I learn somthing from it. Different perspective is needed sometimes for more plentiful God’s communities. I agree with it. I was comfortable to hear that white theology was not always good for the kingdom of God. The “founder effect” theory is very interesting to me as a new one. Add to it, I’d like to comment that we, as missional christians, need to pick the real sound of holy spirit among many many voices around us. Thank you again!

  7. Jack Merzig says:

    Dear Dr. Dunbar,
    This snowy day…I found the Peterson quote again and an explanation! (See page 59 of his book, Living the Resurrection.) Here is a brief treatment.

    Our general decline of hospitality (and the decline of the relational skills associated with sharing meals)may be what Peterson has in mind when he writes of “a culture of inhospitality.” Peterson notes that within the context of meals together, spiritual formation can best take place. (Well do I remember the conversations in the Gordon-Conwell student lunch room when a few faculty would steer clear of the faculty room and plunge in with us students.)

    Peterson states: “Two of our Gospel writers — Luke and John — insist on the importance of resurrection meals. The unimaginable transcendence of resurrection is assimilated into the most routine and ordinary of actions — eating a meal. We have a long tradition among Christians, given shape and content by our Scriptures, that practices the preparing, serving, and eating of meals as formational for living the resurrection. A culture of inhospitality forebodes resurrection famine.”

    Our evangelical churches may think it weathered the storm of modernism but it is now more of a splintered boat. Yes, all the little splinters are floating but the ship of old Christendom will not likely be reformed. Switching metaphors… We are currently in a “resurrection famine” among the diversity of churches. But a renewal and rediscovery of hospitality attitudes and skills could portend a renewed family life among God’s people. Like the grace which faithfully accompanies humility, marginalization in our culture need not mean ineffectiveness in manifesting Jesus’ transforming love.

    In MJ4.1 you argue for the value of “theological hospitality” for promoting a more biblical unity among the people of God. I heartily agree. And although Peterson is making application for individual and local church formation, I see an application of his writing to the broader strengthening of the “gene pool”(MJ4.2)

    Along with a consideration of “aligning the message lived with the message proclaimed,” might there be some reflections on the inner attitudes and the social skills which will foster theological hospitality?

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