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René Padilla, Integral Mission and dialog

30 Mar 2010

I had heard of him before, but prompted by the positive mention of René Padilla (humble, controversial, and misunderstood) by a good friend, I did some looking around and was impressed by some of his comments about justice, poverty and “integral mission”. You can see what I looked at and some comments here:”integral+mission”

The last thing I found was a whole issue of IJFM on “Word and Deed: A Century of Polarization”. And, of course, I think about dialog. It seems to me that dialog – listening and understanding the others, fairly representing them, seeking common ground, clearly and carefully identifying differences – is antithetical to polarization – not to disagreement, but to polarization – pushing the other to the far other side.  Unfortunately, as the title of the journal issue might lead us to believe, the polarization is not just happening in the past century.

While I only glanced at the concerned articles, I find Rene Padilla’s response to Little’s article troubling, “After reading this article, I feel that the author has either misunderstood what today is meant by Kingdom-of-God or holistic mission or he has intentionally built a straw man in order to show that his position, in contrast with the one he criticizes, is biblical. In either case, I do not know any advocate of integral or holistic mission who would agree with this description of it.” Like I said, I didn’t read the articles, I don’t know exactly what is happening, but I do know that dialog was not happening – among Christian brothers – and that makes me sad. Although, I do not know the editorial process this went through, this should not be happening at the published END of this kind of engagement and interaction – still these strong feelings of not being understood (whether the misunderstanding is real or imagined – or, most likely, some of both).

BUT, there is another part of me that is glad to see this – to see that this kind of attempt at dialog is happening, to see the messiness out there and not hidden away.  AND I have to hope that the dialog will continue.

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