In his article this past Wednesday at Christianity Today, Bishop Hwa Yung considers how mistakes in missions over the past several hundred years have created a sense of guilt in the Western conscience.
But he says it’s important to understand where that guilt really comes from.
The very fact of Western guilt may be one of the supreme evidences for the enduring validity of the gospel in the post-Christian West. For it shows that the gospel has the power to shape the conscience of a culture, even when its propositional claims have been forgotten or largely rejected by that culture.
Then he exhorts Westerners to understand what the correct response to that guilt should be.
Yes, Western guilt should lead to repentance for presumptuous, insensitive, ethnocentric, and triumphalistic missions. The wrong conclusion, however, is to suggest that we must forgo Western missions because such missions have lost integrity. The very guilt that troubles the Western conscience over past failures points to the moral power and enduring validity of the gospel. Without this burden of guilt, which the Spirit imparts, this world would be far more cruel, heartless, unjust, and oppressive than it is. . . . Thus, the Western guilt complex properly understood is also a profound call to humble confidence and boldness in mission. (emphasis added)
Read the rest of Yung’s article for his two recommendations for how Americans in particular might respond to the call to missions.