The present paper addresses the question of methodology in theology-missiology’s engagement with migration studies in academic settings. Migration Studies’ rapidly growing literature rarely discusses methodology. While acknowledging that research is always defined by methodology with ontology, epistemology and their assumptions as core-components, the present article perceives migration as a field of inquiry and seeks to create dialogue and conversation on methodology at the level of intra-disciplinarity, multi-disciplinarity and pluri-disciplinarity (Tötösy de Zepetnek and Vasvári 2009). It assumes that methodological nationalism (Wimmer and Glick-Schiller 2002, and Wimmer 2007) penetrates much of migration studies and therefore needs interdisciplinary attention and should be replaced by relevant and innovative approaches to migration. Intra-disciplinarily, the article problematizes two theological conceptualizations of migration: migration as locus theologicus and migration as context. It argues that revisiting meanings attributed to “locus” and “context” will lead to a more relevant contextual theological praxis related to migration. Multi-disciplinarily, it focuses on ethnicity and introduces the models of boundary-making and structuration as means of combating methodological nationalism. As regards pluri-disciplinarity the article issues a call for teamwork fostering methodological awareness.
The present article, with a special attention to migration dynamics, envisions a theology-missiology relevant to both academic and non-academic settings by means of a quest to place theology at the heart of the definition of missiology. The article argues that a theology-missiology defined through ‘love God’ and ‘love your fellow human being’ reboots the agenda for theology’s engagement with migration studies. The article seeks to demonstrate that the ‘hermeneutic of love’ in the Great Commandment leads us to accentuate a theology of ‘creation out of love’ (creatio ex amore), and this hermeneutic further questions the framework of common theological approaches to migration studies, urgently asking for more awareness when building a theological vocabulary of contemporary manifestations of human mobility. The discussion on ‘migrant churches’ points to some problems of the migration terminology used currently. The article ends by spelling out interdisciplinarity in terms of intradisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, pluridisciplinarity, and infradisciplinarity.
Evangelical Missionary Work among Chinese Students in Germany
The present article examines the case of the Freundenkreis für Mission unter Chinesen in Deutschland (Friends of Mission to Chinese in Germany, FMCD) and its Chinesische Leihbücherei (Chinese Lending Library, CLL) to describe and analyze aspects of the complex question of the mission for China and Chinese people, with particular focus on mission work among Chinese students. By presenting the ministry of a German missionary couple, the article argues that the FMCD was one of the first, if not the first network organization after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that envisioned Christian PRC students as important agents in shaping Christianity and generating societal transformations within and beyond China. The case of the FMCD also provides an opportunity to reflect on intercultural encounters enabled by missionary work. The article uses data collected through interviews and participant observation in 2009, 2010 and 2013.