Jane Collier and Raphael Esteban present a thoughtful and disturbing critique of Western culture. They see the West as obsessed by the "culture of economism"--a pervasive and often oppressive culture in which economic causes or factors become the main source of cultural meanings and values. Such economism, they point out, perpetrates inequality, injustice, divisions among people (especially rich and poor), and a host of other evils throughout the world.
The culture of economism touches all of us and is, in fact, manifest also in the organizational culture of the church. In many respects, the church has allied itself with the culture of economism (complicity), participating in a shared history of conquest and oppression. But recent paradigm shifts at the organizational level in both the church (spawned by awareness that the Spirit works in all places and in all cultures) and economism (spawned by the awareness of the basic failure of economism and its institutions to produce human happiness and of its power to demolish so much that is good in the world) present a window of opportunity for mission.
Collier and Esteban believe that mission within and to the "culture of economism" needs to be a mission of encounter in which each challenges the other to conversion. Such conversion does not necessarily imply the abandonment of power, but the abandonment of its misuses and the commitment to the pursuit of the good. At that point there is "no longer master and slave, Gentile and Jew, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus."
Jane Collier is an economist and theologian who lectures in Management Studies at the University of Cambridge. Raphael Esteban, M.Afr., is a theologian and missiologist who lectures at the Missionary Institute, London, on the social and economic context of mission.
From Complicity to Encounter by Jane Collier; Rafael Esteban was published by Continuum in December 1998. The ISBN for From Complicity to Encounter is 9781563382604.