Mythiology

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Mythiology is a neologism, a newly coined word. The term ‘mythiology’ was coined by a missionary colleague in South Asia. He used it to refer to one of those casually accepted truths about how to do missions, that may have elements of truth within it -- like most myths -- but in reality is either unbiblical or simply inaccurate. Mythiology sounds like a lispy mispronunciation of “missiology.” If missiology is the biblically sound, well-thought-out examination and implementation of missionary best practices, then mythiology is its defective alter ego. For one reason or another mythiology simply misses the boat.

Mythiology 101 is a place on the CPM website where we will expose misconceptions, half-truths, deceptions and delusions. Regardless of what you may think of classical Calvinism, it’s hard to argue with John Calvin’s doctrine of total depravity, the notion that every part of us (our minds included)

we continue to make foolish – and sometimes self-serving -- mistakes....

has been impacted, twisted, damaged by sin. This is why, even with the Holy Spirit’s help, we continue to make foolish – and sometimes self-serving -- mistakes that cause us to labor fruitlessly under false assumptions, sometimes for years.

While the term mythiology may be a new term, it is certainly not a new factor in the history of Christian missions. Whenever we blindly move forward with a missiological understanding or way of doing missions without examining it for biblical validity and empirical effectiveness, we fall prey to the ravages of mythiology.

Is it biblical and appropriate to expose mythiologies? Fortunately, the Bible is filled with examples of men and women who professed to be pursuing the truth, in some cases even believing they were doing God’s work, who were actually deceiving themselves and working contrary to the will and ways of God.

No biblical story of exploding mythiologies is better known than the prophet Nathan’s famous confrontation of his king over David’s blind infatuation with Bathsheba, a pursuit that turned him into an adulterous murderer. Nathan’s intrepid confrontation climaxed with the words: “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7)!

In the weeks and months ahead we will examine some of the more prevalent mythiologies that plague Great Commission practitioners. Some of the mythiologies we will examine have strategic implications for:

Volunteers and missions

Money and missions

Nationals and missions

Incarnational missions

Oral storying and mission movements

Contextualization and indigenization

Discipleship and evangelism

Ministry and missions

Language learning and missions

Be prepared. Mythiology 101 may leave you a little offended, and a little jolted, but also, hopefully, a little smarter as a result of examining your assumptions, your own pet mythiologies, from a biblical and missiologically informed perspective.