Mission

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Mission (Lat., missio, ‘sending’). The sense of obligation in all religions to share their faith and practice with others, generally by persuasion, occasionally by coercion (see e.g. MARRANOS). The emphasis on mission varies from religion to religion. Thus in the case of Judaism, there was a strong practice of mission in the period of the second Temple. But after the failure of the two Jewish revolts, Judaism reconceived its vocation, and understood it to be the development of a holy community which is preparing the way for the coming of the messiah. Thus converts (who mainly come through marriage) are almost discouraged by being reminded of the burden of Torah-observation which they will have to carry.

Christianity, in contrast, believes that the messiah has come, that he is Jesus Christ, and that he has commanded his disciples to go out into all the world, proclaiming the good news (i.e. gospel), and baptizing all who believe. The 19th cent. was one of immense missionary expansion, somewhat contradicted by its own multiple divisions, often conducted with extreme rivalry and animosity. To overcome this, the Edinburgh Conference was convened in 1910, which became the origin of the modern ecumenical movement. Further Conferences (e.g., Jerusalem, 1928) were convened by the new International Missionary Council (IMC, 1921), which itself amalgamated with the World Council of Churches in 1961.

Islam is necessarily missionary (see DAʿWA) because it is derived from Muḥammad's absolute and unequivocal realization that for God to be God, there cannot be other than what he is. Thus other religions are assessed in terms of their description of God and attitude to him: on the one hand, there are ‘peoples of the Book’ (ahl al-Kitab), who have received their own Qurʾān, even though they have not preserved it without corruption, and they are the closest to God; on the other, there are those who are far from God, above all those who continue in any form of idolatry. There is to be ‘no compulsion in religion’ (Qurʾān 2. 257/6), but there is to be zeal in defending the honour of God.

It is sometimes felt that Eastern religions are less inclined to mission than Christianity and Islam, but that is only partially true. The process of rebirth will eventually bring all to the opportunity of mokṣa (release) without a necessity being imposed on Hindus to go out and accelerate the process. Nevertheless, in the 19th cent. societies were formed to propagate Hinduism (or rather, movements within the Hindu way); and in the 20th cent. some of the fastest growing new religious movements have been Hindu-based, attracting many converts.

In the case of Buddhism, the same consideration of rebirth obtains, but there was originally a far greater emphasis on making disciples. Within a few centuries, through the work of such figures as Bodhidharma and Kumārajīva, Buddhism had spread through China to Korea, and thence eventually to Japan. There have been a few societies formed with the intention of winning others to the Buddha's way, but these have not been so influential as have individuals in the West.

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mis·sion / ˈmishən/ • n. an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel: a fact-finding mission to China. ∎  [treated as sing. or pl.] a group of people taking part in such an assignment: by then, the mission had journeyed more than 3,500 miles. ∎  [in sing.] an organization or institution involved in a long-term assignment in a foreign country: the majestic garden of the West German mission | [as adj.] the mission school. ∎  the vocation or calling of a religious organization, esp. a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith: the Christian mission | Gandhi's attitude to mission and conversion. ∎  a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling: his main mission in life has been to cut unemployment. ∎  an expedition into space. ∎  an operation carried out by military aircraft at a time of conflict: he was shot down on a supply mission.

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Mission ★★ 2000

New York native Marvin (Coburn) moves to the Mission District of San Francisco to write a novel. He rooms with wannabe musician Jay (Leonard) and falls for beauty Ima (Holt), who tells him that he's too uptight to be a good writer. Well, if the Mission District can't loosen Marvin up, he's doomed. 87m/ C VHS, DVD . Chris Coburn, Joshua Leonard, Sandrine Holt, Bellamy Young, Adam Arkin; D: Loren Marsh; W: Loren Marsh; C: Matthew Uhry.

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mission † sending, esp. abroad XVI; sending forth on a service (spec. Mission of the Holy Ghost) or with authority; body of persons sent; commission, errand XVII; establishment of missionaries XVIII; personal duty or vocation XIX; operational sortie XX. — F. mission or L. missiō, -ōn-, f. miss-, pp. stem of mittere let go, send; see -ION.
So missionary XVII.

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mission mission creep a gradual shift in objectives during the course of a military campaign, often resulting in an unplanned long-term commitment.
mission statement a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual; a concept which won an important place in the business jargon of the 1990s, although opinions were divided as to the effective value of such expressions of aspiration.

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Mission

a body of persons sent to a foreign country to conduct negotiations, 1626; such a body sent by a religious community for the conversion of the heathen, 1622Wilkes.

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