Terror Management Theory: Missiological Applications in Times of Crisis

David R Dunaetz
2020 unpublished
Terror Management Theory seeks to explain the human motivation to find meaning in life. The theory proposes that humans experience anxiety, even terror, when faced with the reality of their own mortality. To manage this anxiety, humans are motivated to adopt worldviews that indicate that they are significant (in contrast to meaningless) and that they will endure beyond death, either figuratively or literally. Global crises, such as natural disasters, terrorism, or war, make human mortality
more » ... uman mortality salient on a large scale. In such situations, humans are more than ever motivated to seek an afterlife, to act in a way to be remembered favorably after death, and to identify with communities that will transcend the duration of their own life. These conditions make some individuals especially open to the gospel which explains how humans can experience eternal life, how they can live righteous lives full of love, and how they can fit into both the Christian community and the Missio Dei. Missionaries should use this openness to the gospel in sensitive and loving ways to help victims of global crises discover a solution to the existential terror that they experience when facing their own mortality. The loving response of missionaries is to proclaim the Christian worldview so that people can make sense out of the crisis and respond positively to the gospel.
doi:10.13140/rg.2.2.19834.44481 fatcat:d4bvicgthna7fhdajm5elnaqqq