Biblical Theology and Mission

 Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God is one outstanding book.  I’m grateful to a friend who pointed it out when we were talking about missions and church planting.  I really cannot recommend it enough.  The Mission of God  is quite long and detailed (over 5oo pages!), but Wright’s style is clear, his structure is easy to follow, and his discussions are deeply rooted in Scripture.  This is an ideal book for those of you who are interested in the different aspects of missions and how mission is found in the very fabric of Scripture and redemptive history.

Wright describes the book like this: “My major concern has been to develop an approach to biblical hermeneutics that sees the mission of God (and the participation in it of God’s people) as a framework within which we can read the whole Bible.  Mission is, in my view, a major key that unlocks the whole grand narrative of the canon of Scripture.  To that extent I offer this study not only as a biblical reflection on mission but also…as an exercise in biblical theology” (p. 17).

Here are a few more quotes along those lines.

“The writings that now compose our Bible are themselves the product of and witness to the ultimate mission of God” (p. 48).

“A missional hermeneutic, then, cannot read biblical indicatives without their implied imperatives.  Nor can it isolate biblical imperatives from the totality of the biblical indicative.  It seeks a holistic understanding of mission from a holistic reading of the biblical texts” (p. 61).

“Mission is not ours; mission is God’s.  Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in” (p. 62).

I think the main burden of Wright’s book is outstanding: solid biblical theology has much to do with God’s mission of saving sinners from sin.  Missions, church planting, and evangelism should not be foreign topics when it comes to biblical theology.  Hearing the story of salvation, believing it, and becoming part of it should lead us to share that story with the world.  In negative terms, biblical theology that misses the missional emphasis is lacking a major strand of the inscripturated record of God’s work in history.

Pastors, teachers, and missionaries, get this book; I hope it challenges and motivates you (like it did me!) to pray for and desire a greater role in God’s amazing mission of salvation.  Of course we don’t save sinners or continue the incarnation, but we can tell others about this mission of God and live lives which make it clear that we have been swept up into this great work God is doing in Christ through the Spirit by the church in the world.

shane lems

sunnyside, wa

1 thought on “Biblical Theology and Mission”

  1. Hey Shane,
    I second your recommendation! I read this book for an independent study a while ago and loved it. It’s one of those books that I intend to read every once in a while. I loved his emphasis on God’s mission as central to the Bible. He also did a fantastic job of showing the Trinitarian impulse operant within the Old Testament (not something most people/scholars expect to find in the OT). I showed it to another PhD student in my program, and he is reading it right now and can’t get enough. In his opinion it is one of the best “biblical theologies” out there (an opinion I share).

    Anyway, for anyone teetering on the edge of whether to get it or not, I heartily recommend it. Like Shane says BUY THIS BOOK!

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