Wright, Christopher J.H. The Mission of God. Unlocking the Bible’s grand narrative. IVP Academic. 2006.
C.W.- (Ph.D. Cambridge) director of international ministries for the Langham Partnership International (John Stott Ministries).
The thesis of this book (author) is that the grand narrative of the Bible is all about mission, God’s mission. The focus of that mission is God’s creation and the people of that creation who are made in God’s image. This is a major academic work and I feel apologetic for a brief and probably very incomplete review of this challenging resource.
“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.” (CJHW)
Definitions are presented for some key words in this presentation, i.e. “mission, missionary, missional and missiological”. (22) e.g. “Mission- our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.” (23) Missionary activities will be evaluated by a biblical mission approach. In what is identified as ‘the Great Commission’ (Mathew 28), the word “go” legitimizes the thrust of evangelistic missions, but the process of that going involves the challenge of discipling.
Such grand topics as “the Great commission, the Great Commandment, and the Grand Communication” (61) must be approached with a ‘missional hermeneutic’.
The “God of mission” ((71) is none other than YHWH the one and only God. This God of Israel is revealed through Israel’s ‘exodus’ from Egypt and the return from Babylonian captivity. Israel’s faith is an extreme form of monotheism. The Lord Jesus Christ is YHWH incarnated. His activities as creator, ruler, judge, and Savoir are the same as the activities of YHWH. He cannot be compared to any other. “Praise is the proper and primary stance or mode of existence of the created order to the Creator.” (134) Anything in a ‘believers’ life that deprives God of his proper glory is a source of idolatry.
It is suggested that Abraham was the first to be given ‘the Great Commission’ when he was chosen by God to be the progenitor of his people. “Blessing for the nations is the bottom line, textually and theologically, of God’s promise to Abraham.” (194) His election and calling went way beyond his personal life. “Election is of course, in the light of the whole Bible, election unto salvation. But it is first election to mission.” (264) The exodus is the story of God’s redemption of Israel but it is a foreshadowing of God’s greater redemptive work through Christ on the cross. Restoration follows redemption. Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom of God clearly had significance as an actual restoration and a rule of YHWH on earth.
God’s covenant with Abraham was the most significant missional covenant that had been made and it was reconfirmed on Mt. Sinai. “The Great Commission is nothing less than a universalized covenant proclamation.” (355)
“The arena of God’s mission is the earth and humanity.” (395) Creation care is an important part of mission. The devastation of sin gives urgency to this mission. “Our missional response must be as radical and comprehensive as the problem we address in the name of Christ and the power of the cross.” (452) All of Scripture is focused on the nations of the world and God’s relationship with humanity. The prophets declared this mission of God. Isaiah spoke of the redemption and restoration of all nations (humanity). God uses nations as agents of judgment and recipients of mercy.
“Jesus’ earthly ministry was launched by a movement that aimed at the restoration of Israel. But he himself launched a movement that aimed at the ingathering of the nations as the new messianic people of God.” (506) Peter, Philip, and Paul demonstrated a focus of ministry that included ‘the nations’.