Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Author: Wright, Christopher J. H.
ISBN-10: 0830825711 | ISBN-13: 9780830825714
This is a rather long review and because I worry that many people might not get to the end, I’m going to give an abridged review below and also probably one of the most important reasons for purchasing this book:
All the royalties from this book have been irrevocably assigned to Langham Literature (formerly the Evangelical Literature Trust).
Langham Literature is a program of the Langham Partnership International, founded by John Stott. Chris Wright is the International Ministries Director.
Langham Literature distributes evangelical books to pastors, theological students and seminary libraries in the Majority World, and fosters the writing and publishing of Christian literature in many regional languages. For further information on the Langham Literature, and other programs of LPI, visit the website at http://www.langhamparternship.org.
In the USA, the national member of the Langham Partnership International is John Stott Ministries. Visit JSM at http://www.johnstott.org.
Now, that is a good deal for any Christian who loves books. Not only do you receive a new book, you also help pastors and theological students in Africa, South East Asia, Central & South America, build their libraries where Christian books are difficult to obtain! So please consider picking up a copy.
This is a book that’s rather hard to classify. It’s either a biblical theology of mission or it’s a missional reading of the Bible. But according the Christopher Wright, The Mission of God is both. Much of the book arises from one of his classes at All Nations Christian College where he often founded himself telling his students, “I would like to rename [this class]: from ‘The Biblical Basis of Mission” to ‘The Missional Basis of the Bible.’” I wanted them to see not just that the Bible contains a number of texts which happen to provide a rationale for missionary endeavor but that the whole Bible is itself a ‘missional’ phenomenon” (22, his italics).
Part I of the book consists of Wright’s propose for what a missional hermeneutic might look like. This involves a couple elements. A missional hermeneutic must have a global perspective, meaning that multiple perspectives from around the world must be involved. Such a hermeneutical framework must also be in some sense a “liberation” theology in that it would go beyond the “skeleton” of the gospel message. The social, political, economical and spiritual forces of the gospel all must be present because all are part of God’s mission to humanity.
The following sections of the book, parts II-IV, consist of both attempting to apply such a hermeneutic to scripture itself and also developing a biblical theology of mission. Thus in part two, seeks to show that the fundamental truth of scripture is God’s revelation of himself in scripture through Christ Jesus.
“If YHWH alone is the one truth living God who made himself known in Israel and wills to be known to the ends of the earth, then our mission can contemplate no lesser goal (chap. 3)
If Jesus of Nazareth is the one who embodies the identity and mission of YHWH … then the Christ-centered heartbeat and witness of all our mission is nonnegotiable (chap. 4).
If the conflict between the living God and his Christ … and all that human and satanic effort effects in the form of other gods and idols … constitutes the great cosmic drama of the biblical narrative, then our mission must involve us in that conflict with idolatry, assured of the ultimate victory of God over all that opposes his universal reign (chap. 5) (71-72).
Wright’s purpose in Part III is to show that there is a particular people of God who have been elected not only just for salvation but first and foremost for mission—God’s mission. This means both evangelism and social action at the same time. God’s people serving him in him mission in order to both redeem and restore his creation.
Part IV describes the arena of mission: God’s created world. This is a mission that began focused in the land of Israel and has now with the advent of Christ been extended to the whole world. The truth of scripture, Wright argues, is that God’s mission is an eschatological renewal of all creation—the new creation.
So the final question is, does such a reading of scripture, a missional reading, do justice to the text or does it distort? I would suggest in light of Wright’s book that a missional reading is in actuality the best framework for our reading of scripture.
If we believe that God revealed himself to humanity in order to redeem his creation, how else can we read the text that presents that revelation?