After many years on the periphery of theological studies, the study of mission has increased in prominence and is now recognized as an important element in understanding the Scriptures, the church’s role in the world, and the world in light of the gospel.
The most intriguing element of this missiological renaissance is the disparate nature of its origins and influence. One can find various theological streams and various theologians in agreement that missiology has been an underrepresented aspect in theological discussion surrounding Scriptural interpretation.
For example, several recent commentaries on the writings of Paul put forth “mission” as the key to understanding his purpose for writing. Romans, once lauded as the epicenter of systematic theology in the New Testament, is routinely considered as a missiological treatise, with Paul’s missionary hopes at the forefront of the letter’s interpretation. (Consider William B. Barclay’s address to the Evangelical Theological Society in 1999, “Reading Romans Missiologically.)
I’ve decided to devote the next few Mondays to the subject of mission. In upcoming weeks, I will summarize three recent theologies of mission and consider the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Here’s what we’ll be looking at:
- Andreas Köstenberger and Peter O’Brien’s Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission provides a summary of the Bible’s teaching on mission from a salvation-historical viewpoint.
- Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative takes a step further and seeks to establish missiology as the hermeneutical key to understanding the Scriptures.
- Eckhard Schnabel’s Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods makes an important contribution to this discussion due to the in depth treatment of Paul’s missionary thinking.
Because these books have different purposes, they cannot be evaluated simply in terms of their overall helpfulness. Instead, working from a common theme of mission, I will note the benefits and drawbacks of each book in light of their goals.
Looking forward to talking mission on Mondays!