I read Richard Bauckham’s new — and as-yet-unpublished — paper on ‘Mission as Hermeneutic for Scriptural Interpretation’ last night (h/t Mike W). I loved his treatment of the ‘theological geography’ of Christian mission in terms of:
- The centrifugal movement of individuals ‘sent out’ from the gathering of believers,
- The centripetal pull of a community that God is powerfully present in, and
- The exilic scattering/dispersion of churches such that our identity is detached from any one physical centre.
You can get hold of the whole thing HERE. But I want to share this brilliant quote:
[T]he church’s mission takes place between its commissioning by God and the coming of the kingdom of God. It lives from the God who gives and sends and towards the God who gives and comes. We can see how the world of possibilities the biblical narratives create for their readers is not simply a different way of seeing the world, though it is that, nor are the possibilities such as the church’s mission itself can achieve. The missionary church’s “passion for the possible” (Ernst Bloch) is a passion for what is possible with God, for what the church, living faithfully and expectantly, receives as divine gift in every anticipation of the coming kingdom.
Much hunch is that only something like this can break the deadlock between the advocates of Christianity-as-world-transformation and those (like David VanDrunen) who are concerned that this emphasis threatens to unhitch redemption from God’s decisive action in Christ, attaching it instead to God’s continuing presence in Christian engagement with culture…