Dr. Wright – The Mission of God 8/24/12
Dr. Wright continues in Chapter II entitled “Shaping a Missional Hermeneutic”:
Page 50 first paragraph, “Thus Howard Marshall sees this as the focal point of New Testament theology. Obviously all the New Testament documents hang together around their recognition of Jesus of Nazareth as Savior and Lord.
It may, however, br more helpful to recognize them more specifically as the documents of a mission. The subject matter is not, as it were, Jesus in Himself of God in Himself but Jesus as Savior and Lord. New Testament theology is essentially missionary theology. By this I mean that the documents came into being as the result of a two-part mission, first the mission of Jesus sent by God to inaugurate His Kingdom with the blessings it brings to people and to call people to respond to it, and then the mission of His followers called to continue His work by proclaiming Him as Lord and Savior and calling people to faith and ongoing commitment to Him, as a result of which His church grows. The theology springs out of this movement and is shaped by it, and in turn the theology shapes the continuing mission of the church…The New Testament thus tells the story of the mission and lays especial emphasis on expounding the message proclaimed by the missionaries. (Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel. Downers Grove, Il.: Intervarsity Press, 2004. pp34-35).
But also in the case of the Old Testament that many of these texts emerged out of the engagement of Israel with the surrounding world, in the light of the God they knew in their history and in covenantal relationship. People produced texts in relation to what they believed God had done, was doing or would do in their world. The Torah records the exodus as an act of YHWH that comprehensively confronted and defeated the power of Pharaoh and all his rival claims to deity and allegiance. It presents a theology of creation that stands in sharp contrast to the poly theistic creation myths of Mesopotamia. The historical narratives portray the long and sorry story of Israel’s struggle with the culture and religion of Canaan, a struggle reflected also in the preexilic prophets.
Paragraph 3 second sentence, “The point being made here is simply that the Bible is in so many ways a missional phenomena in itself. The individual texts within it often reflect the struggles of being a people with a mission in a world of competing cultural and religious claims. And the canon eventually consolidates the recognition that it is through these texts that the people whom God has called to be His own (in both Testaments has been shaped as a community of memory and hope, a community of mission, failure, and striving. Indeed David Filbeck has observed, this missiological thrust provides theological coherence to the Bible, including the relationship of the Testaments.
Indeed, it is this missionary dimension, so often neglected in modern theological interpretation, that unifies both Old and New Testaments and coordinates their various themes into a single motif. It is the logical connection between the Testaments that many modern theologians unfortunately seem to despair of ever finding….In short, the dimension of missions in the interpretation of the Scriptures gives structure to the whole Bible. Any theological study of the Scriptures, therefore, must be formulated with the view of maintaining this structure. The missionary dimension to the interpretation of the Old Testament as displayed in the New Testament, I believe, accomplishes this in a way that no other theological theme can hope to match. (David Filbeck, Yes, God the Gentiles Two: The Missionary message of the Old Testament Wheaton, IL. Billy Graham Center, 1994. p 10.)
In short, a missional hermeneutic proceeds from the assumption that the whole Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation.