The Mission of the Church: Christopher Wright & James W. Thompson

Eucharist-Mission1I earlier introduced the readers to the writings of Christopher J. H. Wright (no kin to N.T.) in my review of his commentary on Ezekiel. Wright is a marvelous writer, and he’s twice turned his attention to the doctrine of mission.

In The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative Wright builds a hermeneutic based on mission. That is, he takes mission to be the central theme of scripture and then reads the entirety of scripture through that lens. This approach is very similar to John Walton’s Covenant: God Purpose, God’s Plan, which sees scripture through the lens of God’s self-revelation (which the covenants are a major part of). God’s self-revelation is, of course, for a purpose — and that purpose is mission.

Wright later published The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life), which is written for a more popular audience and is about mission rather than hermeneutics. I’m reading this book as I write this series.

Also excellent is an article summarizing one of Wright’s lectures published May 16. I’ll cover this in a future post.

This video from Wright is also excellent —

(I posted this several months ago as well.)

Mission … means: God is keeping his promise to Abraham, and we are to play our part in that. …

It’s not so much that God has a mission for his church; but God has a church for his mission. …

There is no biblical mission without biblical ethics (or living). …

Our identity is to be the people in the world who are to be distinctive in the way that we live. …

It’s a matter of whether we’re helping or hindering the promises of God.

Also, James W. Thompson, a professor at Abilene Christian, just published The Church according to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ. This not a “Church of Christ” book, but rather an engagement with and criticism of the many theories of how to be missional. In essence, Thompson concludes that the best way to learn how to instruct a congregation on how to be the church God wants is to work through Paul’s letters.

He sagely criticizes several popular theories and urges a return to Pauline ecclesiology. He’s not looking at how many children an elder may have or how many “acts of worship” God authorized. Rather, his focus is on how churches are to become the church God desires in terms of what Paul actually focuses on. So while not a book dealing with Church of Christ issues, it actually is a valuable corrective to much Church of Christ teaching, as we have a bad habit of imposing our questions on the text rather than letting the text speak for itself. You see, God not only gives us the answers, he gives us the questions.

And I’ll work though both of these books as we go.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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One Response to The Mission of the Church: Christopher Wright & James W. Thompson

  1. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    I found this link in an article over at Jesus Creed.

    N.T. Wright speaking at Fuller Seminary Northern California. Fascinating stuff.

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