Reading Scripture while thinking of Mission

Alan Roxburgh starts his book Missional Map Making with a tough question, “what happens when the maps don’t work any more?” He describes a world where the church looks both inward and to history for understanding and that the Bible is read, in the main, to support such a position[1].  Roxburgh argues that this hermeneutic of ecclesiology or thinking like a church is still embedded in the maps we are using today. However the maps, methods, programs and lessons have less and less relevance in the present world of post-Christian indifference and disengagement. We need to re-imagine the place of the church and the believer in God’s plan as revealed in the Bible[2].

Gorman introduces the Mission of God or Missio Dei. The idea that God is on a mission to save souls, restore His creation and that we as His people have a part to play in this process; to understand as best we can what is His plan is and where we can contribute[3]. Tom Wright re-introduced an interpretation of scripture that has long been out of fashion. By focusing on the resurrection of the new earth and new heaven rather than the idea of life after death, Wright focuses on life after life after death. In particular he brings together an interpretation which integrates the two statements of good news; the first that the Kingdom of God is near and the second that through the resurrection of Jesus we can be sure of the eventual resurrection of believers, the new earth and the new heaven[4]. This is a narrative of action, working with Jesus today bringing the Kingdom into being as agents of God. Wright expands this argument by re-stating that heaven and earth were and are made for each other and intersects most notably with Jesus.  By His command we are also meant to be such intersections.

This hermeneutic of mission is a long way from the rather safe idea of mission currently understood by the church. We are called in Wright’s interpretation to transform and heal the present world, applying the gospel to all of the major problems of the world[5].

[1] Alan J Roxburgh. Missional Map-Making. (San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, 2010). 11

[2] (Roxburgh 2010, 16)

[3] Michael J Gorman. Elements of Biblical Exegesis. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.) 155

[4] Wright, N T. Surprised by Hope. (London: SPCK Publishing, 2011.) 247

[5] (N. T. Wright 2011, 264)