New book by Michael Gorman on a missional approach to Paul’s letters

Gorman - Becoming the GospelMichael Gorman has a new book out that approaches Paul’s letters from a missional perspective, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission. It is published by Eerdmans and is part of the Gospel and Our Culture Series.

In an interview on the Eerdmans blog he is asked to describe the book in 20 words: ‘Paul calls us not only to believe the gospel but also to become the gospel and thereby to advance the gospel.’

Here is the contents and publisher description:

Invitation: Becoming the Gospel
1. Paul and the Mission of God
2. Reading Paul Missionally
3. Becoming the Gospel of Faith(fulness), Love, and Hope: 1 Thessalonians
4. Becoming and Telling the Story of Christ: Philippians
5. Becoming the Gospel of Peace (I): Overview
6. Becoming the Gospel of Peace (II): Ephesians
7. Becoming the Justice of God: 1 & 2 Corinthians
8. Becoming the Gospel of God’s Justice/Righteousness and Glory: Missional Theosis in Romans
Final Reflections: Becoming the Gospel (Reprise)

The first detailed exegetical treatment of Paul’s letters from the emerging discipline of missional hermeneutics, Michael Gorman’s Becoming the Gospel argues that Paul’s letters invite Christian communities both then and now to not merely believe the gospel but to become the gospel and, in doing so, to participate in the life and mission of God. Showing that Pauline churches were active public participants in and witnesses to the gospel, Gorman reveals the missional significance of various themes in Paul’s letters. He also identifies select contemporary examples of mission in the spirit of Paul, inviting all Christians to practice Paul-inspired imagination in their own contexts. He reveals the missional significance of faithfulness, hope and love in 1 Thessalonians; of Christlike servitude in Philippians; of peace, especially in Ephesians; of cruciform justice in the Corinthian correspondence; and of righteousness and glory in Romans. Finally, Becoming the Gospel identifies select contemporary examples of mission in the spirit of Paul, inviting all Christians to use their Paul-inspired imaginations in their own context to participate more fully in the life and mission of God.

Thinking theologically about adoption and fostering

home for good

Last week I attended an excellent event on ‘Adoption, Justification and the Hospitality of God’, which was run by Home for Good, the EA, and St Millitus College. The purpose was to reflect theologically on adoption both as a ‘vertical’ phenomenon (being adopted into God’s family) and as a ‘horizontal’ act of fostering and adoption.

We were treated to a number of different talks from a range of eminent scholars and perspectives. With that fresh in my mind I came back to Redcliffe to teach two different OT classes (one on Isaiah and one on Genesis 1-12) and tried to reflect on what we were reading in the text in the light of what I had been hearing yesterday. Here are a couple of brief reflections:

Isaiah class

We were looking at Isa. 61 and considering the transformation God promised to the Israelites, but how it is indicative of the kind of work that is indicative of who God and, therefore, the kinds of work he calls us to. I enjoyed a quote from Walter Brueggemann on vv. 1-4:

there is a series of infinitive verbs to inventory what this empowered human agent will do: “to bring, to bind up, to proclaim, to release, to proclaim, to comfort, to provide, to give” (vv. 1b-3). All of these actions are powerful ministries to the weak, the powerless, and the marginalised to restore them to full function in a community of well-being and joy.

Genesis 1-12 class

We were looking at this video by David Firth, who highlights ‘alienation’ as a result of the sin in Gen. 3 and a key motif in what is wrong with the world and reflected on how the gospel is a transformation of bringing into relationship what has been alienated.

In both cases it struck me that the Old Testament has a profound and enormous capacity to speak into the critical questions concerning the care of vulnerable children. There was a sense coming from the conference that there is much valuable work to be done in thinking theologically about adoption and fostering. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

To find out more about the initiative please visit:

The Asbury Journal and missional hermeneutics

Asbury Journal

The Asbury Journal has an issue available for free online which touches on a missional reading of the Bible at various points (most notably, the articles by Lines and Stone).

You can download the articles at this web address: The Asbury Journal

Here are some links:

Journal in Entirety

Jerry Hwang on The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve

The latest issue of the Tyndale Bulletin (65.2 2014) includes a article looking at the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets: ”My Name Will Be Great Among the Nations’: The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve’ (pp.161-180) by Jerry Hwang at Singapore Bible College. Here’s the abstract (you will need a subscription to the journal to read the whole article):

Recent OT scholarship has increasingly recognised that the Minor Prophets were compiled by Hebrew scribes to be read as a cohesive anthology. While acknowledging that each book of the Minor Prophets exhibits a distinctive individuality, scholars continue to debate how to interpret the collection as a coherent whole. In this vein, I propose that the major themes of the Minor Prophets – land, kingship, the move from judgement to salvation, and the relationship of Israel to the nations – fine a unifying link in the missio Dei. The plan of God to redeem his entire creation is progressively unfolded in the Minor Prophets, in that the apostasy of God’s people in God’s land (Hosea; Joel) is but the first step in a history of redemption which culminates with the recognition by all nations that YHWH alone is worthy: ‘For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations’ (Mal. 1:11). As such, the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets not only provides a reading strategy for interpreting the collection as a unified Book of the Twelve; it also shows how the Minor Prophets make a unique contribution to an OT theology of mission.

Wrestling with the Big Questions: A Day In Job at LICC

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.15.17On 26 January I will be leading a day on the book of Job at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. If you are in the London area do come along!

Here are some details from LICC’s website:

Wrestling with the Big Questions: A Day in Job

The book of Job speaks a compelling word of honesty and hope into the deepest and most difficult of human experiences. Job’s story of suffering and the process he goes through with his comforters and with God is just as relevant for Christians and local churches today as we wrestle with our own questions and the questions of those around us.

Join us for this day workshop exploring the background, content, and contemporary vitality of the book of Job. Combining teaching sessions with opportunities for discussion, the day will be suitable for all those who would value an opportunity to dig deeper into the book of Job, exploring how Scripture nurtures Christian identity and mission in the world today.

The day will be led by Dr Tim Davy, Director of Research and Innovation at Redcliffe College in Gloucester. Having worked in student ministry in the UK and Russia, he has taught Biblical Studies and Mission at Redcliffe since 2004, and recently completed his PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job.

Things you need to know:

Date: Monday 26 January 2015, 10.30am-4.00pm (coffee from 10.00am)
Venue: LICC, St Peter’s, Vere Street, London W1G 0DQ
Cost: £18 – includes lunch and light refreshments throughout the day
Booking: Book online. Alternatively you can email us or call us on 020 7399 9555

100 questions for missional Bible reading – question 2

“How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”

We continue our series of 100 questions for missional Bible reading by asking a slightly different question concerning the missio Dei. In question one I asked, “How does this text fit into the big story of God’s mission?”. So how is today’s question different?

Over the last few years I have been working on a PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job at the University of Gloucestershire, under the supervision of Prof. Gordon McConville. Many more post on this topic to follow(!), but the key thing I want to pick out today is that asking how a text ‘fits into’ the big story of the Bible is only one (albeit important) way of probing the relationship between the text and that story.

Why is it that writing on the Old Testament and mission often ends up circling around texts that progress the chronological storyline or ‘plot’ of the Bible? It is easy to see how a text like Gen. 12:1-3 fits into and progresses the story of God’s purposes in the world because it is a key point in the chronological development of that story.

But what about those texts that do not progress the storyline, like Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs, etc? It seems to be that they require a different kind of question to unlock more fully their relationship with the grand narrative. Hence my original, if rather general and bland question, “How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”

In the case of Job, one of the ways it can be seen as relating to the grand narrative is not by fitting into it but standing apart from it. More on this at a later date. In the meantime, let me ask you a question: Which biblical texts do you think are neglected in mission thinking and practice, and why do you think they are?

100 questions for missional Bible reading – question 1

“How does this text fit into the big story of God’s mission?”

The first question in our series on ‘100 questions for missional Bible reading’ (see series introduction post here) is perhaps the most basic and most commonly asked. The purpose of the missional interpretation of Scripture is to read biblical texts in the light of the missional nature of the Bible. I’ll be unpacking this statement repeatedly over the coming months but at its most basic level we need to read the Bible with the recognition that it is telling a story, or rather, THE story.

Writing about the OT Chris Wright has recently written the following which I think is a helpful way of unpacking the question, although as I will suggest in future posts, this quote at least also seems to assume something quite limiting as we consider the relationship between biblical texts and the big story of the Bible; i.e., that a text relates to the story by ‘fitting into it’. Nevertheless, it’s a very good starting point that provides a baseline for a lot of missional reflection on the Bible:

This is the great overarching framework of the biblical narrative, which renders to us the mission of God… a missional hermeneutic will work hard to read any text in the Old Testament canon within this overarching narrative framework, discerning its place within that framework, assessing how the shape of the grand narrative is reflected in the text in question, and conversely, how the particular text contributes to and moves forward the grand narrative itself. (Wright, ‘Mission and OT Interpretation’, in Bartholomew and Beldman’s Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God’s Address (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), p. 184.)

100 questions for missional Bible reading – series introduction

This morning I was talking to a Luke-Acts class about the kind of questions we might ask that could help bring out the missional nature of the Bible. Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time thinking about this whole area and it seems to me that there are numerous questions one could ask.

So this morning I have set myself a challenge: over the coming months (years?) I will try to write a series of one hundred blog posts on such questions. I’d like to try and think of one hundred questions that we could ask of the text as we seek to read it missionally.

This is deliberately ambitious: partly to push myself to think creatively, and partly in an attempt to demonstrate that missional hermeneutics opens up all kinds of possibilities that can enrich personal Bible reading, the church, and scholarship.

What questions would you include?

Rahab and a Gentile Exodus

There is an interesting article in a recent issue of the Tyndale Bulletin by Nicholas Lunn looking at whether the rescue of the Canaanite Rahab in the book of Joshua might be understood as a kind of ‘Gentile Exodus’. In ‘The Deliverance of Rahab (Joshua 2, 6) as the Gentile Exodus’ (Tyndale Bulletin 65.1 (2014), 11-19) Lunn observes a number of intertextual connections between the Rahab story and the Exodus story (particularly in Exodus 12-15), which he thinks suggest an intentional association of the two passages.

I won’t go into the details of these links but one of his concluding statements is worth noting here:

When the latter [the Rahab story] is read in association with the earlier deliverance account it becomes apparent that the rescue of Rahab and her family is being presented as another exodus. It may be considerably smaller in scale in comparison, yet it was an exodus, or a ‘bringing out’, nevertheless. Yet this was patently a wholly Gentile exodus. In keeping with the promise made to the Hebrew forefathers, that not just they themselves would possess the land, but that blessing would also come to those of other nations (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14), now a Gentile family received a blessing through Israel. In sparing the Canaanite family the Hebrews were in fact extending to Gentiles the [hesed], the special covenant love, that they themselves enjoyed. Accordingly, as far as Rahab is concerned, the narrative ends with the statement that ‘she lives in the midst of Israel to this day’ (Josh. 6:25). She and those with her had, so to speak, become ‘grafted in’ to Israel.

For me this is interesting as it connects the Rahab story with what has gone before and in an integrated way, whereas I have usually seen her story discussed as a type of what is to come (cf. the scarlet chord) or as an example (perhaps fairly isolated) of God dealing with non-Israelites in the OT.

Questions remain, of course. The deliverance of Rahab is a rescue from the destruction of Jericho by the Israelites as part of their entry into the land. I think a fuller treatment would need to address her story in the context of this difficult area of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Lunn’s article is a very welcome contribution to the place of Rahab’s story in a missional reading of Scripture.

What do you think of Lunn’s suggestions? How else might we approach Rahab’s story missionally?

Scripture Engagement and student ministry

IFES Scripture Engagement websiteIFES have been developing its Scripture Engagement activities and resources through a blog. You can visit the site here: IFES Scripture Engagement. Here is the ‘About’ description:

Welcome to a vast topic which none of us will ever finish exploring. Scripture engagement is about all of life. It is listening and responding to God’s Word alone and together with others. It is digesting and living out the Word in every relationship and circumstance. It is unashamedly and competently sharing God’s good news in our world. Above all, Scripture engagement is meeting the Living Word in the written word – meeting Jesus and receiving his life.

This blog does not presume to address all aspects of this topic. It does not try and capture everything that is happening in IFES. Its aim is to help you stop and think again about Scripture engagement in your life and community. Its aim is to inspire you through IFES stories and ideas from around the world. In the hope that together we will learn to more fully love, study, live, and share God’s Word.