Psalms and the missional formation of the Church

A Light to the Nations by Michael GoheenI’m really enjoying Michael Goheen’s book,  A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story. Here’s a nice quote on the relationship between the Psalms and the formation of the people of God, and how this relates to our engagement in God’s mission:

We get a glimpse of the richness of Israel’s worship when we read Israel’s temple hymnbook – the psalms, which prompt the people to thanksgiving, wisdom, commitment, repentance, joy, and obedience. The psalms nourish faithfulness in all its dimensions, so that Israel might be an attractive display people. Israel’s worship and liturgy also creates an alternative worldview to that of its pagan neighbors, opening up a very different way of seeing and living in the world. It offers an unclouded vision of the world in which the one true God, Israel’s God, is creator of all things, ruler of nature and history, and merciful savior. Rodney Clapp captures this perspective on worship in the title of his chapter on the church’s worship: “Welcome to the real world.” In the midst of the land, before the nations, Israel’s worship celebrates the one true God and his mighty deeds in history. What Paul Jones says about the church is certainly first true of Israel: “Inasmuch as the Church is anchored in the gracious acts of God, corporate worship sustains and transmits Christian identity formation.” And so in these ways Israel’s identity and self-understanding, its role and calling in the midst of the nations, are constantly celebrated and nourished by its liturgy. (pp.57-58)

One question that arises for me is, ‘In what ways are we celebrating and nourishing our role and calling in the midst of the nations?’

What do you think?

PS. If you are interested in the relationship between the Psalter and the mission of God, have a look at the June 2010 issue of Encounters Mission Journal, which was on the theme of The Psalms and Mission. It features the following articles:

  • Editorial:  The Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission.
    (Tim Davy, 761 words, pdf 54 KB)
  • Article 1:  The Nations in the Psalms.
    (Prof Gordon Wenham, 5513 words, pdf 65 KB)
  • Article 2:  The Nations in the Psalms and the Psalms in the Nations – a response.
    (Tim Davy, 912 words, pdf 51 KB)
  • Article 3:  Psalms 1-2 as an Introduction to Reading the Psalms Missionally.
    (Dr Brian Russell, 2083 words, pdf 51 KB)
  • Article 4:  Reflections on the Nations in the Psalms.
    (Eddie Arthur, 485 words, pdf 23 KB)
  • Article 5:  The Nations in Isaiah 40-55.
    (Rev Dr David Spriggs, 1218 words, pdf 37 KB)
  • Article 6:  Missionary Attrition and the Psalms of Lament.
    (Name withheld, 1041 words, pdf 41 KB)
  • Article 7:  A Missional Reading of Psalm 47.
    (Tony Hughes, 1664 words, pdf 48 KB)
  • Article 8:  Praying the Psalms.
    (Rev Dr Ian Stackhouse, 2598 words, pdf 59 KB)


  • Book Review 1:  Transformation after Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Global-local Perspective.
    (by Al Tizon; Regnum Books)
  • Book Review 2:  Understanding and Using the Bible.
    (edited by Christopher J.H. Wright and Jonathan Lamb; SPCK)


Michael Goheen on Bible and Mission – lots of resources and a new book

A Light to the Nations by Michael GoheenMichael Goheen, a key writer in the field of Bible and mission, has just brought out a new book, which I’m looking forward to reading very much. In this post I want to do two things: highlight A Light to the Nations, and make you aware of other useful resources by Goheen that will aid those engaged in the thinking and practice of Bible and mission.

1. A Light to the Nations

There aren’t many book-length treatments of a missional hermeneutic of the Scriptures (exceptions would be Chris Wright’s The Mission of God, Bauckham’s The Bible and Mission,  Beeby’s Canon and Mission, and Brownson’s Speaking the Truth With Love), so Goheen’s book is a very welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the subject.

One of the interesting (albeit overly-simplistic) questions to ask of anyone writing on Bible and mission is, ‘Is this a biblical scholar with an interest in mission, or a missiologist writing about biblical studies?’. Goheen is Geneva Professor of Worldview and Religious Studies at Trinity Western University and his doctorate was on Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiology. Check out two volumes he has co-authored with Craig Bartholomew on the Biblical story and worldview, The Drama of Scripture and Living at the Crossroads.

Here’s the blurb and contents for A light to the Nations from Baker Academic’s website:

There is a growing body of literature about the missional church, but the word missional is often defined in competing ways with little attempt to ground it deeply in Scripture. In A Light to the Nations, Michael Goheen unpacks the missional identity of the church by tracing the role God’s people are called to play in the biblical story. Goheen examines the historical, theological, and biblical foundations of missional ecclesiology, showing that the church’s identity can be understood only when its role is articulated in the context of the whole biblical story–not just the New Testament. He shows that the Old Testament is essential to understanding the church’s missional identity. Goheen also explores practical outworkings and implications and offers field-tested suggestions, putting Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiology to work in shaping the contemporary church. The book is written at a level easily accessible to students in missions, pastoral, worldview, and theology courses as well as pastors, church leaders, and all readers interested in the missional church.

1. The Church’s Identity and Role: Whose Story? Which Images?
2. God Forms Israel as a Missional People
3. Israel Embodies Its Missional Role and Identity amid the Nations
4. Jesus Gathers an Eschatological People to Take Up Their Missional Calling
5. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus and the Church’s Missional Identity
6. The Missional Church in the New Testament Story
7. New Testament Images of the Missional Church
8. The Missional Church in the Biblical Story–A Summary
9. What Might This Look Like Today?

A Light to the Nations is sure to be an important text in this whole area. I’ll blog about it in more detail as I read it over the summer.

2. Other Michael Goheen resources on Bible and Mission

Goheen has a fantastic array of resources freely accessible online. The best thing to do is go to the allofliferedeemed website, which has all the links. Here are a few highlights:

‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’: J.E. Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiology‘ [a full script of his doctoral thesis]

Notes Toward a Framework for a Missional Hermeneutic

Continuing Steps Towards a Missional Hermeneutic

The Urgency of Reading the Bible as One Story

Reading the Bible . . . and articulating a worldview

A Critical Examination of David Bosch’s Missional Reading of Luke