Free access to Chris Wright Truth with a Mission

When students arrive for Redcliffe’s BA(Hons) in Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts I get them all to read Chris Wright’s 2005 Grove booklet, Truth with a Mission: Reading the Scriptures Missiologically. It is a really good, concise introduction to the idea of the Bible as a missional book, and sets out the basic approach we take at Redcliffe to Biblical Studies.

The ever-eagle-eyed Antony Billington recently noted that Wright’s essay has now been published in the Summer 2011 volume of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, and is freely available on their website under the slightly changed title: Truth with a Mission: Reading All Scripture Missiologically. It is in an essay format rather than a study booklet and doesn’t have the questions for reflection that are in the Grove booklet, but otherwise it is exactly the same.

If you are looking for a short introduction to the idea of a missional reading of the Bible Truth with a Mission: Reading All Scripture Missiologically is an excellent place to start. SBJT are to be commended for making it available.

P.S. And do check out Antony’s blog if you’ve not done so before. He writes most days and is particularly good at spotting when journals are published, often noting when there are freely accessible articles.

Christian Mission – Old Testament Foundations and New Testament Developments

Christian Mission - Old Testament Foundations and New Testament DevelopmentsThanks to Antony Billington over at LICC for making us aware of a recent publication in the McMaster New Testament Studies series.

Christian Mission: Old Testament Foundations and New Testament Developments edited by Stanley E. Porter and Cynthia Long Westfall (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2010).

Here’s the blurb, contents and endorsements:

How did a first-generation Jewish messianic movement develop the momentum to become a dominant religious force in the Western world? The essays here first investigate the roots of God’s mission and the mission of his people in the Old Testament and Second Temple Judaism, specifically in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel. The contributions then discuss the mission of Jesus, and how it continued into the mission of the Twelve, other Jewish believers (in the Gospels, General Epistles, and Revelation), and finally into Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles documented in the book of Acts and his epistles. These essays reach backward into the background of what was to become the Christian mission and forward through the New Testament to the continuing Christian mission and missions today.


Introduction: Christian Mission: Old Testament Foundations and New Testament Developments – Stanley E. Porter and Cynthia Long Westfall

“Declare His Glory Among the Nations”: The Psalter as Missional Collection – Mark J. Boda

The Book of Daniel and the Roots of New Testament Mission – Brian P. Irwin

Mark, Matthew, and Mission: Faith, Failure, and the Fidelity of Jesus – Michael P. Knowles

A Light to the Nations: Isaiah and Mission in Luke – Craig A. Evans

A Cord of Three Strands: Mission in Acts – Stanley E. Porter and Cynthia Long Westfall

The Content and Message of Paul’s Missionary Teaching – Stanley E. Porter

Paul’s Missionary Strategy: Goals, Methods, and Realities – Eckhard J. Schnabel

The Hebrew Mission: Voices from the Margin? – Cynthia Long Westfall

Bible and Mission: Missiology and Biblical Scholarship in Dialogue – Michael W. Goheen


“For too long now biblical scholarship and missiology have been progressing in splendid isolation with little reference to each other. This sparkling collection of essays not only demonstrates the interdependence of these disciplines but also takes seriously the Hebrew Scriptures and Second Temple Judaism as fertile soil in which the seeds for Christian mission were sown, came to flower in the New Testament, and continue to bear fruit in the ongoing global mission of the church at the beginning of the twenty-first century.”
—Trevor J. Burke
author of Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor

“Biblical scholars and missiologists have much to learn from each other. This work, with contributions from notable scholars, offers some fresh biblical insights for thinking about Christian mission.”
—Craig Keener
author of Romans: A New Covenant Commentary (Cascade 2009)

“We have needed a work that presents the development of Mission from Israel to the early church. These essays, written by leading scholars in both fields, admirably accomplish that goal. Here is a work that covers the field, presents missional roots as well as strategy, is very readable, and would serve as a fine textbook both for courses and personal study. I highly recommend this book.”
—Grant Osborne
author of The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation

Bible and mission blogs

Every Tongue blogLately, we’ve been developing the Bible and Mission resources section of the microsite. Last week Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Eddie Arthur suggested that this section would “keep anyone in reading material for the next decade or two.” We are working on it Eddie!!
Here are some blogs we’ve come across that have dealt in some way with the themes of the Bible and mission, and missional hermeneutics. Let us know if there are more:
Realmeal ministries – Brian Russell; nb. missional hermeneutics page and tags here and here
Kouya Chronicle – Eddie Arthur
Cross Talk – Michael Gorman; nb. missional hermeneutic tag
Everytongue – Mark Woodward; nb. missional hermeneutics tag
Billington’s blog – Antony Billington; nb. missional hermeneutics tag

As we continue to build up the resources section, please let us know how it can best serve you in your Bible and mission thinking and practice.

Prosperity, suffering and mission

As part of my role with the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission I sometimes contribute one-off sessions in other lecturers’ courses. Students on our MA in Global Issues in Contemporary Mission have the option to take a class in ‘Prosperity Theology and Suffering’. ‘Prosperity’ or ‘Faith teaching’ is widespread around the globe and so it is vital to understand how to respond to it. This module offers a critique of ‘Health and Wealth’ theology and explores the complex problem of suffering and theodicy. These are profoundly missional issues.

My session this week was to look at biblical perspectives on suffering. Our key preparatory reading was W. Brueggemann’s chapter, ‘Yahweh and Negativity’ in his Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, and L. Waters’ ‘Missio Dei and Suffering: Missiological Principles Related to the Believer’s Suffering’ in F. Tan (ed.), Connected for Christ (also appearing in Bibliotheca Sacra 166, 661 (2009), 19-34).

Brueggemann is, as ever, stimulating, exciting, frustrating, controversial and everything in between! Waters’ provides a rather different angle but is helpful in discussing the question of whether and how suffering might in some way further the mission of God (Antony Billington posted on Waters’ paper recently).

Both writers deal with suffering in the context of the book of Job. It seems to me that faith teaching, as far as I am aware, does not engage adequately with the book of Job. After all one of the main points of Job is to dismantle a mechanical belief in the relationship between sin and suffering. Prosperity teaching is profoundly unhelpful for a variety of reasons but one of the main things is that it does not have room for suffering, and so loads guilt on top of everything a person is going through.

These are not easy issues but they are universal. If we as the people of God are seeking to share the true rendering of God and reality, then surely we should be able to address the questions that arise when suffering comes. It is not that there are easy answers; but at least there should be space to discuss it. I’m glad the book of Job is in the Bible.

Vern Poythress on language, Bible and mission

My thanks to Antony Billington of LICC for flagging up about this book on his Billington’s blog.

Vern Poythress has made his recent book, In the Beginning Was the Word: Language—A God-Centered Approach (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009) available online on his website. It has some interesting stuff on the nature of language within the context of Bible and mission, so is well worth a look.

Here is the contents followed by an excerpt

Chapter 1: The Importance of Language 11

Part 1: God’s Involvement with Language
Chapter 2: Language and the Trinity 17
Chapter 3: God Speaking 23
Chapter 4: God’s Creation of Man 29
Chapter 5: God Sustaining Language 39
Chapter 6: Creativity in Language 42
Chapter 7: Exploring Examples of Language 50
Chapter 8: The Rules of Language 60
Chapter 9: God’s Rule 64
Chapter 10: Responding to God’s Government 78

Part 2: From Big to Small: Language in the Context of History
Chapter 11: Small Pieces of Language within the Big Pieces 85
Chapter 12: Imaging 91
Chapter 13: World History 97
Chapter 14: The Fall into Sin 103
Chapter 15: Redemption through Christ 116
Chapter 16: Peoples, Cultures, and Languages 124
Chapter 17: Principles for Cultural Reconciliation 131
Chapter 18: Good and Bad Kinds of Diversity 138
Chapter 19: Human Action 149

Part 3: Discourse
Chapter 20: Speaking and Writing 163
Chapter 21: Analysis and Verbal Interpretation 170
Chapter 22: Interpreting the Bible 180
Chapter 23: Genre 186

Part 4: Stories
Chapter 24: Storytelling 195
Chapter 25: The Story of Redemption 206
Chapter 26: Many Mini-redemptions 209
Chapter 27: Counterfeit Stories of Redemption 219
Chapter 28: Modern Reinterpretations of Redemptive Stories 229
Chapter 29: Stories about Jesus 234

Part 5: Smaller Packages in Language: Sentences and Words
Chapter 30: Sentences in Use: Foundations in Truth 243
Chapter 31: Foundations for Meaning in Trinitarian Inter-personal Action 251
Chapter 32: Subsystems of Language 259
Chapter 33: Words and Their Meanings 270
Chapter 34: From Words to Perspectives 280

Part 6: Application
Chapter 35: Truth as a Perspective 289
Chapter 36: Living in the Truth 297

Interaction with Other Approaches to Language
Appendix A: Modernism and Postmodernism 303
Appendix B: Doubt within Postmodernism 311
Appendix C: Non-Christian Thinking 320
Appendix D: Platonic Ideas 326
Appendix E: The Contribution of Structural Linguistics 332
Appendix F: Translation Theory 338
Appendix G: Symbolic Logic and Logical Positivism 350
Appendix H: The Theory of Speech Acts 353
Appendix I: Reaching Out to Deconstruction 370

Supplementary Reflections
Appendix J: Special Cases of Human Speech 385
Bibliography 391
General Index 401
Scripture Index 411

Thus, even though the fall has had its effects, the universality of the reach of the gospel confirms that we will still find “language universals,” universal capability throughout all languages that make the gospel expressible in each language. The Bible can be translated into each—and has been translated into many languages, more than any other book. Because the Bible is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16) to address all nations (Luke 24:47), it is true and pertinent to every culture. God so designed it. We know it is universal in its reach, not by intellectual insight that has given us a godlike superiority, but simply because God has told us so, and we trust him. But that universal reach is not worked out in practice without missionaries and translators having to confront surprising knots, complexities, resistances, and rich perspectival diversities.

The Bible is not acultural. It does not owe its universality to rising above cultures into thin, disembodied universal philosophical platitudes (which would actually falsify its very specific message). In the Bible God addresses immediate issues in the first century and in the Hebraic cultures of Old Testament times. Through the apostle Paul God warns the Corinthian church about divisions; he warns the Galatian churches to rely on Christ and not on circumcision. God also speaks universally, by indicating to all nations how he accomplished worldwide salvation precisely in the once-for-all, culturally and historically specific events concerning the descendants of Abraham leading up to Christ. As part of its universal scope, the Bible also contains many general, universal statements: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “The Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules” (Ps. 119:137). God expects us to believe his universal claims, and not to evaporate them by artificially restricting them to one culture.

The missiologist does not need to “make” the Bible universal. It is already that (Acts 1:8). Rather he needs to help people in each culture take their place as disciples in the Bible’s universal world history. (pp.142-143)