There can be no biblical mission without biblical ethics

… so says Chris Wright in his The Mission of God (p.358). In a recent Bible and Mission MA class we were discussing the relationship between the ethics of the people of God and their participation in God’s mission. Wright is particularly helpful here, not least because his writing on the issue combines his expertise in both biblical ethics (his PhD was on OT ethics) and mission.

In one section he very helpfully depicts the flow of logic from election to ethics to mission (p.369):

Who is Abraham?
The one whom God has chosen and come to know in personal friendship (election)

Why did God choose Abraham?
To initiate a people who would be commited to the way of the Lord and his righteousness and justice, in a world going the way of Sodom (ethics)

For what purpose should the people of Abraham live according to that high ethical standard?
So that God can fulfill his mission of bringing blessing to the nations (mission).

How often to do talk about ethics or Christian behaviour from this missional perspective? What reasons to be holy do we focus on normally? ‘Be holy because God is holy’: absolutely – this is foundational (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:16)! But I rarely consider my holiness in relation to my participation in God’s mission.

How might grasping the missional nature of holiness transform us as individuals and as communities?

MA in Bible and Mission begins

Today was the first session in the Reading the Bible Missionally module of Redcliffe’s new postgraduate MA in Bible and Mission.

Students had come prepared by reading the introduction and first two chapters of Chris Wright’s The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. As well as discussing the reading we also looked at the developmet of the methodology of missional hermeneutics.

In particular it is noticeable from the literature how ‘missional hermeneutic’ can mean so many different things. This is, perhaps, inevitable with such a newly developing approach, which can of course be frustrating at times. On the other hand, it’s one of the things that makes it all so exciting!

Here are a couple of resources I’ve come across that try to explain the different approaches people have taken (thanks to Brian Russell for making me aware of the first):

Reading the Bible Missionally by Tony Stiff on his blog Sets ‘n’ Service

The Gospel and Our Culture Issue on Missional Hermeneutics on the Gospel and Our Culture website