Action plans or missio Dei? – the 2012 Redcliffe Lecture in Bible and Mission

This is from a press release that we have just sent out about Prof Steve Walton’s forthcoming public lecture on Acts. See more on our Annual Lecture in Bible and Mission

Action plans or missio Dei – the 2012 Redcliffe Lecture in Bible and Mission

Action plans are frequently used to develop a churches’ mission strategy, but are they the right approach to take? Who really drives mission in the church – God or people?

Professor Steve Walton from LST will be exploring possible answers to this question in the 2012 Bible and Mission lecture on the topic of The Acts of the Apostles as the Mission of God at Redcliffe College on Tuesday 15 May from 7.30-9.30pm.

Using the Acts of the Apostles as a framework, Professor Walton will reflect on the work of God in the early church in driving the story of Acts forward, in the light of the contemporary emphasis on Christians joining God where he is already at work (missio Dei).

Tim Davy, Lecturer in Bible and Mission at Redcliffe commented, “We’re really excited to be turning our attention to the book of Acts in this year’s lecture. At the cutting edge of New Testament scholarship, Steve Walton will bring fresh thinking to this familiar ‘missionary’ book and enlarge our horizons for understanding its place (and ours!) in the mission of God.’

The lecture is free, but pre-booking is required – you can book online at www.redcliffe.org/bible-and-mission-lecture-2012 or phone 01452 308 097.

Prof Walton’s lecture is one of the events organised by Redcliffe’s Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission.  From the 1-7 July 2012, there is also the opportunity to learn Biblical Hebrew or New Testament Greek in a week. The two short courses are aimed at people who want to get to know the Bible in deeper ways and who are looking for a friendly environment in which to learn.  There is a 20% discount on the costs for people working with churches or mission agencies. Booking deadline is 1 June.

For more information about these and other Redcliffe College events, visit www.redcliffe.org/events

Biblical Basis of Mission course – week five

In session five of our Biblical Basis of Mission course we looked at mission, the Gospels and the book of Acts. Throughout the course I’ve had to make choices about what to focus on – such a vast subject! – and this week was no exception. As so often, I took my cues for this lecture from Chris Wright’s excellent book, The Mission of God (Nottingham: IVP, 2006). At one point he outlines the train of thought he imagines an early Christian might have considered:

1.  if the God of Israel is the God of the whole earth
2.  if all the nations (including Israel) stood under his wrath and judgment
3.  if it is nevertheless God’s will that all nations on earth should come to know and worship him
4.  if he had chosen Israel to be the means of bringing such blessing to all nations
5.  if the Messiah is to be the one who would embody and fulfill that mission of Israel
6.  if Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, is that Messiah
7.  then it is time for the nations to hear the good news

‘It was time for the repeated summons of Psalms that the news of YHWH’s salvation should be proclaimed and sung among the nations, and for the vision of the prophets that YHWH’s salvation should reach the ends of the earth, to move from the imagination of faith into the arena of historical fulfillment.’ (p.501)

Given than Jesus’ ministry was focused on his fellow Jews, I was particularly keen for students to reflect upon the encounters Jesus had with Gentiles – pre-echoes if you like of the Early Church’s Gentile mission. For example, The Roman centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13; cf. Ps. 107:3; Isa. 49:12); The Gadarene demoniac and the deaf-mute in Decapolis (Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 7:31-35); The Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-31).

We also considered the missional way in which the Gospel writers themselves constructed their books. Take Luke, for example, who starts his 2-volume work in universal scope which narrows down as his Gospel progresses until we are in Jerusalem. Acts then opens in Jerusalem and then explodes back out into the international realm with wider and wider reach. Craig Blomberg’s illustration of the structure of Luke-Acts as an hour glass is helpful (see his excellent book, Jesus and the Gospels). You can see what I mean in this blog post by North West Church of Christ.

So, one more week to go. The final session is on mission, the Epistles and the book of Revelation.