Mission and Genesis 1-11

The first part of Genesis (indeed, of the Bible!) is often neglected in Bible and mission writings. Is Gen. 1-11 merely a backdrop or prelude to Abraham’s call which is when the story of God’s mission really gets going in Gen. 12?

There are writers who do reflect on Gen. 1-11 missiologically (e.g., Ida Glaser in her book The Bible and Other Faiths or Brian Russell in his blog, to name just two). While taking a look at the website for Review and Expositor journal today I came across an issue from 2006 on Genesis 1-11 which features a couple of interesting looking articles, which will provoke thought, sympathy and disagreement: Bible and Mission MA students take note!

Missiological Thoughts Prompted by Genesis 10 by Isam Ballenger
The table of nations, Genesis 10, represents the post-history of Noah and his family with the fulfillment of the command given to be fruitful and multiply and the prehistory of Abraham and his family who are to bless all peoples on earth. Fulfillment, rather than a culmination, appears to be preparatory for what is yet to come; history appears to be prologue, attesting to the sovereignty and love of God and claiming time as an integral factor for mission. The peoples of this chapter are not without a relationship to God, raising the question about the relationship of all nonchosen peoples to God. Assuming God initiates relationships, i.e., mission occurs first in God, relationship assumes new dimensions, becomes more inclusive, less individualistic, and thus more demanding of the disciple of Jesus Christ.

God Came Down . . . and God Scattered: Acts of Punishment and Acts of Grace? by Nancy deClaissé-Walford
Throughout the stories in Genesis’ primeval prologue, humankind’s persistent sinfulness is met with punishment but also with acts of grace on the part of God. The last story, the Tower of Babel is usually understood as the ultimate act of disobedience on the part of humanity. In this interpretation, God punishes the people by scattering them over the face of the earth. There is no act of grace. Thus the primeval prologue ends in darkness; God moves to “Plan B” and decides to reveal Godself to humanity through a single family, that of Abram ben Terah. But what if we understood the scattering at the Tower as an act, not of punishment, but of grace on the part of God—an act that allowed humankind to fulfill the creation command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 1:28)? How might that inform and affect our reading of the primeval prologue and the ancestral stories?

Direction journal

I recently discovered a new online journal with a number of helpful issues. Direction is ‘a Mennonite Brethren forum’; here’s how it describes its development:

Direction journal was begun in 1972 as a partnership among four Mennonite Brethren educational institutions in Canada and the U.S. Eventually two additional schools joined the group, and the U.S. and Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conferences also provide support. Delbert Wiens, editor, offered the first issue of Direction to laypersons and church leaders with an invitation “to listen to each other and to think prayerfully together.” Challenges cited by Wiens for the journal to address included theological issues, the church in theory and practice, sociological problems, and discipleship matters. Neither a purely academic journal nor a denominational magazine, Direction highlights the interdependence of Christian reflection and mission.

In 1972, Direction replaced two publications: The Voice (Canadian, since 1952) and the Journal of Church and Society (U.S., since 1965). It began as a quarterly publication but changed to semiannual in 1985. Five editors, apart from guest editors, have served during the journal’s life: Delbert Wiens (1972-75), Allen Guenther (1981-89), Elmer Martens (1976-81; 1989-95), Douglas Miller (1997-2007), and Victor Froese (2007 to the present). Kindred Productions began producing the journal with the 1996 issues. An overview of themes addressed by the journal may be obtained on the Back Issues page of this site.

The idea of a Direction Web site began in the late 1990s and was developed in the winter of 2000-2001. With the journal on the Web as well as in print, its articles now become much more accessible to interested readers.

After a quick look a few articles strike me as particularly interesting, but I’m sure there are more:

Genesis 1 as Critique of Japanese Culture by Hironori Minamino

Ezekiel’s Contribution to a Biblical Theology of Mission by Elmer A. Martens

Impulses to Global Mission in Isaiah by Elmer A. Martens