Mission and the Psalms – liturgy is not play acting

Israel and the Nations by James Chukwuma OkoyeI’ve been thinking ahead to a module on Redcliffe’s Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts degree programme called, ‘Missional Texts: Psalms and Genesis 1-11’. Here is a nice quote from Okoye found in his wonderful book, Israel and the Nations: A Mission Theology of the Old Testament. It is part of a chapter on Psalm 96:

The psalmist calls on Israel and the nations to be united in the worship of the one God, Yahweh. The gentiles may be restricted only to the “courts,” that is, the courtyards of the temple, which are open to non-Jews, yet the “wall of separation” has begun to crumble, if not in fact, surely in the religious imagination.

The praise and worship of the nations, which the prophets predicted of the eschatological future, are transferred to the present in our psalm (Gunkel and Begrich 1998, 25).

The coming of Yahweh is, first of all, liturgical: the royal glory and power of Yahweh are made manifest to the worshipers, who accordingly prostrate in obedient submission to their King. The very assembly of praise enacts the reign of God, for the assembly thereby recognizes itself as servants coming into the presence of their lord to acknowledge Yahweh’s rule and to declare the dealty to Yahweh (Mays 1994a, 64). As Walter Brueggemann affirms, “liturgy is not play acting, but is the evocation of an alternative reality that comes into play in the very moment of the liturgy” (1984, 144). The alternative reality is that of a society that has been made right under God – true worship leads to true society. Liturgy is the beginning of the dismantling of the old order of injustice and faithlessness (ibid., 146). Insofar as Israel and the families of nations participate in the worship of Yahweh they are sharing in the dismantling of the old order and the emergence of the new order under Yawheh.

But the coming of Yahweh is at the same time eschatological. Cultic gatherings at the temple anticipate the gathering of the nations and peoples of the earth to the shrine of Israel’s God, who is over the nations (Willis 1997, 302). The eschatological promise is that all the earth will also enjoy the just effects of the rule of Yahweh.

In a subtle manner, Psalm 96 merges the praise of “all the earth” and that of Israel. The Israelite who makes such an “oratorical outreach” (Marlowe 1998, 451) is being invited to pull down the wall of separation that continued to keep apart fellow worshipers of Yahweh. (pp.106-107)

If you’d like to look into the Psalms and mission in more depth, have a look at issue 33 of Redcliffe’s Encounters Mission Journal, which was on the theme of The Psalms and Mission.

Bible and Mission talks at Mission-Net

mission-net: congress 2009Mission-Net, the pan-European mission youth congress, takes place next week in Oldenberg, Germany.

One of the seminar streams is entitled, ‘Is Mission Really in the Bible?’. I will be giving two talks on mission and the Old Testament (‘Do you understand the Old Testament? A journey into God’s missionary heart’) on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12, both at 1.45pm to 3pm.

Other speakers on this seminar track include:

  • Eddie Arthur (Wycliffe UK) – ‘A missionary God for a missionary people’
  • Dr Matthias Radloff (Institut Biblique et Missionnaire Emmaüs) ‘For heaven’s sake: An interview with Moses Abraham, and a few other guests’ and ‘Highway to Heaven – from nowhere to somewhere’
  • Dr. Detlef Blöcher (Deutsche Missionsgemeinschaft) – ‘Putting feet on your faith! Integral mission and the Micah-Initiative’
  • Dr. Volker Rabens (Theologisches Seminar Adelshofen) – ‘Missional life in the power of the Holy Spirit: How the Spirit  transforms and empowers us’
  • Dr. Peter Kuzmic (Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, Croatia) – ‘The Holy Spirit: He will change you, if you let him!’
  • Lauro Castelli (WEC International) – ‘It’s war!! Spiritual warfare and missions’

I’ll also be on the Redcliffe College stand in the exhibition area. If you will be at Mission-Net, do come and say hello!

A missiologist and a biblical scholar review Chris Wright’s The Mission of God

missionofgodBack in April 2007 I edited an issue of Encounters Mission Ezine, on the theme of Mission and the Old Testament. Every now and then I will blog on these articles as contributors came up with some really interesting stuff.

At the time, Chris Wright’s The Mission of God had just come out so we featured an interview with him about it. As the book spans both Missiology and Biblical Studies, I was interested to see what specialists from each discipline would make of it. So I asked both Dr Kang-San Tan, Head of Mission Studies at Redcliffe College, and Prof Gordon McConville, Professor of Old Testament Theology at the University of Gloucestershire, to review it.

Both described The Mission of God as “remarkable”. Here are a couple of extracts from their reviews.

Prof Gordon McConville:

The product of Wright’s readiness to embrace the particularity of Israel in his view of mission is a holistic Gospel.  The exodus model shows that political freedom is part of God’s purpose for humanity; similarly, the Jubilee (Leviticus 25) illustrates an economic aspect.  Such facets of social existence are inseparable from the spiritual life, and the twin dangers of over-spiritualizing and over-politicizing the Gospel are well addressed (pp. 275-88).  Mission ultimately embraces all dimensions of human life, including praise (p. 132), pastoral and ethical concerns (pp. 182-86), and environmental issues (pp. 397-420).  And this vision informs evangelism, since ‘the fundamental theology behind [the Jubilee] also lies behind our practice of evangelism’ (p. 300).  In these ways, the particularity of Israel is put to the cause of a universal proclamation.  In God’s purpose, Israel not only witnesses to the nations, but the nations are finally brought under covenant obedience along with Israel.  Ultimately too, the divine mission overcomes death, for a biblical concept of salvation is distinguished from all others by its promise of the defeat of death itself (p. 440).
Read Prof McConville’s review article in full

Dr Kang-San Tan:

Although it was not the expressed purpose of the book, The Mission of God contributes towards the closing of the existing gap between missiology and biblical studies.  Instead of separating theology and biblical studies from mission contexts, Wright approaches the texts of scripture through a mission paradigm.  In some circles, theological and biblical studies have been considered academic and scientific, while missiology still finds itself under suspect by scholars of other academic disciplines.  Part of the distrust may come from missiologists using biblical proof-texts to justify their mission theories and strategies.  To some extent, Wright demonstrates in action, more than words, that mission readings and careful exegesis of scripture are both needed for critical missiology.
Read Dr Tan’s review article in full


mission-net congress 2009
mission-net: congress 2009

On 8-13 April 2009 there will be a congress in Oldenburg, Germany, to motivate young people (roughly 16-30 year olds) to engage in mission. I will be doing a couple of sessions in the seminar programme on the Old Testament and mission. I came to faith at a similar kind of congress when I was 17.

Here’s a bit of blurb from the mission-net website. Maybe see you there?

it promises to be one of the most significant European events devoted to the subject of missions. If you are interested in worshipping and learning together with over 6000 others from many other European countries, then this event is for you!

It will be a chance for you to grow in your faith, discover what God is doing in your country, continent and world, and to find your part in it!

So make sure you don’t miss mission-net 2009! It promises to be a unique time together. See you there!

God’s Blessings

Andy Juliff, Director, mission-net 2009

Welcome! So what’s it all about?

Hi and welcome to the bible and mission blog! A few brief comments about myself and the reasons for this blog.

I’m a UK-based lecturer in Biblical Studies at Redcliffe College, a centre for mission training in Gloucester, England, and a PhD candidate in Old Testament at the University of Gloucestershire.

I want to use this blog as a forum for exploring two of my passions, the Bible and mission. How does mission feature in the whole Bible? How does the Bible shape our mission thinking and practice? These are my two main questions, but I’m sure others will crop up along the way.

In April 07 I edited an edition of Encounters, an online mission journal. It was on the theme of Mission and the Old Testament and illustrates the kinds of things I want to develop here on this blog and elsewhere.

I hope you will join me on this journey, Tim