Presentation - USA / Canada Region

Report
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Traces its theological roots to Karl Barth
Primarily motivated by the work of Lesslie
Newbigin, British missionary
The Open Secret: An Introduction to the
Theology of Mission (1978); Foolishness to
the Greeks: Gospel and Western Culture
(1986); The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society
(1989); and Truth to Tell: The Gospel as
Public Truth (1991) offered a mission strategy
to re-reach the Western world
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Newbigin and David Bosch (Transforming
Mission: Paradigm Shift in Theology of
Mission (1991) brought missiology and
theology together in Missional Theology
North Americans appropriated this movement
through “The Gospel and Our Culture
Network” headed by George Hunsberger
Eerdmans published Missional Church edited
by Darrell Guder as part of their “The Gospel
and Our Culture Series”
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A shift from the mission of the church to the
mission of God (missio dei)
The church does not have its own mission but
participates in the mission of God
The mission of God is to restore all of
creation to God’s original design and
purposes for it
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Emphasizes the Triune nature of God
Focuses on Christology since Christ plays the
central role in God’s mission
Gives Pneumatology a central place because
of the role of the Spirit in enabling the church
to participate in the mission of God
Finds Ecclesiology critical as the church
understands itself as participating in the
mission of God
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Attends to Theological Anthropology,
Hamartiology, and Cosmology to understand
God’s original designs and what has gone
wrong to need redemption
This leads to special interest in culture
Emphasizes Soteriology because redemption
and restoration of all creation is the whole
point of Missional Theology
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Must ultimately ground itself in Scripture
Thus it must develop a missional hermeneutic
or a missional way of interpreting Scripture
That work has engaged “The Gospel and Our
Culture Network” for the past four or five
years
George Hunsberger (2008) suggested that at
that time four distinguishable ways of
interpreting Scripture missionally had
developed
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Most influential approach to missional
interpretation of Scripture
Appeals to Wesleyans because it begins with
the grand sweep of Scripture
Is narratively focused
Most influenced by OT scholar, Christopher
Wright – The Mission of God: Unlocking the
Bible’s Grand Narrative (2006); Knowing Jesus
through the OT (2007); The Mission of God’s
People (2010)
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Also influenced by Michael Goheen – A Light
to the Nations: The Missional Church and the
Biblical Story (2011)
Chapters on God Forms Israel as a Missional
People, Israel Embodies Its Missional Role and
Identity Among the Nations, Jesus Gathers an
Eschatological People to Take Up Their
Missional Calling, The Death and Resurrection
of Jesus and the Church’s Missional Identity,
The Missional Church in the NT Story, and NT
Images of the Missional Church
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Does not negate other methods
Places interpretation in light of the grand
narrative of Scripture
An heir of the Biblical Theology Movement of
the mid-20th century
Uses the whole range of exegetical methods
but orients the interpretation to the function
of the passage in the grand biblical narrative
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Beloved, let us love one another, because love
is from God; everyone who loves is born of
God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love
does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s
love was revealed among us in this way: God
sent his only Son into the world so that we
might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God but
that he loved us and sent his Son to be the
atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved,
since God loved us so much, we also ought to
love one another. 12 No one has ever seen
God; if we love one another, God lives in us,
and his love is perfected in us.
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Historical context is a split in the church
Call to love one another echoes Jesus’
command in John’s Gospel
God is love is theological foundation for this
command
Christ’s sacrifice is the supreme example
So – we ought to love one another like Christ
loved us
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God is love - missional explanation rather
than ontological declaration
God sent his Son as sacrifice to fulfill his
mission of redemption and restoration
God is love points us to God’s missional
motivation
We, the church, are invited into that mission
of love and so much love one another
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V. 12 – “If we love one another, God lives in
us and his love is perfected in us.”
By loving one another we participate in the
missional life of God, a life of love
The perfecting of God’s love in us is not
abstraction or internal experience – it is the
concrete reality of loving one another
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Darrell Guder argued this, “Jesus personally
formed the first generation of Christians for
mission. After that, their testimony became
the tool for continuing formation.”
Goheen claimed the OT was written “to equip”
God’s people for their missional purposes;
the NT was written to “form, equip, renew the
church for their mission in the world.”
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This approach does not deny the grand
narrative sweep of Scripture, but focuses on
each passage in its role of forming and
equipping God’s people
Gives attention to genre, literary forms, and
historical contexts
Assumes the formation of identity is also the
narrative purpose of Scripture
Points us to application today
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Author wants to form a community of love
Step one is to love one another
Such love of one another would mean they
would be born of God and would know God
Being born of God is favored Johannine
language
To be a child was to share an identity and
character
Children of a God who is love will love one
another
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Author also promises they will know God if
they love one another
This was a cultural goal for his readers
They desired gnosis (knowledge), but in their
culture gnosis was separated from matter
(flesh) which was considered inherently evil
Jesus could not have come from God in the
flesh or he would have been evil according to
their culture
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The author promises the desired knowledge
of God – but it comes through love
demonstrated by Jesus who came in the flesh
as an atoning sacrifice for sins
If the readers are formed into a community of
love they will be equipped to embody that
love of God to each other and to the world –
the missional purpose of God
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Learning to love will not come as some
disembodied religious experience
It will come through the concrete and difficult
task of loving one another
This points us to application
If we love one another we will forgive each
other, cover each other’s failures, and give
what is precious to us to bring others into the
community of love
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This approach is from Michael Barram who
claims, “Christian congregations caught up in
the missio Dei read the Bible from a social
location characterized by mission.”
Social location – writers/speakers and
readers/listeners make judgments,
understand, value, and think from a context
That context shapes the way we hear/read
and speak/write
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Barram agrees with Guder that Scripture’s
purpose is to equip and form, but not via
experts
Rather, the church participating in the
mission of God is a social location from which
we read/hear and thus understand and
interpret Scripture
Scholars and pastors must be part of the
community doing faithful reading in location
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Latin American base ecclesial community
theologian Pablo Richard described this social
location as hermeneutical space
Academic space is the location where
scholars speak
Traditional space is the location where
institutional leaders – those who guide
worship and administration – speak
Communitary Space is the location where the
community of faith reads Scripture
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This communitary space is a place where
those without power (the poor, the rejected,
the youth, women, indigenous natives,
foreigners and those of other races) can
participate
Barram believes missional interpretation of
Scripture occurs when the church knows its
social location is a community participating in
the mission of God
Such a community asks six questions
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1. Does our reading of the text challenge or
baptize our assumptions and blind spots?
2. How does the text help to clarify
appropriate Christian behavior--not only in
terms of conduct but also in terms of
intentionality and motive?
3. Does our reading emphasize the triumph
of Christ’s resurrection to the exclusion of
the kenotic, cruciform character of his
ministry?
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4. In what ways does this text proclaim good
news to the poor and release to the captives,
and how might our own social locations make
it difficult to hear that news as good?
5. Does our reading of this text acknowledge
and confess our complicity and culpability in
personal as well as structural sin?
6. How does this text clarify what God is
doing in our world, in our nation, in our
cities, and in our neighborhoods--and how
may we be called to be involved in those
purposes?
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Reading from a missional location would
begin not with leaders reading the text to the
congregation, but the community together
reading
The community asks, “What does this text say
to us as it equips us for our missional
identity?
What does this text say about our community
practices?
Do our actions show that we love one
another?
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What changes in our practices might more
clearly demonstrate love for one another and
the love of God within us?
In what ways do we demonstrate redemptive
and atoning love for each other?
Do we demonstrate forgiveness in a public
way?
What evidence is there that God is living
within us?
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Do we have any measures that would suggest
that God’s love is being perfected in us?
Such questions do not have predictable
answers
Answers to these questions are not found in
commentaries or sermons
The impact of Scripture is not found in the
content of biblical exegesis, but in the
transformation of the community as it
examines itself in light of the text
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Jim Brownson pioneered this approach
It considers how biblical authors (as leaders
of a missional community) addressed the
people of their own time and place in terms
of a received tradition
This involves drawing on the elements of a
prior tradition and bringing them into critical
dialog with the present moment
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This process happened throughout the OT
It is especially obvious in the NT as NT
authors use OT texts to describe how one
lives “in Christ”
The process is important because the process
itself is application and thus shows us how to
missionally apply biblical texts to our time
What happens in the NT is paradigmatic for
the daily engagement of the gospel with our
own culture
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Brownson built on the work of famed
Princeton Pauline scholar, J. Christiaan Beker
who argued that we could discover the
coherent core of Paul’s thought by observed
the contingent application of that core in
specific contexts
Brownson adds to coherent core and
contextually contingent application a third
item that functioned as a gyroscope always
orienting the way Paul taught
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For Brownson that third element was simply
the interpretive matrix which was the gospel
This may be most evident in Romans, but it is
present in most Pauline letters
Ross Wagner’s work on Romans provides
further illustration of Brownson’s principles
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We might assume the Johannine
understanding of the gospel included God’s
love for the world, God’s sending of God’s
own Son into the world to redeem the
world,the appropriation of that love through
believing in Christ and receiving life in his
name, and the embodiment of that love
through the formation of a community
characterized by the members loving one
another
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This Johannine understanding of the gospel
challenged the cultural assumptions of those
in Ephesus at the end of the first century
From gnostic/mystery religions influence,
salvation in Ephesus came from knowledge of
God received by initiation into the mystery
That knowledge was individualistic and
devalued matter
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Deity had no passion (unmoved mover)
Flesh was evil and threatened one’s
immorality
Sin was not moral, but a lack of true gnosis
One could be confident of salvation through
this knowledge without one’s life being
changed and without consideration of anyone
else
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The Johannine gospel radically challenged
these cultural assumptions by proclaiming:
A God who loved
A God who became incarnate and took on
human flesh
One can know God and participate in the life
of God by believing in the incarnate Christ
and by loving one another
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The Christian expectation of a community
which demonstrated its salvation by loving
one another challenged the individualism of
the gnostic and mystery religion approaches
The same Johannine matrix of the gospel
challenges a number of assumptions that fly
under the banner of Christianity even to this
day.
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These four approaches are not contradictory
or mutually exclusive
Some texts work more easily with some
approaches than do other texts, but all yield
helpful teaching when examined by all four
approaches
These approaches compliment each other
and overlap in the interpretive results they
produce
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1.
What is the story of the biblical narrative
and how does it implicate us? (missio Dei)
2.
What is the purpose of the biblical
writings in the life of its hearers? (equipping
witness)
3.
How shall the church read the Bible
faithfully today? (located questions)
4.
What guides our use of the received
tradition in the context before us? (gospel
matrix)
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Does not require radially new methods of
Biblical interpretation
It involves the traditional questions of history,
culture, literature, and history from the
perspective of the mission of God to redeem
and restore all the world
This way of interpreting is especially
compatible to Wesleyan theologians
This invites us to participate in the mission of
God

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