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Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World
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Does it result in an imperialistic McWorld? This is the key question which the NT theologian Richard Bauckham tries to answer through a fascinating biblical overview of God's missionary activity in world history. Starting from Abraham, the 'father' of 3 monotheistic religions passing through Israel, climaxing with Jesus Christ and ending with the missionary movement of God: the worldwide Christian Church of today. It is a penetrating and very illuminating analysis of the relevance and importance of Christian Mission for the (religious)struggles and economic problems of our present postmodern world. Bauckham convincingly defends the viewpoint that the God of the Bible is both universal and particular. The worldwide spread of Christian Mission in the biblical sense in the 21th century is the opposite of a 'tidal wave of religious homogenization and imperialism sweeping away all diversity of the world'. Warmly recommended as an excellent book on an important issue!
God's unfolding metanarrative in Christ continues against all challengers, but in postmodern context it faces stiff challenge of having any metanarrative that is universal. Bauckham fascinatingly answers that this is very similar context to when Christ came: a competing metanarrative in Roman Empire for universal dominance: "Within the Bible, the biblical metanarrative is rarely portrayed as the dominant metanarrative in its world." Now an economic globalism which spreads through instant, worldwide communication and information technology seeks to surpass and supplant all other competing metanarratives. In a postmodern time when its opposition is to any metanarrative that is put forward as universal, Bauckham rather encourages the church to proclaim the metanarrative of Jesus even more so: "This is both an essential part of our witness and the way we retain our knowledge of what it is to which we witness."
Hence, author's hermeneutical evidence that God's metanarrative in Christ crucified stands squarely opposed to such competing idolatries, but does so in non-violent way, even allowing wideranging cultural diversity within its midst. However, emphatic reminder to discernment and demand that its primary witness does not compromise with other metanarratives such as the marketing foundation of church growth playing into hands of economic captialistic globalism. Yet, when one thinks of it as Bauckham reflects, church is well ahead in its spread of globalism as universal metanarrative for all nations/peoples.Read more ›
Bauckham identifies the missionary movement of the Bible in three dimensions: TIME ("from a particular past towards the universal future"), SPACE ("from one place to every place"), and SOCIAL ("from the one to the many"). In addition to these dimensions, Bauckham also introduces three missionary themes: BLESSING (God's choice of Abraham emphasizes the theme of blessing from a particular person to all people), REVELATION (God's choice of Israel emphasizes the theme of God's revelation to one nation, and thereby to all nations), SOVEREIGNTY (God's choice of David/Zion emphasizes the theme of God's universal sovereignty).
Bauckham's notion of "representative geography" is a nice mechanism to explain why Israel conceived of itself as the very center of God's creation, all the while refusing to mythologize distant lands or peoples. Whereas ancient Israel waited for the nations to arrive in Jerusalem, the novel Christian development was its view of the community as the place of God's presence.
Bauckham considers the charge that his reading of Scripture might be coercive, a "totalizing framework." In response he suggests that the Christian mission is not a mission of mastery or control. "The image the Bible itself often suggests for the way its truth is to be claimed is that of witness." A witness is neither judge (with final say) nor lawyer (responsible, primarily, for persuasive rhetoric) but one who reports (lived) experience. Ultimately, the cross of Christ is the essential key that prevents Christian witness from being asssimilated with the will to power. Overall, a high-spirited, energizing, and compassionate call to mission.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Who would be seeing the world this way if not for God's people and their insight into the world we live in today. Thanks for this powerful information.Published 20 months ago by MARK STANCIL
Being in seminary I read lots of books. Lots. Even when I am not in class, getting ahead for the next class makes for constant reading. Read morePublished on August 23, 2010 by Collin Brendemuehl