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The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative Hardcover – November 23, 2006
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"Wright has produced a compelling book of paramount importance for mission studies and practice, and contributed greatly to the fields of hermeneutics and biblical theology." (Calvin L. Smith, Mission Studies, 2009)
"Wright's study, coinciding with . . . a nascent missional hermeneutic of the Bible, amounts to a landmark contribution to that hermeneutic's development." (Greg McKinzie, Restoration Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 2 (2010))
"This is a text that every serious believer ought to reckon with regardless of academic specialty or ministerial preference. Wright's book forces the reader to consider the very worldview paradigm by which he or she reads and understands his or her Bible, Christian life, experiences, and purpose. Written beautifully in winsome prose the book is both accessible as well as profound. The Mission of God is a book that rightly deserves a place near the top of anyone's must-read list." (Mark Liederbach, Faith & Mission)
"Wright has truly laid a cornerstone in the edifice of mission, one on which a biblical theology of mission would be wise to build." (Michael J. Glodo, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2009)
"Words like 'missional' and 'missiological' have become commonplace in churches looking to make an impact on their communities and the world. While this renaissance of mission orientation has spawned welcome enthusiasm, . . . confusion has also followed. What does it mean to be missional? Christopher Wright's The Mission of God provides the answers to these questions and many more. The purpose of [this book] is not simply to show why mission is important or how mission is a vital part of the identity of the Church, but to show that mission, in many ways, is the purpose for the Church and the priority in its identity. Therefore [this book] seeks to read the Bible as a story of God's mission to restore creation and his people's role and mission in that restoration." (Daniel J. Doleys, Text, Community & Mission blog, July 8, 2009)
"Wright systematically allows God to be portrayed through his own canonical self-revelation. The resultant portrait is glorious and persuasive. The Christian church is indebted to Wright for tackling this major project." (Jo Ann Davidson, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Autumn 2008)
"The book refocuses the lens with which we have been reading the Bible and understanding our ecclesial responsibilities. It is well worth reading." (Dianne Bergant, C.S.A., The Bible Today, September/October 2008)
"This is a book that needed to be written." (M. Daniel Carroll, Bulletin for Biblical Research, 18.1)
"The volume provides much to admire and to learn from. . . . He has produced one of the best examples of this genre currently available." (Stephen Fowl for Theological Studies, March 2008)
"Blending cutting edge biblical scholarship with a sensitive missiological awareness and passion, Wright demonstrates that the Bible―from beginning to end―is a missionary book." (EMQ, July 2007)
"A short review can only acknowledge the brilliant, balanced scholarship that Wright evidences throughout. . . . [T]his is a must-read. . . . [T]his book is one to be meditated on and prayed through." (International Bulletin of Missionary Research, July 2007)
"This book is a fascinating combination of introduction on biblical hermeneutics, biblical theology, and, at the same time, it is a missiology textbook." (The Presbyterian Outlook, August 20, 2007)
"One is hard pressed to find much fault with either the conception or the execution of this nicely published and helpfully organized treatment of what is arguably the most important idea in the world. Seldom do works on mission view these themes so globally and comprehensively." (Criswell Theological Review, Fall 2007)
"In this book, church and mission leaders will find a wealth of fresh scholarship exalting God's initiative―and, indeed, more than a bit of subversion." (Jim Reapsome, Christianity Today, June 2007)
"A rich and most impressive work. It is a splendid exposition of a comprehensive biblical theology of mission, and will have to be taken seriously by every student of the subject." (Andrew F. Walls, University of Edinburgh)
"This excellent book encourages Bible scholars, pastors, missionaries and informed Christians to read the Bible with new eyes, the eyes of God's missional intention for the world that God loves. The author joins others like Walter Kaiser, Johannes Nissen, Arthur Glasser and James Chukwuma Okoye in demonstrating that only a missionary reading of the Bible does full justice to God's self-revelation described therein. I will be using this book as a primary textbook in several courses." (Dr. Charles Van Engen, Arthur F. Glasser Professor of Biblical Theology of Mission, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary)
"To an already impressive list of publications dealing with the Bible and mission, Chris Wright now adds what must surely be his magnum opus. This remarkably comprehensive work does nothing less than point the way ahead for the global Christian movement in the twenty-first century, and in the process it challenges a host of received assumptions in biblical scholarship, Christian theology and missionary practice. I believe Wright's book will be seen as the most important work of its kind since David Bosch's contribution in the 1990s, and, like that work, it is likely to be read, discussed and hopefully applied to practice for years to come." (David W. Smith, International Christian College, Glasgow)
"Wright blends Old Testament scholarship, missionary experience and missiological heart in this extraordinary book. He does a marvelous job of framing the questions and detailing the answers in accessible prose. Missiology has long been in need of someone who can offer an appropriate map not just for walking us through mission in the Bible but for leading us more deeply into the Bible through a missiological lens. Chris Wright offers us this bidirectional map in masterful fashion that will become standard reading in the field for years to come." (Scott Moreau, Professor of Intercultural Studies, Wheaton College)
"Christopher Wright has made two important contributions. First, he demonstrates that the Bible, from beginning to end, is about God's mission to the world. Second, Wright grounds the meaning and significance of this mission substantially in the Old Testament. Often relegated in textbooks to short introductory chapters that cite a handful of passages about God's concern for the nations, the Old Testament at last receives its full due. This comprehensive study by a seasoned missiologist and Old Testament ethicist demonstrates that the entire Scripture is consistent in its message and thrust. I have waited years for a book like this!" (M. Daniel Carroll R., Earl S. Kalland Chair of Old Testament, Denver Seminary, and adjunct professor, El Seminario Teológico Centroamericano, Guatemala City, Guatemala)
"Beautifully written, Wright's work sees God's mission as a framework for understanding the whole Bible; a key that unlocks the 'grand narrative' of Holy Scripture. It clarifies many difficult issues and is a major contribution to a biblical theology of mission." (Gerald H. Anderson, director emeritus, Overseas Ministries Study Center, New Haven, Connecticut)
"This marvelous book is all I hoped and expected, and more. Chris Wright has spent thirty years combining an academic involvement with the Old Testament and a commitment to God's mission in the world. We are so fortunate to have the mature fruit of a lifetime's reflection on the missional nature of the Bible by this outstanding teacher, scholar and missionary theologian. It threatens to revolutionize what people usually mean by the missional aspect of the Scriptures. And it also threatens to revolutionize understandings of the Scriptures by its demonstration that they are, through and through, a missional document." (John Goldingay, author of Old Testament Theology and professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary)
"Chris Wright, known for many important studies in Old Testament ethics and theology, has again written a book that deserves wide circulation. At a time when many biblical scholars continue to emphasize the minutiae of diverse traditions, and at a time when the missionary task of the church is either questioned by postmodern critics or diminished by pragmatic pundits, Wright's new book is a reminder of the unity of Scripture, the importance of sound hermeneutics and exegesis, and the fundamental significance of the missionary calling of the church. Wright demonstrates with consistent and passionate argumentation that the missionary mandate of the church does not simply rest on the great commission in Matthew 28, but that the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the result of the very nature of God and of God's people. This book should be a required text for theologians and exegetes, pastors and students, missionaries and Christians in general." (Eckhard J. Schnabel, author of Early Christian Mission and professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
"The Mission of God is valuable, not only for its exposition of God's mission, but also for its defense of the unity of Scripture and its development of the themes of the covenant of grace and the kingdom of God." (Nick Smith, Christian Renewal, July 29, 2015)
About the Author
Christopher J. H. Wright (PhD, Cambridge) is international ministries director of the Langham Partnership, providing literature, scholarships, and preaching training for pastors in Majority World churches and seminaries. He has written many books including commentaries on Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel, The Mission of God, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, and Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. An ordained priest in the Church of England, Chris spent five years teaching the Old Testament at Union Biblical Seminary in India, and thirteen years as academic dean and then principal of All Nations Christian College, an international training center for cross-cultural mission in England. He was chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group from 2005-2011 and the chief architect of The Cape Town Commitment from the Third Lausanne Congress, 2010.
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Although this is a human perspective, it seems there have been events that would have thwarted God's original plans, but the entirety of Scripture reveals a beautiful overarching plan that cannot be frustrated. Central to that plan is the image of Christ as the suffering servant foretold in the Old Testament in answer to man's problem of sin. The apostle Paul adopted the same symbolism when he continued to frame the missional narrative for the New Testament church. The story of Scripture is His story, His narrative, not only about His person but about His acts of reaching out to seek, save and serve those He has created. Wright's greatest contributions in developing this hermeneutical approach is his insistence on a missional map or script, a holistic approach to reading that script, identification of key players, and narrative continuity between parts.
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"Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God's people, at God's invitation and command, in God's own mission within the history of God's world for the redemption of God's creation." (23)
Through his book, Wright explores the totality of the divine mission, God's people and God's creation, as these are revealed in Scripture. Wright exhaustively mines the Old Testament for insights to the Biblical basis for mission. He admits that because of his expertise on the Old Testament that his writing focuses more on it than the New Testament. Although he does discuss the topic of mission in the New Testament, I think much more could be written about how the New Testament encourages mission by individual Christians, families and communities of faith.
Wright challenges Christians to live in faithful obedience to God. He writes, "There is no blessing for ourselves or for others without faith and obedience." (207) The obedience of faith is necessary for people to be the agents for God's blessings to people. God's mission, like his love, is universal, but his mission is enacted through particular people. Through Jesus, people are called to be the particular agents of God's mission to others. As agents of God's mission, it is our duty, privilege and calling to participate in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and what will be completed in the new creation. For Wright, the cross is the core of any theology of mission. It establishes the new covenant in Jesus' blood that allows all people to come and worship God having their sins forgiven. There are no people who cannot be reconciled to God through the cross.
Wright issues a call for Christians to take their eyes off themselves and look to God and engage in his mission and not their own self-aggrandizement. Our words and our lives must declare to the world that Jesus is Lord.
Wright begins his assertion of the Biblical basis for mission by emphasizing that mission is primarily sourced in God. Mission for the church is foremost an act of advocating for God and worshipping God. The beginning, therefore, of mission for the church is doxology. Wright discusses the teaching of Jesus conveyed in Luke 24. Jesus begins empowering the church by unfolding how the Law, Prophets and Psalms bear witness to him and his mission to die and be raised to life. Wright concludes that God's mission is revealed in the Old Testament writings. Also present in this empowering of the church is the Trinitarian theology that includes the Father sending the Son and then the sending of the Holy Spirit to clothe the disciples in power that they might engage in God's mission. I appreciate how Wright delves into Scripture and thoroughly lays out a missional reading of the Old Testament. I would have like to see him also explore more fully what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit's role in empowering Christians for mission.
I think a key point that Wright makes is the close connection between mission and worship of God. He shows how it was to be Israel's worship of God that proclaimed his uniqueness and sovereignty to the nations. He writes that mission exists because praise of God does not exist among all people; while, in another sense, mission exists because praise does exist among God's people. He writes,
"The praise of the church is what energizes and characterizes it for mission, and also serves as a constant reminder we so much need, that all mission flows as obedient response to and participation in the prior mission of God." (134)
Wright asserts that praise must be the church's primary mode of mission. This is the act of inviting all the peoples of the earth "to hear the music of God's future and dance to it today." (134)