Friday, December 29, 2006

The Beauty and Fufilling Nature of Our God

My good friend, Mark Eidel posted a wonderfully written piece on his reflections on Psalm 34:8. Please check it out:

Note: He has comment moderation turned on, so your comments won't appear right away.


Friday, December 22, 2006

The missionary nature of the church

As we go about our discussion on Missions as Ecclesiology, we must discuss what we mean by missions and, ultimately, by church.

Traditionally, scholars have defined mission (singluar) separately from missions (plural). Furthermore, they have distinguished between church (local) and Church (universal)--not to mention church visible and church invisible.

First, mission usually refers to the mission of God, or the missio Dei. [The argument looms whether the discussion of missio Dei originated with Luther or Barth. This question is beyond the scope of this post. See Bosch for a discussion of the impact of Barthian theology on the discussion. David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1991), 389–93. See Hesselgrave for a discussion of the impact of Luther’s theology on the discussion. David J. Hesselgrave, Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2005), 348–9.]

Second, missions usually refers to the redemptive activity of the church. However, we must ascertain the content of missions from both the Old and New Testament. What has God's plan been for his people for all time? Has that plan changed? Or have methods changed? I will argue that God's plan has never changed, but that the content of missions is the pointing to the coming Messianic King who will rule over all the nations, including Israel. Though you may argue that the method of God has changed, the purpose of both Israel and the Church (universal and local) has been to point to this "seed." [Note: In the previous sentence, one may discern a dichotomy between Israel and the Church; however, I meant Israel as the Old Testament "People of God" and the Church as the New Testament "People of God," which prophetically includes both Jew and Gentile.]

We will have to see how this pointing is played out. God's mission is eternal and his plan from creation to consumation has been to bless and multiply His people and walk among them (Gen 1; Rev 21-22). The mission of the "People of God" has been to participate in God's redemption of mankind from the effects of sin. In Genesis 3:15, God promises a "seed" who would crush Satan. God would redeem his people. In Revelation 5, Christ is praised because he has "redeemed" a people from every tribe nation and tongue by his blood. At this magnificent scene of praise, a mixed multitude of millions raise their voice as one in praise of the Lamb. Isaiah 52-3 teaches us that the Servant of the Lord, the branch, would atone for the sins of a people who despised him. The book of Isaiah tells us of a Davidic King who would restore the people of Israel and gather in the nations to himself. The gospels teach us that Jesus is this king, and Jesus commands his people to "disciple" the nations. In Acts, the Holy Spirit empowers the spread of the kingdom. Thus, the New Testament "People of God" participate in the redemption of the nations by preaching to those who never heard so that they may believe and call on the name of the Lord so that they would never be put to shame (Romans 10). The Old Testament "People of God" were called to have faith (Gen 15:6) and wait (Isa 40:31) for this one to come. Then they would go and spread the fame of God's glory to the ends of the earth (Isa 11; Isa 66:18ff; Hab 2:3-4, 14). This paragraph is a small taste of what we will discuss in depth on this blog.

Third, I will have to note when I am speaking of church universal and church local. However, the church is primarily local. No universal church exists without local churches. You cannot have a gathered universal church that makes disciples, baptizes, teaches, fellowships, encourages, etc. Therefore, if I do not otherwise state, assume that I am speaking of the local church. [I suppose this answer in itself lends to my view of visible vs invisible, but perhaps I need to clarify here, but I will do that at a later time.]

As you can see, we are forming a Biblical Theology of Mission and Church. I hope you will be blessed and encouraged.

Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Missions and the Local Church: Part 1-Introduction

I hope to begin a series of posts related to missions and the local church. My overall goal in these posts will be to spell out what I hope would be a change in the way missions is related to the local church. This will require some rethinking (not bashing) of the IMB's functions and other mission sending organizations functions. I will call on my other two compadres to add their comments and posts as well during this time as they are more qualified. I also ask for a great deal of grace in this matter as I am not privy to the private things of the IMB. I do not know them, nor is my goal to expose them.

Mainly, I'm looking at how its ideology functions. What is the philosophy or purpose of the IMB as a missionary sending organization? I'm not asking, "How bad are the practices of the IMB?" My overall goal is to suggest a slight change in thinking where the local church is the primary mission sending organization. I would also like to change the IMB mission statement which says they hope "to lead Southern Baptists in doing missions." I would rather it read, "to serve Southern Baptists in doing missions." This is a slight change in terms, but a huge change in philosophy.

The essential problem is this. Why in the past have missionaries been so disconnected from their local church? Sure, the efforts have been made by some, but not by all, to keep the connection between the missionary and the sending church, but this has not been done successfully. I believe that this is due to the philosophy of both the local church and mission sending organizations. It separates the mission of the church and puts it in the hands of boards, and organizations. This is what we'll be looking at for the next couple of weeks. I hope to lay out what I think the fundamental misstep has been and then suggest some changes. Then, I hope to give a picture of what this might look like in the future for the SBC if the IMB were to serve and the local church were to send.

Finally, let me say that the local churches need to get in contact with their missionaries on the field. We have recently done so at my church and we are beginning a campaign to "Hold the Ropes." It is my hope that we will also become the primary missionary sending organization of for our church members. In short, we hope that churches will be truly planting churches, and not organizations planting churches (I am indebted to Wes Handy for this idea, though he might say it differently or say it in a different context). The mission of the local church is missions. Thus, the name of this blog: Missions as Ecclesiology. The two are not separate. As one of the bloggers that I read has said to me in conversation, "We're on a mission trip right now!" We end that trip when we die. And now I have officially slipped over to rambling.

With that said...Through Christ,

Saturday, December 9, 2006


When it comes to missions I personally will not be able to contribute as much to the discussion as my compadres here will be able to. But, what I do hope to do is get into books about missions and ecclesiology and discuss them with all of you.

Perhaps this book was not the best place to start in a discussion of missions, but I thought that since it was a relatively new book in missions, it would be a worthwile one to read on my own. So, currently I am reading David Hesselgrave's Paradigms in Conflict.

I'll take it chapter by chapter and review its contents with a follow up post on my reactions and critiques. I, by no means, am one who is qualified to critique this book, or any book for that matter. But, I do hope that the discussion generated here will be food for thought for years to come—for you and for myself.

So, pick up and read and we'll meet back here soon enough to discuss what we have found.

Through Christ,

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


Welcome to "Missions as Ecclesiology." Here, we hope to discuss various things related to missions and ecclesiology. These two subjects, usually, are actually the same. We hope that our discussions foster further thoughts into the strong connection between missions and ecclesiology. To put it another way, we hope that this blog connects missions and the local church. We'll be discussing things that we have read and analyzing things, so feel free to comment and discuss these things with us.

Through Christ,