Saturday, July 27, 2013

Missional God, Missional Church by Ross Hastings

I really like this book, especially the first half. We need more theological reflection about the mission of God and the church. And Ross has given us a gift to help us along this journey. The strength of this book is found in some of the individual nuggets throughout, especially those that speak to a missional understanding of God's nature. I found myself wanting more for a theology for how this plays out in the midst of culture and therefore a more developed pneumatology, but then the book would have been twice as long. Because my book is marked up throughout, I thought one of the best ways to highlight the perspective of the book is to list some of the quotes I found most helpful. Instead of a normal review, this is an "un-review" but through this, I think you will get a feel for the point of view the book takes. 

“The working out of this coinherence of the works of the divine persons in the church will ensure that its mission is reimagined as commitment: to being ecclesial in incarnational, located, imperfect churches of Christ, as such, to be by the Spirit’s empowering, the sign, servant and messenger of the kingdom of God; to being intentionally catholic in spirit and yet committed to the particularities with which one’s own tradition has been gifted; to the practice of both social justice evangelism; to articulating and practicing theologies of healing and suffering; to creation care now and anticipation of a new creation then; to solidarity with the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the uneducated and to working toward their holistic transformation; to the pursuit of work as a good gift of God, under the cultural mandate recapitulated in the last Adam, with the practice of Sabbath and jubilee principles, and the moral transformation of the worker by the Spirit such that even in a fallen world, the telos of work becomes the glory of God, the good of the community as well as individual fulfillment.” (33).

“…the concept of the missional church is not a fad but is theologically foundational for the church, and more appropriate as an appellation than “deep” or “total.” (35).

“… the challenge the Western church faces is that it is often enculturated in ways that it ought not to be, and that it is not inculturating the gospel in ways it ought to be. (38).

“Cultural disconnection is the phenomenon that I am using to describe Christians and churches when they fail to relate the gospel relevantly because they do not adequately affirm and adapt to the positive aspects of human culture, and fail to distinguish between what is mere culture and what is the kerygmatic core of the gospel.” (38).

“Instead of speaking and acting prophetically against such elements of culture, the church can easily become inappropriately enculturated and swamped with the waters of insidious influences incompatible with the gospel.” (39)

Peter’s image of “pilgrims in exile” “expresses the distinctiveness of the people of God, their separation from the world of ideas and ideologies contrary to the gospel, and indeed their rejection by that world.” (40)

“The goal of the critique of culture is to affirm the good, the true and the beautiful, to critique that which is fallen, to denounce values opposed to the gospel and to exert prophetic and redemptive influences toward an alternative vision of modernity or postmodernity, as the case may be.” (52)”

“…many evangelical Christians spend too much time exposing the subtle ploys of the evil one in the world of ideas and far too little time being present to that world and its broken people.” (57)

“…the task of the church s not merely to wage war against prevailing culture but to offer a new, alternative culture, that of the church, which as a community and as its compoent persons become culture shapers in society.” (60)

“The church is this apologetic when the dynamics of the triune life and love of God continue in and through it, and when the sentness of Jesus by the father is perpetuated in the sentness of the church, by the Spirit. (81).

“It “follows that the person who corresponds to, and reflects, the being of God bears the stamp of God’s own dynamic character. Each human person then is destined to be in relation: to be I and Thou. I implies Thou, and Thou refers back to I. I and Thou are not coincidental or incidental but essentially proper to the concept of ‘man.’” —Barth CDIII/2, 248.

“Our first task in the business of getting the gospel and mission right, in other words is getting the God of the gospel right. … He is first and foremost the triune God of love, and the God of who loves in freedom, the God who is for humanity and whose whole intent in his loving act of creation was to draw fallen human beings into relationship with himself in Christ.” (107)

“The church that truly sees itself as the community of the presence of the risen Jesus and pursues the mediation of that presence with passionate intentionality will be irresistibly attractive. (130)

“As communities of presence of the risen Christ, therefore, its constituent Christians will rediscover church as an identity and not just a responsibility to be juggled alongside other commitments.” (132)

“Some elements of culture the church categorically rejects (pornography, tyranny, cultic idolatry). Other dimensions of culture it accepts within clear limits (economic production, commerce, the graphic arts, paying taxes for peacetime civil government). To still other dimension of culture Christian faith gives a new motivation and coherence (agriculture, family life, literacy, conflict resolution, empowerment). Still others it strips of their claims to possess autonomous truth and value, and uses them as vehicles of communication (philosophy, language, Old Testament ritual, music). Still other forms of culture are created by the Christian churches (hospitals, service of the poor, generalized education, egalitarianism, abolitionism, feminism). —Yoder, “How H. Richard Niebuhr Reasoned: A Critique of Christ and Culture,” in Authentic Transformation: A New Vision of Christ and Culture, ed. Gen H. Stassen, D. M. Yeager and J. H. Yoder (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 69.

“The sentness of the disciples (John 20:21) is contingent on their feeding of Christ, that is, the possession of the life sustained by feeding (John 6:57). Sentness is an overflow of life, and life is shown by and depends on feeding!” (199)

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