The ‘LICC Reader’s Guide to...’ is a series from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, published in LICC’s quarterly magazine EG and made available online via the LICC website. It’s designed to aid individuals and small groups in discussing books that LICC believe are worthy of further study. I contributed two for the most recent edition of EG (December 2010): on Bill Bryson’s At Home (available here) and Chris Wright’s Mission of God’s People (pasted below).
Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission, Biblical Theology for Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 301pp., ISBN 9780310291121.
‘The missional challenge of reaching the ends of the earth with the gospel, so that the whole earth may be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, faces us still with all its diversity and complexity. The evangelization of the world, in the fullest sense of both the words in that phrase, remains as urgent a priority for the church as it was when Jesus laid it as a mandate on his disciples before his ascension.’
Why Read This Book?
Following previous works which argue that the whole Bible can and ought to be read from the perspective of the mission of God – his redemptive purpose for the whole of creation – this book explores the mission of God’s people. In doing so, it provides an even-handed and warm-hearted worked model of doing ‘biblical theology for life’ (the title of a new a series of volumes from Zondervan which this one kicks off).
About the Book: Overview
‘What does the Bible as a whole in both testaments have to tell us about why the people of God exist and what it is they are supposed to be and do in the world?’ That’s the big question asked in the first part of the book. The second part, the main bulk of the volume, offers a series of answers, outlining the kinds of people we were created to be (caring for God’s creation, walking in God’s way, representing God to the world, etc.) and the specific tasks we are called on to do (bearing witness, proclaiming the gospel, living and working in the public square, etc.). The third part then reflects on the implications for God’s people today.
About the Book: Main Themes
‘The mission of God’s people is carried on in and for the world; it centres on the gospel of God; and it lays a demanding privilege on the church.’ The world, the gospel, and the church frame the book and dominate the discussion, their treatment flowing out of the overarching story of Scripture, demonstrating the significance of biblical theology in handling these themes, and showing mission as the all-encompassing purpose of God to restore creation – which embraces all that his people are called to be and do in the world.
About the Book: Implications
As might be expected from a volume in a ‘Biblical Theology for Life’ series, the book is naturally concerned with the ‘so what?’ question. And the implications are rich and varied, heartening and challenging: serving creation and society; recovering the wholeness of the gospel, ourselves as servants of the gospel, as well as our confidence in the gospel; repenting of our failings, and making disciples – and all to the glory of God.
Questions to Ask While Reading
1. What fresh insights are emerging out of your reading of the book?
2. How is the book expanding your understanding of (a) the gospel, (b) the church, and (c) the world?
Questions to Answer After Reading
1. What would ‘mission’ look like if the church took seriously the concerns of this book?
2. Which chapter, for you, has been (a) the most encouraging, (b) the most challenging, (c) the most contentious?
3. What difference, if any, will your reading of the book make in your own life?