Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Dean Flemming on Recovering the Full Mission of God

Dean Flemming, Recovering the Full Mission of God: A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing and Telling (Downers Grove: IVP, 2013), 288pp., ISBN 9780830840267.

Having read several bits of his earlier work (on contextualisation, missional hermeneutics, and Philippians), I’ve had this book on my wish list since I first saw its advance notice.

It’s due out soon, but IVP have made available an excerpt here.

As the subtitle says, Flemming is here exploring the relationship between being, doing and telling in Christian mission (mostly in the New Testament, but with some scene-setting chapters on the Old Testament too).

Rather than making a contrast between word and deed – which is how this discussion is often framed – Flemming is careful to talk about the connection between telling and living the good news. ‘Living’ the gospel, he notes in the Introduction to the book, ‘is a shorthand way of talking about the nonverbal aspects of our mission’, which ‘can refer to both who we are as God’s missional people and the specific practices that flow out of that identity’ (14).

He presents the heart of his thesis this way:

‘To lay my cards on the table at the start, the New Testament reveals a seamless integration of speaking, practicing and embodying the good news. If you join me on this journey, we will discover in Scripture a magnificent marriage between telling and living the gospel, one that still challenges us to get caught up in the full mission of God.

‘At the same time, we should not expect that the various biblical writers show identical perspectives on these issues. As we reflect on the different materials in Scripture, we need to ask how each of them treats the connection between being, doing and saying. Do they stress one dimension more than the others? And if so, why? We will see that not all of the New Testament writers address the issue in the same way. Different circumstances demand different approaches for the church in mission’ (15).

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