“Christopher Wright: ‘The Mission of God'” (Part III)

This is the third in a series of blogs where I seek to draw attention to a man who I consider to be one of the central figures in the field of biblical studies, particularly with a focus the missiological theme of the Bible. Chris Wright’s influence in my life is immense, and his impact in other lives is surely incalculable if the amount of material he has in print is any indication.

Those readers who have taken the course called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” know that the first lesson in that course is titled “The Living God is a Missionary God.” That is a ground-breaking concept if one can fully embrace it. To see God as a missionary (as opposed to only seeing ourselves as missionaries) and God’s missional focus on the exaltation of his Son’s glory (as opposed to the traditional way of seeing missions as focused on people and their need) is a breakthrough concept that revolutionized my life, the way I study the Bible, and my ministry.

Wright’s vision is not simply to talk about the Bible but to provide the hermeneutical tools (i.e., resources to make Bible interpretation sound) required to go deep into God’s story. The scope of his undertaking is daunting, and amazingly, he pulls it off (not without some problems, of course, but what book of this scope could be deemed flawless?).

For a simply outstanding review of one’s book, try this link – http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/11/26/mission-monday-the-mission-of-god-by-christopher-wright/

Here is how one reviewer summarizes Wright’s method: ” In other words, instead of searching the Scriptures with a flashlight hoping to shine light on ‘mission’ wherever it may be found, Wright believes mission is the flashlight that illuminates the whole Bible.”

I really like that summary because it encapsulates everything that Wright is trying to do. His is an entirely different approach than what is taught as standard hermeneutics in Bible college and seminary. Wright used to search for “the biblical basis for missions” but now is on a quest to discover “the missional basis of the Bible” (p. 22).

For me personally, Wright came into my life like gangbusters. After taking Perspectives in 1986, and then teaching the “The Living God is a Missionary God” lesson a zillion times in the next 25 years or so, I was pretty grounded in the biblical perspective of God’s mission. But I never in my wildest imagination thought that I would come across anything as comprehensive as Wright’s magical volume which was released in 2006, nor did I dream that it could enhance even more what has been the focus of my study in life.

Coming next: A deeper look at “The Mission of God” and some comments on its strengths and deficiencies. – Dave Shive