Review–The Mission of God’s People by Christopher J.H. Wright

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission is not just a great book, it is an important book. 

Wright has summarized his massive and influential 2006 scholarly work The Mission of God and added a well-written, down-to-earth biblical & practical theology for the church.  The Mission of God argued that the key to Scripture is Genesis 12:1-3, in which God promises to bless the nations through Abraham.  Wright argues that the Abrahamic covenant is a response to the problem of evil detailed in Genesis 3-11.  God vows to fix His beloved but broken creation through the line of a lone senior citizen from a pagan nation. 

Wright spilled ink on more than 500 pages tracing God’s love for His creation to the promise to Abraham to fix the world, to Israel’s failure to execute God’s plan and to the plan’s climax in the life, death, resurrection and return of Christ.  In The Mission of God’s People, Wright summarizes his argument in approximately 80 pages before turning to the significance of living as the people of God in between the resurrection and return of King Jesus.

Wright maintains that while Jesus’s life, death, resurrection and ultimate return is the ultimate solution to the problem of evil, followers of Christ are to be “blessings to the nations.”  Wright unpacks what it means for the church to be on mission with God to redeem fallen creation and he does so with clarity, brevity and unwavering fidelity to Scripture.

For Wright, the mission of the church is holistic.  The community of faith’s proper response to the gracious election of God is to do the same as Israel was to do in Babylon– to “seek the shalom” of the culture around us (p. 232).  Wright argues, “Shalom…is a wonderfully broad word.  It goes beyond peace as the absence of conflict or war, to all-around welfare or well-being. It speaks of wholeness of life and the kind of prospering that the Old Testament included in the blessing of God as the fruit of covenant faithfulness.”  

In order to truly be instruments of shalom, the church certainly witnesses to the one true God through the proclamation of the Gospel and worship but it must also care for God’s creation, work for justice in the public sphere and stand out in the culture as resident aliens who live out an ethic that starkly contrasts with the world around us and all for the glory of God. 

There is a hunger for God’s word today but many quickly become dispirited by the seeming complexity of the 66 book library that  comprises Scripture.  Wright has given the church a great gift in crafting an easy to read but theologically nuanced work that help those coming to the Bible see it as a grand story of redemption that calls each of them to play a part. 

In a few months, I will begin teaching a seminar on Biblical theology for Revolution’s Free Seminary and Wright’s work will be my textbook.  If you are a pastor then you will want to have this book.  If you are just learning Scripture then you need this book!

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