Blessing the Nations: Toward a Biblical Theology of Mission from Genesis -- By: M. Daniel Carroll R
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Blessing the Nations: Toward a
Biblical Theology of Mission
A number of different themes from the OT have been utilized in standard missiological literature to establish God’s concern for humanity. This essay proposes the consideration of the blessing theme in the book of Genesis as a helpful starting point for the elaboration of an OT theology of mission. This theme is traced throughout Genesis in order to underline that a comprehensive vision of the mission of the people of God in a fallen world should include material, spiritual, and character formation dimensions.
Key Words: mission, blessing, Genesis, patriarchs, material and spiritual blessings, promise
Introduction: Reflections On A Journey
Twenty years ago I was a seminary student working toward teaching the OT in an institution in Central America. I am half Guatemalan, so this decision meant something like a return to childhood cultural roots. But those were times of great conflict in the region: the Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua in 1979, and civil wars were continuing apace in both Guatemala and El Salvador. Going south, then, required more than preparing myself solely in the classical biblical study disciplines. It also entailed at least beginning to wrestle with defining the mission of the church in that context of poverty, racism, and violence.
During those seminary days I began reading a wide variety of works by liberation theologians, who in time would be recognized as some of that current’s most articulate spokespersons: Gustavo Gutiérrez, José Míguez Bonino, Hugo Assmann, José Porfirio Miranda, and Juan Luis Segundo among others. The complex realities of Central
Author’s note: This is a slightly revised version of a paper given at the annual meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research in Orlando, Florida, on November 21, 1998.
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America that I encountered in books, journals, and newspapers demanded a response to a host of difficult questions: Was theology a deposit one simply received and then faithfully transmitted, or was it rather something to be done “on the way” in the interaction between Christian faith and the context? What of the role of ideology in the theological enterprise, the impact of context on interpretation, and the motivations behind highlighting some biblical texts while ignoring others? Questions abounded. Of course, beyond these perhaps more theoretical concerns, there lingered the pastoral challenge: What was the evangelical church actually to do in Central America? Living and working in Guatemala for thirteen years reinforced for me...
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