Being Jesus, "Missio Dei", And Kingdom Work: An Analysis, Critique, And Proposal For Modern Approaches To Holistic Ministry -- By: Benjamin G. Edwards

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 019:1 (NA 2014)
Article: Being Jesus, "Missio Dei", And Kingdom Work: An Analysis, Critique, And Proposal For Modern Approaches To Holistic Ministry
Author: Benjamin G. Edwards


Being Jesus, Missio Dei, And Kingdom Work: An Analysis, Critique, And Proposal For Modern Approaches To Holistic Ministry

Benjamin G. Edwards1

There are a growing number of voices in evangelicalism advocating an approach to ministry that is holistic. Many believe that the church has unnecessarily adopted a Platonic dualism that separates spiritual ministry from physical ministry by arguing that it is the responsibility of the church to minister to men’s souls and not their bodies. In response to this faulty division, holistic ministry presents a comprehensive approach to ministry, one that ministers to the entire person, both body and soul. This approach seeks to meet people’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. It recognizes that ministry must relate to social, economic, political, and spiritual realities. Various related issues are often included in the call for holistic ministry, including cultural engagement, social justice, and socioeconomic development.

This essay will provide an introductory analysis of some of the more prominent calls for holistic ministry. The various foundations for holistic ministry cannot be considered in depth, but the basic approaches will be laid out followed by a brief analysis of some concerns with these approaches. Then, a modest proposal of a way forward in promoting a holistic approach to ministry will be presented. I will seek to demonstrate that the current approaches to holistic ministry must be adjusted to more accurately reflect the teaching and example of Scripture, which will allow for a more careful and sustainable foundation for holistic ministry.2

Introductory Analysis Of Current Approaches To Holistic Ministry

In analyzing current approaches to holistic ministry, I will begin by summarizing the key elements of three commonly cited foundations for a holistic approach by considering key representatives from each emphasis. Then, I will present what I see to be as weaknesses in the foundations they provide.

Foundations For Holistic Ministry

Though many are arguing for holistic ministry, not all provide the same basis for this approach. Within mainstream evangelicalism there appear to be at least three distinct foundations for holistic ministry: the mission of Jesus, the mission of God, and the presence of the Kingdom.3 These foundations at times overlap, and some proponents may employ more than one in their approach, but the emphasis placed on each of these foundations allows for a separate analysis.

The Mission Of Jesus

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