Truth With A Mission: Reading All Scripture Missiologically -- By: Christopher J. H. Wright

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:2 (Summer 2011)
Article: Truth With A Mission: Reading All Scripture Missiologically
Author: Christopher J. H. Wright

Truth With A Mission: Reading All Scripture Missiologically1

Christopher J. H. Wright

Christopher J. H. Wright is International Director of the Langham Partnership International.

Previously, Dr. Wright served on the faculty of Union Biblical Seminary and as academic dean and principal of All Nations Christian College. With a Ph.D. in Old Testament Ethics from Cambridge, Dr. Wright is the author of numerous books, including The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Zondervan, 2010), and The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (IVP, 2006).


I remember them so vividly from my childhood—the great banner texts around the walls of the missionary conventions in Northern Ireland where I would help my father at the stall of the Unevangelized Fields Mission, of which he was Irish Secretary after twenty years in Brazil. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” they urged me, along with other similar imperatives in glowing gothic calligraphy. By the age of twelve I could have quoted you all the key ones—”Go ye therefore and make disciples,” “How shall they hear?,” “You shall be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth,” “Whom shall we send? ... Here am I, send me.” I knew my missionary Bible verses. I had responded to many a rousing sermon on most of them.

By the age of twenty-one I had a degree in theology from Cambridge in which the same texts had been curiously lacking. At least, it is curious to me now. At the time there seemed to be little connection at all between theology and mission in the mind of the lecturers, or of myself, or, for all I knew, in the mind of God either. “Theology” was all about God—what God was like, what God had said and done, and what mostly dead people had speculated on such questions. “Mission” was about us, the living, and what we’ve been doing since Carey (who, of course, was the first missionary, we so erroneously thought). Or more precisely, mission is what we evangelicals do since we’re the ones who know that the Bible has told us (or some of us, at least) to go and be missionaries. “Mission is what we do.” That was the assumption, supported of course by clear biblical commands. “Jesus sends me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Many years later, including years when I was teaching theology myself as a missionary in India,2 1 found myself teaching a module called The Biblical Basis of Mission at All Nations Christian College—an international mission training institution. The module title itself embodies the same assumption...

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