"Whole Christian mission is built on the whole Christian Bible," says Christopher J. H. Wright in The Mission of God (IVP Academic). For Wright, the call to reach the nations does not begin and end with the Great Commission of Matthew 28. This perspective, advanced relentlessly in this substantial, thoroughly documented work of scholarship, provides a healthy antidote to the recent propensity of some churches and mission agencies to focus solely on the unreached. It certainly could calm the mad rush to multiply short-term mission experiences.

Wright, director of international ministries for Langham Partnership International (known in the United States as John Stott Ministries), sees no dichotomy between what have been known as "missions" and "social work." His exhaustive Old Testament exegesis suggests that there's hardly anything that does not fall under the rubric of God's mission, including ecology and aids.

God "pins a mission statement" to every sign in the Bible, Wright says. While Wright, a mission educator, focuses mainly on the Old Testament, he never slights the centrality of Christ. All mission, Wright says, flows from the Cross.

This will be good news to churches and agencies that spread their missionary work across a wide spectrum of ministries. But those who see their primary mission as evangelism and church planting will not welcome it. In fact, Wright appears to slight church planting as a goal of God's mission. The book's extensive index, for example, lists far more references to "creation" than to "church."

Wright never disparages evangelism—in fact, he exalts it as an absolute necessity—but his advocacy for engaging social, economic, and political issues will arouse controversy. It's worth asking: ...

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June 2007

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