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  • « A Lasting Faith for the Last Days by Rev. C. R. Biggs- Part 3 | Main | 2,000 Years of Jesus' Catholic Church? »

    A Biblical Theology of Christian Mission

    Several days ago, I posted a brief article on Christian mission, in which I deplored the lack of a thoroughly biblical-theological treatment of the theme and proposed to develop several posts with the goal of laying out some groundwork for a biblical theology of mission. Shortly after posting that initial article, I came across a self-styled “biblical theology of mission”, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth, by Kostenberger and O’Brien; and I determined to defer my own development of the topic until I had obtained a copy of their work. I have now read this biblical theology, and I am pleased to announce that it was written along much the same lines as that which I had hoped to develop – and furthermore, it has been much more meticulously researched and thought-through than my own musings would have been. In light of this discovery, I have purposed to discontinue my incondite designs, and have chosen instead to post a short review of the volume I found so helpful. If anyone else is likewise searching for a well-crafted biblical theological treatment of Christian mission, I can do no better than to recommend to him the research of Kostenberger and O’Brien. The book may be purchased here.

    Book Review: Salvation to the Ends of the Earth, by Kostenberger and O’Brien

    Synopsis: In light of the overwhelming abundance of materials on the practical aspects and New Testament examples of Christian mission, the relative scarcity of works intending to set forth the foundational principles of mission from the entire gamut of scriptural witness is conspicuous. This self-styled “biblical theology of mission” admirably fulfills a much-needed role in the pursuit of a rigorously biblical and redemptive-historically comprehensive framework for modern mission.

    If the history of the world, and special revelation in particular, is indeed the unified account of God’s working out his eternal plan for the accomplishment of the universal mission of his Son, namely, the gathering together of a redeemed people from every nation, who will worship him forever; then an adequate vision of the purpose and significance of Christian mission, which is carried out by authorization of the Son, and in extension of his foundational mission, must begin, not with the great commission, but rather with the beginning account of God’s creation. The recognition of this vital principle is what motivated Andreas J. Kostenberger and Peter t. O’Brien to undertake their weighty endeavor. And the results could scarcely have been attended with greater success.

    From the original intent of creation, the significance of Abraham’s call, the purpose of Israel as a nation of priests, the monumental covenant made with David, the grand and sweeping eschatological visions of the writing prophets; to the predominantly Jewish ministry of Christ on earth, his forecast of universal expansion following his death, and the actual outworking of that forecast in Christian history, as his disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, began to turn the world upside down for the sake of the Name – in short, from beginning to end of divine revelation, a thrilling picture of worldwide, salvific import begins to emerge, with a unity and complexity that is as staggering as it is beautiful. Salvation to the Ends of the Earth traces that gloriously unfolding design with a carefulness and intentionality that it makes it both a substantial contribution to modern scholarship and a rich feast for any believer. The final summary alone, entitled “Some concluding observations and implications” (pp. 262-268), is the best brief synopsis of Christian mission that one is ever likely to encounter, and worth the price of the book.

    Kostenberger and O’Brien are up-to-date and thorough in their interactions with related contemporary writings. They are also well enough grounded in the universality and vastness of the theme to avoid mere novelty and speculation in their treatments. Informed throughout by a broad vision of redemptive history, and rigorously subjected to the scruples of a careful exegesis, this biblical theology of mission will undoubtedly prove to be fully adequate for a thorough grounding in the purpose and movement of Christian mission – from creation to new creation.

    Posted by Nathan on August 7, 2006 08:35 PM


    One of my favorite books on this is by GK Beale: The Temple and the Church's Mission. It's not a book on missiology; rather its a development of the theology of the Temple in light of biblical theology. What he says here, however, greatly informs our understanding of the covenants, missions, and eschatology.

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