This course explores how our understanding of God and His Mission informs the very identity and mission of the church in the world. Three interrelated concepts-mission, evangelism, and theology-will be considered thematically in different contexts. The basic contention is that these three themes are and should be inseparable, and yet are distinct; and that if the church is to be true to itself none of these stands in isolation from the other.
There are two governing themes: first, the biblical insight that mission originates with God. Christian tradition has always understood that God's grace is at work in the world; indeed, in the vocation to mission, the focus is not on what we do, but what God has done and is doing in the world in and through the unique, exclusive and saving ministry of Christ. Attention to the entire biblical narrative is foundational; it guards us from any naive assumption that we can build how we think of mission on conveniently selected verses from the Bible.
The second major theme of the course reflects on the church as intrinsically missionary-called to be so by God because God Himself is always reaching out in mission to humanity. Because the very identity of the church is missionary, having received that mandate from God, the church needs to take the world and its struggles seriously.
The course analyzes the changing landscapes and context of contemporary mission, within the wider context of mission history and in the succession of various paradigms within that history. These two themes will be the lenses through which we look at the relationship between the church and the world in our time, wrestling with the question of what it means to be missional in the 21st century.
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