Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Missional Hermeneutics

How can we not interpret the Scriptures in light of the mission of GOD? How could we ignore mission as central to the core movement of the biblical narrative? Isn’t this what the Bible is all about? While we must at once recognise that the Scriptures are multivocal, and come in a variety of literary genre’s and expressions, the canon as a whole tells the [one?] story of God’s mission. This mission includes creating people, calling people, teaching people, leading people, rescuing people, restoring people and redirecting people. This is the story about God and people, and God’s mission to connect with them in a variety of settings, in a variety of ways, but ultimately through Jesus who perfectly reveals the identity of the missional GOD.
Exegesis of any particular passage must also attend to the [controlling? meta?] narrative which pervades every facet of Scripture and is thus integral to understanding both of the specific passage and also the entire Scriptural symphony. Specific passages cannot be properly understood in isolation from the whole canon/story. God’s mission thus provides the interpretive key to unlocking the central message and mission of Scripture.
How does our text advance the mission of God?
  • What does our text add to our understanding of the mission of God?
  • What counsel does our text give to those involved/situated in the mission of God?
  • How does our text understand/construct the identity of God’s missionary people?
  • How does our text help or equip those engaged in the mission?
God is directing his missional movements throughout history through the symphony of Scripture, inspiring and inciting God’s people to understand and improvise, and thus advance God’s mission on planet earth. A failure to engage the voice of God revealed in the symphony of Scripture would be a failure to understand, appreciate and therefore participate in God’s unfolding and reconciling mission.
Michael Gorman is advancing this discussion, see his posts. See also the essays at the Gospel and Our culture. Goheen and Bartholomew provide several articles pertaining to this topic. An excellent article by J. V. Brownson, "Speaking the Truth in Love" in International Review of Mission VOL. LXXXIII No. 330. See also Michael Barram "The Bible, Mission, and Social Location: Toward a Missional Hermeneutic" Interpretation 43.


Brian Russell said...

Hi Sean,
Great post. I am interested in missional hermeneutics and write on the topic regularly on my blog. I teach biblical studies in the United States at Asbury Theological Seminary (Florida campus).

I like the questions that you raise for reflection on biblical texts.

Brian Russell said...

I meant to leave my blog address as well:

Sean said...

Hey Brian, thanks so much for the link. Really enjoyed your reflections on Philippians. Lots of food for thought there. I'm currently doing a paper on Philippians with Mark Keown, who did his doctorate on Mission in Philippians, so this is very helpful.