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Jesus. It is assumed that the primal core of disciples is under discipline itself, so that its members can instruct new recruits into the practices and habits that will sustain life and mission in the counter-community. Baptism, reflecting a more ecclesial assumption on the part of Matthew, has become the rite of initiation into an alternative community. In the earliest church, baptism was a decisive, dramatic transfer of life into a new community with new disciplines, new loyalties, and new obligations. Teaching is fundamental to the missional church that is sent. The primal curriculum of the church’s teaching pivots on the twin trinitarian claims that (a) the historical person of Jesus is the embodiment and disclosure of God’s true character and that (b) Jesus’ spirit continues to infuse this community (and the world) after his departure from the earth. This mandating text at the close of Matthew already recognizes, in the earliest church, that knowledge of the tradition is fundamental to mission; ignorance of the tradition will make mission either impossible or undertaken for the wrong reasons.

5. The difficult and demanding task is to complete the sequence that extends from Old Testament to New Testament to early church by trying to line out what that sending now may mean to us in our circumstance. It is clear that the sending is not to another place, on the assumption that some places have already been “won over” and other places remain to be “taken.” That, of course, was the old assumption of mission — characteristically “foreign” mission — uncritically assuming that the home base was “secure” for the gospel. Rather, this sending means to be dispatched as an alternative power in every place where anti-creation powers rule, dispatched there to talk and walk the truth that the legitimate power of governance belongs to the One who authorizes restoration of what belongs rightly — at the outset and at the finish — only to God. That is, the sending is to be understood as becoming alternative community in the midst of conventional communities:

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To enact alternative community in the midst of conventional communities is highly conflictual, as it was for Moses and for Jesus in his own life, and as it was for the early church. The powers of the conventional have acute antennas for the ways in which status quo reality is thwarted and called into question by alternative reality. Enactment of alternative community requires intentionality sustained by carefully embraced and regularly practiced disciplines, so that discipleship is a sine qua non for mission. This counter-community has as its core task the naming and confrontation of alien spiritual powers that govern the conventional society into which we are all, in many ways, inducted.4

These alien spiritual powers, however, characteristically are manifested as socio- political-economic powers, so that religious and political-economic issues are always both spiritual and political-economic, never either one or the other. This both/and reality in turn means that the old quarrel between evangelism and social action is a

Chilcote, P. W., & Warner, L. C. (Eds.). (2008). The study of evangelism : Exploring a missional practice of the church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Created from amridge on 2022-10-21 04:02:18.

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cheap, misinformed argument. It is precisely the talk of the evangel that matches the walk of action in the world on behalf of the new governance that is proclaimed in the evangel.

The news of a restored creation is counter to a system of meaning and power that I term technological-therapeutic-military consumerism — a system that in our society unrelentingly offers a total worldview that comprehends all and allows no opening for any alternative. This dominant mode of power and meaning is a way of rendering reality that silences “the news” and voids the One who is the subject of our “news”:

technological — the reduction of life’s choices to technological options in which critical voices of alternative are screened out and eliminated. Thus “techno-speak” can allow no room for the slippery, dramatic Character who is at the core of the church’s news. therapeutic — the assumption that our goal in life is to live a pain-free, stress-free, undisturbed life of convenience. Most television ads are aimed at this elusive and impossible goal, which stands deeply opposed to any news that has a cross at its center. military — the deployment of immense forces, funded by massive resources, to protect an entitled advantage in a world that is committed to an unsustainable standard of living. consumerism — the deep and unexamined assumption that “more” (of whatever) will make us safer and happier, a claim difficult to maintain when one ponders the fact that massive consumerism is matched by pervasive unhappiness and profound insecurity.

To characterize our culture as marked by an ideology of technological-therapeutic- military consumerism — to which all of us subscribe in some serious way — is to mark a primal mission context for the evangel. In that world, the mission to be enacted by those under discipline is to cure, raise the dead, cleanse, and cast out demons; to make disciples, teach, and baptize.

So consider: the calling God calls; the sending God sends. This God calls and sends because God the Creator intends that the world will again be free, able and competent to be God’s abundant creation. That prospect, however, requires breaking the grip of alien powers that impede the fullness of creation. It is the intention of the Creator, we confess, that the kingdom of this world should become the kingdom of our God who is the Creator. The New Testament version of that claim is, of course, that the comin

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