Friday, January 9, 2009

Missiological Chicken and Egg and John 17

Jonathan Dodson asks which comes first?

He cites Alan Hirsch as advocating:

Christology → Missiology → Ecclesiology

He cites Ed Stetzer as advocating:

Christology → Ecclesiology → Missiology

Stetzer entered the comments to say that's not what he says at all.

The discussion is interesting and thought-provoking.

My take is to object to the question, sort of. The question seems "made up.'

But as I was reviewing John 17 once again for my message this Sunday, my outline stuck out to me. My points are:
Bold Prayer is Christ-Centered Prayer
Bold Prayer is Church-Minded Prayer
Bold Prayer is Mission-Minded Prayer

It flows this way because Jesus' high priestly prayer seems to flow this way. Jesus prays for himself, then he prays for his followers, then he transitions into "mission" talk with v.18 and prays for those who "will believe" in the last section.

I don't know if we can derive a missiological order from this, but if we were, it sure seems like Jesus is placing church before mission.


Bill Kinnon said...

Though I don't disagree that the question seems "made up" and too often just want to yell "can we stop talking and just get on with what we've been called to do" I would also suggest you are reading a missiological order into Jesus' prayer and would ask for other scripture that would back that order up. I'm just saying.

I do look forward to you participating at Missional Tribe. You have lots and lots to offer, bro - whether you agree with most of the folk there or not. You are both strong and irenic. Have at it, please.

Jared said...

Bill, thanks.

What I'm saying is that while Jesus obviously talks about one thing before he talks about another, I don't know if we can still derive a theology from that order.

What I'm also saying is that, nevertheless, if one is going to look to Scripture for an order, this might be a good place to look.

But I still think the question is like asking what the #9 smells like.

But maybe not. I'm open.
Let's go to the OT and see. Covenant before mission? Israel before missional charge?

Obviously missio dei precedes everything, but within that, what is the precedent of the church as being and the church as doing?
That just makes me think it's a hairsplitting question again.

Visiting the Tribe site quite a bit. Not sure how to weigh in yet.

Anonymous said...

maybe they are the same thing.

Anonymous said...

church and mission that is...
maybe they are one in the same.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jared,

The question was created to generate theological precision and biblically faithful practice. It appears to be doing just that.

To say that missiology is the primary shaping element for ecclesiology is reductionist. The church is much, much more but not less than mission. The church is a Christ-centered community. Mission will cease one day but community will not. Thus, if ecclesiology is primarily defined by missiology, we are in a bit of a pickle come new creation. Moreover, the marks of the church will be quickly watered down if not jettisoned, if the primary shaping element is missiology.

I agree with Ed's trajectory, that biblical theology must shape ecclesiology and that missiology is a "subset" of ecclesiology.

Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

Jared said...

CPN, I tend to agree.

When Frank in your thread began discussing missiology as "eternal purpose," I thought to myself "Does that mean mission never ends? Surely at the Day of the Lord, the mission is over, complete. But the community of the redeemed will continue.

Rob said...

This is going to sound strange, but what this discussion reminds me of is the old argument over the procession of the Spirit (does the Spirit proceed only from the Father, or from the Father and the Son?) that was a major reason for the Great Schism. Someone recently proposed (I don't have the book to hand and don't remember who) that neither is sufficient; he argued that we do need to understand the Spirit as proceeding from both the Father and the Son, but that we also need to see the Son proceeding from both the Father and the Spirit.

It's complicated, of course, but I think I might argue that the situation is parallel here. I don't think it's a straight line, but more of a circle; both ecclesiology and missiology proceed from Christology, and both proceed from each other as well. I agree with Alan Hirsch that the mission has a church and constitutes the church; but it isn't the only thing that constitutes the church. As CPN says, the church is larger than the mission, there's more to it than that--and that "more" shapes and defines the mission.

I'm afraid that defining ecclesiology by missiology will prove to be reductionist not only of the church, but also of the mission; that way, I suspect, lies a trajectory that ultimately brings us back to the social/good works gospel.

Jeremy Pierce said...

Paul does say in Galatians that our love is first to the household of faith and then to others.