The Church as Missionary

Sources: Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret (Eerdmans, 1995); James B. Torrance, Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace (IVP, 1997); Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God (Paternoster, 1998); James Wm. McClendon, Jr.,Witness: Systematic Theology vol. 3 (Abingdon, 2000); Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society (IVP, 1996). Reading: Acts 1:1-14 or 9:1-31.

Task: Themes to correlate today are mission, liturgy, apostolicity, ecclesiology, eschatology

I. "A liturgist in the sanctuary": Worship as the chief end of God
Worship is the inner and outer life of God (Rev. 4-5)
The end (telos) of all right action is the love of God (1 Cor. 13)

The worker of worship (leiturgeos, Heb. 8:2) is the Triune God (9:1, 9:11-14)
Sin, or concupiscence, is "wrongly directed love" (idolatry)

All healthy worship practices (not just altar calls!) express and accomplish God's mission
Israel is God's worshiping people (Deut. 6; Amos 5:21-24; Matt. 5:14-16, 6:1-18)
Jesus is the ultimate subject and object of worship (Heb. 5:7-10, 7:26-28)
Worship is God-directed, Christ-shaped, Spirit-driven (Acts 2) ...

... drawing us into the communion between Son and Father (John 17)
... drawing us into the communion of Christ and his body (1 Cor. 12)

... drawing us into the communion of saints (Rom. 12)
... commissioning us as agents of the Kingdom's growing communion (Matt. 28)

James B. Torrance's three models of worship/mission (two of them defective):

Torrance's Label Torrance's Description Exemplars Christology Strength or Weakness
unitarian moves "up" from individuals to God Harnack, Hick Jesus is an example of how to worship ebionite?
existential moves "down" in an encounter provoking our response Bultmann, early Barth Jesus is the revelation that confronts us docetic?
Trinitarian shares in the Son's fellowships through the Spirit Torrance Jesus is the high priest who includes us in his own divine fellowship incarnational

II. "Whom shall I send?" Mission as apostolicity
apostoloi: Jesus (Heb. 3:1), the Twelve (Matt. 10:2), Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14), others (Rom. 16:7, Phil. 2:25, 2 Cor. 8:23)

Missionary of the Good News (Matt. 10:2)
Bringer of the Kingdom of God: a new, holy, public order (Matt. 10:7-8)
Witness to the resurrection (Acts 1:26)
Head of Israel (Rev. 21:14)
Foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20)

So apostolicity names the later Church's fidelity to its irreplaceable foundations
Apostolicity describes the Church's center and its expanding boundaries
Apostolicity discerns deep continuity with the original witnesses and the eschatological frontier

III. "The whole structure is joined together": Rival (?) visions of apostolicity (cf. Newbigin)

Newbigin's Category (Adapted) My Description of the Type According to the Category of Apostolicity Israelite Precedent? New Testament Exemplar Liturgical Focus
Protestant the Church's practice of Scripture brings the apostolic gospel to the world prophets, rabbis Acts 1:8 preaching, faithful response
ethical the community of disciples is the primary witness to Christ's reign in the world saints, sages Acts 2:46-47, 4:32-35 universal participation, organic fellowship
Catholic sacraments incorporate the world into the Church of the apostles' successors monarchs, priests Acts 8:17 hierarchical liturgy, visible unity
charismatic the Spirit sanctifies and anoints apostles to revive churches and liberate the world patriarchs, judges Acts 10:44-48 powerful liturgy, personal transformation

IV. "I send you out as sheep among wolves": Political-eschatological locations

My Label My Description Prooftext Ecclesial Priorities Eschatology
assimilationist the world absorbs the Christian community Rev. 3:1-6 other narratives, gospels, missions, ends, and agents futurist
Constantinian civil authorities legislate the millennial reign of Christ Isa. 60:10-12 civil sponsorship, rulership, activism, transformation postmillennial
spiritualist Holy Spirit calls individuals out of a godforsaken world Rev. 18:4-8 conversion, piety, personal difference, social renunciation and withdrawal premillennial
developmental new works of the Spirit change the Church as it interacts with the world Acts 15 receptivity to development and variety (e.g., Romanization, canonization, creedalization, Germanization, globalization) inaugurated
primitivist the missionary community's shape is indifferent to its surroundings Heb. 13:8 continuity with the past rather than responsivity to cultural context realized
proleptic the Church is what it is becoming Eph. 4:11-16 vision, continuity with the future, faithfulness, repentance in the face of failure dialectical

V. "Carry my name before the nations and kings and children of Israel": Strategies for mission

Modernity and postmodernity are pressuring churches to adopt various strategies (Clapp):

My Label Political Strategy Clapp's label (or mine)
Neo-constantinianism seek vestiges of usefulness to society "recapitulation"
Paleo-constantinianism try to reclaim lost civil power and authority "retrenchment"
Hypo-constantinianism withdraw into private spiritualism "relinquishment"
Anti-constantinianism concentrate on fighting the alliance (reactionism)
A-constantinianism pursue the original politics of being Christ's Way "radicalization"