Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness

"True charity looks at ...the spread of righteousness in the earth - the reign of the king.. "
(Catherine Booth)

Bosch points to the damage that has been done to the biblical concept of righteousness through the churches maintainance of a seperation of inward and spiritual righteousness from an outward and manifest justice in social relationships.

Leslie Newbigin points out that it is easy
"to see how the use of two different English words 'righteous' and 'just' for the single biblical word has seduced evangelical Christians into a mental separation between righteousness as an inward and spiritual state and justice as an outward and political programme."
NT Wright writing on righteousness reminds us that
"The church is to be not only an example of God’s intended new humanity, but the means by which the eventual plan, including the establishment of world-wide justice, is to be put into effect."
Bruggemann continues to make sense of righteousness within the understanding of the great commandment that obligates us to 'love God' and to 'love neighbour' and therefore sees righteousness as characteristically investing and lending stability in the community, taking responsibility for the community through showing special attentiveness to the poor and the needy.

The damage to missiology that the 'Lost Righteousness' represents is that there are generations of church that see righteousness only in the light of upholding 'right' living yet are happy to see justice and commitment to community as a optional extra - at best a negotiable. I'm wondering whether mission without righteousness makes sense?


lucy ar said...

great post. one of the most awakening moments in my own journey was when I heard Chris Marshall (The little book for biblical justice) talk on the intimacy of righteousness and justice. When you figure that every time "righteousness" pops up in the bible it could correctly be replaced with "justice"... thats a whole lota justice and a bit of a stark revelation about Gods priorities.

Gordon said...

Thanks Lucy - It kind of makes it inescapeable for us as churches but amazing that we do so well to wriggle out of what God wants of us!!