Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lost Themes of Mission - Judgement...

God's justice is not simply a blind disposing of rewards for the virtuous and punishments for the wicked

I've been spending a bit of time in NT Wright's writing recently and it has inspired some new 'lost themes of mission'

The whole concept of judgement seems to be a pretty loaded word. I remember as a kid watching a guy walk up and down Oxford St in London with a sandwich board informing the tourists and shoppers that God's judgement was at hand. Hell and damnation, eternal rest the destination of such judgement - the communication of eternal sentence.

NT Wright points out in Evil And the Justice of God that

"God's justice is not simply a blind disposing of rewards for the virtuous and punishments for the wicked, though plenty of those are to be found on the way. God's justice is a saving, healing, restorative justice, because the God to whom justice belongs is the creator God who has yet to complete his original plan for creation, and whose justice is not simply designed to restore a balance to a world out of kilter but to bring to glorious completion and fruition the
creation, teeming with life and possibility, that he made in the first place."(2006:36)
Wright, N.T. (2006) Evil And the Justice of God

It seems that the whole concept of judgement becomes ever so much more than merely that of a sentence of reward and punishment - it is that of a 'putting to rights' that which is wrong. "Judge me O Lord" becomes a plea for a putting to rights that which is wrong; "judge our nation" becomes a plea for a putting to rights that which is wrong. This makes sense within a culture and through judicial metaphors that would seek judgement for redress of what was wrong.

The guy with his imminence of judgement placards - is right, the church has to communicate that which God means by judgement, but like so many others he has got the wrong of the stick. Shame his message was not more reflective of the restorative judgment that says "God is wanting to put this world to rights!"

The task of the church is to reflect this sense of God's judgement, to be part of God's redemptive plan by being signposts of God's saving, healing and restorative justice. Being part of God's judgement in the sense of putting the world to rights is most definitely mission and while understood by a sizable majority in terms of merely an eternal sentencing remains a lost theme of mission.


Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...


Stephen said...

Gordon - See if you agree but I have been thinking that unity might be another lost theme of mission. Still working this through, and looking for some academic substantiation, but I can't get away from the idea that effective mission is something the church does in community (that's Phil Needham, isn't it?). 2 Chronicles 7:14 might suggest a community response in seeking forgiveness and healing as a corporate act to which God promises His gracious response. The "Provocative Church" implies provactive worshipping communities, all of which underlines the need for unity within the community.

Just exploring the idea. Thoughts?



Gordon said...

good thought - I think I wrote something many moons ago about unity and mission. I guess the theological starting point might be the trinity! I'll hunt it down (not the trinity - but the essay!)

Hope all is well?