I was reading an article reviewing Christopher Wright’s book “The Mission of God.” The review was from 2012 by Trevin Wax HERE
I thought it was a good review, but the section (particularly in the concluding remarks) I found confusing. It seemed to agree and disagree with Wright at the same time. Wright places high value on holistic ministry. Frankly, I can’t see how one could read the Bible without seeing that acting on God’s mission is by demonstrating love to the whole person in his or her social and physical context. This is pretty clear since:
- The grand narrative (eschatological history) of the Bible has “horizontal,” “vertical,” spiritual, social, and physical components. Paradise in Genesis 1, as well as restored paradise in Isaiah and Revelation have these components. As such, God’s redemptive work has these holistic components.
- The various “Great Commissions” are secondary applications of the Great Commandment of Christ. In fact, the John version of the Great Commission points back to serving with Christ as model. As such, any view that the obedience to the Great Commission can be done without proclamation, or without active concern for people’s social and physical context is clearly sub-Biblical.
- Jesus modeled holistic ministry, and the Old Testament (especially the prophets) emphasized the inadequacy of religious piety without concern for the well-being of people in the here and now. (It may be true that Wright’s emphasis on the OT Jubilee was a bit strange, considering its lack of emphasis elsewhere in the Bible… but if I was an OT scholar, maybe I would see its emphasis appropriate.)
The point I am making here is that Missiologists have often operated on a flawed dualism. The appropriate contrast should be:
Since Jesus ministry was holistic, not simply spiritual or social, the question for us is whether we are to do holistic ministry or less than holistic ministry. Any arguments that seek to pull the issue back to spiritual (proclamation) ministry versus social ministry is trying resurrect the Liberal/Fundamental arguments of 100 years ago, not deal realistically with God’s Word and God’s Mission.