Thursday, December 04, 2008

Peter Leithart - Theology of Missions

Leithart: at First Things:
...The Bible provides a theology of missions that is neither accommodation to existing culture nor total war that leaves the existing culture in smoking ruins. Mission is more like cultivation, a process of nurturing the hidden but unforeseen potential within a culture. Mission, we might say, is like water. Tertullian said, Nunquam sine aqua Christus—Christ is never without water. Neither is the Church; neither is her mission.

“Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided into four rivers” (Genesis 2:10). It is the Bible’s first reference to rivers, and the first use of the number four, a number that eventually becomes associated with universality—the four corners (Isaiah 11:12), the four winds (Daniel 7:2), the four cornerstones of a house, the four horns of the altar. Genesis 2:10 is the first missionary text in Scripture, the first hint that Eden’s garden is not destination but source, the first faint suggestion that Adam is to move from the garden to bring its life to the ends of creation....