I had a conversation a few years back with a colleague who said that he has stopped using the language of “missional” because it is faddish. As for myself, I am seeing this language everywhere, but I still highly value what it is trying to represent at its best – a holistic vision of how the on-the-move triune God seeks to redeem all his creation and the church exists to carry out the divine redemptive mission.
Dean Flemming has maintained an interest in this subject for several years, in 2013 publishing Recovering the Full Mission of God (IVP). This year Flemming has put out a nice, accessible volume in the “Reframing New Testament Theology” series called Why Mission? Needless to day Flemming answers the titular question cogently. Below is the book description and back-cover endorsements, including my own. BTW – this is a great book to have undergrads read in a Christian gen ed class on Scripture!
Recent years have seen heightened interest in how to read scripture from a missional perspective. This book addresses that question by exploring both how the New Testament bears witness to the mission of God and how it energizes the church to participate in that mission. It also makes a distinctive contribution by applying a missional reading to a variety of New Testament books, offering insights into New Testament theology and serving today’s discussions about mission and the church.
“Dean Flemming has written a game-changing book on the interpretation of scripture for the mission of the church. This relatively slim but rich volume is absolutely mandatory reading for all serious students of the New Testament and for all who wish to understand the church’s participation in the mission of God. It should be on the syllabus of every ecclesially focused course on the New Testament and every biblically attuned course in ecclesiology and in missiology.” —Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, MD
“I am always grateful when another book by Dean Flemming appears. His writing arises out of his significant cross-cultural experience, his outstanding scholarship, and his careful listening to the Spirit in the text. This book is written clearly and is full of nourishing insight.” —Michael W. Goheen, Professor of Missiology, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI; former Geneva Chair of Worldview Studies, Trinity Western University, Langley, BC; and Teaching Fellow in Mission Studies, Regent College, Vancouver, BC
“‘Why mission?’ is a critical question, one not asked or understood often enough. Here is a stirring reading of the New Testament that demonstrates a living triune God on mission, bringing redemption to the world through a living apostolic church. So much rich theological interpretation packed into a small book!” —Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Portland, OR
“Since writing The Mission of God, I have felt guilty that it paid so much more attention to a missional reading of the Old than of the New Testament. This fine book relieves me of that guilt. This is an outstandingly clear and faithful exposition of what it means to read the New Testament from the perspective of, and with the intention of participating in, the mission of God as revealed in the whole Bible.” —Christopher J. H. Wright, International Ministries Director, Langham Partnership