Future Speculation and Serious Bible Study

I’ve only just started reading Beyond Empire: Postcolonialism & Mission in a Global Context by Jonathan Ingleby, but I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy it. The following quote takes up an issue which I consider to be of primary importance in the mission world today:

One of the most depressing features of the current theological scene is that in many quarters the recounting of present experience and speculation about the future have taken the place of serious Biblical exegesis. Let me give just one example: the Synoptic Gospels contain messages (I am thinking of the Olivet discourse – Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17) intended to minister to the experience of a small persecuted group of believers, at odds with both the Jewish and Roman authorities, but who are beginning to understand the teaching of their leader that this death (and perhaps also the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE) is something which has already inaugurated the Kingdom of God with all that that means. Their responsibility is now the preaching of the good news about the advent of that Kingdom. What sort of description do we have today from our exegetes. Instead of a patient and faithful identification with Jesus and his discipline (and the ‘mustard seed Kingdom’ that Jesus proclaimed) we have a triumphalistic and speculative account of the progress of the Kingdom characterised by a constant re-invention of the future and a disregard for the serious historical investigation that the New Testament requires. No wonder we are in a muddle.

I wrote something which is tangetially related to this here.

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