Books I Have Read: Recovering the Full Mission of God

I came across a new (for me) acronym today: “tldr” which means “too long, didn’t read”. This is not going to be a long post and you should read it, but if you can only cope with highlights; this is a brilliant book and you should buy it.

I have already given severe quotes from Recovering the Full Mission of God by Dean Flemming, so if you are a regular reader of Kouyanet, you have had an insight it. Subtitled A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing and Telling this book looks again at the perennial thorny question of the relationship between proclamation and action in Christian mission.

Flemming takes us on a tour through Scripture; the first two chapters look briefly at the Old Testament, these are followed with overviews of each of the Gospels, Acts, the Pauline letters, 1 Peter and Revelation. This builds up into a very clear picture of mission through Scripture; a picture in which proclamation and social action simply can’t be separated. The overall argument of the book is caught in a longish quote from the last chapter:

If this pilgrimage through the Bible teaches us anything, it is that being, doing and telling related seamlessly in the mission of God’s people. Granted, to make the point clear, I have amplified distinctions between these various aspects of the church’s mission. But in the end we cannot separate them, because Scripture doesn’t. Consistently, the biblical texts introduce us to a word-and-deed witness. And both proclamation and practice are always anchored in who we are.

This does not mean, however that speaking, practicing and embodying the gospel always function in equal balance. At times, due to the needs of the context, one takes a leading, and another a supporting role. For example, 1 Peter spotlights the church’s identity as a distinctive and holy people. Acts especially brings out the church’s witness to the word to all kinds of people. And Mark’s Gospel gives particular weight to Jesus’ actions as an expression of his kingdom mission. yet none of the special emphases ignores the whole picture of mission.

The conclusions that Flemming reaches are not particularly new or original; anyone who has looked seriously at the Bible’s teaching on mission will be familiar with them. The great advantage of this book is not its novelty, but the thorough way in which it deals with one simple, but controversial, question.

If you teach, write about or promote Christian mission then this book should be on your shelves and it should be well thumbed.