If you had to pick the top three, four, or five ideas in “missional theology” which would you choose? I know some would choose justice, and others — those who think “missional” means “evangelism” — salvation or justification, while yet others would choose church-state relations or even participation in society.
Do you think anything central is missing? We’re reading three books about the church at once — Keller, Hill and this book — what do you think Keller would rate as his top three or four? Hill?
It was with interest that I read R. Helland and L. Hjalmarson’s Missional Spirituality‘s chp on “Theological Foundations.” What are they?
1. Trinity. Here they are drawing on the deep trinitarian tradition of perichoresis — or the mutual indwelling — though they don’t focus on the Easterns but on the theology of community in the Trinity. That community explodes into creation (this was taught by Jonathan Edwards) and so the result is a relational creation designed to connect to the connecting God. Thus: “Mission is the ministry of the Son for the Father through the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world” (56).2. Incarnation. Big idea, of course, is that God embodied himself in Jesus as his revelation. God contextualizes Jesus in Jewish form. Missional spirituality means contextualizing — in other words — it means incarnation. “Incarnation” is a big term, and it is common to use it this way, but I do think it requires some special nuancing to make “incarnation” a good term for missional spirituality. It is far more than “contextualizing.” We’re dealing here with ontology, and with lots of dimensions of “incarnation” that only the Son did/does.
3. Priesthood of all believers. This is the focus of their proposal. All believers are priests and spiritual. They see it as removing a “hierarchical dualism” (64) between clergy and laity and means a “missional adventure for entire congregations.” They see the priesthood of all believers in terms of mission. They appeal esp to 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-12.
4. Jesus Creed (yes, they use my expression), or Shema Spirituality (from Alan Hirsch). They focus on Mark 12:28-32, that Jesus taught us to love both God and others, and it all comes “from” the heart — an overflow from inside out.
Their conclusion is what I proposed, in fact, in Jesus Creed. A “missional spirituality is an attentive and active engagement of embodied love for God and neighbor expressed from the inside out” (72). For too many “spirituality” is defined as intimacy with God or communion with God or mystical transport, but Jesus would have defined spirituality in terms of loving God and loving others. You can’t be right with God if you are wrong with your neighbor.