Others might charge me with narrowing the field of “missional theology” to a form of Barthian (perhaps post-Barthian) theology. In a way, I stand guilty as charged. I approach missional theology from a thoroughly Barthian perspective, in part because Barth is one of the very few theologians who incorporated mission into the very heart of his theology. Anyone who has read Church Dogmatics IV/3 will know that I speak the truth. That’s not to say that I or Barth have a corner on what it means to do theology in a missional way. There is plenty of other work within this field of theology and mission that deserves careful consideration. In the same way that I think “Barthian theology” is far broader than the work of George Hunsinger or Bruce McCormack or Eberhard Busch, so too “missional theology” is broader than the work of David Bosch or George Hunsberger or Lesslie Newbigin. Even so, I wish to stake my own place within both of these camps, marking out a clear position without thereby ignoring or rejecting the perspectives of others. One might call what I am advocating a dialogical missional theology. While I speak as one shaped by the writings of Barth, Eberhard Jüngel, and Hans Urs von Balthasar (another remarkable resource for missional theology), I wish to speak to and with those who speak from the perspectives of Calvin and Luther, Cyril and Athanasius, Augustine and Thomas, etc. Only in this polyphonic interaction can missional theology, as an academic theological discipline, truly embody the kind of cultural translation and concrete particularity which it so rightly proclaims.
My hope then is that these brief reflections will prompt others to further develop the insights contained within the burgeoning field of missional theology and engage in rich dialogue with others. If my posts have contributed in any way to deeper reflection on the gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of God, then I will consider this series to have been a success.
Complete outline of the series:
- §1. Exegesis and Missional Theology
§2. Church History and Missional Theology
§3. Dogmatics and Missional Theology
- §3.1. The doctrine of the divine attributes: God is a missionary God
§3.2. The immanent and economic Trinity: God elects to be a missionary God from all eternity
§3.3. Christology: hypostatic union as mission
§3.4. Ecclesiology: worship as mission
§3.5. Ecclesiology: mission as translation
§3.6. Eschatology: the eternality of mission
§4. Conclusion: why missional theology?