Is our gospel witness too small? Should the gospel be proclaimed in words only? Or should we preach the gospel in deeds-and when necessary use words? Or are we missing something in playing the witness of words against deeds? If you are concerned about evangelizing the post-Christian West or the world beyond, you have probably debated this issue. And evangelical instincts drive us to Scripture.
In Recovering the Full Mission of God, Dean Flemming joins biblical scholarship with missionary experience as he surveys the Old Testament and then looks closely at the New Testament and the early church. Flemming shows how the three strands of telling, doing and being relate in the mission of God and his people.
Here is a book in touch with the missional realities of our time and grounded in the missional vision of biblical revelation. It gives us a clear vision of the rich and multifaceted nature of "gospeling" the kingdom of God.
Dean Flemming (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament and missions at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. A missionary educator for more than twenty years, he formerly taught at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Philippines and European Nazarene College in Buesingen, Germany. He has written extensively on the subject of contextualization, as well as the New Beacon Bible Commentary on Philippians. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene and has pastored churches in Ohio and Japan.
This is an excellent book--a marvelous contribution to the ongoing discussion of the nature of mission. With sterling biblical scholarship Dean Flemming demonstrates clearly from the biblical story, and especially the New Testament, that the church's mission is full-orbed, encompassing life, word and deed. The careful treatment of the Old Testament story and a wide range of the New Testament canon should go a long way to fill out more reductionist understandings of mission. I hope this book gets a wide reading.
Newbigin House of Studies, San Francisco
In this balanced and insightful book, Dean Flemming argues persuasively that Christian mission, as participation in God's mission and rooted in the entire scriptural narrative, is always multifaceted and holistic. It involves being, doing and telling--each aspect enhancing the others. Grounded in the author's rich experience and fine scholarship, this book has the potential to reshape and reinvigorate the church's missional identity, deeds and words.
-Michael J. Gorman,
St. Mary's Seminary & University, Baltimore
Dean Flemming is not satisfied with the hardened divisions we so often encounter in talk about the church's job description--divisions like evangelism or social witness, proclaiming the message or living it. Reading the two disciplines together, biblical studies and missiology, he insists that the discussion must start in the basic recognition of the church's missional identity. The result is a missional reading of the Bible, especially the New Testament, that provides the coordinates for hearing Scripture anew as witness to God's call to his people to participate in God's mission.
-Joel B. Green,
Fuller Theological Seminary
'What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.' How frustrating it is that so much evangelical thinking about mission continues to do exactly that, splitting up word and deed, evangelism and social engagement, and then struggling to reconcile them when we should never have divorced them in the first place. This superb book by Dean Flemming leads us on a richly biblical journey that takes us back to the 'one flesh' that God intended--the integration of being, doing and speaking in the mission of God's people. It is deeply nourishing and satisfying, ranging through biblical texts from Genesis to Revelation, yet never losing the reader in technicalities or detail and consistently easy to read and practical in application. The portraits of Jesus and Paul are particularly balanced and convincing, while the lessons we learn from the early church and the book of Revelation are truly eye-opening. Pastors, missions pastors and committees, mission boards and executives--please read this book! Preach through it. Work through it with your people. It will revitalize and rebalance your understanding and practice of mission.
-Christopher J. H. Wright,
"Flemming's exposition of the biblical texts and their theology of mission is sound and presented in a clear and compelling way."
"Dean Fleming is well qualified to take on this project, a project which is both important and provocative. His background (PhD, Aberdeen) and experience on the field and in the classroom give him a unique perspective. His experiences in Europe and Asia allow him to write with authority in the fields of missiology and biblical theology. . . . I have no hesitation in recommending this text for classroom use, and as a useful contribution to the ongoing conversation on 'being, doing and telling.'"
"This is a thoughtful practical book . . . Flemming's analysis and resulting synthesis are consistently straightforward and accessible, and non-specialists will appreciate how this close reading of the biblical text is presented without overly sophisticated jargon or forbidding theoretical framing."