Stetzer’s Review of What Is the Mission of the Church?

Ed Stetzer reviewed Kevin DeYoung’s and Greg Gilbert’s book, What Is the Mission of the Church? in Themelios.

I haven’t been reviewing the book so much as engaging it in conversation, so just a few points succinctly stated.  

Ed notes that the book has a muted doctrine of creation.  I agree, though I put things in narrative terms.  I had said that in the book’s conception of the biblical narrative, God’s intentions begin with the fall (Gen. 3) and not so much with creation (Gen. 1-2).  God’s aims in salvation are limited to recovery of the broken relationship with humanity, but this is abstracted from the larger matrix of what it means to be human.

This leads to the book’s narrowed conception of the church’s mission.  Because they abstract salvation from the larger matrix of what it means to be human, the authors also abstract the church’s practice from fully embodying all that it means to be redeemed humanity.  In Scripture, however, God’s work of salvation and the church’s embodiment of redemption are more robust, holistic, and far-reaching.

Second, Stetzer notes that while the authors cited some missional thinkers, they didn’t adequately engage missional literature and the theological foundations that uphold an evangelical missional ecclesiology.  To my mind, one of the book’s significant shortcomings is that it doesn’t faithfully represent missional theology and ecclesiology.


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