Sharing in God’s Life, Becoming the Gospel: Paul and the Missional Church
Michael J. Gorman
A few thoughts to get us started . . .
- “The Church exists by mission, just as a fire exists by burning. Where there is no mission, there is no Church. . . .” Emil Brunner
- “The first-order business of the church is to be a people who under the guidance of the Spirit point the world to Jesus Christ. . . . I take it to be crucial that Christians must live in a manner that their lives are unintelligible if the God we worship in Jesus Christ does not exist. . . . I believe we are living in a time when Christendom is actually coming to an end. That is an extraordinary transition whose significance for Christian and non-Christian has yet to be understood. But in the very least, it means the church is finally free to be a politic [a distinctive public culture].” Stanley Hauerwas
- “A primary role of Scripture in the church is to bring about the conversion of the imagination.” Richard Hays
- “How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic [means of interpretation] of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it.” Lesslie Newbigin
- “The church is a community of Christ’s crucified presence and of Christ’s risen presence.” Ross Hastings
- Paul “saw the church as a microcosmos, a little world, not simply as an alternative to the present one, an escapist’s country cottage for those tired of city life, but as the prototype of what was to come . . . [when] the whole earth [would be filled] with his knowledge and glory, with his justice, peace and joy. Paul sees each ekkl?sia as a sign of that future reality.” (N.T. Wright)
And a few more:
• “He became what we are so that we could become what He is.” Irenaeus and Athanasius
• “Like an iron sword plunged into the fire that becomes hot and luminous while remaining iron and not becoming fire, so are we when plunged into Christ the image of God.” Maximus the Confessor
• “What Christ is to us — righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, redemption — Christians must now be to the world.” (Morna Hooker)
• The church’s mission is not to be palatable but to be credible: speaking clearly, acting faithfully. (MJG)
• Paul wanted the church not merely to believe the gospel but to become the gospel and thereby to advance the gospel, thus participating in the very life and mission of God (the missio Dei). (MJG)
• The church is to be a living exegesis of the gospel. (MJG)
Paul on the cross
• The cross is God’s benign invasion into the world to set it right, which includes your forgiveness and eternal life, but much more.
• The cross is not only a Christophany; it is also a theophany, revealing the power and wisdom of God.
• The cross challenges every status quo: religious, political, social, etc.
• The cross has two beams, vertical and horizontal, meaning reconciliation with God and with one another.
• The cross is not only the source, but also the shape, of our salvation. Salvation means renewal by participation in Christ.
• The mission of the church is simply, in the power of the resurrection and the Spirit, to live the story of the cross in its internal and its public life. This is what it means to be godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled—to take part in God’s life and story.
• Ironically and paradoxically, the cross and cross-shaped ministry bring about resurrection; death leads to life.
Participation in the fellowship of the cross
5Let the same mind be in you [plural] that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Although [x] not [y] but [z]
Although [status] not [selfish exploitation] but [z] missional self-giving
NRSV, alt. (MJG)
5Let this mind [see 2:1-4] be in you [plural], which means in Christ Jesus, 6who, because he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Because [x] not [y] but [z]
Because [status] not [selfish exploitation] but [z] missional self-giving