This website was developed initially to provide support for the Tyndale Graduate School of Theology MTS course on Mission and Interpretation taught at the Bible College of New Zealand in 2003 by John Roxborogh.
The pages reflect on themes connected with the idea that commitment to participation in the mission of God changes the way in which we interpret the Bible.
This is subtly but importantly different from the more common position that commitment to mission requires a missional reading of Scripture, one that draws out the missionary origins, intention and value of the Christian and Jewish scriptures, a message hidden by the churches preoccupation with other agendas.
That message may well have been hidden. Those other agendas may well prove to be passing.
However, in my view, however useful a missional reading of the Bible may be for awaking churches to their missionary responsibilities, that approach is fundamentally flawed in that it begs the question as to what we are expected to hear Scripture say to us.
As in the past we know the answer and want everyone to find the same answers we have found. The answer is stated before the quest begins. Just because it may be a good sincere answer addressing a valid need does not excuse the flaws in the method. Failure to deal with this will actually make missionary commitment the sufferer, yet how difficult it is for people to get it that there is something deeply misguided about our good intentions here. However noble and well intentioned, it is not an open form of hermeneutics. We should not be starting with an answer, but with a question. That question needs commitment, but it does not benefit from being prejudged.
A stated missionary commitment as an explicit hermeneutical assumption places the reader and their community in the position of being interested and willing to engage in mission, and aware of the dimensions that missiology brings to the text - awareness of culture, of the complexity and ambiguities of other faiths, the good that is found in other people and the flaws that remain in the Christian - but does not demand that these things be addressed at every point.
I very much need to do more work on this. I am grateful to the Mission and Interpretation Class of 2003 for what we shared together and for what they taught me as I struggled to give clarity to these ideas. The church will tire of being missional. It needs a hermeneutic and a lived faith that is sustainable because it is grounded in worship and community, it is committed to seek and to know and to do the will of God in a particular time and place, but it is open to what that will may prove to be.