theology for a missionary church
The Son's self emptying, from one perspective, involves a great and costly
change. But St Paul, in Philippians, also insists that it is the revelation
of the true nature of the living God. If it is the nature of God's love to
undertake such sacrifice, it must also be the nature of his Church. The
Church is most true to itself when it gives itself up, in current cultural form,
to be re formed among those who do not know God's Son. In each new
context the Church must die to live.
resurrection a world to anticipate
In the New Testament the resurrection is both a unique act of God in
history, providing the basis for Christian hope,
and a power released into
Because Christ has been raised we will be raised. But we live
now in the power of the resurrection. Because of the resurrection our work
for Christ is not in vain but is potentially of eternal value.
expression is `first fruits'. This is used both of the resurrection and of the
gift of the Spirit.
The first part of the harvest of the last day, the promised
new heaven and earth, is in the world now. Churches can be pointers to
God's promised future. They are to be sources of hope, imperfect local pilot
plants of God's future world.
the Spirit of Christ
The Scriptures, particularly the New Testament centred on Christ, may be
regarded as a gift of God from the past. They are to be guarded and passed
on, as the only foundation for the Church.
But when we discern the work
of the Spirit in our churches today, we may recognize this creative and
reconciling work as the missionary God's gift to us from the future that is
already prepared for us. For the Spirit makes known to us the foretaste
and first fruits of the coming kingdom.
The Spirit brings into being, in and
through the Church, anticipations of things that Scripture promises for the
When the Spirit descended at Pentecost, people of many nations heard
the gospel proclaimed in their own languages. The Spirit brings to light at
the birth of the Church the way by which the Church is to grow not by
imposing conformity but by `translating the message' into each language
including the languages of culture.
God's kingdom is where the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame dance
for joy. It is a future in which justice comes for the poor, peace to the
nations and all visions of race, culture and national identity disappear as
we discover we are all family together and we worship our God for ever.
As the Spirit provides the first fruits of the coming kingdom, the Spirit