Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Theology must always precede mission, never vice versa

At the Baptist Assembly in Plymouth, earlier this month, one of the "top table" leaders said that mission precedes theology; mission is messy. We can work out our theology later!???  This seems to me to be a dangerous teaching. It may lead to serious communication problems, especially later down the line.

In the New Testament, the early church Christians preached the Gospel.  Their theology was established  by the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and then expressed as a result of the Apostles' teaching.  It is clear that this infant faith community spent time learning from the Apostles who had been given the responsibility of proclaiming the authentic message of Christ Jesus the Lord.  The Apostles had been with Jesus, lived in His presence, seen His miracles, worked with Him in mission and had been given the greatest theological education possible.

When the early Christian church moved forward in mission and saw mighty works of the Holy Spirit and many finding salvation in their Risen Lord, they were able to communicate the Gospel clearly and effectively.  Yes, it may have been messy at times.  Some of them may have been unclear about certain theological positions, but nevertheless they shared a message that was grounded in sound theology, sound teaching, sound words about the Kingdom of God and life eternal in Christ Jesus.  If they had proceeded with a faulty theology and false teaching then heresy would have happened.

When Peter called the Jewish people to repent and be baptized, his message made sense because the people understood what he was saying based on certain doctrine or sound theology.  They could respond to what was taught and explained.  It has an Old Testament theological basis with a New Testament meaning by the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter revealed truth in the Truth.

Sound theology must always precede mission.

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