I’ve been preparing some material for a workshop on Theology and Future Church for a group of church planters, and as often happens, my mind ran off in a rather impractical direction. But the point is this. Too often practitioners look for a theology that will directly support or enhance or defend their practice—or discredit the practice of their opponents. What are we supposed to think about gay marriage? Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? How do we resolve the tension between evangelism and social action? And so on…. We have issues, pressing issues, and that’s where we want to start.
But that’s not what the New Testament is for. Not primarily. If at all. It’s not a reference book for twenty-first century missional praxis. It has no idea what life is like in the twenty-first century. It knows nothing about homosexual fidelity, Islam, or the ideological split between gospel and justice. It tells the story of how the people of God were transformed through the faithfulness of Jesus and how that transformation changed the ancient world. I think that New Testament studies at the moment is doing a marvellous job of helping us to understand the power of that story—and in a way that may be profoundly, though unconventionally, evangelical.