The Open Secret by Lesslie Newbigin Book Summary – Part III
In the next chapter Newbigin continues to lay out his argument for as to why it is important to answer the question of authority with the name of Jesus (it is by Jesusï¿½ authority that we do mission). And, if we ask this question, we must be prepared to answer the question, ï¿½Who is Jesusï¿½ with a Trinitarian response. He argues that in churches today when we use the name ï¿½Godï¿½ we do not automatically think of the trinity, rather we think of a divine monad. ï¿½The church continues to repeat the Trinitarian formula but ï¿½ unless I am greatly mistaken ï¿½ the ordinary Christian in the Western world who hears or reads the work ï¿½Godï¿½ does not immediately and inevitably think of the Triune Being ï¿½ Father, Son and Spirit.ï¿½ (27). This is important to his argument because he begins to look at Christian mission from three perspectives: ï¿½proclaiming the kingdom of the Father, as sharing in the life of the Son, and as bearing witness of the Spirit.ï¿½
Proclaiming the Kingdom of the Father: Mission as faith in action. This next section obviously focuses on the role of the Father in mission. He quickly makes a distinction that I find very important for our conversation about missional theology. He states, ï¿½The bible is unique among the sacred books of the worldï¿½s religions in that it is in structure a history of the cosmos. It claims to show us the shape, the structure, the origin, and the goal not merely of human history, but of cosmic history.ï¿½ (31) As we begin to see salvation in terms of the entire universe as opposed to just the individual (which of course, includes the individual!) we begin to see how the Father is working all of world history towards a specific trajectory and ï¿½the reign of God is his reign over all things.ï¿½ Again he writes, ï¿½The Bible, then, is covered with Godï¿½s purpose of blessing for all the nations. It is concerned with the completion of Godï¿½s purpose in the creation of the world and of man within the world. It is not ï¿½ to put it crudely ï¿½ concerned with offering a way of escape for the redeemed soul out of history, but with the action of God to bring history to its true end.ï¿½ (34)
At this point, Newbigin begins a short discussion of the doctrine of election, which he will continue later in the book in chapter 7. Normally, you would not expect to see a discussion about election in a book on mission. But, he makes the case for this being an invaluable doctrine for mission. He points to the fact that few are chosen, ï¿½not for the sake of themselves, but for the sake of allï¿½ (34). It is all too easy, and we have seen the nation of Israel struggle with this time and time again.
Newbigin summarizes the idea of mission as faith in action as follows: ï¿½It is acting out by proclamation and by endurance, through all the events of history, of the faith that the kingdom of God had drawn near. It is the acting out of the central prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to use: ï¿½Father hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.ï¿½ (39)