26 August 2008

From "Missiolatry" to "Missionalism" & That Pesky Exclamation Mark(!)

A few years ago Pr. Weedon gave us a poignant essay on "missiolatry," that is, worshiping the mission (as opposed to worshiping, and focusing on, the Savior). Now Pr. Wilken gives us an incisive essay on "missionalism," that is, the ideological movement of being "missional" (whatever that is, especially under the odd grammar of "Ablaze!").

Both pastors warn us about focusing on "the mission" rather than on the Savior and His Good News of sins forgiven and life restored. If you haven't yet seen either of these essays, I highly recommend them for your reading, your pondering ... and your saving for posterity. I'll simply "second" everything they say...

...and then add these random thoughts:

The best way to carry out the mission that Christ gave to His Church is not to focus on the mission, but to focus on Him. When we focus on our heavenly Bridegroom and the life and salvation He brings, we will quite naturally and gladly speak with others about our "eternal engagement" to Him (just as any delighted bride-to-be will show off her engagement ring without needing to be goaded on by anyone else).

When it comes to the official "Ablaze!" theme verse, I puzzle over the choice and use of Luke 24:32, especially the key sentence: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"

When we read the context of these Emmaus disciples, they just *did not* get it; they were slow to catch on that Jesus was with them on the road. In fact, Jesus had said, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" (Lk. 24:25) even as He stood with them. Then He had to give them a crash course in Biblical theology as they walked. Then, even after that crash course, the Emmaus disciples still did not realize that it was the risen Lord walking with them. They only realized it in - yep, you guessed it - the breaking of the bread. Then comes their "aha! experience."

But the burning hearts? Is that not their own self-admission that they were slow to catch on? Surely that's not the message that the hawkers - er, I mean, "promoters" - of "Ablaze!" want to send, is it?

And speaking of theme verses, I still think that the "Ablaze!" theme verse ought to be Malachi 4:1 (in the ESV, of course ;-): "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." As we learn early on in life, we must use extreme caution when handling fire. After all, matches are no toys.

And as for those pesky little exclamations marks, well, thanks, Pr. Wilken for reminding us of our proper grammar and use of the English language!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)


  1. Your Malachi 4 vs actually fits very well with Luke's Great Commission. Repentance AND Forgiveness must be preached.

    For fun, search for "mission" in the ESV some time. It only occurs once, and it's even more fun than the irony of "ablaze."

    Congrats on blog'o'th'week!

  2. True enough, Jonathan, on the repentance and forgiveness angle. I just find it ironic, though, that the term "ablaze" is hardly a desirable term in the Scriptures. Rather, it's used of God's judgment, especially in Mal. 4.

    I'll check out the term "mission" in the ESV.

    Thanks for the congrats - and actually for informing me. I hadn't caught that honor or that broadcast of IE, but I have now mended my ways and listened. :-)