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"Why Mission?", a new book by Dean Flemming

posted Feb 20, 2016, 8:04 AM by Tim Isbell

Dr. Dean Flemming is a long-term friend, professor, and author. I serve as one of his editor/reviewers, so he recently sent me a complimentary copy of his new book. Re-reading it in finished form was so insightful that I'm sending gift copies to nine friends. So if you don't find a copy in your mailbox next week, I hope you'll order a copy from Amazon and start reading!

Dean wrote Why Mission? for followers of Jesus. It provides solid biblical and theological perspective for Christian living in secular western cultures. This book describes how followers of Jesus fit into the broad mission of God, the "misseo dei." He does this through the lenses of Matthew, Luke (his gospel and the Acts), John (his gospel and the Revelation), Saint Paul (Philippians), and Peter (1 Peter).

I particularly found that his chapters on Philippians, 1 Peter, and the Revelation offer valuable perspectives on my context in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm sure Dean picked these two epistles because they speak profoundly to places where the culture views Christians with skepticism. This includes North America, where people increasingly see Christians, along with other religions, as part of the world's problem rather than carriers of its solution. Beyond the epistles, Dean's treatment of Revelation provides perspective and guidance on living a life of true worship of God, while the dominant culture busily worships an array of other gods.

Here are three excerpts to give you a flavor of the book:

From Dean's chapter on Philippians: Paul reminds the church that, although they conduct their public, common life - their citizenship - in a setting where Caesar seems to hold all the cards, they must do so according to a higher loyalty and a different lifestyle... they must visibly live out the values of the kingdom of Christ, not the empire of Caesar.

From his chapter on 1 Peter: Christian holiness is not a retreat from the world into a safe house of individual spirituality. Nor is it a crusade against the world, treating it as a foe to be defeated. Instead, Peter envisions a church that is radically different, yet fully engaged, for the sake of others.

From his chapter on the Revelation: The chief problem facing the churches to which John writes is not systematic persecution from Rome... For most of these churches, it was the temptation to accommodate to the dominant Roman ideology and culture.

The witness of God's people in Revelation is intertwined with worship. Worship is not only a liturgical practice. It is also a political act. Worshipers declare allegiances. Throughout Revelation, worship of the one true God in heaven is set over against the worship of the beast on earth, embodied for John's audience in the imperial cult.

Why Mission? (Reframing New Testament Theology) is available on Amazon.

Other books by Dr. Dean Flemming:

  • Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission
  • Recovering the Full Mission of God: A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing and Telling
  • Philippians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition
For more from other authors, check out my Reading Suggestions 


Tim Isbell