Recovering the Full Mission of God | Dean Flemming

The cover of Flemming's Recovering the Full Mission of GodThis false dichotomy regarding mission is well worn:

  • We need to proclaim the good news. Faith comes by hearing!
  • We need to live the good news. As St. Francis (supposedly) said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”

In Recovering the Full Mission of God, Dean Flemming surveys the entire Bible with particular emphasis on the New Testament to see how these two positions are reflected in scripture. Spoiler alert: true gospel witness demands both words and actions.

From the start, the “search” for an answer to this false dichotomy felt like a forgone conclusion. It is analogous to surveying the architectural styles of the world to determine whether true houses require a foundation or a roof.

The most interesting part of the book is the conclusion where Flemming draws some more nuanced insights from his study. For example, the emphasis between the two poles shifts in different books. Acts is primarily about telling. 1 Peter is primarily about doing. From data like this he concludes that each scenario we encounter is unique and will require its own mix of telling and doing.

Another wise conclusion is his connection of being v. doing with gifts and calling:

Our mission priority may depend on our gifts and calling. … None of us can meet every kind of need on our own. (268)

Some people are gifted conversationalists while others rather slip in behind the scenes and serve. God uses every gift and ability to create the right mix of doing and telling to meet the need.

This book can feel repetitive at times. After all, Flemming is looking for the same thing in every area of scripture. That said, the conclusions make this book worth the read. In order to be Christ in a situation, the body needs to both proclaim and live the gospel.

—Dean Flemming, Recovering the Full Mission of God: A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing and Telling (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013).

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