Gleanings from Newbigin’s The Open Secret, chapter 7
The church is
- chosen in Messiah to bear the blessings and good news of the kingdom in the world.
- the recipient of the revelation of the story to proclaim the story, its meaning, and its significance in the world.
Précis of key ideas on the missional identity of the church
Throughout the Old Testament we see that God chooses one person or one people to be the bearer of his blessing for the many. The universality and particularity of the good news of the kingdom are understood in the context of this choosing–this election. Understanding election as choosing one for the sake of all does justice to the biblical understanding of human nature as necessarily relational. The good news of the kingdom and the offer of salvation are thus communicated only in relationship. Christ is the chosen one and we have been chosen in him. The fact of election is not grounds for any claim of rights or blessings. Rather, election is a solemn responsibility and the elect are held to a higher standard that are those who have not heard.
The Christian’s confession is the confession of a faith regarding the meaning and end of the human story as a whole. This confession compels one to challenge every understanding of the human story that looks to an end other than that which is disclosed in Jesus (p.89).
The Christian confession about the meaning and end of history can make good its claim to truth over against other interpretations of human history only through action in which this confession is embodied in deed–and in suffering. If the Christian confession is true, the Acts of God do not cease with the Acts of the Apostles.
We have now, therefore, to go on to ask: What are the actions by which the believing community will fulfill God’s purpose for it as the community chosen, called, and sent with a view to the salvation of the world? (p.90)
[Theological caveat: I have issues with Newbigin’s take on election and must consult others for insight. I believe the Scripture does teach a form of individual election and the persistence of the saints.]