7.26.2011

The Bible and Missions

The Bible and missions     Helen Montgomory was more than an author. She was a public offical, missionary, scholar, political activist and preacher (Rochester Regional Library Council 2000). Living at the turn of the 20th century dramatically effected her worldview, especially in the area of justice. I think this plays a large part in her perspective on the Bible and Misisons. She spent most of her life on missional projects and her education, culture, and gender must have made the missioal motifs of justice, God’s heart for the oppressed, and the nations leap off of the page.

     Her thesis is clearly claims that the Bible is concerned first and foremost with God’s mission (Page 7). Her thesis goes so far as to claim that when one reads the scriptures, “the missionary message is inescapable.” (Page 7)

     Montgomory remains true to her predominant modern culture by presenting a well constructed linear presentation to support her thesis. She shows the reader what she will say in outline form (Page 5-6; 52-53) before each chapter. As she begins to unpack her arguments she opens with definitions of various missinal motifs and key concepts (Page 8). Her prose is lively and it conveys the feeling that she strongly believes in what she’s writing.
     Then she gets to work. In he following secsions she highlights in broad strokes the missional motifs in the major sections of the Hebrew Bible. She strengthens her claims by admitting that she cannot mention every motif and every example because there are too many for a brief treatment. This concession only helps her declarations because it makes the reader wonder how many other examples there are to support her thesis. Montgomery repeats the same pattern for the Christian Testament in the second section, organized first by section or genre and stopping at various high points of each book.

     I must respond to Montgomory’s thesis as directly as I can. To put it bluntly, She had me at Goethe. Her diction and writting style was thoughtful, but not too thick to take down. I did make liberal use of the dictionary feature in my PDF reader though. To analyze this book after the ML 520 seminar is not much of a fair fight. I came into this assignment with some strong preconcieved ideas, so I must admit my bias.

     I was particularly drawn to her treatment of Micha where she highlights his distaste for as she calls it “formal religion” (Page 35). Working in a Mega Church causes a tension inside me as I reconcile my weekly activities. I want so badly to make sure that I’m pleasing the Lord, but the seduction of performing or working to make things look good is an easy pattern to fall into. This book is familiar to me, but she highlighted something new to me in the previous sections. I never consicously considred that most the Hebrew prophets wrote about cultures similar to mine. I knew it, but the reality never sunk into my heart in a way that got my attention.Taking Micha’s words to heart, I am asking God to continually “purify” my religion and make it an offering that will please him.

     This book will compliment shifts in living and thinking Marie and I are already attempting to make. We converse about what kind of children we think God wants us to raise and what kind of family God wants us to become. My preaching and teaching topics are also more missional in the kinds of words I use. Many of the topics are the same. However, I approach them from a different perspective of God’s mission. For a while, I will use this book as a resource for preaching. When I’m preaching on a text, I’ll make sure to glance at Montgomory’s comments about it, as to avoid proof texting or justifying my mission (Page 7).

References Cited
Rochester Regional Library Council: Western New York Suffragists. 2000. “Helen Montgomory” http://winningthevote.org/HBMontgomery.html

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