As we reflect on the question of God with the eyes of a missiological theologian, we must be able to explain who he is to ourselves first before we make an attempt to explain him to others. Albert Einstein’s often quoted aphorism,
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”
holds true as much in physics as in theology.
To that end, a missiological theism is an attempt to focus our theological attention on the missionary nature of God as our primary understanding based upon a simple reading of the biblical texts and not a theological formulation. As Gregory of Nazianzus stated,
“For how is he [God] an object of worship if he be circumscribed?” (Oration 28.7).
Missiological theism does not assume that the biblical authors are addressing issues that are not explicit in the texts themselves. Instead, missiological theism understands that God, first and foremost, wants to be known, is making himself know, and desires to be worshipped. These characteristics of the eternal God cannot change. God’s interaction in human history must be described by his mission. His active pursuit of people through self-revelation in his creation and creatures, as well as in his word – both propositionally and personally, demands that we view him as the preeminent missionary relentlessly chasing after a personal relationship with those who bear his image. As a result, missiological theism might describe God’s attributes in the following manner:
|Pure Actuality||God is completely glorious without addition or subtraction. His will is singular and cannot change (Eph 1:5, 9, 11; 3:9, 20-21; 1 Tim 3:16).|
|Sovereignty||In as much as God’s sovereignty relates to His plan, it will not change (Eph 1:4; 2:1; 3:11; 4:6; 1 Tim 6:15-16).|
|Eternality||God is, has always been, and will always be (Eph 3:11; 1 Tim 1:17).|
|Self-Existence||God is absolutely unconditioned in His will. He necessarily exists to bring more people to worship Him (1 Tim 1:17; 2:5-6).|
|Immutability||God cannot change in his character, essence, or will (Eph 1:18-23; 2 Tim 2:13).|
|Impassibility||God chooses to be affected by creatures only in relationship to His will; that is, His will does not change, will not be thwarted, but can be delayed due to creatures (Eph 4:30; 1 Tim 2:1-4).|
|Foreknowledge||God’s foreknowledge is not causative; He foreknows in as much as He is sovereign (Eph 1:5; 2:10).|
Learn more about missiological theism by listening to episode 13.