Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Ministry Shaped by Mission

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Ministry Shaped by Mission

Article excerpt

A Ministry Shaped by Mission, By Paul Avis. London: T & T Clark International, 2005. xvi + 131 pp. $29.95 (paper).

Over the last few decades, in Episcopal/Anglican and wider ecumenical circles, discussions of the nature of Christian mission, or more specifically God's mission, have moved from the periphery of the church's life into the very center of ecclesial discussion and commitments. This emerging engagement with mission has begun to shed new light on existing definitions and understandings of both ecclesiology and ministry. Increasingly, theologians who in the past might have only given cursory attention to missiology are now beginning to reevaluate their discipline and theologies in response to the missio dei. Paul Avis, one of the foremost ecclesiologists and ecumenists in the Church of England today, adds to the growing discussion on the relationship between God's mission and the church in this short but useful book.

A Ministry Shaped by Mission is comprised of three extended chapters, each of which is divided into helplul subsections. The hook moves from a presentation of a theology of mission (chap. 1) to a discussion of the nature of ministry generally (chap. 2) and then closes with an investigation into the nature of Holy Orders with a particular emphasis on the diaconate (chap. 3). Each chapter builds on definitions offered earlier in the book. This developmental approach to the discussion, while usefully reinforcing Avis's positions, can, however, become a little repetitive at times.

It is very clear that Paul Avis, as General Secretary of the Council for Christian Unity of the Church of England, knows well the field of ecumenism. While writing out of the context of the established church in England, he is quite sensitive to, and a good dialogue partner with, other traditions and denominations in Western Christianity. Throughout the book, Avis draws heavily on ecumenical documents as well as primary research in biblical studies.

Avis's ecumenical acumen is particularly evident in his opening presentation on a theology of mission. He begins with a brief overview of recent trends in missiology focusing on the nature of mission as being God's saving action in the world, the missio dei. He quickly moves, however, from the discussion of the missio dei to a locus on the church as the primary agent of God's mission. …

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