Bauckham’s ‘Bible and Mission’ – 7: To all by way of the least

Posted: February 16, 2015 by J in Bible, Church, Discipleship, Mission, Theology

repentanceThe fourth and last trajectory RB identifies is not a specific narrative, but a characteristic of them all: it is about movement of people. At Corinth God demonstrates his MO of working through the least to reach the many (1 Cor. 1:26ff). Thus God constantly overturns human status by initially prefering the lowest.

This strategy is epitomised at the cross, where God is revealed fully in a dehumanised object of shame. When God raised this one he defined the dynamic of his kingdom: blessing to the many through the lowest. His love ‘has to reach the strong via the weak’ (p.50). Paul’s own ministry was unsettling for people because he modelled the same pattern, thus radically contradicting social values.

This trajectory gives the church’s mission an inescapable socio-economic aspect. It must begin as a downward movement towards to people at the bottom of the social heap. The rest will only be saved through and with them.


I love this little section. It hits hard. I only wish it were more expanded. This bit of theologising draws its insights from all the bible discussion that’s come before. It adds value by identifying this common thread running throughout, and showing how it reaches its climax at the cross. RB’s description of the cross in this passage (p.52) is worth the price of the book!

And there is so much challenge here for evangelical churches, entrenched as we are in the middle/uppermiddle classes; addicted to reaching the educated first. ‘To all the least by way of the privileged’ – that is surely our motto. We haven’t nearly faced up to the gospel reality that RB draws out here. We don’t like to admit that mission can have a socio-economic or political dimension. Until we do, we will fail the test of faithfulness – let alone fruitfulness!

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