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In the orthodox tradition we may never forget that there is yet much land to be possessed, and this is both the encouragement and the challenge to students of the wonderful works of God and particularly of his inscripturated Word to understand that all should address themselves to a deeper understanding of these unsearchable treasures of revelation to the end that God’s glory may be made more fully manifest and his praises declared to all the earth.” (Collected Writings V.4, pg. 9)

John Murray, a theologian I knew little about before attending Westminster Seminary, has become quite an influence upon me in my understanding of many areas of systematic theology. Its to his wisdom I turn when raising the question of mission and theology – how the two relate, and why.

  1. First notice that Murray is happy to admit that theology is a continuous enterprise, or in his own words, ‘there is yet much land to be possessed’.
  2. Second notice that for Murray theology can only develop by students listening to both God’s ‘wonderful works’ and His ‘inscripturated Word’.
  3. Third notice that theologians must continue to deeper their theology, and that there is no ‘arrivalist’ elite group or tradition of theology, ‘all should address themselves to a deeper understanding of these unsearchable treasures of revelation ‘.
  4. Fourth and finally, notice that for Murray theology is continuous ‘to the end that God’s glory may be made more fully manifest and his praises declared to all the earth’. (The relation of mission to worship has a very rich heritage in Reformed theology)

For Murray, here,  theology and mission relate to one another in an eschatological progression where theology must continue to be developed because the conditional need of mission remains a present one. Mission, at least here, is not a topic in theology but rather a motivation for any who would become ‘theologians’ to continue on in the development of theology. And the reason why theology and mission relate to oneanother is ‘to the end that God’s glory may be made more fully manifest’.

If we want to take Murray’s thesis seriously then something stands out very clearly, theologians must be missionally minded in the way they view the wonderful works of God and in the way they search his inscripturated Word!