Sunday, October 15, 2006

Progressive Understanding of Great Commission

Matthew 28:18-19 (in the Christian New Testament) is often called the Great Commission. It is usually quoted as "make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer." But to baptize is to ritually welcome someone into the community of faith. And the multiple images for the divine (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer) suggest a God that is known in relationship. So, the text is really saying that agents of Christ are meant to communicate a message of inclusion and welcome to as many people as possible, inviting them into the sustaining relationship of community.

The commission we read in Matthew 28 is ancient, and it is also still timely. People still need to feel welcome. People still need to be loved. People still need the vitality of relationships. People still need to know that they are loved by God and are needed in the community of God’s people.

2 comments:

Pastor Peters said...

Amen Durrell!

Though, I must say that sometimes I wonder if we sell ourselves short by calling our Biblical readings as "progressive." Can't we claim it as THE understanding?

Richard Bunyan said...

It's unfortunate that many folks who call themselves "evangelical" -- which is what the Great Commission should lead to -- are welcoming only on their terms. The reaching out and welcoming should be unconditional. That, to me, is the difference between the progressive understanding and that practiced by other branches. (What is their name? Surely not "conservative" or "traditional" -- for those names take us back to the early church, which learned early on that Jesus meant followers to be sought and welcomed uncondionally.)