Missio Dei and the Means of Grace

  • David Whitworth

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis brings together the two fields of missiology and Wesleyan studies, in order to develop a theology of participation in the missio Dei from the perspective of whole-life discipleship.Barth's re-articulation of mission as an activity of God and the subsequent emergence of the missio Dei concept has shifted missiological thinking from an anthropocentric view of mission to the understanding that the church and persons are participants in the missio Dei. This thesis argues for the missio Dei to be defined as the grace of the triune God moving in, through, and with the world, that all might be drawn into the life-transforming embrace of divine love. The thesis argues that all narratives are held in tension within one grand narrative, the Bible. No person is in existence outside of this grand narrative. This is not a statement of fact but a confession of faith. The statement of fact is that the biblical grand narrative, the story of the triune God's creation, redemption and sanctification, claims the status of being applicable to all persons and narratives. The thesis argues for defining grace as the presence, pardon, and power of God that moves in, through, and with the world. Jesus Christ is the meritorious means while the Holy Spirit is the efficacious means making possible the participation of all persons in the missio Dei. The central argument of the thesis, then, is that one participates in the missio Dei by participating in the means of grace, or the spiritual disciplines of piety and mercy. There are two original contributions. First, a Wesleyan perspective of grace and the means of grace inform the development of a theology of participation in the missio Dei that overcomes the repetitive articulations of mission as simply being human action or divine action. Second, through the means of grace, Christian disciples participate in the missio Dei as those transformed by God's love and those through whom that love embraces and transforms the world. Twenty-first century missiology is illumined as the missio Dei concept is articulated as fully divine yet inseparable from human activity through the Wesleyan notion of co-operant grace, thereby positing the understanding that ecclesiology is informed through attention to disciplined discipleship.An implication of this argument for contemporary mission is that it is applicable for all persons, all ages, and all ecclesial expressions of the Christian church as participation in the missio Dei through the means of grace is understood to be a holistic way of life where spiritual formation is understood as inseparable from justice ministries.
Date of Award3 Jan 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPhilip Meadows (Supervisor)

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