Paper Proposal: BHS Centenary Conference, Prague, July 2008

I think I forgot to post details of the paper proposal that has been accepted for the Baptist Historical Society Centenary Conference in Prague, 16-19 July 2008.  Here it is:

'All Authority Has Been Given…': Renewing our Vision of the Great Commission

Matthew 28.16-20 has long been a crucial text for Baptists.  Its 'rediscovery' was one of the decisive factors in the rise of the Baptist missionary movement in the late 18th century.  In more recent times, however, that movement, and the text that provides its biblical warrant, have been subjected to sustained critique by those who see within them the divine legitimation of colonial expansion and exploitation.

My paper will survey the use of Matthew 28.16-20 in early Baptist writing, provide an overview of recent criticism from a postcolonial perspective, and offer some exegetical suggestions as to how we might 'renew our vision' of its central, missiological concerns.  I argue that a new vision of Baptist missionary activity must recognise that the command to go and disciple παντα τα ε͗θνη should not be detached from the claim to universal authority (πασα ε͗ξουσια) that the risen Jesus makes.  But such authority is the fulfilment of that which is present in the earthly ministry and future parousi/a of the Son of man.  This christological connection serves to relativize any imperial claims made by Jesus’ followers and remind them that their mission must be characterised by the suffering servanthood of the risen Lord whom they now worship.