It is important that we get a comprehensive understanding of the whole Bible when formulating and constructing a biblical theology. The Old Testament is an integral and significant part of the construction of a theology of mission. Christopher J. H. Wright makes a strong case for including the Old Testament in our understanding of God’s mission to the world. He writes: “The Old Testament is fundamental for two reasons: first, it presents the mission and purpose of God with great power and clarity and with universal implications for all humanity. Second, the Old Testament shaped the very nature of the mission of the New Testament church, which, indeed, felt compelled to justify its mission practice from the Scriptures we now call the Old Testament.” It is the Old Testament that provides the foundational worldview and context that “underlies the assumption and practice of Christian mission.” He says further:
“Its [the Old Testament] comprehensive analysis of the human predicament in terms of moral rebellion, the personal, social, historical, and ecological effects of sin, alongside the rich vocabulary through which this whole taxonomy of evil is expressed, all combine to forestall a shallow vagueness about salvation needs to be and leaves us in no doubt that only God can accomplish it.”
Wright emphasizes the holistic nature of the Old Testament’s presentation of redemption, which includes many facets that include the Exodus, the Law, the Jubilee, and the sacrificial system, which provides for the atonement and cleansing from sin. The breadth of the understanding of God’s redemptive mission in the Old Testament causes us to have a broader view of God’s redemptive work in the world. This emphasis on the Old Testament complements and supports the theology and missiology of the New Testament since it is based upon the missiology of the Old Testament. It raises the question of the role of suffering in God’s redemptive work.