Missio Dei: the sending of God

From the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

Missio Dei is a Latin theological term that can be translated as the "sending of God." Mission is understood as being derived from the very nature of God. The missionary initiative comes from God alone.

In 1934, Karl Hartenstein, a German missiologist, coined the phrase in response to Karl Barth and his emphasis on actio Dei (Latin for “the action of God”).

When kept in the context of the Scriptures, missio Dei correctly emphasizes that God is the initiator of His mission to redeem through the Church a special people for Himself from all of the peoples (τα εθνη) of the world. He sent His Son for this purpose and He sends the Church into the world with the message of the gospel for the same purpose.[1]


Mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God. "It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church."[2] There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. The Church must not think its role is identical to the missio Dei; the Church is participating in the mission of God. The church's mission is a subset of a larger whole mission. That is, it is part of God's mission to the world and not the entirety of God's work in the world. [...]

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