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In Response to Arguments (whether spoken or unspoken) against Missions (part 1)

February 5, 2008

I started to write a response to 5 arguments but realized that it was just too much to post at one time. I’m not out to make anyone read a dissertation. Basically I made a list a few days ago of various conflicts people have (or I once had) with missionary work and thought I’d give a brief response to each. If you’d like me to answer another objection in the coming days feel free to let me know.

These aren’t in any particular order, but here’s two for now…

1. The Sovereignty of God Argument

This is an argument that hopefully nobody even knew existed, and it seems that it probably does not even exist anymore for the most part. In an overly simple summary, this is the belief that essentially views missions as unneccesary because God is sovereign, has chosen who He will save and who He will not, and since there’s nothing we can do about it we might as well let God be God and sit around and do nothing. Such a stance is infamously summarized by the pastor who strongly discouraged the great missionary to India, William Carey, to pursue his call to missions: “When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me.”

My guess is that the pastor who said that looked something like this:

Now this is not an attempt to get into any sort of Calvinism-Arminianism discussion (I promise to never blog extensively on that-ever). But I did feel it neccessary to respond to this view. This argument is always made from Scripture which certainly does affirm the sovereignty of God (such as Romans 9), but it misses the forest for the trees. Sure, someone can pick a few verses here and there to justify missional complacency, but what is ignored is the HUGE theme of missions that is consistent throughout the Bible. From Genesis (the original purpose of Abraham’s call and the call that would soon come for Israel to be light unto the world) to Revelation, there is a consistent theme of the responsibility to go and tell. I guess I don’t understand why someone would use verses written by Paul as a reason to ignore missions when he was the greatest missionary in the history of the church.

2. The “Isn’t that dangerous?” argument

Southeastern and the International Mission Board (IMB) send missionaries into parts of the world that most sane people wouldn’t enter with John Rambo. I’ve heard people say that it’s irresponsible to send missionaries into dangerous areas or where lives may be threatened. Basically it’s the view that, “you’re not much use to God if you’re dead.” This argument also stems from a feeling that there is something wrong with living in and engaging a country other than the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe due to the difference in the “quality of life.”

I wouldn’t say that we should be irresponsible and simply go into any area like James Bond into a room full of bad guys in Goldeneye (for any of you N64 lovers out there). However, there would not be much of a church had the early church taken such a view that dangerous or less industrialized areas should be avoided at all costs. Look at the price that all eleven (subtracting Judas) of the remaining disciples paid once given the Great Commission. Deaths, crucifixion, beatings, stonings, etc. Paul was beaten, threatened, put on trial, but remained faithful to his call until dying for his faith in Christ. We should not be foolish, but “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).

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