• W. Austin Gardner

The Biblical Basis of Missions



The Christian mission is rooted in the Holy Scriptures.

They and they alone are able to make man “wise unto salvation” (2 Tim 3:15). From them we derive our message, our mandate, our motivation, and our methodology. Apart from the Word of God the missionary movement has neither meaning nor sanction.


It is imperative that today’s missionary have an adequate grasp of Christian theology, especially as it relates to the worldwide proclamation of the gospel in a cross-cultural situation in a rapidly changing world. In the nineteenth century almost all missionaries held to a conservative interpretation of Scripture. This is no longer true. The ancient landmarks are being removed.


As a result we have a “new theology” and a “new evangelism,” both of which threaten to change the force and thrust of the Christian mission.


In our day the ideas of men are being substituted for the Word of God. Anthropology and sociology are rapidly replacing theology, with disastrous results. The vertical dimension of the Christian mission has been lost and all that remains is the horizontal.


According to the “new theology” man is not eternally lost, for the simple reason that a loving heavenly Father would never consign even a Hitler to hell. His all-conquering love and His irresistible grace will finally win the day, and all men will be saved. Indeed, they are already saved by virtue of the universal application of the saving merit of Jesus Christ to humanity en masse, regardless of their attitude or understanding.


The task of today’s missionary, then, is simply to inform the non-Christian world that, without their knowledge or consent, all men are “in Christ,” and as such are part of the new humanity of which He is the Head.


This gives salvation an altogether new twist. Salvation today is no longer personal but societal. Humanization, not redemption, is the watchword.


Man needs to be delivered, not from the penalty and power of his own sins, but from the demonic power structures that have destroyed his authentic manhood and alienated him from his neighbor.


Hence the emphasis on the theology of development, the theology of liberation, and even the theology of revolution.


Missionaries, pastors, and all who have a vital interest in the evangelization of the world have an obligation to search the Scriptures in order to come to an understanding of the biblical basis of the Christian mission

J. Herbert Kane, Christian Missions in Biblical Perspective



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