Back in the day there was a program in our church called “Organizing Around the Great Commission”. The idea was that everything done in the church from confirmation instruction, to potluck dinners; worship to trustees meetings; should exist for the purpose of doing what Jesus said in Matthew 28:16-20 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Making disciples of all nations was the impetus behind the great missionary movements that many churches undertook in the unenlightened day when the Bible actually meant something and Jesus was “the way the truth and the life”. Some Churches, like political parties today, abandoned once cherished values for the concept of social justice and by definition for those folks missionary activity became racist, patriarchal and colonialist.
Let’s do an experiment – here is a famous hymn from the long ago and you read it or sing it to yourself if you have heard the melody and ask yourself if you feel a bit uncomfortable. Then ask, why?
- From Greenland’s icy mountains, from India’s coral strand;
Where Afric’s sunny fountains roll down their golden sand:
From many an ancient river, from many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver their land from error’s chain.
- What though the spicy breezes blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle;
Though every prospect pleases, and only man is vile?
In vain with lavish kindness the gifts of God are strown;
The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone.
- Shall we, whose souls are lighted with wisdom from on high,
Shall we to those benighted the lamp of life deny?
Salvation! O salvation! The joyful sound proclaim,
Till earth’s remotest nation has learned Messiah’s Name.
- Waft, waft, ye winds, His story, and you, ye waters, roll,
Till, like a sea of glory, it spreads from pole to pole:
Till for His ransomed people the Lamb for sinners slain,
Redeemer, King, Creator, in bliss returns again.
If you felt uncomfortable or downright angry at those lyrics to what was once a beloved hymn then you have been beaten down by the social justice mantras and brain washed by a movement that corrupts everything it touches.
Up here in the North country where Lutheranism was once ubiquitous and where “mission societies” popped up like dandelions on a warm summer day the largest aggregates of Lutherans officially gave up mission work years ago because of the social justice and feminist ideologies being promulgated. Robert Bene who recently wrote about the “headlong accommodation to the progressive sexual agenda” in his former church continued with this interesting bit of information – “In the 1990s, the ELCA slowly gave up “pioneer” missionary work— bringing the gospel to those who had never heard it. The church-wide assembly of 1999 formalized its disobedience to Jesus’s Great Commission by officially advocating “accompaniment”—helping those churches that had already been planted and that asked for help. This was done to combat the inevitable colonialism that distorted pioneer evangelism. So now there is virtually no pioneer missionary work done in the ELCA, though few are aware of this sin of omission.” (Robert Benne is the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus and research associate at Roanoke College. He recently wrote an article that you can read for yourself here www.ﬁrstthings.com/article/2018/10/elca-hits-bottom
Tomorrow we will talk about “pioneer mission work”.