Another Way? -- By: Arthur M. Climenhaga

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 14:0 (NA 1981)
Article: Another Way?
Author: Arthur M. Climenhaga


Another Way?

Arthur M. Climenhaga

The new missionary, said Newsweek magazine a number of years ago, does not try to convert the heathern. “He bears witness to his faith by helping them in material ways … In a world where political, cultural and economic independence are being pursued with religious fervor it is hard to argue that any one religion has a special virtue above any other.”1

Then Newsweek quotes as an example of the “new breed” of missionaries, Colin Davis who is reported as saying, “St. Paul’s methods are no longer successful. The direct approach does not work.” The implication is starkly clear: today there is another way than that in which the church of Jesus Christ has been engaged for nearly two thousand years.

But before we give in so easily to the demands of another way, what is the way which Christianity has been following in the missionary motivation, the missionary message, the missionary method? The appeal is to Paul, not necessarily to his methods as Colin Davis alleged, but to Paul’s word.

At the heart of the Pauline expression is the following word:

18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.2

The spirit of these verses can only be understood against the backdrop of first century times. No longer could the Greeks boast of great soldiers or statesmen but they still held their heads high as the intellectual leaders of the hour. The world of that day was dominated politically by the Roman but the conqueror in turn was conquered by the philosophy of the Greek. Standing to the side in religious disdain was the Jew who sensed in his own development the fullest insight concerning the fact of God. All of these have been classified so well as the res...

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