Faith Missions—Their Growth and Outreach -- By: Harold Lindsell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 115:458 (Apr 1958)
Article: Faith Missions—Their Growth and Outreach
Author: Harold Lindsell

Faith Missions—Their Growth and Outreach

Harold Lindsell

[Harold Lindsell is Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Missions at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.]

The past several decades have witnessed the spectacular growth and development of nondenominational missionary agencies. This growth has exceeded that of denominational mission boards, particularly as it relates to personnel. In fact, if the present trend continues the day is coming when the personnel of missionary agencies not related to denominational boards will exceed that of the denominational agencies.

The prominent place now held by the so-called “faith” boards has given rise to numerous questions. Among the questions posed are these: “What are the reasons for the growth of these agencies and what are their purposes and methods?” “Why do these agencies sometimes refuse to co-operate fully in the worldwide evangelistic task, and sometimes seem to be disruptive and critical of existing church agencies in many countries?” Perhaps some tentative answers to these questions will assist us as we give thought to the future of missions in a world of intercontinental ballistic missiles and earth satellites.

The phenomenal growth of the faith boards has been due, in part, to the theological climate in America for the past fifty years. One need only go back to the early part of this century to realize how true this is. In 1902 the Student Volunteer Movement held its Toronto convention. There were many well-known people at this convention. John R. Mott and Robert E.

Speer were there; Harlan Beach was there; so were Dr. and Mrs. F. Howard Taylor of the China Inland Mission; so were eleven students from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. There were representatives from most of the seminaries including Princeton, Andover, Boston University, Harvard, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville. Even the YMCA and the YWCA were represented. There was unity amid diversity, and the unity was based upon a conservative theology. There was no ecumenical movement as we know it now. But neither were there gross divisions such as we know now. The differences were for the most part based upon such peripherals as denominational distinctives rather than primary questions.

In the years following 1902 the seeds of German higher criticism reached their full flower. Liberalism (modernism) raised its head, becoming a dominant force in American life. It was also one of the most disruptive forces in American life. Fundamentalism has been called a disruptive force. This has been true if we think of it as a mentality in certain instances. But if we think of fundame...

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