Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 124:496 (Oct 1967)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“Go Ye Into All The World And Preach Whose Gospel?” Elisabeth Elliott, Christian Herald, June, 1967, pp. 12-13, 60–63.

This article is a resume of Mrs. Elliot’s recent book No Graven Image (Harper, 1966), “a novel about missionary work,” the editorial note introducing this article explains, which “has caused consternation in conservative religious circles.” Here the fictional presentation (judged by many as largely autobiographical) is abandoned and the message of the novel, freed from the veils of story and symbolism, is stated plainly—”’The missions enterprise’ has become a Moloch, a mighty idol to whom we are willing to sacrifice certain things” (p. 63).

Before we rush too quickly to deny this accusation or condemn Mrs. Elliot, we should consider carefully what she is saying. Any criticism deserves evaluation. The main thrust of her indictment is that modern “missions have become big business for Christians” (p. 61) and we have become occupied in keeping the business booming instead of worshipping the Lord. Are these criticisms valid? The fact of the matter is that missions are big business simply because the task of reaching the world for Christ in our generation is a big task. In fact, if we expect to get the job done we had better get with it and make the business of missions even bigger. Some few cases may exist where “Christians have allowed the missionary business…to become our idol” (p. 62), and certainly this is an ever-present danger for all of us; but accusing the entire Christian missionary movement of this is unjustifiable.

The fact remains, which Mrs. Elliot seems to forget, that Christians still face the Great Commission of their resurrected, returning Lord Jesus Christ as a command that stands to be carried out. Whether the structure and the methods of the modern missionary movement are to be perpetuated or changed or abandoned, the responsibility to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) abides. Undoubtedly more flexibility and creativity in reaching the world for Christ is needed, but the modern missionary movement has been remarkably ingenious in technique and methodology.

Perhaps the saddest part of Mrs. Elliot’s article (and her novel) is that she apparently is

content to be the iconoclast, the chronic griper, the prosecuting attorney (and judge as well) of modern missions without offering any positive program of what Christians ought to do. Certainly a person of her experience in missions who has wrestled with the problems she discusses as much as she has (see p. 61) could mak...

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