Evangelism And The Third World: The Great Commission And The Great Commandment -- By: Pablo A. Deiros
FM 2:2 (Spring 1985) p. 42
Evangelism And The Third World:
The Great Commission And The Great Commandment
Professor of Church History,
International Baptist Theological Seminary,
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Edgar Y. Mullins, the great Baptist theologian, has stated in his well-known book Axioms of Religion: “The church is a group of individuals sustaining to each other important relations, and organized for a great end and mission.”1
The question I want to raise has to do with this “mission” the Lord entrusted to the church. Of what does this mission consist? How can we define the mission of the church in today’s world? Answers to these questions are not something easy to formulate and not all the answers we find seem to be satisfactory. The nature and character of the mission of the church continues to be one of the most discussed issues in the theological field today. In a particular way, what is at stake is the relationship between the Great Commandment of loving God and our neighbors, and the Great Commission of preaching the Christian Gospel.
According to those who are inclined to emphasize the commandment of love, the whole of Christian responsibility in the world is fulfilled in a ministry of social action. All that we have to do is to be present in the world, and through good works of love make evident God’s concern for those who suffer diverse kinds of oppression. On the contrary, those who emphasize the commandment of preaching the Gospel tend to limit Christian responsibility to a proselytizing enterprise. The “winning of souls” for heaven will be the goal and a crusading spirit will be the main feature of the endeavor.
This question continues to be discussed today, even among Baptists. What is of more importance in defining the mission of the church: the Great Commandment or the Great Commission? Are both of them important, and if so, how do we maintain some balance between them?
Through the Scriptures we learn that it was out of love that God sent his Son to the world. It was out of love that Christ surrendered his life even unto death for every sinner, for all humankind. And it was out of love that he commissioned his disciples to share this same love with all human beings, even our enemies, in any way possible.
In trying to interpret these historical facts there are those who say that love is the purpose and the motive that must impel the believer into the world, and that the mission is the means of fulfilling this purpose. I consider it to be rather simplistic to say that love is the motive and mission is the way. I think that Christian love should characterize both the methodology and the mot...
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