The SBJT Forum: How May ‘Non-Evangelists’ Fulfill the Great Commission? -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 1:4 (Winter 1997) p. 72
The SBJT Forum:
How May ‘Non-Evangelists’ Fulfill the Great Commission?
Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the Forum’s format. Carl F. H. Henry, D. A. Carson, and C. Ben Mitchell have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. The journal’s goal for the Forum is to provide significant thinkers’ views on topics of interest without requiring lengthy articles from these heavily-committed individuals. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the Forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.
SBJT: How did you view your ministry as editor of Christianity Today as fulfilling the Great Commission?
Carl F. H. Henry1 : Not every Christian is divinely called to be a career evangelist. Without a heartbeat for evangelism, however, no Christian occupation or profession is fully exemplary. Jesus’ followers are mandated to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of our planet. Fidelity to that mandate has made Christianity the first religion with a global presence. That distinctive reflects the evangelistic passion and outreach of devout believers pursuing many vocations, yet simultaneously bearing witness to the joyous salvation that the crucified and risen Lord bestows on penitent followers of the Redeemer.
As a young man the Gospel had been eagerly shared with me by an elderly widow working in a newspaper office, by a real estate salesman, and through the ritual of the small Episcopal mission church that I attended. In 1933, at the age of 20, I made a spiritual commitment to Christ as Savior and Lord. I then entered Christian college and seminary eager to grow in grace and in knowledge of things pertaining to Christ.
When I sought a life-partner my wonderful mate-to-be thought, as I did also, that she would be marrying a preacher. Instead, I twice served three-month periods as an interim pastor, only soon to be called to college and seminary teaching positions, as well as invited to fill numerous writing and editorial opportunities.
In my 1956–68 span as editor of Christianity Today, I considered it an instrument contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission, one no less appropriate and legitimate than engaging in an evangelistic campaign or teaching college or seminary classes in Christian philosophy and theology. The decisive issues were qualification, divine compulsion, and readiness. I was no Billy Graham, no C. S. Lewis, no Fulton Sheen or any of four billion others. But my conversion experience was so transformative that I would have gone to mainland China had God constrained me. I had good academic credentials, treasured the ...
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