A Review of the Christian Mission in the Modern World
The Christian Mission in the Modern World book is a captivating work that pursues to redefine contemporary evangelism. Through an explorative use of biblical scripture, Stott zeroes on the five major ideological terms, namely mission, dialogue, evangelism, conversion and salvation. This essay explores the major definitions and arguments as illustrated by John Stott in his classicbook: the Christian Mission in the Modern World.
Chapter 1: Analyzing the Major definitions and Arguments
- Mission, Evangelism, Conversion and Salvation
According to Stott, mission is the church’s service to the world, including evangelicalism and social action (48). Basing his argument on the biblical verse, John 20:21, Stott argues that Jesus has commissioned the church to further the work that the Father had sent him to do in the world. He, therefore, clarifies that mission is not what God is doing in the world but what the church has been sent to accomplish.
Stott defines evangelism as the announcement and proclamation of the gospel messages of Jesus (87). He explains that it is wrong to define evangelism in terms of the method of delivering good news, the recipient of the news or the impact of the news on the recipient (69). In his understanding, evangelism involves affirmation that Jesus is lord and savior based on the biblical evidence of his death and resurrection.
According to Stott (142), Salvation is the deliverance from decay to glory, marked by the personal freedom from political and economic yokes. While Stott acknowledges seeking justice for the oppressed, he points out that salvation is not the liberation from social injustices (148).
Conversion is, as defined by Stott, the response that the gospel aims to receive from the recipients of the good news. Conversion and salvation goes hand in hand that without conversion, salvation cannot be received. Stott links conversion to denouncing some cultural practices, being a responsible and active church member and total dependence on the power of Holy Spirit.
- Weaknesses in Evangelical and Ecumenical thinking
Although Stott upholds that both the evangelical and ecumenical are right in their interpretation of the roles of the church, he notes that they both are incomprehensive (22). While the evangelical advocates for evangelistic outreach, the ecumenical thinkers are concerned on the social action. Stott believes that both views should be intertwined to enable the church accomplish its intended mission.
- Apocalyptic Imagery
Apocalyptic imagery, as portrayed in Stott’s book, is the revelation of an indirect meaning of a scripture. According to Stott (27), Christians should be guided by the biblical teachings in their response to the social and political actions of the world. He criticizes Christian practices in which the church is influenced by the worldly views, that is, allowing the world to set agenda for the church.
Scott describes the profound peace among the Christian community as shalom (30). He explains that Christians should live at peace with their neighbors, regardless of the differences in faith. They should always engage others in peaceful dialogue, whether fellow Christians or otherwise.
- Great Commission
According to Stott, great commission refers to the idea that Jesus has sent the church to go and make disciples. It is derived from Mathew 28:19 in which Jesus tells the church to reach out to the nations, baptizing the new converts in the name of the father, son and the Holy Spirit. Stott insists that the call for great commission should not be isolated from the overall mission of Christ to the world (37).
- Great commandment
Stott defines the great commandment as the superior demand from the church by the bible that requires Christians to love their neighbors. Stott states the biblical command does not discriminate Christians from non-Christians and requires that they all be loved equally.
Chapter 2: Analyzing the Major definitions and Arguments
- The most destructive thing to Human dignity
According to Stott (56), alienation from God is the most destructive thing to human dignity. People may be alienated from God as a result of ignorance or through their free-will rejection. In Concurrence with the Stott’s finding, alienation from God is indeed destructive to both human soul and body. It restores human beings to the evil status that Jesus Christ rescued them.
- Ideas that should not be Included in the definition of Evangelism
In defining evangelism, Stott warns against including the three concepts, namely; defining it in terms the recipients of the gospel, the method used in expressing the gospel or the results of the gospel. Stott also disputes social action as a means of evangelism but rather as a partner to evangelism (57).
- Gospel does not change with Time or Cultural Context
Stott states that there is no other Gospel other that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it should neither change with time nor cultural context (65). However, Christians are influenced by social and political cultures, which should not be the case. Stott notes that as time changes, words changes in meaning and thus the ‘gospel’ of yesterday may not be same as todays, even so, there is only one gospel and thus both yesterdays and todays gospels are the same (66).
- Gospel Event
According to Stott, the apostles of Jesus used various elements to spread the gospel. Among the elements were the gospel events, which he proposes that Christian should also apply today. Stott (68) identifies four gospel events, which include the death, burial, resurrection and appearance of Jesus Christ. Stott explains that Gospel events should be the foundation of Christian faith and a proof that indeed Jesus is Christ (70).
- Witnesses identified by the Apostles
The apostles authenticated their messages by identifying the gospel witnesses. Gospel witness includes the apostles who were with Jesus and listened to his teachings. Scott also explains that the scripture serves as the witness of the great works of Jesus Christ. He calls upon the modern Christians to be witnesses of the gospel through faith and actions.
Although the book was written over three decades ago, its major arguments have remained relevant to date. It serves as an eye opener to the modern and postmodern Christians. Despite the changing time and culture, Christians are reminded that there is only one gospel that was introduced by Jesus Christ. Believers should not be influenced by the worldly economic and political changes, but should remain steadfast as per the biblical teachings. Contemporary Christians should up hold Stott’s teachings by integrating both the evangelical and ecumenical views in the Christian life.
Stott, John R. W. Christian mission in the modern world. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1975. Print.