VI. Doctrinal strategy concerning missions
(Missions Philosophy of the "Continual Reformation Church")
 

CRC believes that a truly Christian missions strategy can only come as an outgrowth of an identification with the life and death of Christ. Just as present day reformation is going to concentrate a lot on the doctrine of the resurrection and of the Christian's identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, missiology has to become "resurrectional-incarnational". A good illustration of this can be found in 2. Kings 4, 32-35:

And when Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

Elisha is acting out a copy of what Christ does in full centuries later. Elisha cannot do exactly what Christ does on the cross for humanity, but he is acting in a way that comes as close as possible in his particular situation. In order to resurrect the boy from among the dead, Elisha is acting as if he is dying together with him. He is placing his hands on the boy's hands, his eyes on the boy's eyes, his mouth on the boy's mouth. It is as if Elisha would say to the dead child: "Where have you gone in your death? Let me die a little bit with you right now, so I can see where you are!" When Christ died on the cross, he died for the sins of humanity. He let his hands be nailed to the cross as a representative for all those whose hands are bound and who cannot move them. The creator looked at His creation through the human eyes of creation. His lips remained silent when he was accused by Israel's religious leaders in order to represent all those who have no possibility or capacity to speak for themselves.
In the same way true Christian mission is aiming at "resurrecting" a dead, non-Christian world (and reforming a dead, non-Christian Christianity). People who do not have Christ are dead in Adam's sins, they have no power to move a hand or lip or see anything as they should and they will be completely helpless against the wiles of the devil and the wrath of God on the final judgment day.
But instead of "laying themselves onto the dead child", Christians are quite often adopting one of the two following mission habits:

I. The apollonarian missionary will stand beside the child and pray for a miracle to take place. Then he expects some sort of laser beam to come from outer space that will resurrect the child. While his faith in the supernatural is commendable, it is not based upon the work of Christ and the doctrine of Christ. Often Christians living according to this pattern become haughty and arrogant. They expect people to accept their faith without backquestioning. It does not come to their minds that people are not coming to Christ unless they are "warmed up" first like the body of the dead child was in the above story. People need to see Christ in us as we endeavor to come close to them in their situation. When we become weak with the weak with Christ and because of Christ the supernatural resurrection power of Christ is going to take over at one point. Instead of this the apollonarian missionaries are tricking people into accepting some sort of spiritual gimmick or psychological crutch. Any responsible human being is bound to reject this. They are also despising the unsaved for not being so smart as they think they are. They think people do not come to Christ because they do not seriously make up their minds as to life after death. They are underestimating and downplaying the seriousness of potential God-seekers. They are offending and hurting these potential God-seekers by mocking evangelistic gimmicks where unbelievers are depicted as superficial, materialistic, opportunistic morons that eventually become forcefully convinced of the God-reality when they die (like "This was your life" from Chick and other apollonarian gimmicks).
Jesus Christ, while on earth, often was accused for moving into the sphere of people of the most doubtful circles such as tax collectors and even prostitutes. When mature Christians do the same they are often suspected for just wanting to indulge in the same sins or of an addiction to "playing with the fire". Missionaries like Hudson Taylor were frowned at when they strove toward an elimination of all unnecessary cultural barriers (Hudson Taylor was the first China missionary who took on a Chinese outfit). Apollonarian-minded missionaries will also often stress soul-winning in a proper, biblical manner, but to an unbiblical exclusion of the social aspects of evangelism. James says in 2, 15-16: "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" Incarnational-resurrectional missiology always takes into consideration the ongoing responsibility the church(es) resp. to-be-church(es) are going to have for the whole being of the new convert. The Christians in ancient Rome would collect abandoned babies from the surrounding forests and bring them up as their own children. This and similar ministries contributed to the downfall of the demonized Roman Empire. It was an "in-the-long-run" concept of mission. Missionaries with apollonarian tendencies in their thinking need to re-discover the down-to-earth, stick-to-it kind of continual, patient, ongoing "warming-up" side of Christian missions.

II. The arian missionary is falling into the other extreme. He does not understand the full portent of the invisible, divine side of evangelism and missions. One sobering key verse for the arian-minded missionary is Mt. 16,26: "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"  The missionary who has fallen into the trap of letting arian thinking patterns intrude his mind, misses the reality of the dying and resurrecting with Christ and therefore sets the supernatural aside. He does not expect the supernatural to happen through his ministry. Where the supernatural is happening or claimed to happen in others' ministries, he will downplay it as partly resulting from psychological maneuvering and religious hysteria, partly from coincidence or other facts explainable from a purely naturalistic viewpoint.
The arian missionary therefore does not really expect the child to rise up from among the dead. He will try psychological help, social programs and moral improvement schemes, to the exclusion of the spiritual element, instead. He will start manipulating the child's body. Instead of laying himself onto it, forcing his hands to be like dead hands for a moment, he will lift and twist the child's hands. Churches living in this kind of thinking tend to locate the divine element entirely within human activity. These churches and ministries overestimate the social side of missions to an unchristian exclusion of the possibility of divine intervention. This can lead to a christianized version of humanism.  K.P. Yohannan, founding leader of "Gospel for Asia", points to the fact that much of contemporary mission has become humanistic. Instead of aiming at saving people from hell, they are educated and fed. (Which in itself is a good thing, but ministries that are social to the exclusion of the meeting of spiritual needs have not had any lasting impact of Christianity on any given non-Christian society). Resources that should be channeled towards the spreading of the Gospel (which is the best help to self-help) are spent on social work and schooling. Instead of saving the soul, of resurrecting dead sinners from spiritual death and giving them the possibility to improve their society by planting society-changing indigenous churches, peoples' lives are merely improved as far as their physical and social needs are right now. They are still going to hell, even though their life may have become a little bit more bearable. (K.P. Yohannan;  "Revolution in World Missions", for a free copy see "Connections"-page ).

An "incarnational-resurrectional" missions philosophy will stress the need of the lost soul to be saved by faith in Christ and will therefore prioritize the spreading of the Gospel through literature, radio and TV messages, training and promoting of evangelists. It will first of all be interested in church planting and will then use these churches as a base for social services as well. The ministry of feeding the hungry has to be embedded in a church that can adequately meet the spiritual needs of the hungry, too. This "incarnational-resurrectional" missions philosophy will also see the need of responsible churches to take on the "warming up" ministries of nurturing, training and incorporating new Christians into apostolic strategies that will contribute to the raising of nations from their spiritual death beds. In this context it expects God to intervene supernaturally. This intervention is not expected to come about through the application of extravagant, high-leveled, sophisticated demon-wrestling and "in-the-high-places-proclamation" techniques but rather through the humiliating service of "dying with the dying", of laying one's hands on the hands of the dead child, of coming as close as possible to the dying world in order to perfuse the life of Christ into it. Those who go in for this kind of humble Christian service of wholistic evangelizing (Gospel proclamation plus meeting social needs) do indeed have the right to joyfully expect miracles to take place where people are not only led to repentance, but e.g. also healed in their bodies. Because then this kind of supernatural miracle-intervention will be based upon and rooted in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ Himself. They will tread upon snakes and scorpions without even noticing it, let alone bragging about it. The Christian who goes in for Phil. 3, 10+11 will be able to fully experience Phil. 4, 13!

Differentiation concerning the term "world"
The Bible knows two concepts of world:
      1. The world which suffers and for which Christ died. Christians have to show solidarity with the world and "die" for it, too, as it were. Bonhoeffer said: "We are living in this world and for this world even though we are not from this world". Isolation from this world means isolation from God's creation and refusal of carrying on Christ's incarnation.
      2. The world of those that detain religious and political power, abusing this power by neglecting God's law. The world that dictates standards abhorrent to God's law and that erects false gods. Friendship with this aspect of "world" means enmity with God (Jacob 1,27). 
       One popular example of a religious group not differentiating properly between these two world-aspects were the pharisees: They isolated themselves from the world of common sinners and at the same time sought friendship with the ruling power, namely kind Herod. When we say "two world-aspects" we do not mean two polarities of worlds, as in dualistic gnosticism.
        Many Christians today unconsciously come to the conclusion that the "world" cannot stand the gospel. In the Gospels, however, we find a Christ whose teachings were a delight for the masses (Mk. 12,37b). They relished Christ's caricatures of the religious elite which hated the world of common men. (See Mt. 21,15; Lk 22,2+6; Mk.2,16-24; 11,18; Jn.5,44; 7,49; 8,26; 12,19; Mk.12,14+38.)


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