Counter to the accusations that have occurred throughout the years, Calvinism as a theology is not anti-missions. This book takes a look at Calvin’s teachings and writings to show how he had a heart for missions and a desire to see the gospel taken throughout the world. Those who followed his line of teaching, such as the Puritans, also reflected a heart for missions and the spread of the gospel. In spite of strong views on election, Calvinism as a soteriological belief system still holds to the importance of giving the gospel to every one out there, for after all, we do not know who the elect are and thus must give the gospel to all, that God’s elect may hear it. We are commanded to give the gospel to all and let God do His work.
I thought the book made their point pretty quickly and then it seemed to be somewhat repetitious in the chapters on Calvin’s teachings. However, then the book went on to give examples of Jonathan Edwards and Samuel Pearce. So not only was Calvin an advocate of missions but those who taught his system of theology in later years also advocated missions. Samuel Pearce in particular had a great passion for missions and desired to go himself but was meant to stay behind and be the fire that lit the flame for other missionaries to go out.
A good defense of how Calvinism and missions can still work together in the plan of God.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.
“The present work will demonstrate that Calvin, in his writings and by his own missionary activities, was decidedly pro-missions and pro-evangelism. Considered together, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, his biblical commentaries, his sermons and other writings, and the system of theology expressed in them paint a picture of a man who understood that the Great Commission given by Christ in Matthew 28 remains in force and is the obligation of every Christian.”
“Calvin makes plain that the chief end of gospel proclamation and theological engagement is its service in the missio dei, the mission of God: to glorify himself through the salvation of sinful mankind.”
“Calvin maintained, there is no contradiction between the two doctrines – God’s general call to sinners and his choosing of a people for salvation – both of which clearly appear in the Bible. Calvin chose to let the biblical tension between divine election and the free offer of the gospel stand without trying to solve what he calls elsewhere ‘an unfathomable mystery.'”
“A central aim of this book has been to demonstrate that there is a Calvinistic tradition of missionary passion that goes back from pioneers of the modern missionary movement, like Carey and Pearce, through the Puritans to the Reformed fountainhead in the writings and labors of John Calvin and, as such, puts to rest the myth that one cannot be both Calvinistic and missional. But this book is also a call to those who rejoice in their Calvinism to be sure that they are equally passionate about missions and evangelism.”