William Carey (1761-1834) is historically known as the “father of modern missions.” A former Anglican, Carey became a Calvinistic Baptist Non-Conformist in 1779. Of note, though being Calvinist in his theological understanding of salvation, Carey along with Andrew Fuller held the perspective that they were still responsible to evangelize. Inspired by a number of predecessors, such as John Wesley, the Moravians and other earlier missionaries Carey argued for the evangelization of peoples who had not yet heard the gospel, which eventually resulted in the creation of the Baptist Missionary Society. Taking his own advice, Carey along with his family, became a missionary to the peoples of India.
At my writing of this discussion topic I am in Jerusalem to participate in Easter celebrations, while concurrently avoiding the implications of the recently expressed Islamic call for a day of rage to correspond with Passover. Tension in Jerusalem, and Bethlehem for that matter, I have learned, is a way of life that the general populace seems to take in stride. What is an aberration is the frequent interjection of “Christians” who are bringing a different gospel, one that is filled with eschatological goofiness that is grounded in aberrant teachings of self-proclaimed prophets, some of which have large followings. Likely, it is the time of year, but since this is my first visit to Israel and since my encounter with such groups has been frequent over the past week, I can’t help but make an uninformed speculative observation that there is an overabundance of such “missionaries.” I confess that I am over sensitized to doctrinal deviations in general as a result of seminary studies and I do try to contain my surprise at the Scriptural interpretations I hear so freely and confidently thrown around like they were divine dictates from an “anointed” orator. But, I also confess that sometimes I just can’t keep my mouth shut.
Carey observed the vast void of the gospel among heathen people and though a Calvinist who wholeheartedly subscribed to the doctrine of election, he also fully endorsed the essential need to preach the gospel so that the elect could hear the Word and by the Spirit be born again. Unlike Carey’s century, our world is awash in digital information. Seekers merely have to type “Jesus” into a web-browser to access a seemingly unlimited reservoir of information to inform, entertain, and titillate their senses about Him. But, in that is our challenge. In Carey’s day the darkness was a deafening silence, into which the Words of Scripture needed to be spoken. Today, the darkness is the overwhelming barrage of fake gospels, which is equally deafening, but maybe more difficult to overcome. The need for missionaries who are equipped to bring the Word is equally dire as that in Carey’s time. I am a Calvinist in my doctrinal understanding, and I am convicted by the likes of Carey and Fuller of the need to communicate the gospel at every chance I am granted. Trusting in the Holy Spirit to use the Word to illuminate, quicken and save those whom Christ has called. I am also convicted of the need to train more biblically grounded messengers.
For most military Christians their India is the military community in which they work and live. Though the prevalence of churches around our communities and the wealth of information available through our hand-held devices is vast, the call of God expressed in 1 Tim 4 to pay close attention to and persevere in biblically grounded teaching is urgently needed by every believer. Do not allow yourself to whimsically wander from one trendy “thought” to another; rather like preparation for deployment get yourself readied through good biblically teaching, so that you may be able in season and out to give the reason for the hope that is in you.