Monday, December 12, 2011

Calvinism and Missions

I love the combination of John Piper's commitment to sound doctrine, Reformed Theology, the glory of God, the Gospel, and evangelism and missions, especially his zeal and commitment to missions to the Muslim world.

Samuel Zwemer, "the apostle to Islam" was a Calvinist and a missionary to Arab Muslims for many years - in Basra, (today in Iraq), Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain. (years in the Muslim world: 1891-1929) See here for a synopsis of his life and ministry and notice the external links at the end of the article. His books are still used to today to for helping understand Islam and Muslims and evangelism to Muslims.

William Carey, missionary to India, was a Calvinist and a missionary. See here for a synopsis of his life and ministry. He wrote the famous little book, "An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens". He went to India in 1792, and ministered mostly among Hindus. He argued for "Means" - for a mission society of several men who would band together for preparation, training, prayer, actually going and learning languages and for the local churches to support such a group/society. This was the very first denominational mission agency. He worked on several NTs being translated into several languages, the most notable was his work on the Bengali New Testament. He was a key force in making Sati (the Hindu custom of burning widows alive with their dead husbands) illegal in India and Hindu culture. He even had an Indian Postal stamp done by the India government in his honor. William Carey is called "the father of modern missions" by Evangelical Protestants. He also made the famous statement, "Expect Great Things From God, Attempt Great things for God!" See the many biographies written about William Carey.

Henry Martyn, was a Calvinist-Anglican missionary to Persia (Iran) and India, and his work on the Persian (Farsi) New Testament was the first time that the full New Testament had been translated into Farsi in history! He died in 1812 after he finished his work on the NT in Persia, on his way back from Persia to England. He died of fever/pneumonia in Tokat, Turkey at the age of 29, trying to get back to England. He is the one who said, "Let me burn out for God".

William McElwee Miller was a missionary and a Calvinist to Persia (Iran) for 40 years. (1920-1960) His books are still motivating Christians today to go to the Muslim world and preach the gospel to Muslims. He also wrote one of the first analysis of the Bahai faith done from a Christian view point.

The Bahai Faith: Its History and Teachings

David Brainard was a missionary to American Indians and a Calvinist.

Charles Spurgeon was a pastor, effective preacher, evangelist and a Calvinist for many years in England.

D. James Kennedy was a Presbyterian Calvinist and wrote a whole book on Evangelism called "Evangelism Explosion" and trained many in Evangelism.

Dr. James White is a Calvinist and has done evangelism for years with Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, atheists, Roman Catholics, and more recently, with Muslims, and his debates with them and others are very helpful for others to study and be equipped.

And there are many others! Don't say "Calvinism hinders evangelism and missions!"


Algo said...

Ken, very well done. Thank You for the Link to Wm. Miller's book; The Bahai Faith.
I searched in vane 10 yrs ago for that book to no avail. It is considered one of the best resources on Bahai. The Ankerberg Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions references that book extensively.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Another post of interest to this beachbum...

I have read a number of Samuel Zwemer's books (though dated, they still have much to offer), and two of Miller's books (A Christian Response To Islam, and The Baha'i Faith).

I sincerely wonder if you have read another work by a Presbyterian missionary to Iran: William Ambrose Shedd's, Islam and the Oriental Churches; I found the book to be 'interesting.'

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

For those who are reading Miller's, The Baha'i Faith, I would like to share the two following reviews:

Review - 1

Review - 2

Grace and peace,


Ken said...

The second review of Miller's book on Bahai'ism was done by Elwell-Sutton, a British scholar of Iran(he lived in Iran at the early part of the 1900s when the British discovered and developed the oil fields in Abadan); I used his 2 books in learning Farsi (they are supplements to actually being with Iranians)

Colloquial Persian (London, 1941) and Elementary Persian Grammar (Cambridge, 1963)

He complains that Miller was trying to be objective and is upset that the conflicts between the Bahai's and Babis (also called Azalis) were exposed.

More interesting stuff here:

Ken said...

William Abrose Shedd was a Presbyterian missionary in Northwest Iran, Urumieh - and died trying to help the Assyrians from the Muslim massacres, especially the Ottoman Turks.

the Wikipedia article Latin-izes the spelling of the city of Urumia as Urmia. (or Urumia or Oroumia, )

I have not read Shedd's book, though I had heard of it before, I looked at some of it per your link.

All missionaries to the Muslim world are caught between a rock and a hard place. In order to reach out to the Muslims, one has to go be with them, which automatically creates a negative feeling among the minority Christian populations that have survived in the Muslim world. ( The Maronite Catholics in Lebanon; the Armenians in Iran and Iraq; the Copts in Egypt; the "Rum" in Jordan and Syria and Palestine (descendants from Byzantine Empire).

There has been a tendency in history books in the west to be overly positive in its descriptions of Islamic invasions and conquering, but as more and more research is done, it is becoming clearer to me that it was not so positive.

Raymond Ibrahim sounds the warnings of what is happening to day to the Copts in Egypt.

Ken said...

Though not directly related to the subject of "Calvinism and Missions", they do relate to Islam, history, Iranian Gnostic interpretations that have been around deep in their culture; David Waltz's additions to the issue should also include our disagreements in his last 3 articles.

David Waltz and I have lots of spirited dis-agreement in his com boxes over the years - especially his last three posts. (If anyone is interested.)

Ken said...

i read some more of Shedd's book - he says the early church neglected the Arabs and did not send get the gospel to them.

with that, I agree.

“Islam owes its origin not the strength of Christian influence, but to its weakness, not to force of circumstance, but to the fault of the church. Arabia was neglected for 600 years and the church has suffered the penalty. “ ( p. 43)

“a nation was left in ignorance” (p. 44)

“Let us impress on our minds that such negligence will always be punished, that Christendom will always and inevitably pay the penalty of its indolence.” (p. 44)

“you have left your first love” - Jesus to the church at Ephesus

“I will remove your lamp stand unless you repent.” See Revelation 2:4-5

The word for “left” is also used in Matthew 23:23 (translated there “neglected”, which is the word that Shedd used twice above.)

Yes, very interesting.

Ken said...

The word for “left” is also used in Matthew 23:23 (translated there “neglected”, which is the word that Shedd used twice above.)

Better -

The Greek word for “left” is also used in Matthew 23:23 (translated there “neglected”, which is the English word that Shedd used twice above.)