The International Missionary Council appointed Dr. H. Kraemer, of Leyden University, to prepare a volume for the Madras meeting (1938) on the evangelistic approach to the great non-Christian faiths, and to define the fundamental position of the Christian Church as a witness-bearing body in the modern world. He executed his difficult task with consummate skill, and as a result his book will remain for many years to come the classical treatment of missions from a Biblical standpoint.
The present critical situation calls for this very fundamental reorientation. "The tempest of contemporary history is forcing back the Christian Church to fundamentals, to such a radically religious conception of life as is revealed to us in the Bible." In his epilogue to this remarkable volume, Kraemer writes: "The three main things that are needed are a deepening and vitalizing of the religious and theological background of missions and the Christian churches, a determined effort to build everywhere strong indigenous churches . . . and a genuine evangelistic or apostolic spirit."
It is on these lines that we have tried to make our small contribution and call the reader back to the teaching of the apostles and their example.
An emasculated Christianity has no power of propaganda and no missionary passion. The present-day trend of theological thought, however, is away from yesterday's naturalism and relativism. So we have tried in this little book, in some small degree, to weigh the overwhelming evidence for the genuineness of CHRIST's Great Commission and for the finality of His teaching.
- Three chapters deal with the place of JESUS CHRIST in the Old and New Testaments;
- Five chapters with the Great Commission, its authority and its implications;
- While the remaining chapters six chapters tell of apostolic aims, methods, dynamic, qualifications, message and call.
As the critical days in which we live call for heroism in defence of both liberty and truth so the present opportunities and difficulties of the missionary enterprise challenge the youth of today. Paul has much to teach us, and in going back to him we go back to CHRIST.
Some of the chapters were given as lectures at the Missionary Training Institute, Nyack, N. Y., the Biblical Seminary in New York, and two of them at the Dallas Theological Seminary, Texas.
Chapter IV appeared in the Union Seminary Review (Richmond, Va., November, 1942). This and chapter V deal with the results of textual criticism, a field in which I am, like Browning's Arab physician, Karshish, only "a picker-up of learning's crumbs." But like him one can be an accurate observer of what one does not fully understand. And the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus was not too great for Karshish, "one not in-curious in GOD's handiwork." Neither is the miracle of the inspiration of the Gospel too great for those who believe in the Risen Saviour.
New York City
Samuel M. Zwemer