PREFACEARTHUR T. PIERSON was a man of deep missionary insight and passion. For twenty-five years editor of the famed Missionary Review of the World, author, preacher and lecturer, there were few in his day who knew so accurately the world-wide missionary situation or who contributed as much to stimulating the missionary enterprise in the homeland. Along with Charles H. Spurgeon and Dwight L. Moody, he was born in the year 1837. With them he figured in the great evangelical movement of the latter half of the nineteenth century which gave such an impetus to revival, evangelism, Bible study and missions.
In some respects we face a different situation today. All illusions of world-wide spiritual conquest are gone; the Church of Christ is now almost overwhelmed with the rampant forces of modern paganism and materialism. On mission fronts, fields which in A. T. Pierson's day were pointed to as prime examples of the triumph of the Gospel, are today well-nigh closed. From a missionary point of view, we live in apocalyptic times; GOD's judgment upon the failure of Christian missions is being felt in many lands. And yet, because of the very extremity of the human situation, it is a day of unparalleled opportunity.
The situation today may in some respects be different, but the commission remains the same and, as Dr. Pierson points out so clearly, the divine principles by which the task can only be accomplished, also remain the same. Because the urgency of our task and the opportunity are so great, and because of the confusion as to methods in a day of new scientific media and modern techniques, A. T. Pierson's book, The Divine Enterprise of Missions, long out of print, will, we feel sure, meet a real need in helping every missionary and every student of missions to a clearer concept of that pattern laid down by our Lord and His apostles, according to which the Great Commission must and can only be carried through to completion.
This pleasant and rewarding task of condensation has been rendered easy, thanks to the typing skill and service of Mrs. John C. Matthews of Hohokus, New Jersey.
R. K. STRACHAN
Latin America Mission
July 28, 1954
THE ANNALS, both of ancient Israel and of the modern Church, record mingled success and failure. Our instincts tell us that success must be the consequence and crown of conformity to the pattern showed us in the mount; and failure, the result of departure from the divine standard. Some displacing of the pure and perfect type of doctrine and method, prescribed in the Word of GOD, may account for the withholding of blessing, and for defeat and disaster in our missionary work.
We have need, perhaps, to begin again, and lay anew the basis of missionary enterprise; or, if we find the former foundation firm and sound, we may need at least to see whether, on that foundation, we have been building gold, silver, precious stones; or wood, hay, stubble. Possibly, into the structure of our mission work some errors have been built, which are serious if not radical. To get GOD's own conception of missions informed and infixed in our minds, our hearts and our practical methods, might lead to the partial and even total revolution of our present mission work.
I have given myself, Bible in hand, to a careful, prayerful study of this theme, seeking to be rid of all bias, either of prejudice or prepossession, and, to be led into all truth. And, as the studies which, for more than a year were largely limited to this one subject, have rent the veil from much that was hitherto hidden or at best obscure to my own mind, it will not be strange if some things which found utterance may strike other minds as new and even as untrue. The writer ventures to ask the confidence of his indulgent readers and, on their part also, patient study of the principles laid down. Let there be applied to them, not the test of human authority or opinion merely, but the touchstone of the Word of GOD, and of His manifest working in the history of missions.
Human tradition is a dangerous ally of the Bible, for, too often, it makes "the Word of God of none effect." At first only a vassal, it becomes a consort, and finally a sovereign, usurping all authority. And, as Luther found it necessary to question even the venerable traditions of the elders, and separate the infallible Scriptures from all the chaff and alloy of mere human teaching, it behooves us to pray for grace to go back to the very beginning, and inquire of the Master Himself what are the eternal and immutable principles of mission work.
ARTHUR T. PIERSON