GUEST POST: Preparing for Ministry in a Post-Truth World, Part Two

Having clarified what a post-truth society looks like and addressed some of the particular challenges inherent therein, we must turn our eyes to practical engagement with it.

Prepare for a long-haul

Stamina, energy, and strength are required for ministry in any environment; this doesn’t change when serving in a post-truth culture. At times, the challenges will be similar, but in many (perhaps most cases) very different. In order for one to prevail and endure the discouragements, depressions, difficulties, and desperate situations the strength required must be other-worldly.

Be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. (Eph 6:10)

Sometimes you will feel as though you have reached the end of your tether.

Having done all, stand firm. (Eph 6:13b)

Ministry was never meant to be a beach on which to sleepily sun yourself; it’s a battleground on which to sacrificially spend yourself. With that in mind, if in or preparing for ministry in a post-truth society, be prepared for long-term investment. Some principles to have in mind:

  • People lack trust, so you must build trust and show yourself trustworthy.
  • People lack truth, so you must expose lies and exhibit truth in word and action.
  • People lack time (or think they do) so you must be flexible with yours for them.

If you desire to see work accomplished in a post-truth environment you must be prepared for an at times uncomfortable long haul experience. Think ultra-obstacle course run as opposed to 100-meter dash.

You will trust people as you desire to be trusted and will have that trust betrayed and brutalised. You will do all you can to expose lies with love and compassion and live out truth only to be rejected or ignored. Other people’s time is precious (how all that time is spent in any meaningful way is questionable), but your time will always be considered as up for grabs. Though you will set boundaries, there will be occasions that you have to suspend those boundaries. You will be used and abused at times, but at the end it will all be worth it.


If you are church planting in a post-truth environment, do not assume anyone you are reaching initially understands—much less accepts—basic Bible beliefs and behaviours. For some, the Bible hasn’t even appeared on their radar.

Assuming Bible knowledge of even the most basic sort in a post truth environment would be like someone assuming Bhagavad Gita knowledge in rural Arkansas (the place of my childhood). Such assumption would be rather foolish and probably fruitless. Unlike Bhagavad Gita devotees, Bible believers—Christ followers—have the responsibility to make the Bible’s truth claims known while calling people to actively trust the same truth claims with their lives.

By how does one go about this?

By preaching.

Paul reasons in his letter to the Romans:

And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:14)

The message of salvation at the heart of preaching must always be the same and consider that which is of primary importance. Paul reminded the Corinth church of this primary message:

For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3–4)

As people come to faith and as they grow in the faith, then other matters can be addressed and more difficult passages and Biblical concepts expounded. This gradual process is at the heart of disciple making—where a person grows from learning the truth to believing the truth to following the truth to teaching the truth themselves (Heb 5:12).

It being clear that preaching is the means and the exclusive Gospel of Christ is the message it should be specified that preaching should not be approached using the same method in every instance. “Cookie-cutter” preaching, wherin you go to post-truth unbelievers in the same way you would cultural Christians or along the lines of giving a conference sermon, can certainly be used by God to show his strength through our weakness, but generally wouldn’t be considered wise or helpful. Make sure the message is simple, clear, and prepared with prayer and people in mind.

Chip away at underlying post-truth presuppositions

Preaching is not always accomplished in the pulpit. Conversations are a particularly effective way of discipleship and gospel communication. They provide a useful outlet to chip away at false ideas and attempt to lead people to see what is good, right, and true.

One feature of post-truth culture is how it champions diversity and inclusivity—often at the cost of moral and intellectual objectivity. With emotions and feelings overriding anything objectively true, religious pluralism—the belief that all religious beliefs and traditions are equally true and valid—is embraced, at least verbally. Any claim to absolute, exclusive truth is seen as bigoted, prejudiced, intolerant. In some cases, attempts will be made to shut down dialogue and discussion.

Doubtless, Jesus’s claim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” is a claim to absolute, exclusive, objective truth, and does not sit well with a post-truth society. The best response is not to shrink back and offer border-line apologetic qualifiers or to attempt to steam-roll over others with the validity of Christ’s claim but graciously and clearly to attempt to reason and win over the individual or individuals being addressed.

For example, when dealing with the pluralism espoused by post-truth ideology one can highlight that:

  1. Post-truth pluralism is ideologically inconsistent. Pluralism proclaims tolerance and acceptance but cannot leave those who differ and uphold absolute truth alone, showing intolerance and hate.
  2. Post-truth pluralism is logically impossible. Truth does exist and must be absolute. It must be or society could not function. It must be or there would be no basis for morality. If truth exists, so does falsehood. There are different stories that claim to be true accounts of man’s creation, presenting different ideas concerning the purpose of mankind, the nature of mankind’s problems, and where to find help and hope. While there may be some common ground between these ideas, logically opposites cannot be considered the same. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all say different things about Jesus. They cannot all be correct.
  3. Post-truth’s pluralism is theologically incongruent. Hinduism believes in many gods. Buddhism believes there is no personal god and life itself is illusory. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all believe in one God. Judaism says Jesus is not the Christ. Islam says Jesus was only a prophet and one who certainly did not die on the cross. Christianity says Jesus is God made flesh who had to live and die to be resurrected so that we could be made right with God. These differing views are not equally rooted in historical, credible fact and, as such, cannot be equally true. The differing claims are completely incompatible. Like oil and water, these cannot coexist as one.

Chipping away successfully at these post-truth presuppositions occurs best in the course of organic person-to-person conversation (dialogue, not monologue!). Such conversation will usefully

  • Show a healthy toleration of other religions as consisting of adherents made in God’s image, seeking to find their way towards God.
  • Acknowledge elements of truth in other religions, while clearly and unequivocally indicating areas of difference.
  • Be honest about Christ’s teaching as the one and only way to rightness with God.
  • Be unapologetic in showing and proving how Christ and His way is better than anything else this world has to offer.

In the next post in this series, I will offer some practical issues pertaining to church planting in such a context.

GUEST POST: Preparing for Ministry in a Post-Truth World, Part One

What is meant by ‘Post-truth’?

The Oxford Dictionaries’ international word of 2016, “post-truth” points to a society or situation “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

While “post truth” has many political implications, commonly functioning as an expression thrown around by opposing political groups in attempts to discredit one another, the concept goes far beyond politics. London, England—where I have lived and served for 16 years—and Angel, Islington—my local centre and borough within London are said to be post-truth environments. Indeed Great Britain (note: this is a specific geographic indicator that excludes Northern Ireland) as a whole can quite accurately be described as a post-truth society.

My goal over the course of several posts is to highlight what ministry in such an environment looks like and to present some practical guidance that may help readers’ in a similar environment serve well. If you are not in a post-truth environment, but you see post-truth mentalities creeping in, I pray that these posts will help you effectively in your spiritual warfare.

What is a “post-truth society”?

A post-truth society doesn’t necessarily deny that truth exists. It simply doesn’t feel like seeking and finding truth is overly important. There is little knowledge or appreciation for objective facts or lessons from history in a post-truth world. Indeed, when concrete truths are clearly presented every attempt is made to suppress, discredit, deflect, or minimise any claim to exclusive, objective truth (ala Romans 1). Speaking or believing “your truth” is more important than speaking and believing “the truth”.

Within a post truth society exists a toxic soup of ideologies that major in self-absorption, entitlement, and constant questioning of proven and credible facts, finding truth primarily in emotional reactions. Clinging to such ideologies are:

  • Secularists living in the now and rejecting all forms of religious faith and worship.
  • Humanists emphasizing reason, “scientific” inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world while rejecting the importance of belief in God.
  • Postmodernists claiming that realities are plural, subjective, and dependent on worldview.
  • Relativists proposing that points of view have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, but rather only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.
  • Pluralists accepting two or more religious worldviews as equally valid or acceptable as paths to God or gods.
  • Universalists believing that there are no mitigating factors against salvation – all will be right with God.

Despite the presence of people who consciously align with one of the above ideologies, I find that many in post-truth Britain have never considered whether they should believe much of anything, what to believe, or why to believe. Truth doesn’t really matter. Existence and purpose in being is just a day to day routine. Nothing really matters that much to think too much about. Practically this has led to a range of challenges:

  • Identity crisis

At even the most basic, tangible, physical level people do not know who they are. Without any mooring in truth and with widespread embrace of the idea that truth is relative or subjective this should come as no surprise. Previous indisputable human attributes of personhood acknowledging difference between the sexes are for many now disputable. Where “gender confusion” was once a concern, now many celebrate “gender acceptance”. You can be born male and yet identify as female or vice-versa. Confusion in sexuality and questioning personal identity and purpose are extremely prevalent in a post-truth society if not in practice, in acceptance.

  • Dysfunctionality in relationships

While post-truth London, England (and I imagine most post-truth environments) takes pride in multicultural pluralism (the view that all beliefs and cultural behaviours are equally acceptable and right), it is a lonely city. A post-truth society lacks moral objectivity. As such, without a clear framework that values morality and honest interaction, it should come as no surprise when trust is eroded. The consequence is that normal, open, transparent human interaction is hard to find and loneliness increases.

  • Suppression of freedom

A post-truth society does not get on well with any claim to objective truth. Believing something that may exclude others (eg. “salvation is in Christ alone”) or that denies another’s claim of reality (eg. “someone with male body parts is male”) is bad enough, saying it amounts to discrimination and prejudice. Freedom of belief and speech is protected, unless your belief and speech offends, upsets, or excludes. But of course that isn’t free speech at all.

  • Distorted narratives

A post-truth society sets up its own standard of presenting facts. Both sides of the left/right political spectrum (however that is defined) are guilty of such distortion. Truths are withheld, exaggerated, or spun. Post truth society condemns fake news, but enables, endorses, and embraces it at the same time as it has no standard or basis on which to judge truth. This also gives rise to increased obsession with and acceptance of ludicrous conspiracy theories that have no foundation in fact.

  • Selfish ambition

In a place where people lack identity, are dysfunctional in relationships, suppress freedom, and distort narratives, the prevalence of selfish ambition should be no surprise. Indeed, this sin issue is at the root of many of the other issues we have addressed. A post-truth society is narcissistic and entitled. It believes itself to be superior to other societies and its members view themselves as far more intelligent than those who dare disagree with them. The impact of this, if unarrested will be catastrophic.

A society where such features are common-place is undeniably sick. As with any sickness, treatment is needed. But is a cure available? If so, how is it administered? Will it even be accepted? This is what I will deal with in an upcoming post.

The Story behind Equip the Nations, Inc

As I (David) have already written and reflected upon, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya this past year with my friend John Schultz on behalf of Equip the Nations. While traveling the countryside, I asked him to share the story behind the formation of Equip the Nations, inc because it reveals another avenue for ministry that most seminary students have not considered.

I was listening to the commencement address at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when news alerts began to popup on my smartphone. The headlines told the story of a lone gunman who entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, killing 26 people before ending his own life. Our nation stood in complete dismay at the cold-blooded and unusually heinous act of taking the lives of innocent children, most of which were between the ages of 6 and 7 years old. I marveled at the lostness of a sick and dying world where such tragedies as that of Sandy Hook occur on a regular basis.

Despite the sadness of the Sandy Hook tragedy on December 14, 2012 I was able to rejoice in graduating from seminary with a Masters of Theology (ThM) in Christian Ethics. I did not recognize then that God was putting into motion a larger plan for my life than what my finite mind was able to conceptualize. God divinely sat me beside Alem Longchar, an Indian national, who was also graduating from SWBTS.

“Why don’t you come to India sometime?” Alem said as he handed me his business card at graduation. I took the card as any God-fearing Christian who did not want to offend his neighbor and gently tucked it in my suit coat thinking, “Yeah that is never going to happen.” Nevertheless, I thought he was a nice guy and knew I could not realistically keep up with his business card so I befriended him on Facebook.

Back to the Nets

I knew when I graduated with a ThM it was time to look for a place to serve despite my desire to pursue a PhD. Five years of seminary had been very difficult on my family financially, physically, and emotionally. My family of 6 greatly struggled during our seminary years due to our unwavering commitment to keep my wife at home to school our children. My wife suffered a very painful miscarriage that would have killed her had she not been hospitalized. Emotionally we suffered due to me always being at either work or doing something school related. Seminary life was hard, and I knew something had to change for my family.

I prayed and sent my resume out to many different churches with the hope that between my education and four years pastoral experience I would be able to find a church large enough to support my family financially. Time after time I received a letter from different churches stating in essence that they had received my resume and though I possessed many qualities and talents they were looking for in a pastor, God had led them in a different direction. The churches that did show interest were all too small to support my family. I was discouraged to say the least that I had spent 5 years at seminary and unable to find a ministry position to where I could still take care of my family.

When the disciples were unsure what they needed to do for the Lord they returned to what they knew—fishing (John 21:3). So, I did likewise. I began to apply for jobs in the financial industry where I had worked prior to seminary after I had received many rejection letters from churches. I was able to find a job working for a large financial company through God’s providence in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There I was able to volunteer as a church missions minister and teach adjunctively for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I still felt unfulfilled since I was not full-time in the ministry despite having places to serve. This lead me to prayer once again that God would show me what He wanted me to do.

Called to Serve

2015 was a life changing year for me. A family in our church invited my family to come to their home for “India night.” They served us with several delicious Indian dishes and showed the Bollywood movie, “Three Idiots.” “Three Idiots” depicted the Indian culture’s push for college students to wither become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It emphasized the stress Indian students experience in pursuit of these professions, and the resulting high suicide rate. A week later my wife and I watched a documentary on the street kids in India and what they do to survive. I told my wife that I believed God was calling me to go to India.

I sent a note to Alem asking him if the offer was still open for me to come to India. He graciously invited me to stay with him at his home, and as the old adage says, “the rest is history!” I returned to India with my daughter a year later and had a meeting with the leadership of the Indian ministry. It was on that trip that they told me they were no longer able to receive their funding from a church in the United States as they had since their inception 19 years ago. And, they were concerned the Hindu fundamentalist ruling party in India would not allow them to receive support from a Christian church in the United States. So, they asked me if my family was willing to form an organization to collect their funds in the Unites States and transfer the funds to them monthly. This led to the birth of Equip the Nations Inc. in 2017.

Equip the Nations

Equip the Nations is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Our focus is to equip ministries worldwide through theological education and to discover ways to make ministries more self-sufficient. Our main ministry partner is based in India and ministers in their home country, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. We also have ministry partners in Honduras and Kenya. Praise be to the Lord our God for blessing us with a ministry that is able to combat lostness in eight countries worldwide and growing!

Note: More information about Equip the Nations Inc can be found on our Facebook page and our website at

What Does the American Church Have to Offer Kenya?

Kenya is a beautiful country. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the green fields and mountains I saw. As we flew from Nairobi into Kisumu at sunrise, we were taken aback by the sheer beauty of it all. I knew that Kenya bordered Lake Victoria, but I wasn’t aware that we would see it from the air, and later, from the beach.

And in addition to the beautiful landscape, the people of Kenya are very friendly; we were greeted with singing and dancing. The joy of the Lord was evident upon their faces.

The next day, we joined them for Sunday worship. It’s common to hear of churches in the South arguing over the color of the carpet. That seems petty when you worship with believers on dirt floors and sense the pleasure of the Holy Spirit to dwell in their midst.

But as beautiful as the land is, and as joyous as the people are, the poverty of Kenya is striking. To be sure, there is a financial poverty, but there is also a spiritual poverty that characterizes the land. Those who have the least are often most susceptible to teachings of prosperity charlatans, who tell them that their poverty is the result of a lack of faith on their part. But what is faith, according to these fork-tongued preachers? Faith is a willingness to line the preachers’ pockets with what little the people have to offer, in the belief that the Lord will bless them with greater wealth and greater health.

But the Lord is doing a work. He is raising up a people for himself, unwilling to settle for such false teaching.

In like manner, a people unwilling to settle for a syncretistic Christianity that uncritically adopts ancient tribal practices and attaches Bible verses to justify their presence.

So what, if anything, can we as the American church, do?

While the solution is complicated and the work hard, there are some certain needs that we can begin to meet.


While I felt perfectly safe in Kenya, there are many believers in various parts of the country that are facing real persecution. Just this past week, 11 Christians were executed in northern Kenya by Somali Islamic terrorists. The likelihood that American Christians will ever encounter the real possibility of martyrdom is minuscule. In some parts of Kenya, believers are under a constant and very real threat. Whatever else we have to offer them, let us offer them our prayers as brothers and sisters in Christ.


Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of the Gospel. I recognize that this encouragement may come something as a surprise in light of the previous point concerning persecution, but much of Kenya is perfectly safe for Westerners. Just be sure to follow what my friend Chuck Holton describes as the “rule of stupid”: Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people at stupid times and do stupid things.

I am convinced that every believer given the opportunity should go on an international, cross-cultural mission trip at some point. The benefits to those we encounter are too great for us not to. In addition to that, I’ve almost never seen someone minister in that context and not been affected by it as well. Begin praying now for an opportunity to go. And while you pray, get your passport. Then, when the Lord provides you the opportunity, you can step forward in obedience.


Share the Gospel—not a soft-peddle gospel, or a prosperity gospel that feeds off of their poverty. Tell them about who Jesus is and what he has done. And offer them eternal life in Christ Jesus. Offer them ultimate satisfaction in this life and the promise of God’s watchful, sovereign love. Give them hope that the Lord is near the downtrodden and that does not only love the wealthy or white, but that he cares for the orphan and widow. And that he cares for them.


We who have had the opportunity to receive formal theological education have a responsibility. We are responsible to steward the gift we have been given well. That means taking what you’ve had the opportunity to acquire and helping get that training to those who have not been able to receive it. If a study Bible tops the list of a pastor’s request, it says a good deal about the training he has been able to cobble together. What a blessing you could be if you were to go and share some of the insights you gleaned from your seminary education.


There is a real need in Kenya and the poverty is overwhelming. Just walking down the street, I was repeatedly encountered by open palms asking for help. But, as is true of any situation, things are more complicated than outsiders can discern immediately. While there are real needs to be met, it is imperative that we stop giving uncritically. We must think through real, practical solutions. We need to partner with churches and ministries on the ground in-country and work through avenues that do more than alleviate poverty, but help to eradicate it as well. The old adage holds true: give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Our burden is to find a means to do both—provide for their immediate needs while also equipping them to overcome their situation.

What, then, can you do for Kenya?

Be willing to pray for Kenyan believers.
Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and go.
Be willing to open your lips and tell them of the Savior’s love.
Be willing to take that which you have been able to learn and teach them.
Be willing to open your hearts and hands and share in such a way that meets real needs.

GUEST POST: Pastors, Adultery, and Missions

[Today’s post comes from Regan King. You can connect with Regan on twitter, facebook, or at And don’t miss his book, #TBH: Basic Challenges to Millennials Who Can’t Even.]

Churches and sex abuse

It should not surprise us when sex abuse rears its ugly head in churches. After all, churches are filled with people who have in some way acknowledged spiritual brokenness and sickness. As in any institution of which men and women are a part, sexual sin will be present at some point in some form or another simply by nature of the fact that men and women break God’s commands—sinning against God, other people, and self. It is not the institution’s fault; it is the people’s. If the institution in some way continues to enable or empower those in sexual sin, the institution then shows itself as culpable in the sin.

Sexual sin has consequences before God and, in some way, will have consequences in our relationships with others. Before God, ongoing sexual sin assures of condemnation “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph 5:5). In relationships with other people, sexual sin poisons and creates distrust, destroying meaningful intimacy with others and spawning relational dysfunctionality in a plethora of ways.

In every way sexual sin is self harm. Sexual sin—whether porn viewing, abuse, harassment, rape, or consensual sex outside of God’s established plan—abuses God’s good gift of sex reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.

Adultery is sex abuse

Currently sex abuse is being dealt with on many fronts. While we must be wary of the #metoo bandwagon and what often become practical witch hunts that suspend with the ancient principle that ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies), we must be equally wary of not properly dealing with legitimate sex abuse.

This includes adultery.



While not generally viewed as sex abuse, adultery is nothing short of sex abuse. The general view that adultery is not sex abuse says more about our society’s saturation with sex perversion than it does excuse adultery as unabusive. Though consensual, adultery can often arise out of an abuse of power by one party and the lust for status and approval by another. Though consensual, adultery often entails one party grooming another and planting deceptive and demonic thoughts doubting and demeaning another’s spouse. Though consensual, adultery is an abuse of what are often initially (they almost always will begin to suspect eventually) totally clueless spouses. The effects of this abuse are long lasting—betrayal, hurt, and in many cases symptoms of PTSD (flashbacks, nightmares, drenching sweats, intense distress, emotional numbness, physical fatigue). Though consensual, adultery is an abuse of marriage and sex within marriages’ lifelong covenant. Though consensual, adultery is an abuse of righteousness and justice as defined by God. Adultery along with sexual immorality and spousal abandonment are the Biblical grounds for divorce. Adultery is condemned by God in the foundation books of the Bible (Exod 20:14; Lev 18:20; Lev 20:10; Deut 5:18; Deut 22:22) and its consequences regularly seen in Biblical narrative (Remember King David and the effects on his whole household?)

Adultery in any context is undeniably inexcusable and wrong.

Adultery is sex abuse.

Through Christ there can be salvation despite the grievous abuse and sin that is adultery. But in no way does this mean an abdication of responsibility in how churches should deal with adultery among its leaders. Churches must ask serious questions in regard to reappointing or commissioning any pastoral worker following adultery. Specifically, I want to deal with one area I see less discussion of—the sending of individuals who have fallen in adultery to some missionary activity. Remember: we are talking about abuse here. Yes, Jesus saves all who repent (turn away from/leave) of sin, but there are still consequences and we must think and act wisely and responsibly.

A matter of principle

Missions is so loosely defined these days. There is a lot of confusion as to what missions really is, namely outreach, evangelism, and discipleship rooted in the local church leading to growth of the kingdom through conversions and planting other churches for God’s glory. Training leaders, equipping churches for the spread of the Gospel, encouraging potentially discouraged leaders and church members and participating in the discipleship process are all key components of mission whether short or long-term. As such, those involved in missions bear a responsibility as leaders and representatives of Christ and their local church and as such must be held to the high standard of conduct found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

John MacArthur writes:

There are some sins that irreparably shatter a man’s reputation and disqualify him from a ministry of leadership forever. Even Paul, man of God that he was, said he feared such a possibility. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
When referring to his body, Paul obviously had sexual immorality in view. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 he describes it as a sin against one’s own body—sexual sin is in its own category. Certainly it disqualifies a man from church leadership since he permanently forfeits a blameless reputation as a one-woman man (Proverbs 6:33; 1 Timothy 3:2).

While he doesn’t find MacArthur entirely convincing here on either a practical or exegetical level, Jared C. Wilson urges extreme caution and indicates pretty clearly that a return to pastoring should not occur anywhere near soon after the offense and not at all unless instigated and called upon by the local church.

John Piper holds a similar view to Wilson, writing,

If a pastor has betrayed his people, and it has wounded a church grievously and wounded his wife grievously, he can be forgiven just like that. Wiped away. The blood of Jesus covers it. But as far as reestablishing trust, which is essential to a shepherd/sheep and wife/husband relationship, how long does that take? A decade? It takes a long time, a long time, until memories are healed.

And very practically I think this is what I would say: A man who commits adultery, say, in the ministry, should immediately resign and look for other work. And he should make no claim on the church at all. He should get another kind of job and go about his life humbly receiving the discipline and sitting and receiving ministry, whether in that church or in another church. And then the church should turn that around if it believes it should, not him.

What is clear from my searching and study is that among those who have a high view of Scripture there is the view on one hand that post-conversion sexual immorality whilst in the pastorate permanently excludes from pastoral responsibility and on another that sexual immorality may exclude but the door may be open for a distant future return. Even still, those leaving a door open see a requirement of clear and attestably deep repentance over a lengthy period and a local church deciding on its own to reassess the individual’s suitability (ie. this is not in any way instigated by the individual0

R. Kent Hughes and John H. Armstrong acknowledge that “some fallen pastors indeed might someday be restored to leadership”, but “believe this increasingly common scenario is both biblically incorrect and profoundly harmful to the well-being of the fallen pastor, his marriage, and the church of Jesus Christ.” One can scarcely fault their caution and there is abundant vindication for such a view (remember the Tullian Tchividjian tragedies?).

A matter of propriety and prudence

99% of those in Christian ministry who have fallen into sexual sin do not confess their sin but are caught. They carry on an affair until caught and exposed. While any adulterous act is tragic, what we are dealing with in the vast majority of cases are not one off flings. We are talking about persistent adulterous activity over the course of lengths of time. This is what is most common and so is primarily what I have in view here.

[As an aside. Friend. Please know your sin will find you out. It grieves me to know that someone I know, someone reading this right now, has participated in or is participating in an illicit sexual liaison that is unconfessed and explained away. It has happened before. An assistant pastor…the pastor who left his family for another man…the well-known pastor, author, and conference speaker who kept a straight face when I discussed a related issue with him. I know it will happen again. Step into the light. It is for your good and God’s glory. Come to me and talk. I will stand with you and strive on your behalf for renewal and reconciliation. Just don’t persist in your sin. Don’t be caught—just confess and accept the consequences.]

We have looked at the principle of fairly serious consequences for a leader or missionary who has committed adultery—at the very least a long-term departure from public ministry aligned with a process of restoration and reconciliation if possible. Such a move is prudent and shows propriety in perspective of how important and challenging ministry can be.

Proverbs 11.14 says “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” With that in mind I reached out to some friends and fellow pastors for their assessment. The following quotes are all taken from personal correspondence with permission.

Andrew Sandlin, Founder and President of the Center for Cultural Leadership:

Sexual immorality, like financial malfeasance and spiritual abuse, disqualifies from prominent church ministry. Grace and repentance, while necessary, are not a sufficient warrant for swift reinstallation. Adultery in particular is a severe violation of a covenant trust, without which there can be no viable, viable Christian ministry. There are always places, vital places, in the Lord’s work for those who have committed this sin and have repented. They can be restored. But returning swiftly to a highly visible ministry position, carrying the weight of such responsibility, is exceedingly unwise.

Bart Barber, pastor of FBC Farmersville, active and prominent servant of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention (of which the world’s largest international missions board is a part):

The isolation and other stresses of cross-cultural missions are often under-appreciated at the beginning of the task, and the toll they can take on the missionary is well-documented, as is the tendency for it to lead to adultery. In our own work in Senegal, the interest a visitor from a place like the UK or USA can generate among the local womenfolk can be bewildering to those of us unaccustomed to ever having been a “chick magnet.” Sending ANYONE entails facing these risks. Sending someone who has already fallen in this way is a mistake.

When queried on the nature of the standards set for missionaries Bart responded,

The key questions for applying scripture here are (a) do the qualifications for being an elder apply here, and (b) if not, should these qualifications be lower or higher than those in this area. 

Lottie Moon’s existence suggests that Southern Baptists, at least, have concluded in the contrary as to the first point (i.e. we field female missionaries but not female pastors) and that we have concluded that not all of the qualifications for elders should be transferred to all missionaries. I agree with these Southern Baptist conclusions.

With that having been said, we have also found that even with an accompanying wife the temptations on the field are significant. We have also found that populations in other cultures can be very vulnerable to those with the financial position and social status of a missionary. In the area of sexual ethics, therefore, we examine missionaries far, far beyond the examination that our pastors receive.

A matter of protection and purity

The Scriptures qualifications for elders and deacons certainly at the very least call into question the wisdom of appointing and sending an adulterer to public and leading ministry (NB. all who are Christ’s have responsibility to minister and serve in appropriate ways). And yet there is also the Scriptural principle of being our brothers and sisters’ keepers, striving to protect for repeated damage and aid people in their desire to walk purely before God.

Bart Barber says,

There is a kindness found in refraining from the deliberate placement of a man in a situation that will test the limits of his resolve in areas in which he already bears the scars of past failure and injury. There is a kindness found in not leaving a spouse who has already suffered and survived great injury to explore the limits of her hope that her husband will behave himself in a missionary environment replete with temptations. There is a kindness found in not placing at the headwaters of a new church (I’m assuming that anything under the heading of “missions” is designed with the hope of starting new churches) the heightened risk of a scandal at the founding that could jeopardize the entire effort.

When asked by me whether it would be right to send someone who in the not so distant past was caught in an affair to the mission field, Jim Elliff, an experienced church planter and the founder and president of Christian Communicators Worldwide responded,

I would say “no” on the basis that long term adultery is indicative of an unconverted life. If he considers himself a new convert after that adultery is repented of, it would be far too soon even then to think of him taking leadership as a missionary since (at a minimum) he would be a new convert, who must not only evangelize, but congregationalise, appoint elders, set the churches in order, recruit new workers, etc. It’s a high authority position. If the church eventually considered him faithful but not missionary status, they could approve of him as a Christian worker, helping another missionary as needed, but without assuming authority and being fully under the missionary’s authority. But the church must be careful here to really know him and to watch over time to see if he is walking with God.

Former coordinator for the Middle East and Africa at HeartCry Missionary Society, Marc Glass expresses,

I would have a hard time endorsing a man in such a situation for the mission field. Having said that, I do see a scenario where someone who is repentant can be involved in mission work. However, I think it would take a significant amount of time and work at rebuilding trust, as well as the right scenario on the mission field where accountability is taken seriously. My major concern is that, in spite of having a lengthy affair, the man is going to the mission field on his own for lengthy periods. It’s dangerous for his soul as he’s setting himself up for the same sin in the future.

The challenge

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9.37)

Anyone serving in a lead role in Christian ministry will relate very much to this statement. That said, this does not excuse sending unqualified or disqualified people into lead service.

There are “few” laborers in the gospel “harvest,” not “no” laborers. While most pastors and missionaries I know feel quite stretched, God’s strength is evident in their weakness. While adding an unqualified or disqualified leader to a situation may give initial relief or help, in the long run it is a grave mistake, which, once made becomes much harder to fix.

In a day when sexual ethics have gone out the window and people’s rejection of truth rests heavily on “not wanting God to interfere in their romantic relationship,” finding qualified and trustworthy people to labour in leading can be difficult. It is not impossible, however. Trust God. Act rightly and with discipline. Follow God’s Word and the collective God-given wisdom of Christ-followers in submission to God’s Word. Belong and be established in the local church. If you have fallen, know that God forgives. Accept consequences. Strive for holiness “without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). Grow in the traits of 2 Peter 1 “For if you practice these things you will never stumble.”

Do not commit adultery.

For Those Having a Blue Christmas

Like many, the holidays are a difficult time of year for me. A few years ago, my family spent our final Thanksgiving together and then, just before Christmas on December 13, my Dad lost his 5-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Truth be told, while Christmas carols and hymns proclaim “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men,” the harsh reality is that the season doesn’t place a pause on the hardships of the poor, the homeless, the sick, the orphan, the widows, the lonely, the unclothed, the hungry, the thirsty, the jobless, the war torn, and the needy. In this season of Advent or “Expectation,” will peering into the manger bring lasting peace or further reminders of regret, loss, disbelief, and discouragement?

It’s important that we catch the true meaning of Christmas by creating gospel moments by announcing the birth of Jesus to those around you—inviting them to join you at Christmas celebrations: in your homes and in your churches. It’s fine if Santa Claus and snowmen are present in your home as long as you exalt the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes laid in the manger. The birth of Christ is the gift of God to be celebrated.

I often reflect back to one of the most treasured Christmases that I cling to which was my last Christmas with Dad. My Dad and Mom found themselves in a hospitality apartment in Houston, Texas while my Dad received his cancer treatments. They were eleven hours away from our hometown at Christmas time and couldn’t return home because of his treatment schedule. My wife and I decided to take “Christmas” to them in Houston. We gathered a small nativity set, bought a small pre-lit tree, some Texas themed ornaments, special mugs, a Christmas wreath for the door, and made some other things to make their apartment a little more “Christmassy,” like home during the holidays.  When we arrived, we brought our Christmas surprises inside and got it set up. We even put a couple of presents beneath that little tree. The small gesture meant the world to my parents. To anyone else they might have seen a “Charlie Brown” Christmas, but to us, Christ’s birth gave us hope and strength.

The following day, we planned a Christmas dinner for the other residents of that hospitality house. We cooked and cooked and fed so many cancer patients–too sick to travel home, alone for the holidays, and too poor to pay for Christmas dinner and their caretakers. It was a Christmas miracle! God took our little and multiplied it to meet so many needs that day. And he gave my Dad the strength and health to participate. We experienced the Spirit of Christmas through loving Christ and loving others. I even preached a Christmas message of hope and peace found in Jesus Christ to those able to gather in the clubhouse. That day, I was reminded that Christmas isn’t what is found in boxes beneath a tree, but the love of Jesus, the Savior. I will never forget that Christmas.

Seek to serve the less-fortunate during the Christmas season and display the love of the Savior to those who desperately need a reprieve from life’s striving.

God used the Birth of Jesus to make an eternal impact.
Do the same.

When Missions Cause Confusion

With the recent death of missionary John Chau, there has been a whirlwind of reactions and opinions. Some grieve the loss of life and the tragic nature of his death while pursuing a greater cause; others argue that his death was pointless and could have been avoided.

These reactions reveal that we are in a new era concerning the perspective of missions. I believe that the popularity of consumer Christianity has led us to the point of viewing missions in a different light than what we have in the past. In the past, giving your life to reach the lost for the cause of Christ was both noble and honorable. In the present, methods are questioned and critiqued without examination of motives. If that isn’t evident in the case of Chau, perhaps compare the op-eds of late with the Time article covering the death of Jim Elliot.

Regardless of your position, many of us are confused with missions and when confronted with the hard realities of missions (i.e., the mission may cost us our lives) we turn inward conviction into critique to appease our conscience.

Confusion in the Need

Over the past few days, the Twitter-sphere has been abuzz around the incident. People have been on both sides of the issue, some calling John a martyr and others calling him a lunatic.

Many of his proponents call him a lunatic, a buffoon, a failed colonizer, or worse. (In all honesty, it took me a few minutes to find tweets that were not full of obscenities).

The problem with these viewpoints is they do not understand the need for missions. It’s not to colonize or conform different people groups to look alike or function in similar ways; neither is it necessary in missions to impose one’s personal agenda onto another.

Biblical Christianity places the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ as the need for missions. The sole point of biblical missions has been, and will always be, the message of Jesus dying for the forgiveness of sins and offering eternal life to all of humanity.

John Allen Chau was not concerned about changing the Sentinelese standard of living or implementing a 21st-century worldview on their island. His burden was far greater—apart from Christ, they would spend eternity in torment.

Rather than rendering judgment on his burden for the lost, let us examine our own lives and ask ourselves if we are burdened similarly for those without Christ.

Romans 10:14–15 (CSB)
How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.

Confusion in the Calling

Rod Dreher’s recent article on the American Conservation and many others have called Chau’s efforts unwise for several reasons: he was not familiar with the language, the people were aggressive towards outsiders, the Indian government had isolated the people for a reason, etc.

While later reports have released more information regarding Chau’s preparations for this mission. His critic’s views, then, raise a few concerns.

These viewpoints place specific requirements on the missionary before the mission can be deemed wise—the missionary must learn the language, the missionary must have a certain number of vaccines, the missionary must be fully aware of all of the culture, the missionary must be funded and supported by a mission sending agency, etc. The problem with this view is that it is not what is represented in the Bible. In fact, the Bible records that when the Spirit called a person, the church confirmed the calling, and the church sent them out (for one example, see Acts 13:1–5). Biblical Christianity teaches that the qualification for missions is the calling of the Lord. If the Lord has called, they are ready.

That being said, let me also qualify that I believe that a calling implies equipping. I have been called to pastor, and for that very reason, I have been equipped at a local seminary. Moreover, I can see how Paul and Barnabas were equipped earlier in the book of Acts for the mission to which God had called them.

I also believe that mission sending agencies are great. I love the work of the IMB (International Missions Board), support them, and partner with them.

While it is ideal for missionaries (and pastors) to be equipped by formal agencies, formal agencies are not a prerequisite for ministry. A person who is called by God to pastor can pastor (and many do) without a seminary degree. A person who is called to be a missionary can go (and many do) without a formal equipping by a missions sending agency. Even if the reports of Chau’s preparation had not come out, who are we to criticize a man who felt called by the Lord and was acting on it?

Let us not criticize Chau for his calling or his zeal in his calling. Instead, let us pursue the Lord’s calling in our own lives and examine ourselves to see if we are zealous to see others come to Christ.

Confusion in the Comfort

So why are these people calling Chau a fool? I believe it has to do with respecting a person’s comfort. The world tells us that if a person is comfortable, leave them alone. If they want to live a certain way, as long as everyone is comfortable, just let them. In this type of culture, comfort rules and when anything challenges comfort, it is proclaimed as foolish.

Chau was not willing to let the people remain comfortable in their ignorance of Christ, nor was he was willing to remain comfortable knowing that they would spend eternity in hell without Christ.

The problem with these viewpoints is that they do not understand that, at its core, the mission of Christ is foolishness to the world because it sacrifices comfort for the cause of Christ. Missionaries sacrifice their comfort to go to the mission field—they leave jobs, they sell possessions, they spend large amounts of time learning about communicating with and integrating into a foreign culture and that is even before they get onto the field. Once missionaries are on the field the foolishness (by worldly standards) and sacrifice of comfort continues as there are language barriers they must deal with, the people can be unreceptive to the missionaries message, and the time investment required to reach an unreached people group can be massive.

Simply put, missions will always look foolish when it is viewed through the lens of the world because it calls everyone to sacrifice comfort.

Biblical Christianity is not concerned with the world’s perspective or comfort. Biblical Christianity is concerned with those living without hope finding hope in Christ. For the Christian, the temporary sacrifice of comfort in this world is worth the opportunity to lead others into an eternity with Jesus.

Chau was not concerned with those who would consider him foolish or even the sacrifices that he was going to make. He was concerned about how he could share the hope that can be found in Jesus.

So, let us not judge him for his willingness to sacrifice his worldly comforts, even his own life. Instead, let us examine ourselves to see if we are ready to sacrifice our worldly comforts for the commission that Christ has given us.

2 Timothy 1:8–12 (CSB)
So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Confusion in the Command

At the core of the problem, we find confusion in the command. Christ has called every Christian to go and make disciples of all nations.

Matthew 28:18–20 (CSB)
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The world will always misunderstand the purpose of the mission, place roadblocks before the mission, and cling to earthly comfort. Nevertheless, let us seek to fulfill what Christ has called us to do and share the gospel with all who will listen, even to the ends of the earth.

Lessons from a Modern Martyr

Much has been written about John Allen Chau—the American missionary seeking to proclaim the gospel to a remote tribe on North Sentinel, an island off of the Indian coast. By all accounts he was aware of the dangers he faced, having paid local fisherman to bring him near the island under the cover of darkness. Even that action seems to break Indian law which forbids engaging the Sentinelese at least in part due to certainty that those who do are almost universally met with a hail of arrows. After being brought near the island, Chau paddled to shore with food and gifts to offer the islanders in the hope of gaining an audience to share the gospel. According to the local fisherman, he attempted to make landfall several times and was met with a number of arrows each time.

His diary records that he “hollered” in a foreign language, “My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you.”

He wrote of his first encounter in his diary before returning. He had gotten “within inches” of a tribesman and offered his gifts only be met with hostility, including an arrow piercing his waterproof Bible. The fisherman who had taken him into the waters around North Sentinel reported that two days after his initial attempts, they saw the Sentinelese bury his body on the beach.

Reflective of the immediate and extreme nature of social media, reports of Chau’s death was hailed as that of a humble martyr carrying the gospel to the unreached nations by some. Others, however, showed little sympathy for the young Westerner who dared attempt to force his culture and religion on an indigenous people.

The impetus to comment ensured that few were willing to exhibit patience enough to allow more news to come to light and think carefully about the meaning of his death.

For Bible-believing Christians, some aspects of his story merit discussion.

Taking the Gospel to Every Tribe and Every People Remains a Biblical Imperative

Reading the accounts of those who made up the very first Baptist Missionary Society in history—the very men who initiated the modern missions movement—who were challenged to “expect great things for God,” and to “attempt great things for God,” I am often struck by their willingness to forsake all for the sake of the gospel. I am moved with gratitude for those who left home and hearth for the sake of the heathen. Their intentions were not selfish. In fact, whenever I lecture on the Serampore Trio or those holding the rope at home, I remark of their repeated emphasis on their calling to share biblical Christianity, not British Christianity.

Make no mistake, non-believers have accused Chau of colonialist intentions and have vilified him for even attempting to introduce the people of North Sentinel to biblical Christianity. But Christians must, at the very least, take note of his willingness to count the cost and determine that the proclamation of the gospel was worth his very life.

Chau’s concern was clear. He may have had a history of thrill-seeking and adventure, but his diary revealed a heart shaped by the love of God: “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?”

“This is not a pointless thing—the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelations [sic] 7:9–10 states.”
John Allen Chau in a letter to his parents

Extreme Measures are Necessary

There are a number of Christians who echo Rod Dreher’s thoughts concerning Chau—“even though I share his faith, Chau had no business going to those people. It gives me no pleasure to say this, but I believe it.” It strikes me that virtually all of them do so from the comfort of their office or home; few do so from the mission field.

We might all be better-served by allowing Chau’s willingness to die for the sake of the gospel to challenge us—what are we willing to risk that others may hear the eternity-changing hope of Jesus Christ? When faced with criticism concerning his methods of reaching people with the gospel, the great evangelist D. L. Moody once quipped, “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” No doubt, many of those criticizing Chau prefer their way of not proclaiming the gospel to his way of doing it.

Some have averred that Chau’s motivation is inspiring, but his methods were flawed—at first it was observed that he did not seem to have been partnered with a missions organization. That information was incorrect in that he was commissioned by All Nations after having “studied, planned and trained rigorously since college to share the gospel with the North Sentinelese people.” Nevertheless, he was facing a significant language barrier. The language barrier that some believe to have been insurmountable is, in many ways, reminiscent of another age of missions when every language barrier appeared impossible to overcome.

Perhaps Chau was naive enough to believe that if he merely “hollered” the name of Jesus loud enough, the Sentinelese would bow the knee in faith. Perhaps it was his hope that, like in Acts 2, the Lord would ensure that they heard the message in their own language. Perhaps his was a story of youthful exuberance lacking wisdom. But have we forgotten those who settled among unreached peoples who spoke unknown languages and learned their language over time, enabling them to share with them the hope of Jesus Christ?

Is this the norm?
Certainly not.
But unreached peoples are generally unreached for good reason.

A Lesson from a Modern Martyr

However we feel about the methods used by Chau, may each of us be challenged by his willingness to go to the ends of the earth for the sake of the gospel. May we remember that the Great Commission is still our commission. We are commanded to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations (τὰ ἔθνη), baptizing them in the name of the the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded [us]” (Matt 28:19–20).

Likewise, in Acts, Jesus promised the disciples that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” but then he added, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). I’m often struck by the manner we interpret this particular verse. Many of us read Jesus’s promise of the Holy Spirit and our faith in Jesus gives us assurance of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. The substance of Jesus’s promise is clear: the Holy Spirit.

All too often, however, we miss the other promise found in the verse.

Jesus’s statement that the disciples will be his witnesses even to the ends of the earth is his promise to those who have not heard of the name and work of Jesus Christ. He is promising that the Good News is on its way. And his disciples—those in the book of Acts and those in our churches today—are the substance of that promise to the ends of the earth.

Perhaps the lesson we need to learn most from John Allen Chau—the modern martyr—is the reminder that there are still those who have not heard and it’s time for us to get back to work.

Update: Corrected information about Chau’s missions sending agency. See here for more information. HT: Regan King.

Observations on Samuel Pearce’s Tract for the Lascars

The post is a follow-up to my post of Samuel Pearce’s Tract for the Lascars. In that post, I offered a brief history of Pearce’s life and quoted a tract written for the Lascars—a predominantly-Muslim class of sailors from India. In this post, I would like to make a few observations—two positive and two more critical.

Pearce was Passionate about Extending the Gospel Offer to the Lost.

Pearce’s heart was touched by the plight of the Lascars. Not only were these men far from home and in a foreign land, but more importantly, they were ignorant of the love of Jesus Christ. Pearce expressed that the Lascars were not invisible to him, but that they were in his thoughts; their situation brought him to tears and put him on his knees in prayer. There is no hesitation in Pearce’s offering of the gospel to the Lacars, many (if not most) of whom were Muslim. The Lascars were of a different skin tone and worldview than Pearce . . . and they were in England. Pearce did not need to go to them, they had come to him! Pearce believed that these were men whom Christ loved; Pearce believed that these were men for whom Christ died. As such, they were men whom Pearce loved and men with whom Pearce was obligated to share the gospel.

There is a subtle missiological point to be identified here. The love of Christ for the Lascars is that which incited such love in the heart of Pearce—that he believed Christ died for them (an unlimited provision of the atonement), inspired Pearce’s obligation to offer the hope of the gospel.

Let that sit and stew for a bit, Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike. His theology drove his practice. And just as importantly, his practice shed light on his theology.

After giving it some thought, I wonder at times if we do not take the opposite approach. There is a tendency in the human heart to limit the love of God to those we find acceptable—to those we deem worthy of love. Those who dismiss the practice of sharing the gospel with those one does not know necessarily, but rather contend that believers should share the gospel only in the context of a relationship reverse Pearce’s pattern, albeit unknowingly. We may preach of God’s love for all people, but if we only offer Christ to those with whom we’ve built relationships, perhaps our practice speaks of a different gospel.

Imagine the difference it would make in our own day and our own culture if every believer cared for the lost in the same manner as Pearce. Imagine the difference it might make if every time we laid eyes on another human being, we saw them as objects of God’s affection and those with whom we are obligated to share the gospel.

Pearce Spoke and Thought Biblically.

Notice how replete the tract is with biblical passages and allusions. Pearce is so immersed in Scripture that it flows from his pen as naturally as his own thought. Yet this is no mere repetition of verses from memory. Pearce may begin with a prayer “to the great Allah,” but he moves forward to explain the truth of Jesus Christ. He speaks of the Incarnation of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and the suffering and sacrifice of Christ.

Imagine the difference it would make in our own day and culture if we were so immersed in Scripture that God’s Word pours forth from our mouths and our pens (keyboards?) regularly, and not only when we are sitting in Sunday School. Imagine how our evangelistic efforts would be affected if, rather than sharing four spiritual laws or a series of verses from memory believers were so saturated in God’s Word that they could share the hope of Christ without being dependent upon an Evangelistic campaign or program.

However, the Tract is Void of Any Reference to the Resurrection and Reign of Christ.

This stands out as one of the few negative observations I discovered when reading the tract. As previously mentioned, he speaks of the Incarnation of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and the suffering and sacrifice of Christ, but nowhere does Pearce establish Christ as having been risen, and nowhere does Pearce present Christ as reigning as the King of Creation. This is not a harmless oversight on Pearce’s part. I do not believe he had any malicious intent in this omission, but the resurrection and reign of Christ are not minor components of a dry doctrine. They are, rather, the very source and substance of our hope!

Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 5:17). The resurrection of Christ and his present reign give substance and meaning to his death and burial. He has conquered sin! He has defeated death! He was not crushed under the weight of the sins of humanity, but bore the penalty of sin, suffered death on our behalf, and yet lives. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. This matters. This matters in every context wherein we share the gospel. And it is a shame that Pearce’s otherwise exemplary tract neglects these emphases.

We Must Be Very Cautious in Adopting Any Use of the Name of Allah.

He writes that many “pray to the great Allah for you.” While some modern missiologists are comfortable invoking the name of Allah in the same way that we would use the term, “god” when not necessarily referring to “God,” others have made the point that doing so enables the hearer to import his own thoughts and conceptions of Allah into the discussion. Pearce does not linger on any thought of Allah, but rather moves directly to the discussion of the person of Christ Jesus. But does his introduction imply that he worships the same God as the Lascars, but with a different view of Jesus?

Allah is not the same as the God the Father. Their natures are entirely different. The manner in which the two are described are entirely different. Their characters are entirely different. Pearce did not worship Allah any more than the Lascars already worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his attempt to contextualize his gospel message, he opened the door for misunderstanding.

As believers seek to offer the hope of eternal life, we must strive for clarity concerning the character and nature of God. We must work to dispel any false notion or understanding of who Jesus is. The gospel we offer is inclusive in that Jesus Christ has given himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:6), but it is exclusive in that no one comes to the Father, except by the Son (John 14:6).

Samuel Pearce is an admirable figure from one of the brightest eras in our Baptist heritage. His passion for the lost, his zeal for the gospel, his saturation with the Word of God are all to be commended to modern believers. And yet, as this tract attests, his model was not without flaw.

This is the great lesson of history—even our heroes were flawed and in need of grace. Learning that lesson and implementing it into our lives will help each of us become better at reading and appreciating history, but perhaps more importantly, it will help us grow in patience and kindness toward one another.

Samuel Pearce’s Tract for the Lascars

Samuel Pearce participated alongside men such as Andrew Fuller, William Carey, and John Sutcliff in the inception of the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS), which launched the modern missions movement. Pearce’s passion for and commitment to missions established him as a gifted spokesman and fundraiser for the cause. Carey was the first to go, but Pearce’s desire was to join him in India. It was his giftedness at raising funds that prompted the BMS to restrain him from going. Andrew Fuller, the Secretary of the group, was suffering an illness that paralyzed a part of his face, and they feared that Pearce may be required to succeed Fuller in his role.

Pearce’s longing for the mission-field—to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard—never relented. So he poured himself into the effort to promote the cause at home while also searching out those in need of hearing the Gospel.

He became burdened for the Lascars—Indian sailors who had been employed on European ships since the sixteenth century who were treated little-better than slaves. His biographer writes, “to others they were nothings, but to Pearce they were brother-men for whom Christ died” (190). So Pearce wrote a tract in the hopes of “lead[ing] them out of the poor cold twilight of Mohammed into the sunshine of the face of Jesus Christ” (190). He wrote the tract in English, and his friend William Carey—the missionary to India and gifted linguist—translated it into the Lascar language.

The tract is quoted here as abridged in the book. In an upcoming post, I will offer several of my observations regarding Pearce’s tract. But first, read the tract and comment below.

What stands out to you?


You are far from home, and in a country of strangers! Most of the Europeans whom you have been wont to observe have perhaps exhibited a desire for nothing but gain or honour or personal indulgence; but you know not all; in this strange land there are many who think of you, weep over you, and pray to the great Allah for you. . . . Hear, then, the heavenly message. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” This great Gift of God to us and for us is Jesus Christ. You, perhaps, have been taught that this Jesus was only a prophet, like Moses, and could do no more for you; but you have been misled. The Jewish prophets plainly foretold that He was to be a Divine Saviour. . . . This blessed Saviour, for the great love He bore to us from before the foundation of the world, at length clothed Himself in our nature, and became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. . . . When He grew up to manhood, because He preached so faithfully against men’s wicked practices, they continually watched him to find some evil, of which they might accuse Him; yet they could find none. Twice did the Holy Father give notice of His dignity by proclaiming from heaven, “This is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him.” In His own omnipotent goodness He raised men to life from death and the grave, and daily employed Himself in healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people, without a single failure. . . . But the remission of our sins cost Him most grievous sufferings; for nothing less than His precious Blood was sufficient for our Redemption. Yet so much was His heart set upon our salvation, that he was content to undergo the severest torments, and to die the most shameful and cruel death, rather than we should be lost. This, Lascars, is the blessed News! These are the glad tidings of great joy which must be preached to all people, and which the God of Heaven now sends to you.

Jesus shed His blood for Jews, and there were thousands of the posterity of Abraham, who believed in His Name, and loved Him till they died. Jesus died for Gentiles also. He died for us, and since we knew His love, our hearts have been drawn to love Him in return. Jesus died for Lascars! Jesus suffered tortures for Lascars!

O Lascars, have you no love for Jesus? Long indeed you have been ignorant of our Saviour; but now God has made sailors of you, and sent you to England, that you might no longer be unacquainted with Jesus. Oh, how great the privilege that you hear His blessed Name, and are taught His great salvation! Lascars! receive into your hearts this Word of Life: give thanks to God that you are not suffered to perish for want of a Saviour. Put your trust in the Almighty Jesus, and yield yourselves to Him as living sacrifices: then shall you have the witness in yourselves that He is the Son of God; for you will find such peace, such joy, such delight in God, such desires after purity, such love to our Saviour, and to all who love Him too, of every country and of every colour, as will assure your hearts more strongly than all the force of argument that the religion of Jesus came from heaven, and that it leads thither every soul who sincerely embraces it.