June 2010

Centenary of World Missions Conference of 1910

At the closing session,  June 6th, the delegates at Edinburgh issued a renewed committment to the world missionary task of the Church of Jesus Christ of this generation.  In contrast to the Conference of 1910, the delegates represented a much greater and diverse presence of the nations and peoples of the world.

And yet, never was the Christian faith more on display as the same “ancient-future” faith established by Jesus Christ for the whole world as at the 2010 Missionary Conference. It serves as a statement to anyone in doubt, that the missionary calling is at the very heart of the Biblical faith.

One of my favorite resources of how this developed in the 20th century, following the first conference in 1910, is a book written by Hendrik Kraemer in 1938,” The Christian Message in a non-Christian world”. It was written at the request of the International Missionary Council in order to serve as material for the World Missionary Conference in 1938. For that Conference the general plan was for five main themes and this book was to address the second one:”The Witness of the Church”.

Here is a quote for Dr.Kraemer in the chapter entitled, “The Non-Christian systems of Life and Thought”,p.145.

“The search for supreme religious experience is utterly foreign to Biblical realism , because the emphasis falls exclusively on what God does and reveals, and the correlate religious experience is secondary in the strongest  sense possible. Far from being necessarily “supreme”, we can learn from the great prophets that they seldom experience God’s revealing activity as a blissful immanence of the divine, never as the supreme moment of deification, but often as a being overpowered by God’s imperative claim on the whole of life”.

After all the interuptions, including World War II, the Korean War, and the War in Viet Nam, the Church of Jesus Christ has continued to grow and expand among the peoples of the earth. It is very refreshing and quite illuminating to see how we have come through all the challenges with a resolve stronger than ever to take the witness to what God has done in Christ to the non-Christian world.

 I encourage you to read and download the “Common Call” pdf.

The Old  Zion Red Church- Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania

On our drive to New York city last week for Navy Fleet week, we finally took a short side trip that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. We went by to see where my first generation maternal ancestor lived and began his family after arriving on board the ship at Philadelphia. The record of his wedding as well as the births of his first three children were recorded in the ministerial records of this church in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, before the Revolutionary War.

The Red Church is in the Blue Mountains and has had four buildings. The first one in the early 1700’s, the present one which was built in 1887. Over the door is a marker identifying it as Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed. Lorentz Jung only lived here seven or eight years after his marriage before heading south into Virginia where he changed his name to Lawrence Young.

I couldn’t help but get a little emotional as I poured out a grateful heart for such a rich spiritual heritage from the first generation in America. But I realize that such a spirtual pedigree does not guarantee us an inheritance apart from a living faith in the Christ of the Scriptures. Like Esau of old, we can squander our inheritance, exchange it for a bowl of fleshly pottage.

Grandparents Henry and Jesse Young (1906)

I was reminded again in New York city in reference to the Marble Collegiate Church of the Dutch Reformed tradition and Trinity Episcopal Church, both which predate the American Revolution, that the witness of the Gospel of Christ has been present in every generation of Americans. It has been the “open secret” that was either ignored or embraced as God’s testimony of redeeming love.

We came home from New York city impressed with the extent that the city embraced the men and women of the armed services during Fleet week. And we came home with a renewed testimony that the churches of the new century continuing to faithfully live out the faith of our Fathers. Our only question is to what degree are multitudes in America squandering their spiritual inheritance?

See my post last year on “A Night to Remember” .