"What is the ultimate goal and motivation for cross-cultural missions, the salvation of as many humans as possible or the glory of God?"

“Both Reformed folks and Arminians can agree that the salvation of people cannot be God’s highest priority. Otherwise, he would save everyone. So it would seem that it can’t be our highest motive for missions, either. ” -Michael McKinley (9 Marks Blog)

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JohnBrian's picture

McKinley links to a post by Coleman where Coleman writes

The big question is this: What is the ultimate goal and motivation for missions? I have in mind here especially cross-cultural missions, or international missions.

For those who have read Piper’s Let the Nations be Glad, you know that he says it’s worship. I think he makes a strong argument, but I want to limit us to two different options here:

1. The salvation of as many humans as possible

2. The glory of God

I affirm option 2 - the glory of God - because according to Romans 3:23 it is God's glory we have fallen short of.

The problem for me with option 1 hinges on the way God's foreknowledge in Romans 8:29 is understood. If it means that God has knowledge of the choices individuals will make and predestines individuals on that basis (which I believe is the incorrect view), I am left to wonder why God did not return hundreds of years ago, or even a hundred years ago.

In the past hundred years thousands upon thousands have been born, lived, and died rejecting Christ. If saving as many as possible was His ultimate goal, and he knew from the foundation of the world that countless thousands in the 20th century would reject Him, why would He delay His return. Had He come at the end of the 19th century, for example, there would be thousands less in hell, than if He returned today. The longer He delays His return, the greater percentage of humanity ends up in hell. That is enough reason for me to reject option 1.

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mounty's picture

I heard a great sermon on this eight years ago (and for one message to stick in my head eight years later to the point where I can still hear the speaker delivering it means it was a pretty key message) at the Mid-America Conference on Preaching at DBTS in 2002. If my CD label is correct, it was entitled "The Supremacy of God in Salvation" and was preached by Mike Harding. Don't know what the Detroit guys would say about reposting it but they're fine with it (PM me) I can rip it and put it somewhere. The basic gist, though (and I'm working on memory), was affirming option 2, with a footnote that the highest form of giving glory to God was accepting Christ as savior. (Mike, I know you lurk around here, so if I've got it wrong, please correct me!)

Alex Guggenheim's picture

While John Calvin, through his many contributions, provided many insights sadly he also is the father of a movement that today is so obsessed with itself and so inoculated from good sense at times that statements like the one quoted are not only read without shock or dismay but commonly accepted as sensible. And maybe equally offensive is the immature treatment of the agents as if there are only two relevant schools of theology on the matter, Calvinism and Arminianism and besides this both are grossly misrepresented in order to conveniently further some allegedly related assertion.

The pseudo-dilemma created by McKinnley is just that, a made up one. His statement:

Both Reformed folks and Arminians can agree that the salvation of people cannot be God's highest priority. Otherwise, he would save everyone.
Is a rather arrogant presumption on his part that because not all people are saved God somehow God is responsible for their choices, hence he, God, obviously is less interested in their salvation than his personal glory. How utterly foolish and devoid of serious reflection.

He is attempting to part what is impartial. God's glory is never divorced from the salvation of man and man's salvation is never divorced from God's glory. There is no war of supremacy between the saving of a soul and God's glory. Just as there is no separation between God's glory and the discipling of a saved soul or any divine work and God's glory. It is whatever context God calls for with respect to his work.

This treatment of God's glory wrestling for supremacy work of God is the by-product a very disastrous recipe.