What Missionaries Ought to Know about Confrontation

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What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

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Suppose Don, the Bible professor at the African seminary, returned to his host country from his year of home ministry assignment with some new ideas. In addition to visiting supporters and raising funds, he had taken some graduate level Bible courses to broaden his perspective.

His former seminary students, about to graduate, immediately noticed that he had changed in some very basic ways. Rather than talking about humanity’s need of salvation from sin, he emphasized that God is a god of love. He pointed out that 2 Peter 3:9 states that God is not willing that anyone should perish but wants everyone to repent. Since it is God’s will that everyone repent, the students did not need to preach repentance because it would happen without them.

Instead, they needed to emphasize that human beings are to rule over the earth and care for it, as Adam did in the early chapters of Genesis. He suggested that they organize their future congregations to pick up trash along roads and paths as well as other such things to care for the earth.

At first his students were quite confused, but soon some of them agreed and began to pick up trash themselves. Other missionaries felt quite uneasy about this, and several urged the field director to confront the professor. However, the field director was a math major in college and had taught at the international school for years. He did not feel qualified to challenge a theologian when it came to the Bible. What should be done in such a case?

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