There are some people who do not understand Calvinism. A recent Baptist Press article illustrates the confusion. In the article, Jerry Drace, an evangelist from Humboldt, Tenn., was quoted lamenting the rise of Calvinism in the SBC. The article quotes:
Drace told the group he currently is working with some young pastors who are “so leaning in this morphed Calvinism that they almost laugh at evangelism. It’s almost to the extent that they believe they don’t have to do it. So [Calvinism] gives them an excuse not to do evangelism.”
Things like this frustrate me to no end. I don’t think it is an intentional misrepresentation, but it is a misrepresentation nonetheless.
The modern missionary movement was started by William Carey. Carey was one of the founding members of the Particular Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen. Many people will find this next fact shocking…wait for it—Carey and his supporters (the Particular Baptist Society…) were Calvinists. And, yes, they believed in missions.
Carey and his supporters believed that doing missions was commanded by God. Carey became a missionary out of obedience to his Lord’s Great Commission. Carey was worship driven, not people driven.
Many people today think of missions in terms of the people, but we are to engage in missions work because God commanded us to do so. We are not to have people as our primary motivation. Certainly people are important in missions, but God is the most important “Person” when it comes to our missions endeavors. It is of the utmost importance to get the order of things right.
Primarily, we are to do missions because God commands us to do so.
Secondarily, we are to do missions because there are lost people on their way to hell who need to hear the gospel.
Unfortunately, when this order is inverted, people become the goal of our missions work when God must be the goal of our missions endeavors. It is idolatrous to invert our priorities in missions—for to make man the object of our efforts is, essentially, to worship man.
When missions is done for the right reasons—to honor, glorify, and worship God—the missionary, even in the face of crushing opposition, will continue in his or her efforts. Why? Because they are in missions to worship God, not man.