Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen's Inquiry after One Hundred Years

By William Ernest Hocking; Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry. Commission of Appraisal | Go to book overview

SUMMARY OF PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS

An effort has been made, in the paragraphs below, to gather together in a summary of succinct statements the principal conclusions of the Commission. These statements are designed to emphasize issues, which although amplified fully in the body of the Report, appear to the Commissioners to be of such basic importance as to call for presentation in the sharp relief of brevity and detachment. It is to be borne in mind that the conclusions here presented confine themselves, in so far as they are findings and recommendations, to the seven Protestant societies whose program in the Orient was studied by the Commission.

I. The continuance of missions. To any man or church, possessed of religious certainty, the mission in some form is a matter not of choice but of obligation. If there is any truth or value in religion at all, it is for all men. To ask whether missions in essence should any longer go on is like asking whether good will should continue or cease to express itself.

But the essential rightness of the mission idea will not save actual missions from decline or extinction unless in spirit and deed they worthily present that idea. There is real danger lest adherence to aims and methods which impede the communication of living insight may not alone thwart the success of Christian missions, but end their usefulness.

II. Their aim. The message of Christianity presents a way of life and thinking which the Christian conceives, not as his way alone, but as a way for all men, entering without violence the texture of their living and transforming it from within. The goal to which this way leads may be variously described; most perfectly, perhaps, in the single phrase, Thy Kingdom

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