Hendrik Kraemer, now dead, spent almost two decades as a missionary and translator in Indonesia and later was professor of the history of religions at the University of Leiden in Holland. His book entitled The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, from which this essay is taken, was published for the International Missionary Council by Harper & Brothers in 1938. In that same year it formed the basis for discussions at the Madras meeting of the International Missionary Council, which has since then become a department of the World Council of Churches. Kraemer’s view of the Church’s mission needs to be heard again for two reasons: first, this conception of mission has been abandoned by the ecumenical movement in its quest for secularization and its desire to let the world determine the Church’s agenda; second, it is essentially a biblical viewpoint, one that, though it is denied by many contemporary churchmen, is faithful to revealed truth. If the Church were to heed what Kraemer has said, it would find itself pointed in the right direction.—ED.
The Church is, as F. R. Barry says in The Relevance of the Church, not a voluntary society but God’s act through Jesus Christ, called into being by His redemptive purpose. Thus, just as Christianity is a theocentric religion, the Church is a theocentric community. Our modern habit of viewing the Church as being essentially an association of religiously like-minded people is by its anthropocentric tendency a disavowal of this theocentric nature of the Church. This, it must again be stressed, is not a theoretical distinction that does not matter very much in practice, but it is a matter of life or death for the Christian Church.…
… The Church is, according to the New Testament, the ...1
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