The Church’S Mission: Let The Laity Do It
Chosen and Sent: Calling the Church to Mission, by Theodore Eastman (Eerdmans, 1971, 143 pp., $2.95), and Laity Mobilized: Reflections on Church Growth in Japan and Other Lands, by Neil Braun (Eerdmans, 1971, 224 pp., $3.95), are reviewed by John E. Wagner, attorney, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Here are two books written from entirely different theological perspectives that yet say some very similar things about the plight of the institutional church and its mission in our time. And the two authors prescribe in broad outline similar remedies.
Theodore Eastman, a pastor and former executive secretary of the Episcopal Overseas Mission Society, analyses what he sees as the two paramount defects in the life and mission of the modern Church—inadequate motivation and insufficient flexibility. Although he uses the farewell discourses in John’s Gospel as the text for his critique, as in so much current preaching the Scripture appears to serve as a mere garnishment rather than an authoritative framework.
Evangelism, to Eastman, does not mean “rechurching lapsed or migrant Christians” or “gathering converts as an ardent hobbyist collects coins.” Rather, the Church’s call is to participate, through Jesus Christ, in God’s continuing action of making the creation whole. The manner of fulfilling this mission in our time is to be that of the foot-washing servant our Lord portrayed in John 13.
The Church as a community of slaves is intended to be an agent of revolution—the revolution of change for the better. This essential part of the continuation of creation is one in which God and man cooperate. To carry this out, man needs the co-efficient of love-obedience, and this is bestowed by the Holy Spirit.
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