Two Quotes. Of Early Christian Missions.

A few lines from J. Gresham Machen’s 1933 radio address titled “A Christian View of Missions”:

If Christianity ever settles down to be the religion merely of one nation or of one group of nations, it will have become entirely untrue to the tradition which was established for it at the beginning.

One thing is perfectly clear—no missionary work that consists merely in presenting to the people in foreign lands a thing that has proved to be mildly valuable in the experience of the missionary himself, which he thinks may perhaps prove helpful in foreign lands in building up a better life upon this earth, can possibly be regarded as real Christian missions. At the very heart of the real Christian missionary message is the conviction that every individual hearer to whom the missionary goes is in deadly peril, and that unless the message is heeded he is without hope in this world and in the dreadful world that is to come.


Two Clarifications. Of Christianity.

1. The whole Christian mind is comprehended in the thought of humiliation. All thoughts not defined and contained by it are anti-Christian, vaunting themselves against the Holy One, forsaking the appropriate fear and trembling before him—the fear and trembling that serves to steady us, through a kind of counterpoint, against the convulsions of this world’s dying kingdoms. If Mary had taken credit for the virgin birth in the way that so many “Christians” boast about the great ideas they have brought forth, would she not have been the most wretched among women!

2. Every step of the Christian walk is in repentance. Walking in repentance—which is a vast territory, not contained in any place, neither on this mountain nor on that—one will never leave the Way no matter where one’s steps fall. But advancing beyond repentance—which is also a narrow road that demands earnestness and attention in the midst of a wide world that is all flippancy and distraction—one’s way has become a new lawlessness, a path through nettle and prickers that, because of numbing presumptuousness, cannot be felt until they have drawn and drained every last drop of blood.

The Offensive and Dangerous Gospel

You and I have each said, “I cannot proclaim the gospel because I will push these others away,” or “because it will put me in danger.” When we say this, we excuse ourselves. We excuse ourselves from that unprecedented word which makes us either hot or cold, and which knows no category for the lukewarm. We excuse ourselves from that blessed passion which rests in the promise of receiving back what was offered up. We excuse ourselves from that earnest longing which, against all sensible expectations, gazes at the impossible without sighing. We excuse ourselves from that committed, ever-sacrificing choice which has never once been afraid of causing offense, never once been afraid of being injured.