Monday 30 January 2012

D.A. Carson on the Church in Great Britain

Many will know of the furore a few weeks back kicked off by some comments by Mark Driscoll (here) about the state of the church in Great Britain.

I read some of the responses to Driscoll (including those by a number of my friends) with interest, but (for the most part) kept myself out of the discussion. Truth be known, I confess I found some of the responses quite ‘knee jerk’ in their nature. But I realise it’s sometimes difficult to balance the double-sided wisdom of when and how to respond (cf. Proverbs 26:4-5).

Now that I am referring to it, I would like to say I personally found Eddie Arthur’s post (here) to be wonderfully sane and helpful, reframing the debate through cultural assumptions.

Anyway, all of this is to say that D.A. Carson has now written a set of ‘Reflections on the Church in Great Britain’. As might be expected, these are heavily freighted towards the Reformed and conservative end of the spectrum in terms of what’s going on in the country (and I fully anticipate he will be blasted and lampooned for that), but I particularly enjoyed reading his fifth and final reflection:

‘We must not equate courage with success, or even youth with success. We must avoid ever leaving the impression that these equations are valid. I have spent too much time in places like Japan, or in parts of the Muslim world, where courage is not measured on the world stage, where a single convert is reckoned a mighty trophy of grace... I find no ground for concluding that the missionaries in Japan in the 20th century were less godly, less courageous, less faithful, than the missionaries in (what became) South Korea, with its congregations of tens of thousands. At the final Great Assize, God will take into account not only all that was and is, but also what might have been under different circumstances (Matt 11:20ff). Just as the widow who gave her mite may be reckoned to have given more than many multi-millionaires, so, I suspect, some ministers in Japan, or Yorkshire, will receive greater praise on that last day than those who served faithfully in a corner of the world where there was more fruit. Moreover, the measure of faithful service is sometimes explicitly tied in Scripture not to the quantity of fruit, measured in numbers, but to such virtues as self-control, measured by the use of one’s tongue (James 3:1-6).’

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