Monotheism and Mission
On Monday I posted a quote from John Dickson on Christological monotheism, the declaration that God rules the world by his Messiah Jesus. Today I’d like to follow that up by demonstrating the essential link between the confession that there’s only one true and living God (monotheism) and the essential Christian commitment to proclaiming his name among all peoples (mission). First, let’s listen to John Stott:
Monotheism remains the essential basis for mission. The supreme reason why God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the [same] truth” is that “there is one God and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” (1 Tim. 2:4-6). The logic of this passage rests on the relation between “all men” and “one God”. Our warrant for seeking the allegiance of all men is that there is only “one God”, and only “one mediator” between him and them. Without the unity of God and the uniqueness of Christ there could be no Christian mission. (John Stott, Our Guilty Silence, 23)
Few texts in Scripture make this connection so clearly as Psalm 96:
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
John Dickson drives this point home:
Here [Psalm 96] we arrive at the fundamental equation of mission, the driving force behind all our efforts to bring the news of the one true Lord to our friends and neighbours: If there is one Lord to whom all people belong and owe their allegiance, the people of that Lord must promote this reality everywhere. Monotheism and mission are intimately related. The existence of just one God makes our mission to the many essential. (John Dickson, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, 31)