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No country off limits for missions, Mohler says on Fox radio show


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Because of the Great Commission, Christians have no right to declare any area of the world as “off limits” to missions because it is dominated by another religion, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said on a Fox radio news program.

Mohler discussed missions and evangelism on “Fox News Live” with Alan Colmes two days after the March 15 slayings of four Southern Baptist aid workers in Iraq.

Although Iraq is a country dominated by Islam, that does not rule it out for missions and evangelism, Mohler said, because the Gospel is to be proclaimed universally to the lost.

“It [evangelizing Iraq] is a very difficult challenge,” Mohler acknowledged. “And by the same token, we have no right as Christians to write off any part of the world. So, it’s not just Iraq, but literally every spot on planet earth where Christians are responsible to take the Gospel.”

While Iraq likely will remain a Muslim-dominated society, Mohler said it does not matter whether a country is considered a “Muslim country,” a “Christian country” or a country heavily populated by adherents to some other religion; Christians have a Great Commission from Christ they must fulfill.

“I don’t think the country matters,” Mohler said. “I think it is individuals [who are important]. I believe eternity is hanging in the balance as to whether persons know Jesus Christ or not. I have to deal with persons, not with nations.”

Charles Kimball, chairman of the department of religion at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, appeared on the show with Mohler, arguing against what he called “proselytizing” in Iraq.

Kimball said that while it is “inherent in the Christian tradition” to be engaged in Gospel proclamation and witness, he said he does not believe Christians have the exclusive message of salvation.

“My experience of God has come primarily mediated through my experience as a Christian,” Kimball said. “But a large part of my family is Jewish and I am quite sure that my experience of God does not exhaust all the possibilities.

“I believe that God is the God of all creation and that God’s ways far exceed my ways and my experience. In fact, I write quite extensively in my book, ‘When Religion Becomes Evil,’ that indeed there are many paths and we would do well to be the best Christians, the best Jews, the best Muslims.”

Kimball said American Christians must be cautious in their evangelism efforts in Iraq because such efforts to “proselytize” might be taken as American imperialism by the Iraqi people.

Mohler pointed out that Christian missionaries have never sought to convert unbelievers through coercive means but have attempted to meet both their immediate and eternal needs. The four IMB workers were helping with a water project near Mosul, Iraq, when they were killed by unknown gunmen.

“I would disagree with the use of the word ‘proselytizing’ here, in this one sense,” Mohler said. “… Since it’s not just a matter of manipulating persons to convert. It is a matter of sharing, from the heart, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and simply trusting those who hear it to respond. If they do not respond, then that’s their own free choice.

“Right now, the Iraqi people are in desperate need of help, and I find it ludicrous to suggest that westerners should not be there; that would be to abandon these people in their time of great need.

“We have no right to be offensive as Christians,” Mohler continued. “We should be winsome and should develop relationships and should minister in Christ’s name just like these folks were doing in terms of working on a water project. Yes, there will be opportunities in conversation [about the Gospel]. Of course, being duplicitous or in any way dishonest is to violate biblical commands.”

That some oppose Christian missions work in countries such as Iraq and do not believe that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone underscores the divide between evangelicals and non-evangelicals, Mohler said.

“What we have here is a distinction between evangelicals and those who are not evangelicals,” Mohler said. “I believe, and other evangelicals believe, that eternity is hanging in the balance, that the only way to salvation is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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