Does Calvinism Lead to Anti-Mission Sentiments?

No.  In a word.  No.  But there are more words supporting the no here.

The accusation that Calvinism leads to antimission sentiments has sometimes been leveled, but as Michael Horton shows in his recent book For Calvin, nothing could be further from the truth. Horton observes, in the section titled “Calvinism and Christian Missions” (p. 151), that, in fact, Calvinism has been and remains one of the most important sources of Christian missionaries, with no less than Thomas Mayhew, David Brainerd, David Livingstone, Robert Morrison, and Jonathan Goforth stemming from Reformed churches and practicing Reformed theology. Quoting Horton—

With growing interest in Calvinism in Southern Baptist circles, some leaders have expressed alarm that it will dampen the denomination’s enthusiasm for evangelism and missions . . . . [But] the Southern Baptist Convention sponsors “about 5000 home missionaries” and “more than 5000 foreign missionaries.” For a denomination of sixteen million, this comes to approximately “0.000625 missionaries per capita.”

By contrast, the 310,000 member Presbyterian Church in America has “about 600 foreign missionaries.” That is 0.001935 foreign missionaries per capita, commissioned and supported by the PCA. Thus, the PCA supports three times as many foreign missionaries per capita as the SBC supports foreign and domestic missions combined (p. 162).

And the PCA gives twice as much per dollar to international missions as the SBC does (p. 162).

Enjoy the rest- that’s just the beginning.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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3 Responses to Does Calvinism Lead to Anti-Mission Sentiments?

  1. Acidri says:

    Good point.


  2. I lived in the “most Reformed” city in the world, Holland, Michigan, just by the western shores of beautiful lake Michigan. Literally, in its downtown area and the so called “historic district” there is one reformed church in each corner, Reformed Church of America church, or Christian Reformed Church church. Many of my friends, ministers and members of both denominations were and are very good friends of mine, and that includes a world known Calvinist theologian. I have never seen a people more interested in missions and the spreading of the Gospel! What the S.B.C. means, perhaps, is that the preaching of the Gospel is not “it” unless is followed by three verses of Just as I am being hummed by a 1000 voices choir in a big stadium (where only the already Christians go forward to get to see the big celebrity preacher, but are counted as “converting sinners”), and accompanied by what they call a “sinner’s prayer” (as if there is any other kind of prayer). I guess, apart from these two elements, the S.B.C. does not consider any missionary work completed and the Reformed Churches I know believe that God brings the sinner to Salvation as they hear the Word of God exposed. As such I do not believe that the S.B.C. and the Reformed Churches have the idea of missions. This makes their claim that Calvinism somehow dampens the missionary fire bogus because it is merely based in their un-biblical definition of missions!


  3. Sorry, I meant: As such I do not believe that the S.B.C. and the Reformed Churches have the SAME idea of missions.


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