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Winter 2005, Vol. 2, No. 1

The Dilemma Over the Apostolic Nature of Mission in Modern Missions1

Gary B McGee , Ph.D.
Professor of Church History and Pentecostal Studies
at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

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When the fathers of the ancient church expanded the Nicene Creed to read that they believed in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church,” they could not have imagined the controversies that would swirl around those four attributes for centuries to come.2 When applied to the church’s mission in the world, “apostolic” has been used to refer to the faith and actions of the apostles, patterns of ecclesiastical authority, the church’s missionary task and the means of fulfilling that task, with the latter including the displays of divine power that accompanied the expansion of the church in the Book of Acts and the establishment of “New Testament” (i.e., self-governing, self-propagating and self-supporting) churches. This essay briefly examines the dilemma that arose following the Protestant Reformation about the meaning of the church being apostolic in mission, as well as the solutions offered by selected nineteenth-century radical evangelicals and twentieth-century Pentecostals.

The “Apostolic” Church

As Catholic missions flourished in the Reformation and post-Reformation eras, only Catholic missionaries seriously entertained the possibility of paranormal phenomena occurring. To Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), the “glory of miracles” served two purposes: “First they are necessary for new faith or for extraordinary missionary persuasion. Secondly they are efficacious and sufficient because . . . they cannot be among the adversaries of the true church and [show] that the true church is among us.”3 In an age of Catholic and Protestant polemics, Bellarmine and other Catholic leaders saw such happenings as upholding the integrity of the Catholic faith and demonstrating its apostolic character.

The battle resurfaced in the nineteenth century in a dispute over miracles attributed to the Jesuit José de Anchieta (1534-1597), a pioneer missionary to Brazil. When Protestant writers referred to the “pretended miracles” of Anchieta,4 the British Catholic mission historian Thomas Marshall, shot back, “Who dreams of an Anglican miracle, or a Wesleyan prophet, or a Presbyterian saint?” Contrasting the apostolic endeavors of Catholic missionaries with those of Protestants in India and Burma, he queried, “Who can imagine [Thomas] Middleton [the first Anglican bishop of Calcutta] bidding a stream spring forth in the plains of Bengal?…or [the Baptist Adoniram] Judson transfigured? Or [Bishop Reginald] Heber raising the dead?”5

Appealing to scripture, Marshall pointedly asked what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples—“the first missionaries”—that “Ye shall do greater things than these!” (John 14:12). “When did He who gave that promise recall it, or when did He first begin to send forth apostles without the gifts of apostles?” Addressing the heart of the issue, he demanded: “And what new God is this, who has neither the will nor the power to interfere in human affairs, and who is hopelessly fettered by the ‘laws of nature’ as a plant or an insect?” Could it be that “Protestants [have] agreed to accept the definition of the Creator…current among the Hottentots, who considered Him ‘an excellent man, who dwells far beyond the moon, and does no harm to anyone?”6

Of course, in the nineteenth century when Marshall wrote his history, few could imagine a Catholic missionary performing a miracle either. A later Catholic historian, Joseph Schmidlin, observed that while “striking answers to prayer and evidence of grace” could be found in post-Enlightenment Catholic missions, “they show no clearly demonstrable miracles in the strict sense, at least not of the same number and importance as formerly.”7 Miracles retained a place in Catholic mission spirituality, but other concerns came to the fore.8

The theological combat that commenced in the sixteenth century between Protestants and Catholics had naturally crossed over into the realm of missions. Bellarmine and Marshall understood the continuance of miracles as a mark of the integrity of the Catholic Church. In contrast, Martin Luther and John Calvin had dismissed the possibility of miracles happening after the New Testament period and, by so doing, shaped Protestant views on the miraculous dimension of the faith for centuries to come.9 Seventeenth-century Lutheran and Reformed scholastic theologians perpetuated this outlook. For example, the Basel Reformed theologian Johannes Wollebius found no contemporary need for miracles since they had been  “given for the confirmation of the gospel, and they have passed away now that the gospel has been spread and preached among the nations.”10 Miracles and missions, so characteristic of first-century Christianity, had lost their relevance.11 This explains why William Carey, writing at the close of the eighteenth century, contested the prevailing view “that because the apostles were extraordinary officers and have no proper successors, and because many things which were right for them to do would be unwarrantable for us, therefore [the Great Commission] may not be immediately binding on us…though it was so upon them.”12

Consequently, since Protestant missionaries generally did not anticipate the occurrence of miracles (apart from “acts of special providence”), this facet of the Protestant legacy sometimes left them agonizing over why the “apostolic missions” of the Early Church succeeded better than their own endeavors and in a much shorter time.13 Could they truly be the successors of the “extraordinary” apostles? Had God left them bereft of the advantages of the early Christians?

Apostolic Credibility

No self-respecting minister or missionary in the nineteenth century would have admitted that his or her work was less than apostolic in nature, although some did not hesitate to point out the shortcomings in the methods of others. Presbyterian preacher Edward Irving flabbergasted the delegates at the anniversary conference of the London Missionary Society in 1824 by stating that their missionaries would be more effective if they pursued the pattern of the “apostolical school” of depending on God’s provision for their financial needs instead of relying on human means (Mt. 10:9,10).14 The Congregationalist Rufus Anderson, secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, decried the growing practice of some church organizations that put their missionaries under the authority of “missionary bishops,” whom they considered to be “successors of the apostles.” Referring to 2 Corinthians 12:12, he noted that such officers could not be apostles “since they lack the ‘signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds,’ which St. Paul …declares to be the needful ‘signs of an apostle.’”15 Rather, following the “apostolic example” meant “to plant and multiply self-reliant, efficient churches, composed wholly of native converts, each church complete in itself, with pastors of the same race with the people.”16

Advantages of Apostolic Missions

The discontinuity between first-century and nineteenth-century missions drew considerable attention in mission circles, prompting addresses at conferences, lectureships, articles and books. “In the great work which God has given us to do in this land, that of bringing it from the darkness of heathenism and estrangement from God to the enjoyment of the light which Christ alone can give,” wrote George Rouse, an English Baptist missionary serving in Calcutta, “we cannot help now and again casting our eyes back to the records of the early triumphs of the Gospel.” The result, however, generally prompted “a feeling of sadness, almost, at times, of despondency, because our success seems so much less than that of the Apostles and their contemporaries.”17

Many discussed the advantages that early Christian missionaries possessed. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, was the power of working miracles. “If…we could convince [the Indians] that we come with weighty credentials, as shown by our power to work miracles,” said Rouse, “if they saw the lame walk, or the blind see, or the dumb speak, or the dead made alive…their interest would be excited, their attention aroused, and they would listen to the preacher as to one whose message was indeed from another world.”18 But he lamented, “We have no such power.”19

Second, early Christian evangelism benefited from factors already set in place to encourage acceptance of the gospel and expedite its expansion. Paul’s status as a rabbi opened doors for him to the synagogues in cities he visited. The Roman road system, protected by the Pax Romana, offered a safe means of travel. Furthermore, the prevalence of the Greek language in the empire proved to be a valuable asset.20 Robert Stewart told his United Presbyterian (U.S.A.) colleagues at a conference in Sialkot, India (now in Pakistan), that early Christian missionaries worked under more favorable social conditions. In three lectures entitled “Apostolic and Indian Missions Compared,” he observed that apart from the Jews, “no impassable barrier between tribes and classes, as to association, marriage, eating, and drinking” existed. This gave preachers a boost in the spread of the gospel since “profession of faith in Christ did not then necessarily break the ties of marriage, or family, or community…Persecution there might be…but not persecution and separation of the same character as that we have in India.”21 

A third advantage centered on the superior preparation of the early disciples for ministry. Robert Mathew, a missionary to Muslims, contended that the bestowal of languages on the Day of Pentecost enabled the recipients “to communicate the truth to heathen foreigners in their own idiomatic speech, and with all the forcibleness of those to whom the speech was native.”22 Even more importantly, the “apostles enjoyed a special degree and kind of illumination with regard to the questions involved in the founding of the church which has not been granted since their day,” according to Chalmers Martin, a former missionary to Thailand, in lectures presented at Princeton Theological Seminary on the theme “Apostolic and Modern Missions.”23 Comparing the inspiring accounts of the apostles and their co-workers to the Christians in their own contexts, missionaries generally believed that the early believers stood far in advance of the indigenous workers under their tutelage, who were still too ill-prepared to take the reins of ecclesiastical leadership.24

Advantages of Modern Missions

Despite the perceived advantages of early Christian missionaries, their successors in the nineteenth century frequently exhibited considerable enthusiasm about the apostolic integrity of their own labors assisted by the benefits of modern civilization. Hence, Frederick Trestrail, secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, fluttering above the constraints of logic, confidently told the delegates attending the 1860 Liverpool Missionary Conference: “Divest the Apostles of miraculous power, and the gift of inspiration…and you have the modern missionary, a true successor of the Apostles.”25

In his New Acts of the Apostles, Arthur T. Pierson, a well-known promoter of missions and editor of The Missionary Review of the World, triumphantly declared, “Recent history argues with the resistless logic of events that Pentecostal wonders may be repeated.” In fact, “this modern missionary century has been made both lustrous and illustrious by outpourings of the Spirit, in some respects surpassing any recorded in Apostolic days.”26 Along with others, Pierson reinterpreted the nature of miracles by proposing that the “signs of an earlier age may have given place to the signs of a later age.” Though no less effective than those of the first century, miracles in his day had “passed from a lower to a higher sphere; from the world of nature to the world of spirit.”27 He documented such providential happenings in a four-volume series labeled The Miracles of Missions (1891-1901).

Pierson and many others, such as the Methodist medical missionary Walter Lambuth, applauded the rise of medical missions as a modern application of the “gift of healing” in the ministry of the church. “The special provision of miraculous power for the apostolic age has been succeeded by skilled achievement scarcely less wonderful,” Lambuth told the student volunteers at the third international convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions in 1898. “The highest achievements of modern surgery, which are scarcely less miraculous than the works of healing of the apostolic age, may be justly claimed for Christ and the extension of His kingdom, for they are the products of Christianity—never being found among heathen nations.”28

No one could deny that modern missions also prospered from improved means of transportation, the protection of colonial administrators, the work of Bible translators and the establishment of educational and charitable institutions around the world. Even the worldwide postal system was celebrated: “We have the mighty power of the press and a complete postal system, instead of Paul’s sole resort to manuscript letters sent by personal friends,” wrote the jubilant Frank Ellinwood, corresponding secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (USA).29

Finally, some found comfort in the “decline” of the non-Christian religions, notably Hinduism, Islam and Animism. In The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism, Johannes Warneck, a Rhenish missionary serving in Indonesia, reported that “thousands, nay millions of heathen in the most diverse stages of civilization have renounced idolatry and entered into fellowship with the living God.”30 On the Indian subcontinent, George Rouse claimed that the combined influence of “European morality, civilization, [and] education is enormous” and had begun to cause the power of Hinduism to wane.31 Such grandiose and wishful assessments may have brought comfort to missionaries and the faithful at the home base who supported missions with their finances, but the emerging industry of mission statistics produced a different picture: After more than a century of endeavor, Protestant missions could report only 3,613,391 communicants and adherents in the census of 1900.32

Radical Evangelicals with Supernatural Strategies

Though triumphal assessments readily appear in the missionary literature, one can also find despairing comments about the general failure of the modern enterprise.33 This helps to explain the growing interest in the “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” for spiritual empowerment that can be found across the Protestant missionary spectrum, among postmillennialists, amillennialists and the rising cadre of premillennialists. Thus, in his keynote address to the General Missionary Conference at Allahabad, India in 1872, Presbyterian missionary John Morrison queried, “Are we not all agreed on it already? Do we not all feel its importance? Are we not all engaged already in prayer for this as the blessing which is recognized as the essential pre-requisite to success in our great work?”34 Sixteen years following the Allahabad gathering, missionary John Hewlett, serving with the London Missionary Society in Benares, closed his remarks to the London Missionary Conference with this challenge: “May the Christian Church be stirred up fervently to pray that the native workers so trained may receive a Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost, in order to reproduce within them the apostolic character, to make them successful in bringing many of their countrymen from the power of Satan to the kingdom of God’s dear Son.”35

Ironically, the worldviews of indigenous Christians—closer in important respects to that of the biblical period than the Western worldview of the missionaries—prompted them to pray like their biblical counterparts. At the London conference, Friends missionary Henry Clark related that during the French attack on Madagascar in 1885, he discovered that the “preachers [had] turned to the Old Testament history—the attacks made by the Babylonians and Assyrians on the Jewish nation—and they seemed to believe that God would interfere for them as He did for the Jews of old.”36 Not surprisingly, when reports of revivals told of indigenous Christians experiencing the outpouring of the Spirit, missionaries struggled to accept the legitimacy of the accompanying phenomena (for example, visions, dreams, healings, persons falling to the ground presumably by the power of God).37

Amid swirling controversy, North American and European radical evangelicals anticipated that the “signs and wonders,” which had accompanied gospel proclamation after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (the “former rain”), would now be restored in the final end-times outpouring (the “latter rain”), just prior to the close of human history.38 Partially influencing the course of later premillennial mission strategists, Anthony Norris Groves, the patron saint of Christian Brethren missions, echoed Irving’s call for a return to the apostolic methods of the New Testament.39 The appeal to passages like Matt. 10:9,10 (“Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep” [NIV]) contributed to the rise of “faith missions.”40 Such “radical strategies” in the conduct of missions relied on some kind of supernatural component to make them work, with the “faith principle” fundamental to them all.

They also exhibited little hesitation in criticizing the seemingly pedestrian and unproductive practices of the larger mission enterprise. With the premillennial clock of Christ’s imminent coming ticking ever more loudly, along with mounting concern over the disappointing number of converts and the many regions of the world still without a gospel witness, they focused their attention on a divine infusion of supernatural power to bring closure to the Great Commission. When the Maine Baptist pastor, Frank Sandford, returned from a world tour of the missions in1891, he perceived the “utter hopelessness of ever evangelizing this world by any methods of Christian work then in existence.” As a result, “I determined to turn to apostolic methods.”41

For some, like A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and A. J. Gordon, president of the Boston Missionary Training School, this included prayer for the sick on the mission field. It was hoped that when non-Christians saw demonstrations of God’s power, they would convert to the faith. “There is no hint…in the New Testament, that the age of miracles is past,” wrote Simpson, “that is one of the axioms of modern theology, but it has no countenance from the Scriptures.”42 In agreement with Simpson, Gordon said that the “church in every direction needs to be re-shaped to the apostolic model and re-invested with her apostolic powers.”43

By the 1880s and ‘90s, some missionaries, desperate to learn the vernacular languages and convinced that the Holy Spirit might bestow unlearned languages for the gospel to be speedily proclaimed around the world, began to pray for the restoration of the gift of tongues (Mark 16:17).43Before the turn of the twentieth century, the leaders of one Bible institute in America even encouraged their students to seek for the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the gift of tongues so they effectively could engage in world evangelization, yet having “sought in vain, month after month,” the student body did not receive the gift.45

Others looked to divine interference in the cosmic realm to overthrow Satan’s control of the world (1 John 5:19) and thereby expedite evangelism in the mission lands. In a widely read tract entitled Intercessory Foreign Missionaries, Alfred Street, a Presbyterian missionary to Hainan, China, urged Christians to intercede in prayer for missionaries, reminding them that “an intercessory Foreign Missionary” labors in the “realm of ‘the heavenlies’ instead of among visible men.” The “spiritual hosts of wickedness” are formed into “various grades of rulers organized into invisible kingdoms of darkness,” such as those mentioned in Daniel 10: the “Prince of Greece” and the “Prince of Persia.” Accordingly, Street argued, “We can reach a Chinaman by speaking face to face with him, but we can strike the spiritual Prince of China only by way of the place ‘above, where Christ is’ ever living to make intercession.”46 Taking this concept to sea, Sandford purchased two ships (the “Kingdom Fleet”) to sail with his followers—all clad in white attire as “ambassadors for Christ”—along the coasts of the continents. As they navigated past country after country, they prayed that the satanic “covering” would be removed so that others successfully could evangelize therein.47

“Apostolic” ventures such as these, however, could not escape the severe scrutiny of critics both from within and outside the missionary community, and even between radical evangelicals themselves. In defending traditional mission methods, Robert Needham Cust, an Anglican linguist and mission strategist, sniffed at “untrained, and partially educated, enthusiasts, full of wild schemes…upsetting all existing practices.” He diagnosed the culprits as “hare-brained excited young men and women, full of so-called zeal, empty of all experience, ready to adopt the last new hallucination, such as Faith-healing [and the] Pentecostal gift of vernacular languages.”48 Obviously, it would be better if such misguided zealots would realize that “God’s wheels grind slowly: even in the Evangelization of the World it is not the Method of God to give immediate results: let modern Missionaries take that fact to their comfort, and their guidance.”49 But radical evangelicals had to hurry because the angel stood poised to blow the heavenly trumpet at the return of Christ.

The “Apostolic Faith” Restored

With this historical-apocalyptic vision of world evangelization, early Pentecostals called themselves the “Apostolic Faith movement.”50 The sign of the end-times outpouring of the Spirit—Pentecostal baptism—brought with it empowerment to witness to the nations through the gift of new languages, pray for the sick, cast out demons and exercise the charismatic gifts in revitalizing the church (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

At this juncture in history, the new army of Pentecostal missionaries could not afford to imitate the methods of the mainline missionaries, or so many thought. J. Roswell Flower, the first missionary secretary of the Assemblies of God, drew attention to their unique vocation since the “Holy Spirit has called them to the field in vital relationship to the second coming of our Lord.” Consequently, “they cannot follow the methods laid down by those who have gone before them, neither can they bend their energies in building up charitable institutions, hospitals and schools as do the denominational societies.”51 Truly apostolic missionaries would pour their energies into preaching as the midnight hour of eschatology approached.

At the very time when Flower wrote these words, while sitting in his office in Springfield, Missouri—five hundred miles from the nearest ocean—Assemblies of God missionaries in the far-flung mission fields had begun to do exactly what he feared.52 Though motivated by an end-times urgency and anticipating miraculous displays of power to quickly bring their hearers to Christ, the realities of mission work brought a soberness to their outlook. Unexpected and time-consuming challenges and responsibilities confronted them and offset the romanticized glitter of supernatural happenings. Those who persevered followed the practices of other Protestant missionaries in how they pioneered churches, paid Christian helpers and directed charitable ministries. Perhaps in a moment of candor, Pentecostal missionaries might have agreed with Cust: “God’s wheels grind slowly.”

The testimony of Pentecostals to the power of the Holy Spirit, reflected in thousands of published accounts of God’s power to convert, heal and transform people, eventually prompted many branches of Christianity to review their understanding of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the church.53 The later charismatic renewal in the historic Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the interest in signs and wonders among conservative evangelicals, indicate that the Pentecostal movement has helped revive an important element in the apostolic dimension of mission that has endured.54 Thus, Edward Le Joly, a Jesuit missiologist in India influenced by the renewal, noted that since the bulk of the populations in many countries have yet to hear the good news, “it is to be expected that God will back his messengers with signs and miracles that will give credence to their message.”55

Notwithstanding, Pentecostals have not held a monopoly on apostolic ministry.56 “To be apostolic is to be as committed as God’s Apostle Son to carrying out the mission of the Father,” wrote Lutheran missiologist Robert Scudieri. “The Son is sent as a missionary to the world, to bring the world back to God. The church that is apostolic will follow that same model.”57 Despite an earlier exclusiveness toward other Christians, praise later surfaced in Pentecostal literature for missionaries who had not received the Pentecostal baptism and spoken in tongues. “We do not mean to say that others who believe in the new birth have wholly lost [the supernatural character of the Christian religion],” wrote Bennett Lawrence, who authored the first history of the Pentecostal movement, “but we desire a return to New Testament power.”58 Therefore, while Pentecostals and other Christians have agreed on the meaning and importance of proclaiming Christ’s redemptive work, their perception of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relationship to that witness has differed. As the movement matured, Pentecostals paid tribute to predecessors who had faithfully born witness to Christ in mission. “Like flashes of light in darkest days of Church history gleam the records of individuals who were obviously dedicated to God and filled with His Spirit,” according to one reflection on the history of missions. Heroes included Columba and Raymond Lull, and later luminaries such as Justinian von Welz, Christian Friedrich Schwartz, David Brainerd, William Carey, Henry Martyn, Adoniram Judson, J. Hudson Taylor, John R. Mott, A. J. Gordon, D. W. Stearns and Edward (“Praying”) Hyde.59

With the Pentecostal-charismatic tradition entering the twenty-first century, the restorationist ethos, charismatic concept of leadership and rock-ribbed pragmatism that marked it in the past have continued to thrive within the ranks. This explains why complaints predictably arise within about the apparent “powerlessness” of the “traditional methods” being used and their lack of dramatic success. New strategies, at times scandalizing to the faithful and occasionally revisiting radical strategies from the past, have been proposed to bring about the rapid evangelization of the world.60 Perhaps the ultimate attempt to resolve the dilemma has been recent claims to the restoration of the apostolic office itself.61 At the same time, Pentecostals and charismatics steadily have become more holistic in their approaches to mission. Without discounting the importance of proclamation that the new strategies sometimes wish to prioritize above all other concerns, their mission activities reveal an increasingly balanced view of ministering to the spiritual and material needs of humankind.62

In The Progress of World-Wide Missions (1924), Robert Hall Glover, the respected China missionary, contended that the New Testament remained “the best, the safest, [and] the most practical textbook on missionary principles and practices for all time.” Nevertheless, the methods employed by Jesus and his disciples still required “reasonable adaptation.”63 Pentecostals and charismatics have cast such hesitations aside, though sometimes to their detriment. They feel called, not to adapt, but to follow the model. The overall results help explain the unprecedented expansion of Christianity in the twentieth century.

For this vibrant sector of Christianity, miracles and the charismatic gifts are indispensable to the carrying out of apostolic mission in today’s world. After all, Jesus had told his disciples, “All who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12, TNIV). And yet, without the labors of earlier missionaries who struggled to understand the apostolic nature of their own mission endeavors, the achievements of Pentecostal and charismatic missionaries would have fallen far short of their hopes and dreams.

End Notes

1. This essay has been prepared in honor of the contributions of Drs. R. Paul and Wardine Wood, longtime missionaries and professors of mission, to the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. It also appears in He Gave Apostles: Apostolic Ministry in the 21st Century, the first release in a new monograph series, Encounter: The Pentecostal Ministry Series.

2.“The Constantinopolitan Creed” in Creeds of the Churches, 3rd ed., ed. John H. Leith (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982), 33.

3. Bellarmine quoted in Robert Bruce Mullin, Miracles and the Modern Religious Imagination (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 12.

4. Daniel P. Kidder, a pioneer Methodist missionary in Brazil, and J. C. Fletcher wrote of Anchieta, “His self-denial as a missionary, his labor in acquiring and methodizing a barbarous language, and his services to the State, were sufficient to secure to him an honest fame and a precious memory; but in the latter part of the ensuing century he was made a candidate for saintship, and his real virtues were made to pass for little in comparison with the power by which it was pretended that he had wrought miracles”; see Brazil and the Brazilians, Portrayed in Historical and Descriptive Sketches (Philadelphia: Childs & Peterson, 1857), 115-116.

5. T. W. M. Marshall, Christian Missions: Their Agents, and Their Results, 4th ed. (New York: D. &. J. Sadlier and Co., 1880), 2:145.

6. Ibid., 2:143.

7. Joseph Schmidlin, Catholic Mission Theory (Techny, Ill.: Mission Press, S.V.D., 1931), 345.

8. In the face of Post-Enlightenment skepticism, the Catholic Church reaffirmed belief in miracles: The “Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith” (Dei Filius), approved by the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), states: “In order that the obedience of our faith might be in harmony with reason, God willed that to the interior help of the Holy Spirit there should be joined exterior proofs of His revelation, to wit, divine facts, and especially miracles and prophecies, which, as they manifestly display the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are most certain proofs of His divine revelation adapted to the intelligence of all men; see Dogmatic Canons and Decrees (Rockford, Ill.: TAN Books and Publishers, 1912), 224. Beginning in 1967, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal revived the tradition of miracles and the Charismatic gifts in Catholic evangelization; see Ralph Martin and Peter Williamson, eds., John Paul II and the New Evangelization (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995).

9. Martin Luther, Sermons on the Gospel of John: Chapters 14-16, in Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Daniel E. Poellet, 55 vols. (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1958-1986), 24:79, 180-181; John Calvin, “Prefatory Address to King Francis,” in Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), I: 14-18. See also Mullin, Miracles, 12-13; Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (Sheffield, U.K.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 33-35.

10. Johannes Wollebius, Compendium Theologiae Christianae in Reformed Dogmatics: Seventeenth-Century Reformed Theology Through the Writings of Wollebius, Voetius, and Turretin, ed. John W. Beardslee III (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), 141. Wollebius further states on the same page: “So the apostles promised neither more miracles nor more prophecies, but rather made boasting about prophecies and miracles a mark of the antichristian ‘church’ (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:13). And Christ himself declares that he will not recognize such [as perform miracles and prophecy] (Mt. 7:22).”

11. Ibid., 181, n.102. Beardslee observes: “The development of missionary concern is one of the great factors differentiating the orthodoxy of [Charles] Hodge’s time from that of Wollebius, F. Turretin, and even Voetius, none of whom shows interest in it.”

12. William Carey, An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in Timothy George, Faithful Witness: The Life and Mission of William Carey (Birmingham, Ala.: New Hope, 1991), E.5.

13. Mullin, Miracles, 14-15, 98-99.

14. Edward Irving, Missionaries After the Apostolic School (Tientsin: Tientsin Printing Co., 1887), 97-100.

15. Rufus Anderson, Foreign Missions: Their Relations and Claims (New York: Charles Scribner and Co., 1869), 115-116.

16. Ibid., 117.

17. G. H. Rouse, “Apostolic and Indian Missions Compared,” Indian Evangelical Review IX (July 1875): 1.

18. Ibid., 2.

19. Ibid., 3.

20. F. F. Ellinwood, The “Great Conquest”; or, Miscellaneous Papers on Missions (New York: William Rankin, 1876), 22.

21.. Robert Stewart, Apostolic and Indian Missions Compared (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1903), 27-28.

22.  R. C. Mathew, “On Bazaar Preaching,” Report of the General Missionary Conference, Held at Allahabad, 1872-73, ed. J. Barton, et al. (London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1873), 41.

23.  Chalmers Martin, Apostolic and Modern Missions (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1898), 46.

24. The “Resolution on the Native Church,” passed at the 1879 Missionary Conference of South India and Ceylon, states: “This Conference, while convinced of the great importance of promoting by every judicious means the self-support and self-government of the Native Church, desires to place on record its conviction that the Native Church is in no part of it as yet in a position to dispense with European guidance and support; and that any premature step in this direction would be highly injurious to its healthy development and ultimate stability”; The Missionary Conference: South India and Ceylon, 1879 (Madras: Addison & Co., 1880), I:402. For a later discussion of “native agents,” see John L. Nevius, “Historical Review of Missionary Methods—Past and Present—in China, and How Far Satisfactory,” Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China. Held at Shanghai, May 7-20, 1890 (Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1890), 171-176.

25. Frederick Trestrail, “On Native Churches,” Conference on Missions Held in 1860 at Liverpool (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1860), 279. Joseph Angus, principal of Regent’s Park College in London, told the delegates attending the sixth general conference of the Evangelical Alliance, “The Christians of the nineteenth century are more able to preach the Gospel to the whole world than the Christians of the first century were to preach it to the world of their day”; “Duty of the Churches in Relation to Missions,” in History, Essays, Orations, and Other Documents of the Sixth General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, Held in New York, October 2-12, 1873, ed. Philip Schaff and S. Irenaeus Prime (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1874), 583-587.

26. Arthur T. Pierson, The New Acts of the Apostles; or the Marvels of Modern Missions (New York: Baker and Taylor Co., 1894), 16.

27. Ibid., 298-299. See Pierson’s Modern Mission Century; Viewed as a Cycle of Divine Working (New York: Baker and Taylor Co., 1901).

28. Walter R. Lambuth, M.D., “The Scriptural Claims and Spiritual Ends of Medical Missions,” in The Student Missionary Appeal: Addresses at the Third International Convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions Held at Cleveland, Ohio, February 23-27, 1898 (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1898), 506; Pierson, New Acts, 382-385; also the papers presented on “Medical Missions” in Report of the Centenary Conference on the Protestant Missions of the World, Held in Exeter Hall (June 9th-19th), London, 1888, ed. James Johnston (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1888), II: 101-107.

29. Ellinwood, “Great Conquest,” 23-24.

30. Warneck Joh, The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism, trans. Neil Buchanan (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1909), 17.

31. Rouse, “Apostolic and Indian Missions,” 12.

32. Harlan P. Beach, A Geography and Atlas of Protestant Missions (New York: Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1906), II: 19. On the embarrassment of the statistics, see William R. Hutchison, Errand to the World: American Protestant Thought and Foreign Missions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 99-100.

33. T. J. Scott refutes such comments in “Is the Modern Missionary Enterprise a Failure?” Indian Evangelical Review II (October 1873): 137-151.

34. John Hunter Morrison, “On Prayer for the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit,Report of the General Missionary Conference, 2.

35. John Hewlett, “Training of Workers,” Report, II: 376.

36. Henry E. Clark, response in “The Mission-Fields of the World,” Report, I: 297. Clark then stated: “Did He not interfere? I believe He did. I believe in prayer, and I believe the Malagasy Church and nation were saved by prayer.”

37. This is a point that I make in “Pentecostal Phenomena and Revivals in India: Implications for Indigenous Church Leadership,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 12 (July 1996): 112-115, 116-117.

38. Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 3.

39. See Anthony Norris Groves, Christian Devotedness, or The Consideration of Our Saviour’s Precept, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, 2d ed. (London: James Nisbet, 1829).

40. Klaus Fiedler, The Story of Faith Missions: From Hudson Taylor to Present Day Africa (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 1994), 11-31.

41. Frank W. Sandford, “An Introduction of the Editor to His Readers,” The Everlasting Gospel, January 1, 1901, 2. His seven journals of traveling across America and overseas were published under the title Around the World (Great Falls, N.H.: F. L. Slapleigh, Book and Job Printer, 1890-1891). Sandford had a strong influence on early Pentecostal leader Charles F. Parham; see James R. Goff, Jr., Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988), 73-74.

42. A. B. Simpson, “The Supernatural Gifts and Ministries of the Church,” Christian Alliance and Foreign Missionary Weekly, January 19, 1898, 53.

43. A. J. Gordon, The Ministry of Healing: Miracles of Cure in All Ages (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, n.d.), 2.

44. Edward A. Lawrence, Modern Missions in the East: Their Methods, Successes, and Limitations (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1895), 146.

45. Charles F. Parham, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, 2d ed. (Baxter Springs, Kan.: Apostolic Faith Bible College, 1910), 35. The unnamed school may have been Frank W. Sandford’s Holy Ghost and Us Bible School at Shiloh, Maine.

46. Alfred E. Street, Intercessory Foreign Missionaries (Boston: American Advent Mission Society, n.d.), 4-6. It was also published by the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions and later by Moody Press.

47. Frank W. Sandford, The Golden Light Upon the Two Americas (Amherst, N.H.: Kingdom Press, 1974), 7-10, 21, 50-51.

48. Robert Needham Cust, Essay on the Prevailing Methods of the Evangelization of the Non-Christian World (London: Luzac & Co., 1894), 197.

49. Ibid., 10.

50. The first history of the Pentecostal movement, written by B. F. Lawrence, was entitled The Apostolic Faith Restored (St. Louis: Gospel Publishing House, 1916). See also Douglas Jacobsen, Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 18-20.

51. J. Roswell Flower, “The Pentecostal Commission,” Pentecostal Evangel, June 12, 1920, 12. Interestingly, missionary Lillian Trasher, who had begun what would eventually become the world-famous Lillian Trasher Memorial Orphanage in Assiout, Egypt, had joined the Assemblies of God in 1919, just seven months before the publication of Flower’s editorial. His statement may have been an attempt to limit any further development of charitable institutions. See Lillian Trasher, “Little Orphans Not Forgotten,” Weekly Evangel, March 20, 1915, 4; “Assiout, Egypt,” Christian Evangel, January 25, 1919, 10; also Letters from Lillian (Springfield, Mo.: Assemblies of God Division of Foreign Missions, 1983).

52. See Gary B. McGee, “Saving Souls or Saving Lives: The Tension Between Ministries of Word and Deed in Assemblies of God Missiology,” Paraclete 28 (Fall 1994): 11-23.

53. See Kilian McDonnell, ed., Presence, Power, Praise: Documents on the Charismatic Renewal, 3 vols. (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1980).

54. For a description of charismatic missions, see Edward K. Pousson, Spreading the Flame: Charismatic Churches and Missions Today (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).

55. Edward Le Joly, S.J., Evangelisation: Theory and Practice (Bombay: St Paul Publications, 1986), 234.

See also the late Archbishop Gabriel Gonsum Ganaka, “Evangelization in the Church of Jos, Nigeria,” in John Paul II and the New Evangelization, 101-110.

56. Beginning in 1913, Pentecostals themselves divided over the meaning of “apostolic.” “Jesus Name” or “Oneness” (non-Trinitarian) Pentecostals claimed to have restored the “full message” of the apostles. This entailed a modal monarchian view of the Godhead and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38); see Frank J. Ewart, The Phenomenon of Pentecost, rev. ed. (Hazelwood, Mo.: Word Aflame Press, 1975), 110. As a result, Trinitarian Pentecostals generally avoided the use of apostolic in the names of their churches.

57. Robert J. Scudieri, The Apostolic Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Missionary (Chino, Cal.: Lutheran Society for Missiology, 1996), 79; see also R. Pierce Beaver, “The Apostolate of the Church,” in The Theology of the Christian Mission, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1961), 258-268.

58. Lawrence, Apostolic Faith Restored, 13.

59. Noel Perkin and John Garlock, Our World Witness: A Survey of Assemblies of God Foreign Missions (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1963), 17-21; see also Horace McCracken, History of Church of God Missions (Cleveland Tenn.: Church of God Mission Board, 1943), 157-168. Cf., Missionary Manual (Springfield, Mo.: Foreign Missions Department of the Assemblies of God, 1931), 6-7.

60. On the restoration of speaking in tongues as unlearned languages for missionary preaching, see Richard M. Riss, Latter Rain: The Latter Rain movement of 1948 and the Mid-Twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening (Mississauga, Ont.: Honeycomb Visual Productions, 1987), 87-88, 131-139. In reference to his call for “strategic-level spiritual warfare” in 1996, C. Peter Wagner wrote: “I believe that God is now giving His missionary force the greatest power boost it has had since the time that William Carey went to India in 1793”; Encountering the Powers: How the New Testament Church Experienced the Power of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1996), 46.

61. There have been precedents for the restoration of the apostolic office in the last two hundred years. For the current debate, see C. Peter Wagner, Apostles and Prophets: The Foundation of the Church (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 2000); cf., Vinson Synan, “Who Are the Modern Apostles?” Ministries Today, March/April 1992, 42-47.

62. See Douglas Petersen, Not By Might Nor By Power: A Pentecostal Theology of Social Concern in Latin America (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 1996); Murray Dempster, “A Theology of the Kingdom—A Pentecostal Contribution,” in Mission as Transformation: A Theology of the Whole Gospel, ed. Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 1999), 45-75; David Shibley, A Force in the Earth: The Move of the Holy Spirit in World Evangelization (Orlando: Creation House, 1997), 125-132.

63. Robert Hall Glover, The Progress of World-Wide Missions, rev. ed. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939), 30, 32.

Updated: Friday, June 16, 2006 10:22 AM