This is the title of V.F. Storr’s 1924 book on the Bible and mission (London: Hodder & Stoughton). I blogged the other day on R.F. Horton’s The Bible a Missionary Book. Storr saw his volume as following in Horton’s footsteps. Horton had lamented the lack of scholarly interest in the relationship between the Bible and mission before his book. Likewise, Storr felt the need to write his own book because nothing had been done (in English at least) since Horton’s work, which by the then had gone out of print.
Storr begins his book by depicting the changing ways people at that time were understanding the world: increasingly interconnected and dynamic. Those engaged in mission, he says, are not just saving souls, but affecting the development of nations. This changing dynamic asks a crucial question:
“How has it affected our view of the missionary message of the Bible? Missionary work has, of course, always found its main support in the Bible, in the belief, that is, that the Bible contains the record of a divine revelation given to the world, a revelation universal in scope, intended for all men, and therefore to be made available for all men… A great cause needs a great backing; and to match the growing sense of the largeness of missionary enterprise must be an enlargement of the appeal which we make to the Bible. It is, for instance, not enough to quote from Scripture a series of proof-texts in support of missions. The proof-text suspended in mid-air is useless. It must be related to context. It must be shown to stand out from a background which is essentially missionary in colour. We must, in a word, see the revelation in the Bible in its large, bold outlines, in the big sweep of its movement, in its progressive character and unfolding purpose.” (pp.11-12)
I like Storr’s use of langauge; the depiction of a proof-text suspended in mid-air is nicely evocative. But I was particularly struck by his claim that
“A great cause needs a great backing; and to match the growing sense of the largeness of missionary enterprise must be an enlargement of the appeal which we make to the Bible.”
Storr felt his world was becoming increasingly interconnected, which was changing the nature of the church’s mission. In a climate of complexity, his answer was to reflect on what the Bible says and how it says it. This task is ever urgent. I wonder what he would have made of the global village we live in today? I am sure his answer would still be the same.