One of the last things that Christ said to his disciples before he returned bodily to his Father’s side, was a command to make disciples of all nations, by baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that he had commanded. This command is well-known as the Great Commission. Today I’ll be reviewing What is the Great Commission? by RC Sproul, an entry in the Crucial Questions series.
As I have commented in the past, the CQ series can be broadly divided into two types. The first is theological or doctrinal, with the second being practical or vocational. This book falls in the later. It is a short booklet, shorter than many of the other CQ entries, and is eminently approachable.
It provides an outline of the biblical foundation for evangelism, in which Sproul lands the idea that even though some people are called to a special office of Evangelist, that all Christians have a responsibility to evangelize. This calling, says Sproul, is rooted in the fact that as Christians we are to participate in Christ’s great mission of seeking and saving the lost. He shows the importance of seeking and saving through various kinds of anecdotes and accounts. He also communicates what he believes to be an important method for strategic evangelism (ie. systematic and widespread)
This is a fine approach, however I felt that something significant was missing. While handbooks on evangelism are certainly important and have a long and prestigious history in the Church. However, and this surprised me coming from a Presbyterian like Sproul, the Great Commission is not just about evangelism. In fact, an argument can be made that it isn’t even primarily about evangelism. The Great Commission was not “God and preach.” Nor was it even “Spread the good news.” The Great Commission was “Make disciples, by baptizing and teaching.” Little was said about the importance of disciples, baptism or teaching.
So, while this book was fine as an evangelism manual, I felt that the title was a little misleading. Were the title “Why do we Evangelize?” or “How should we Evangelize?” I would have nothing critical to say. However, the actual elements contained in the Great Commission (Make Disciples, Baptize, Teach) had little or no actual representation in the book.