Book review: To the ends of the Earth: Calvin’s missional vision and legacy. Michael A.G. Haykin and C. Jeffrey Robinson Sr. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.
Note: I received a complimentary electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
Though I am not a Calvinist in my soteriology, I appreciate the work in the Gospel that God has done through many different brothers and sisters who hold differing persuasions regarding divine sovereignty and human responsibility (one thinks of the two greatest evangelists of the 18th century: George Whitfield and John Wesley, for example.)
This book gives a succinct history of the missionary zeal that has characterized Reformed circles from John Calvin through the early 19th century. The authors are able church historians who offer many quotations from original sources to defend and establish the missional interests of John Calvin and those who followed him. Their writing is lucid and highly readable. What is more, they write with a clear love of the gospel and desire to see Christians of Calvinist convictions stirred up in their evangelistic and missionary zeal. Three chapters are devoted to Calvin’s theology and personal ministry, much of which led to a great deal of mission work in France and the Low Countries as well as a well-intentioned but disastrous missionary expedition to Brazil. The first chapter puts forward a defense of Calvinism, asserting that it is not logically inconsistent with gospel outreach (as opposed to Hyper-Calvinism.) Readers of the Reformed persuasion will enjoy that chapter. I didn’t agree with Calvin’s teaching on election, yet I concede that he and his associates were active in promoting evangelism in Europe and farther afield.
The final three chapters examine the Puritans and missions, Jonathan Edwards and missions, and the Reformed Baptist Samuel Pearce, who was a colleague, friend, and ardent supporter of William Carey, the pioneer missionary to India. This last chapter on Pearce was particularly heart-warming, for it detailed the tremendous zeal for foreign missions that this little-known historical figure possessed. Any believer interested in missions could benefit from reading this short work. May the Lord stir His Church to renewed missionary effort in the 21st century.