Dr. David Hesselgrave begins his book Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today by examining God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will. He details varying views from deterministic Calvinism to Open Theism and arguably everything in between. I found it very interesting as Hesselgrave detailed Ralph Winter’s praise of Gregory Boyd’s argument that “all disease is the work of the Devil and not the will of God (33).” I agree in a sense and disagree in another sense. The obvious reason why humans are susceptible to illness and disease is because we are not in the Garden of Eden anymore. Sin is thus the cause of sickness, for we are all under the curse. However, one cannot say disease is not part of God’s will without diminishing His sovereignty. God could heal everyone right now at this moment, but at the end of the day, the only truth we are left with is that God is in control of all things. He knows what He is doing and why He indirectly allows evil to exist.
In missions, I agree that Christians should seek to eradicate all disease and seek to help all men, women, and children temporarily conquer the results of the Fall. This temporal conquering, however, is not the ultimate purpose of missions. Just as Andreas Kostenberger argues in the “Foreword” in agreement with Hesselgrave concerning the purpose of missions, the Great Commission is ultimately a spiritual commission. Thus, although I will seek the physical well-being of sinners, my ultimate goal is to give them the saving gospel of Christ. I want them to experience the abundant life on earth, not because Christ died to give them a celebrity-like lifestyle, but because Christ died to reconcile them to His Father. Through this transcending eternal life, although they may be ugly, poor, unhealthy, persecuted, etc. on Earth, they are beautiful, rich, healthy, and safe in Christ; and living with Him forever, fully realizing the abundant life in heaven, is just around the corner.
What are your thoughts?