Baptists and the Great Commission
In his paper Thomas Nettles surveys the underpinnings of Baptist missionary endeavors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He focuses on three major historical questions and conflicts arising from Baptist missions: (1) the use of human means/involvement in the missionary task, (2) the authority and structure of the church as a sending body, and (3) the necessity of orthodox confessionalism as the driving force of missions and missionaries. A 1786 exchange between Baptists William Carey and John Colett Ryland Sr. concerning the nature and extent of the Great Commission unearths each of the above points of contention in Baptist missions. These same issues continued to create disagreement among Baptists for years to come, but Nettles contends they must be settled to reach an effective approach to missions.
Thomas J. Nettles is Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He completed degrees from Mississippi College (B.A.) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.). Dr. Nettles has taught previously at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of that department. He is the author and editor of nine books in addition to numerous journal articles and papers.