Choctaw Cry for Missionaries

On Thursday, SBCHeritage.com posted an article titled A Choctaw Cry. It features a letter (1857) from the Choctaw people pleading for the Southern Baptist Convention to send more ministers. But, not just any. Their hearts were burning for a sound translation of Scripture and biblically accurate hymns—and they wanted the strong sanctified men of God who could deliver their souls’ desire. Here’s a snippet:

We Baptists are too much beholden to pedo-baptists for books. They have translated the New Testament and Hymn Books into the Choctaw language, according to their peculiar views of Christian baptism. These are the books we are compelled to make use of. We think it is time for Baptists to do something among us, by way of translating the Testament and other books into the Choctaw language. They are much needed here.

Here’s what I think is noteworthy. From their hearts we see here in the Native Americans, we should repent of our lack of, yearn & pray for, vigilantly pursue a passion for, and hold accountable our leaders to the following insights:

  1. {Books} They wanted books. We should not discount books, assuming for example that our people won’t want to read them if we give them any. We should always assume the people are hungry for biblical, Gospel-centered teaching, and give it to them in books. We likewise, should cherish, appreciate, and thank our Great God for giving us the books we have. Don’t put off hearing Mark Dever’s advice on creating a reading culture in your church. My friend from Seoul, S. Korea once told me:

    America is blessed by God—you have all the good Christian books. I wish Koreans would have pastors that wrote with this kind of Spirit-filled depth.

  2. {Doctrine} The Choctaw people were parched for doctrinally sound preachers. And because they didn’t have any, they were as they put it, “beholden” and “obliged” to use what they have. When your people are starving to see and taste the greatness of God, they will grab whatever resources available—just like parched, malnourished orphans. So be aware of this and feed your people’s souls with stunning, doxological exegesis.
  3. {Languages} Make the languages a priority in your life if you pastor or teach in a church. The best article I’ve seen on why we should study the languages is here, Is Learning Greek and Hebrew Really Worth It?” However, magnify Christ by studying more than what it takes to be dangerous with them. Having too little knowledge of the languages is worse off and more dangerous than knowing nothing about the languages at all. It is a loaded gun with tension on the soon to snap trigger.{{1}}
  4. {Scripture} The last thing is the most important. Remember, that all of these points find significance in the Scripture. If it were not for the scripture, none of these have any basis. Make the scripture your highest priority. But, not solely for the sake of studying them or for teaching. Open yourself to the reality that the greatest starvation you could put yourself through, is to deprive yourself the nutrition of the Word Himself. Become sensitive to the weightiness of the fact that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). As well this Word “is no empty word for you, but your very life(Dt 32:47). Glean at what George Whitefield (see also Whitefield’s Quote du Jour) journals while he was studying at Oxford:

I hope I shall now get a little knowledge of the sciences. But there is nothing like knowing Christ and Him crucified! I am now reading Langhorne, a good ethical book, but deficient in respect to Christianity. I am now, for some time, obliged to follow different speculative studies. …When shall I have time to read the Book of God solely again? No book like that Book of books! {{2}}

The following articles might also be helpful:

  1. The Imperative for Worshipping in Interpretation
  2. The Priority of the Hebrew Scriptures in Soteriology

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[[1]] There are seminaries teaching only enough Greek to tempt students to think they know the language. What results from it are snobby students teaching false doctrines (and sometimes off-the-charts heresy). The realization of how little Greek & Hebrew I knew did not hit me until my third semester. Now that I’m entering my fifth year of studying Hebrew, I have been humbled enough to know that I am at least another 3-5 years away from being comfortable doing all my teaching and preaching from the original texts. In a short amount of time however, any student of Greek & Hebrew (and lets not forget Aramaic) can at least realize how complex they are and they will be more reluctant on telling people things that begin with, “well the Greek says…” It is too often that we see that from the pulpit coming from men who just read a book or looked up the word in strong’s concordance and they think they have it nailed. You know just how scary that is only by studying for one year. [[1]]

[[2]] Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The life and times of the great evangelist of the 18th century revival (Carlisle, PA, Banner of Truth: 2009), 1:90.[[2]]