The post is a follow-up to my post of Samuel Pearce’s Tract for the Lascars. In that post, I gave you a brief history of Pearce’s life and quoted a tract written for the Lascars—a predominantly-Muslim class of sailors from India. In this post, I offer a few observations.
- Pearce was Passionate about Extending the Gospel Offer to the Lost.
- Pearce Spoke and Thought Biblically.
- However, the Tract is Void of Any Reference to the Resurrection and Reign of Christ.
- We Must Be Very Cautious in Adopting Any Use of the Name of Allah.
Pearce’s heart was touched by the plight of the Lascars. Not only were these men far from home and in a foreign land, but they were ignorant of the love of Jesus Christ. Pearce expressed that the Lascars were not invisible to him, but that they were in his thoughts, their situation brought him to tears and put him on his knees in prayer. There is no hesitation in Pearce’s offering of the Gospel to the Lacars, many of which (if not most) were Muslim. The Lascars were of a different skin tone and worldview than Pearce . . . and they were in England. Pearce did not need to go to them, they had come to him! Pearce believed that these were men whom Christ loved; Pearce believed that these were men for whom Christ died. As such, they were men whom Pearce loved and men with whom Pearce was obligated to share the Gospel.
Imagine the difference it would make in our own day and our own culture if every believer cared for the lost in the same manner as Pearce. Imagine the difference it might make if every time we laid eyes on another human being, we saw them as objects of God’s affection and those with whom we are obligated to share the Gospel.
Notice how replete the tract is with biblical passages and allusions. Pearce is so immersed in Scripture that it flows from his pen as naturally as his own thought. Yet this is no mere repetition of verses from memory. Pearce may begin with a prayer “to the great Allah,” but he moves forward to explain the truth of Jesus Christ. He speaks of the Incarnation of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and the suffering and sacrifice of Christ.
Imagine the difference it would make in our own day and culture if we were so immersed in the Scriptures that God’s Word pours forth regularly, and not only when we are sitting in Sunday School. Imagine how our evangelistic efforts would be affected if, rather than sharing four spiritual laws or a series of verses from memory believers were so saturated in God’s Word that they could share the hope of Christ without being dependent upon an Evangelistic campaign or program.
This stands out as one of the few negative observations I discovered when reading the tract. As previously mentioned, he speaks of the Incarnation of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ, and the suffering and sacrifice of Christ, but nowhere does Pearce establish Christ as having been risen, and nowhere does Pearce present Christ as reigning as the King of Creation. This is not a harmless oversight on Pearce’s part. I do not believe he had any malicious intent in this omission, but the resurrection and reign of Christ are not minor components of a dry doctrine. They are, rather, the very source and substance of our hope!
Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 5:17, ESV). The resurrection of Christ, and his present reign, give substance and meaning to his death and burial. He has conquered sin! He has defeated death! He was not crushed under the weight of the sins of humanity, but bore the penalty of sin, suffered death on our behalf, and yet lives. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. This matters. And it is a shame that Pearce’s otherwise exemplary tract neglects these emphases.
He writes that many “pray to the great Allah for you.” While some modern missiologists are comfortable invoking the name of Allah in the same way that we would use the term, “god” when not necessarily referring to “God,” others have made the point that doing so enables the hearer to import his own thoughts and conceptions of Allah into the discussion. Pearce does not linger on any thought of Allah, but rather moves directly to the discussion of the person of Christ Jesus. But does his introduction imply that he worships the same God as the Lascars, but with a different view of Jesus?
Allah is not the same as the God the Father. Their natures are entirely different. The manner in which the two are described are entirely different. Their characters are entirely different. Pearce did not worship Allah any more than the Lascars already worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ. But in his attempt to contextualize his Gospel message, he opened the door for misunderstanding.
Samuel Pearce is an admirable figure from one of the brightest eras in our Baptist heritage. His passion for the lost, his zeal for the Gospel, his saturation with the Word of God are all to be commended to modern believers. And yet, as this tract demonstrates, he was not without flaw. In studying church history, we are given the opportunity to examine the past without idealizing it—to appreciate it, but to read it critically in such a way to as to influence and improve the manner in which we live in our own day for the glory of Christ.