Everett Cattel on the Great Commission (pt. 2)

Series contents | Intro | Part Two |

Cattell believes that mission must start from the Great Commission, not only a central theme in the New Testament, but a central theme throughout all of Scripture. He remarks that if the Gospels authors would not have penned the Great Commission, it would not matter because we would still have the implicit command to go (Cattell, 1981:1).  For Cattell, the Gospels offer a full picture of the the commission as it progressed through the various evangelist’s accounts. Mark’s version is a bit simplistic (Mark 16:15) in that it does not discuss disciple-making, which makes Matthew 18-20 a far more complete reading of the commission’s prescription by showing the need for an actual harvest in our missionary act (Cattell, 2). John’s gospel (20:21-22), being the latest and most developed, is what Cattell finally lands on as the central key to mission because of its focus on Jesus. Cattell suggests that Jesus becomes the primary example for the church’s mission, he says:

“Christ is the heart, the pattern, the motivation, and the embodiment of mission. The Incarnation is the primary source of missionary principle. Identification with Christ must be so complete that the most relevant command in the commission is Christ’s word, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Cattell, 2).

He then breaks down these versions of the Commission into five key principles of mission: Mobility (Go), Penetration (into all nations), Communication (teaching them to observe), Conversion (baptizing them), Authority (all authority I give you). These five principles make up the remainder of his book: Christian Mission: A Matter of Life. I will be discussing some of these concepts that stood out to me as being unique to his program in the following weeks.

Published by Wess

Teacher, author, Quaker, ​and public theologian. He works at Guilford College, enjoys riding his Triumph Bonneville, and listening to music.

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