The Problem With ‘All’


Sometimes when I’m thinking about the general missional unfruitfulness of Australian churches I wonder how much it is due to the prevalent use of the HDV bible. The HDV (Humpty Dumpty Version) has I believe had a seriously deleterious effect on our missional activities. Just to remind us, Humpty Dumpty is a character who dwells in the ‘Wonderland’ described in Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Arguably Humpty is the first post-modernist for whom, as he said to Alice, words mean, “what I want them to mean”, and this can have significantly unhelpful effects on missional passion of those who use the HDV of scripture.

Many evangelical Christians, certainly those who take the trouble to read this article anyway, will say that they are passionate about seeing those stumbling in the darkness that lies outside God’s Kingdom coming into a saving relationship with Jesus. We will probably also say that we work hard to engage the lost with the gospel of life. The question is though, “How hard?”

The first great commandment reinforced by Jesus in terms of being characteristic of those who have eternal life (i.e. Christians) is that they are to “Love the Lord your God with ALL your soul, ALL your hear, ALL your mind, and ALL your strength”. Clearly no half measures here! Nor in the demands of the second great commandment “love your neighbour as yourself”. This clearly demands sacrificial living, as in the case of the Good Samaritan-even providing costly, inconvenient and time consuming service to your enemy’ (Luke 10:25-37) unless of course we are, even subconsciously, using the HDV in which ‘All’ becomes something less than ‘All’ which can let us off the hook!

That inconvenient word “All” appears again in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:22) and here’s the rub! When he writes

          “I have become all things to all people so

                        that by all possible means I might save some.

he would appear to actually mean ‘All’ in the full sense of the word not Humpty’s! That is leaving no stone unturned, no effort spared for the sake of winning the lost. However, in the HDV which would appear to be used by even many evangelical Christians ‘All’ seems to actually mean something less than ALL.

If we claim to take the bible seriously as God’s communication to us we might ask ourselves – do we really? I suspect often not. We might say that we’re prepared to

          “become ALL things to ALL people

            so that by ALL possible means I might save some.

but actually our ‘All’ ends up being a cut down version, limited to what will comfortably fit into our SIC (Sunday-centric, In-drag, Christendom-form) model of church (ecclesiology), and does not require us to really get out of our comfort zone in terms of what we are prepared to do for the sake of the mission. By this limiting of what we are prepared to do (often to something far less than carried by the absolute non-HDV meaning of the word ‘all’) our missional fruitfulness is also limited as we can clearly see in the state of our churches.

If we want to see our mission flourish one of the things we must do is to cease using the HDV and restore the full meaning of the word ‘all’ used by both Jesus and Paul and do whatever it takes for the sake of the gospel. In fact, our missional thinking and actions need to be ‘Unbound’ from the shackles of a SIC ecclesiology, then maybe God will bless us in winning the lost for Jesus.

So a relevant question might be in this season of missional fruitfulness-

‘How much is our problem with ‘Mission’ the result of the problem with ‘ALL’?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.