I’ve been thinking about writing a book on the idea of closure. I’m outlining several of the ideas involved, and many of my recent posts have been exploring some of these ideas. Part of the reason I’m doing this: I hear a lot of different (and patently wrong) ideas about closure. Some of these are set up as “straw men” – people argue against closure by arguing against them. Others argue for them. So, I’m trying to discuss these and the broader idea of closure itself. Yes, it’s opening a can of worms, but if an idea is good, it can withstand scrutiny.
Here are some of the ‘closure conundrums’ I’ve encountered. For each, I’m writing posts, linked below.
0. Remember: closure is not a biblical term.
Is the idea of a finishable task Biblical? I argue “yes,” of course.
1. If closure is defined as the world being 100% Christian, it’s impossible, since some will choose not to follow Christ.
2. If closure is defined as the world being 100% evangelized at one point in time, it’s impossible, since: babies! But Finishing the Task does not mean everyone presently alive will have heard; rather that they will be able to hear.
3. “Ethnos” in Matthew 28:19 shouldn’t be interpreted as “tribes” but rather “all the rest of the world” – sort of like saying “Gentiles.” (Mark 16:19, for example, says “go into all the world [kosmos], preach to every creature [ktisis]”)
4. “Make disciples of all nations” doesn’t mean to evangelize/disciple everyone in the group, but rather get some from each, so that all are “represented” before the throne.
5. “Make disciples of all nations” doesn’t mean get some from each, but to make sure everyone has an opportunity (yes, the inverse of #4).
5a. When do we know the missionary task is done in a place?
5b. When people group thinking can fail: Jesus wants the whole pie
6. Matthew 24:14 interpreted to mean that once we have “finished the task” (however you define it) the clouds will open, the trumpet will sound, and Jesus will appear. But rapid evangelism to achieve this goal leads to shallow, unsustainable churches and believers.
6a. Finishing the task will not bring Jesus back.
6b. When the task is done, Jesus will return.
7. Trying to finish the Great Commission impossibly fast leads to failure and abandonment of the project altogether.
8. Matthew 24:14 wasn’t about the Great Commission but about the fall of the Temple; it’s already been fulfilled.
9. We don’t have to worry about completing the Great Commission, because it’ll be “finished” during the Tribulation (see 100,000 evangelists and flying angels).
10. By prioritizing unreached peoples to reach “closure” we miss existing fields that are “white unto harvest” now.
11. ‘Closure’ as an invention of “western, corporate-minded Christians” who want to see problems solved, and is thus devoid of the Spirit of God.
12. The Great Commission was already completed (–parts of the world have become unevangelized and re-evangelized and unevangelized since).
13. We need to get people saved as fast as possible because the unsaved and unreached are condemned to hell.
14. How can a loving God send people to hell when the one ‘magic ticket’ (knowledge of Jesus) they need to go to heaven is denied them by Jesus’ followers, who refuse to bring the Gospel to them? (This is a very sticky and challenging theological issue, and I’ve yet to hear a really good response to it.)
15. Getting people ‘saved as fast as possible’ is a shallow conversion that ignores deeper issues of discipleship and bringing the Kingdom into a place now.
Have you heard other conundrums? What should be added to this list?