Andrew Scott, President, and CEO of OM USA, unpacks a radical idea in Scatter. He is “convinced that if we are to see significant change in our world through the light of the gospel going out, we need to set a generation free to be all God has created them to be, using what He has given them to use for His purposes” (pp. 14, 65, 175, 195). His big idea is that Christians will never fulfill the Great Commission (p. 161), and in turn change the world, unless they fulfill the Cultural Mandate as well (pp 15-16 43-45, 47-49, 134, 150). The Cultural Mandate was given to the first couple before the Fall, commanding them to “be fruitful, and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). The author sees the Mandate still in force, even though it is not repeated anywhere in Scripture after the entrance of sin into the world. Ignoring this crucial detail, Scott sees the task of Christians, as image-bearers of God, to scatter, changing the world as they go (p. 45). And what kind of change should believers seek? Primarily a restructuring of all societies around Christian principles: “If every follower of Jesus lived their life out for His glory, every sector of society would be impacted. We would see media start to change, politics start to change. The business world, sports, arts, medicine, all would start to change” (p. 15). He offers Joseph, Daniel, Esther, and the people of faith in Hebrews eleven, and even the nation of Israel in Egypt, and later in exile, as examples of those who brought about massive culture change.
In order to establish this thesis (pp. 16, 50-55, 60, 137-165) not only does Scott thoroughly misuse, misinterpret and misapply all of these examples, as well as most other biblical texts he offers, he also mutilates the gospel. Actually, the reader will search in vain for any discussion of the biblical gospel, its true purpose and its utter rejection by the world (I Corinthians 1-2). While I have little doubt that Scott believes in the gospel of justification by grace received by faith, his attention is focused clearly on the Social Gospel. If Christians would but live out the image of Christ, so goes Scott’s thesis, they will transform the world economically and politically, as well as in the realms of business and the arts (pp 16, 27-28). “I believe,” he writes, “that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change everything. And every society, every sector of society, every community, every life needs to experience this gospel in all its fullness” (p. 40). His Social Gospel, based on the Cultural Mandate, has swallowed up the true gospel, as it has done throughout history. As a matter of fact, Scott has blended the two gospels into one postmillennial mix. “God asked His image bearers to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and govern it. . . until there are so many the whole earth is filled with them by conversion and by procreation” (p. 150). Christ has promised to establish His kingdom when He returns, but Scott thinks we can give Him a leg up by mixing the Great Commission with the Cultural Mandate. In the process, the author has missed the uniqueness of the mission of the church, which is to call people out of this crooked and perverted world through the true gospel (Phil 2:15; Gal 1:4), not transform the world through cultural improvements.
The author is concerned because he does not see his vision being accomplished through the present missionary/evangelistic system. He downplays traditional missions and missionaries and depreciates tent-makers as “tent-fakers” (pp. 17, 173-176). His concept is to have American Christians (he falsely believes that one-third of Americans are evangelicals, pp. 37, 183), scatter throughout the world, taking secular jobs that reflect their strengths and interests and, as they do excellent work, the world will take notice and be drawn to Christ (pp. 144-145). While he offers numerous biblical examples of this supposedly happening in the past, he is merely massaging Scripture, not exegeting it. Scott also believes God is raising the millennials to incorporate his scattering philosophy (pp. 179-180, 183-184, 198).
The idea of Christians reflecting the glory of Christ through their work is both excellent and biblical. But the pattern Scott is offering, in which the world will be radically changed if only evangelicals from North America will take jobs abroad and do them well, is naïve, idealistic, unworkable and has no basis in the Bible. This book will appeal to those with little knowledge of history, Scripture or missions, and those predisposed to the Social Gospel agenda. It has little to offer, however, in how to spread the gospel in our world today.
Scatter, Go Therefore and Take Your Job With You, by Andrew Scott (Chicago: Moody Publisher, 2016), 216 pp, paper $14.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher at Southern View Chapel