History and the Beginning of Protestant Missions

The Protestants were famously willing to sit around on their duffs for centuries while the Jesuits and Franciscans (among others) were busy making converts to the ends of the earth. "That you God that I am elect and not like those filthy Catholics!" Well, that is perhaps a little strong, but perhaps not. That all started to change in the late 18th C. with on William Carey:

Around 1780, an indigent Baptist cobbler named William Carey began reading about James Cook's Polynesian journeys. His interest grew to a furious sort of "backwards homesickness", inspiring him to obtain Baptist orders, and eventually write his famous 1792 pamphlet, "An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of Heathen." Far from a dry book of theology, Carey's work used the best available geographic and ethnographic data to map and count the number of people who had never heard the Gospel. It formed a movement that has grown with increasing speed from his day to ours. (From Wikipedia, where else?)

And now, in a curious reversal, the Catholics and the old churches of the European reformations are pretty much sitting on their hands now while those creative if sometimes-reckless cousins of Protestantism--evangelicalism and Pentecostalism--have placed themselves at the forefront of the church's missio ad gentes.

Yep, that's how church history is. Crazy stuff.

--Abu Daoud


Don said…
It never runs in a straight line, does it?

A while back I think I posted on your blog a quote that the Roman Catholics won more people in the New World than they lost in the Reformation.

And a lot of that duff sitting was due to Reformed theology, I might add. But now we have new excuses to sit on our duffs!
FrGregACCA said…
"Baptist orders"???

Has THAT phrase ever been used anywhere else?
Don said…
I don't think that the Baptists (currently) would be too fond of that terminology!

Since Fr. Greg has joined us, I think some mention should be made of the very extensive missionary efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church, albeit in their own territory (which was big enough.)
FrGregACCA said…
And, of course, prior to that, the Byzantine mission to the Slavs, exemplified by folks such as SS Cyril and Methodius, as well as Russian evangelization in Alaska and northern California.
Abu Daoud said…
I have posted before on Orthodox missions. But on the whole today Orthodox missions, what little is happening, never focus on the unreached. There is some action of bringing Christians into Orthdoxy, but I don't know of any work, except for in Indonesia, of actually bringing non-Christians into Christianity.

The Slavic missions and the Alaskan missions more recently were great chapters in mission history. But in terms of being a force in reaching the unreached people of the world Orthodoxy gets maybe a 1 out of ten in my judgment.

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