Saturday, May 23, 2009

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