Magazine article International Bulletin of Missionary Research

World Christianity and "Protestant America": Historical Narratives and the Limits of Christian Pluralism

Magazine article International Bulletin of Missionary Research

World Christianity and "Protestant America": Historical Narratives and the Limits of Christian Pluralism

Article excerpt

America's identity as a Protestant nation has long been a topic of extensive research. Relationships between America's "civil religion," exceptionalism, and global mission have sparked reflection across many disciplines. (1) Into the world of the twenty-first century, two momentous yet paradoxical developments are casting new light upon America's identity and mission. The first is the dramatic growth of Christianity in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The second is the rise of America to a status of unrivaled military and economic power. Demographically, the global South has created new Christian centers. But even as this trend continues, America remains the world's political and economic center, whose religious heritage continues to sanction its political mission. (2)

I use this paradox as an occasion to reflect upon historical narratives, specifically, their tendency either to stifle or to legitimate different ways of being Christian in the world. Demographics show overwhelmingly that it is possible to be Christian without being American. But they tell us very little about whether Africans or Asians can be Christian without reproducing "the American story." Can Christianity incarnate itself in ways that tell stories that depart from that of Protestant America? A mythology, deeply embedded in the consciousness of American Protestantism, makes this possibility highly problematic. This mythology views the Gospel as necessarily producing a certain type of history, one that begins in either chaos or tyranny and leads ultimately to a stable, powerful, and prosperous democracy.

If the southward expansion of Christianity levels any critique at all of Protestant America, it is by delinking the Gospel from grand narratives that are used to explain American progress. (3) Liberalism, rational debate, free enterprise, and rule of law are cherished ideals of both America and the former British Empire. Within these histories such ideals have come to represent a Judeo-Christian imprint on modernity, a biblical way of respecting persons, creating wealth, and holding states accountable to a higher law. Today, however, Christian congregations flourish in places where these institutions are at best partially formed. Does the absence of political or economic stability in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, or Guatemala call their Christian experience into question? Or does Christian growth in these lands serve in some way to provincialize Protestant America, perhaps by making its universal claims less universal or by releasing the Gospel from the story of the modern democratic nation-state? (4)

The following sections describe the tension between world Christianity and Protestant America as a tension between incarnational and covenantal historical narratives. Incarnational narratives, developed in the work of Andrew Walls and Lamin Sanneh, describe how the Christian religion was freed from its attachment to European lands and came to be appropriated by non-European peoples on their own cultural terms. (5) Such narratives are centered upon the doctrine of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, the translation of the Gospel into the language and categories of local culture. In contrast, covenantal narratives are centered upon the Old Testament doctrine of God's covenant with Israel. Central to early Puritan faith, this doctrine formed the basis of America's sense of chosenness, its commitment to democracy and rule of law, and its mission to spread these ideals abroad. While incarnational narratives validate Christian pluralism, covenantal narratives diminish this pluralism by linking Christianity inseparably to the projects of democracy and the construction of an international order.

Can cultural and historical factors that differentiated African or Indian Christianity from that of their colonial masters do the same now, when the United States is the superpower? An important aspect of this debate concerns the persistence of ethnicity, tribe, caste, and supernaturalist belief in the lives of non-Western converts. Can these factors be part of a genuine Christian experience, or must they eventually give way to a universal mission of political liberty, of which America now stands as the chief agent and example? This article tackles this question, first, by outlining incarnational and covenantal motifs in Christian history. Second, it brings them face to face with each other in a discussion of Christian internationalism. Third, it critiques the attempt to understand Third World Christianity primarily in relation to the growth of democracy. Finally, it suggests how current trends might de-center America by making other voices more audible.

Incarnation as Ethnicity, Covenant as Nation

A major issue debated among scholars of Africa and Asia concerns the relationship between Protestant missions, colonialism, and the emergence of indigenous Christianity. Some view non-Western Christianity as the direct result of cultural imperialism, an aspect of metropolitan culture reproducing itself in the colony, a purely derived identity. Others highlight indigenous factors--catechists, translators, traditional institutions, belief systems, and interests--that have shaped African and Asian Christian expansion. (6)

These debates concerning Third World Christianity bear a striking resemblance to debates concerning the nature of Third World nationalism. Are they products of independent, creative imaginations, or do they derive their basic characteristics from the patterns of Western nations? South Asia scholar Partha Chatterjee argues that Third World nationalisms differentiate an "inner domain" of culture and religion from an "outer domain" of science, technology, and statecraft. While conceding the West's superiority in the outer domain, Third World nationalists uphold the distinctiveness and superiority of their own cultural and religious values. This inner domain of family and "religion" becomes the site of a creative national project. (7)

Very similar concerns have guided the efforts of Walls and Sanneh to explain the emergence of Christianity as a world religion. Their aim is to help us appreciate how non-Western peoples have become Christian while preserving historical difference from Europe and North America. This possibility of "becoming Christian without becoming Western" has resulted from larger processes associated with the dissolution of European Christendom and the translation of the Bible into the mother tongues of various non-Western cultures.

By way of translation, the Gospel has entered the "inner domain" of non-Western societies, the part which often has remained unshaped by the European Enlightenment. Christianity, according to Walls, "is at home in African religion; it is African religion." (8) As such, it often expresses itself within a worldview that affirms the role of the supernatural in everyday life. The introduction of the Gospel into African society does not eliminate traditional belief in spiritual healing and exorcism, but it does often present Christ as the central source of such power. Translation, according to Sanneh, also instilled in West Africans a sense of cultural pride and provided them with the self-awareness needed to challenge colonial rule. (9) Indeed, as Adrian Hastings aptly observes, "African nationalism ... has hardly existed except where it has been ethnically based, linguistically held together and biblically watered." (10)

Within colonial India, missionary translation projects have had similar effects in catalyzing cultural pride and regional consciousness among Bengalis, Tamils, and Telugus. (11) This consciousness was nurtured through the thriving vernacular print cultures in each of those regions. "Translation," however, is not strictly a linguistic enterprise but encompasses many aspects of local culture. Telugu converts to Christ in rural South India have often retained key elements of their local worldview. Many have been motivated by a quest for healing from such diseases as smallpox and deliverance from evil spirits, and many retained a strong sense of caste identity long after conversion. (12) Within such contexts, the incarnation might therefore be seen as a means of cultural preservation and as the antithesis of cultural imperialism of any kind.

Christianity can also express itself in various parts of the world through notions of covenant. Indeed, throughout the high imperial era, notions of covenantal chosenness shaped the nationalist ideologies and politics of many European nations. (13) Ideas of chosenness also prevailed within a variety of African and Asian contexts. Among Christians of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Korea, and Northeast India, Bible translation and literacy have contributed to a sense of chosenness centered upon the notion of the Abrahamic covenant. (14)

The notion of the covenant occupied a central place in the thinking of Puritans in North America. In America, covenantal thinking combined a longing for political liberty with resolve to live a holy life. The Puritans interpreted the covenant to mean that the welfare of their souls and their society were linked inseparably. In America's God Mark Noll describes key transitions and episodes in the theological history of America. For instance, the Puritan canopy that once nurtured comprehensive Christian thinking about God and society eventually disintegrated into multiple ways of interpreting the covenant, including those of Baptist radicals, Old Calvinist traditionalists, rationalistic Congregationalists, and moderate Calvinists, to name only a few.

By the end of the eighteenth century, a plethora of theological viewpoints nevertheless managed to form a consensus around Republican virtues, which provided a new vocabulary for the integration of faith and politics. According to Noll, this fusion of Christianity with Republican virtues was of utmost importance in defining American Protestant identity. It is what distinguished American Protestants from those found elsewhere in the North Atlantic world. (15)

Protestant consciousness in America has always resulted from the confluence of theological, societal, and international developments. One could identify the Great Awakenings, the Civil War, the World Wars, the 1960s, and September 11, 2001, as key episodes in America's political and theological history. All of these formative moments are similar in that they sparked fresh reflection on the relationship between Protestant faith and the identity and mission of the American nation.

America's Christian Internationalism

During the early twentieth century, Protestant missions became a key element, not only in shaping American identity, but also in defining America's mission to spread democracy abroad. At this time evangelicals and liberals alike had embraced "internationalism" as a framework for understanding missions. They came to believe in "a moral vision of one world" consisting of nation-states that carried inherent rights to sovereignty and self-determination. Dana Robert describes how "Christian internationalism" flourished during the interwar period. It gained currency after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the presentation of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points concerning the rights of nations, and the growing prominence of the League of Nations.16 The seeds of this vision, however, reside within the American Protestant formula that links Christianity to the production of a just society and in the belief that missions could bring this winning formula "to the nations."

The central observation of this section is that internationalism appears to be incarnational, but in fact it is covenantal. Internationalist perspectives appear to validate difference by recognizing multiple nationalities and their distinctive cultural symbols. They limit difference, however, by enclosing these symbols within the political project of the modern nation, a project whose course is already defined and steered by advanced Western nations. Christian internationalism validates African, Asian, or

Latin American Christian experience only if it catalyzes movement toward political modernity. If Christian conversion in any way impedes this movement--for instance, by reinforcing traditional bonds of kinship or working within "nonrational," supernaturalist frameworks--internationalism renders its place in the world insignificant.

By the end of the nineteenth century, evangelicals came to appreciate the need for indigenous expressions of Christianity within predominantly non-Christian societies. (17) Indigenization, however, simply packaged Western ideals of progress in new cultural clothing. A good illustration of this meaning appears in the much-anthologized story "Khama the Good--the Christian Chief of Africa," included in A. T. Pierson's Miracles of Missions (1901). This particular account summarizes an encounter in 1871 between Reverend James Davidson Hepburn and the Ngwato clan at Shoshong, in Botswana. In language reminiscent of accounts of the great American revivals, it discusses the confrontation of the Gospel with a long list of pagan vices, which included alcohol smuggling, sorcery, slave trading, and harems. It credits Khama, a righteous Christian African chief, for having rescued Shoshong from its descent into tyranny and anarchy and its "hoary ceremonies of superstition." It credits Khama for having established a Christian state in southern Africa. (18)

Another way of interpreting Khama's legacy, however, is to stress the indigenous framework within which Khama's story needs to be situated. During Khama's brief reign Christians had co-opted many ritual ceremonies of the dingaka, or priest healers. In contrast to the missionary narratives, which highlight Khama's moral credentials as a Christian ruler, historian Paul Landau argues that Khama's "cult of the Word" refashioned missionary discourse to serve his own rise to power within the early colonial context of southern Africa. (19) From this perspective, Khama's Christianity operated not according to missionary ideals of civilization but according to local understandings of spiritual, social, and political life.

Similar interpretive problems are present in the legacy of Pandita Ramabai, a high-caste Hindu convert to Christianity who championed social reform for women in India. Recent scholarship has highlighted tensions between the multiple aspects of Ramabai's identity: an ardent feminist, a Christian, an Indian reformer, a nationalist and critic of British cultural imperialism, and, finally, one who developed a deep admiration for the United States. Ramabai praised the elevated status of American women along with other achievements of the American polity in The Peoples of the United States, her recently translated travel narrative.

Underlying Ramabai's praise of American institutions, according to Meera Kosambi, lay her Indian nationalism. Ramabai viewed England as an oppressive imperial force, but America as "an ideal liberating force and indirectly as a precedent for India to follow in its pursuit of political freedom and social reform." (20) Should one conclude from this that there is fundamental agreement between Ramabai's Indianness and the universal telos of Protestant America? Such reasoning wrongly suggests that whenever a prominent Third World Christian criticizes her or his own society or praises another, it universalizes the path of the other's history.

Recent scholarship also has highlighted how Ramabai retained a voice of her own, indeed, an "Indian voice," amid her conversion to Christianity and interactions with the West. Her conversion, as Robert Frykenberg has observed, occurred through multiple stages, during which time she invested classical Hindu notions of svarga (heaven), bhakti (devotion), and mukti (liberty) with new, Christian meanings. (21) The underlying Indianness of Ramabai's Christianity can easily be missed if her life is examined uncritically through the lens of Western Christian media.

The Gospel of Nation Building

Some are inclined to view the rapid expansion of Christianity as a reproduction of the "American gospel" abroad. This is most evident in the use of megacrusades and the growth of megachurches in places such as Nigeria, South Korea, and Brazil, as well as in the conflation of Protestantism with modernization, telecommunications, corporate dollars, and nationalism. This global Christianity, according to Paul Gifford, operates within the theological parameters of American fundamentalism, particularly the aspect that stresses prosperity as a sign of God's blessing. It taps into American Christian broadcasting, a global network of charismatic leaders, and multinational sources of funding. Though the cultural veneer may differ from country to country, Gifford regards this phenomenon of "global Christianity" as essentially American. (22)

Recent projects, largely grounded in political science, more subtly locate global Christianity within an essentially American story. They have examined the church's role in facilitating certain "transitions" within Third World societies--for example, transitions out of both colonialism and authoritarian nationalism into the growth of civil society, multiparty systems, and other democratic reforms. (23)

Global Pentecostalism provides an interesting point of analysis because it can be treated either as a highly America-driven movement or as one that is fully grounded in local supernaturalist worldviews of various non-Western societies. Much of Pentecostalism rejected the discourse of civilization so engrained in other Protestant missions. As science, industrialization, capitalism, and modern bureaucracies structured the lives of ordinary Westerners, Pentecostals maintained a belief in the unmediated and spontaneous activity of God in the lives of believers. (24) God was clearly active in the world, but more as a source of healing and spiritual power than as the underwriter of political liberalism. American Pentecostals eventually appropriated aspects of modernity for their own ends. Such adaptation to a technological age (including the use of print and broadcast media, modern communications, and organizational strategies) accompanied their belief in the supernatural activity of the Spirit without replacing it.

Nigerian Pentecostalism, according to Ruth Marshall, presents a "new political language" in which power is not the monopoly solely of the nation-state. Pentecostal churches offer believers a more democratic access to spiritual power by inviting them to participate in healings, speaking in tongues, exorcisms, the breaking of spells and curses, and other expressions of Christ's authority over the demonic realm. In providing spiritual and material resources to ordinary people, Pentecostalism draws them into "alternative forms of citizenship" that stand at the nexus of both spiritual and worldly (including, but not restricted to, "political") events. (25)

As Pentecostals have grown numerically in Brazil, so has their involvement in politics. The Assemblies of God, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and the Foursquare Church have all produced political candidates who have upheld their sectarian interests. Their involvement dramatically increased after 1985, when Brazil's military regime came to an end and a Constituent Assembly was established. (26)

These studies are careful to assign agency and creativity to African and Latin American Christians in charting out their political destinies. But in the very attempt to identify democratizing impulses of Third World Christianity, to what extent are other kinds of questions ignored--questions, for instance, relating to how conversion redefines or is defined within local communities; how Christian identity takes shape within indigenous knowledge systems; or how conversion affects the way people live their daily lives?

The preoccupation with whether Third World Christianities contribute to political democracy is anchored in the hope that they will eventually do so. Analysis of Christian political involvement assumes an evaluative character. We are inclined to speak of the effectiveness of Pentecostals in securing a political voice for non-elite peoples, the ability of churches to hold states accountable, or the role of Christians in facilitating transitions from dictatorship to freedom or civility. Conversely, we may speak of the failure of Nigerians, in spite of Christian growth, to produce a stable democracy; the ongoing pathology of ethnic strife in Northeast India, in spite of its Christian majority; or the saliency of caste and tribalism within any context where Christianity was expected to have displaced local identities. What alternatives are there to the evaluative mechanisms implied in the very questions we bring to the table?

De-centering America

At issue in any of the above cases are not the merits of democratic institutions but how a non-Western Christian subject is constituted almost exclusively in relation to them. With Protestant America as the prototype, Third World Christianities are at best fledgling variations on a theme. Though one may catch glimpses of the distinctive contours of African or Asian churches, the real point of interest is often whether those churches are en route to producing citizens of modern democratic states. That churches elsewhere might present alternative ways of being Christian or of conceiving the mission of the Gospel is largely ignored.

If the Gospel truly embraces the particularities of history, it must engage worldviews that offer supernatural explanations for everyday events, even as it engages caste, tribe, and ethnicity as important aspects of the human experience. But do not these "irrational" beliefs and "archaic" categories of belonging block any attempt to construct democracy from first principles? Do they not present "an intellectually unmanageable excess when translated into the politics and language of political philosophies we owe to European intellectual traditions"? (27)

In Provincializing Europe, Dipesh Chakrabarty addresses the challenge faced by professional historians of representing supernaturalist views of peasants. He presents an account of the Santal rebellion of 1855, in which the Santals, a tribal people of eastern India, claimed to have been instructed by their god, Thakur, to launch an insurgency against both the British and the Indian elites. Chakrabarty identifies a conflict between the subaltern historian, who wants to assign agency to the Santals in creating their own history, and the Santals themselves, who have identified Thakur as the chief agent of their history. Bound by the discipline of empirical history--however inclusive or democratic be its aims--the historian is unable to explain an event from within the mind-set of the Santals: "The Santal leaders' own understanding of the rebellion does not directly serve the historical cause of democracy or citizenship or socialism. It needs to be reinterpreted. Historians will grant the supernatural a place in somebody's belief system or ritual practices, but to ascribe to it any real agency in historical events will be [to] go against the rules of evidence that give historical discourse procedures for settling disputes about the past." (28) In order to bridge the gap between the historian's worldview and that of the Santal, we must, according to Chakrabarty, recognize both as belonging to a plurality of experience that belongs to our present. To truly understand the nineteenth-century Santals, we must regard them in some real sense as our contemporaries.

Chakrabarty's insights speak to how our historical narratives can impose limits on the nature and extent of Christian difference. Can African or Indian accounts of their own Christian experience be taken at face value, or must they be filtered through stories and ideologies of progress that have shaped the American experience? What would happen if we were to release non-Western Christians from the trammels of our national myths and view them as fellow citizens of the present?

First, we might consider how some aspects of Pentecostalism could draw non-Western Christianity into global contemporaneity with Protestant America. Earlier expressions of American Pentecostalism rarely employed the idiom of American republicanism or progress. They tended not to link personal piety to republican institutions and the pursuit of national progress. On the contrary, early Pentecostal notables such as Charles Parham and Susan Duncan sometimes leveled a blistering critique of America, democracy, and false promises of the political realm. (29) From the days of the Azusa Street Revival (1906)--a movement whose global impact is still being documented-many American Pentecostals have understood themselves to be engaged in a cosmic battle against demonic forces. Their strength derives not from political representation but from Jesus' "blood-based vicarious atonement," the power of his name, and tangible manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

No doubt some elements of an America-centered universe have entered the Pentecostal tradition. Broadcasters such as Pat Robertson clearly have channeled Pentecostal zeal into a rightist interpretation of America's mission. Still, by remaining out of step with the dominant themes of American civil religion, Pentecostals, perhaps more than other American denominations, present a way of encountering African, Asian, or Latin American Christians that actually makes their voices audible.

A second result of releasing non-Western Christians from our national myths is that we might resist the tendency of recent scholarship to extend the path from Christendom to world Christianity into the story of covenant and democratization. By identifying "nation building" as the step that follows conversion, this model imposes limits on the radical pluralism of world Christianity. Perhaps we might consider "freedom in Christ" as a more fitting extension. "Freedom" here would not be conceived as a doctrine of political liberty but as New Testament eschatological freedom, freedom from the law or the command that kills (Romans 7). For early Gentile converts, this freedom had profoundly subversive implications, not only with respect to the ritual order of first-century Judaism, but also in relation to the cult of the Roman emperor.

Within more contemporary contexts, eschatological freedom could inspire movement toward associational life, social activism, popular movements, electoral participation, and other characteristics typically associated with democracy. But such paths of development are neither historically nor theologically necessary. Neither are they the exclusive property of Protestantism. The same freedom may yield other forms of political expression or non-expression. Converts may reconstitute their ethnic selves and restructure relationships with other groups, resist certain forms of capitalist expansion or American power, or thrive indefinitely as oppressed minorities. They may also display "recessive" tendencies of Christian history well-documented by Latourette and Walls. Whatever the case may be, historical trajectories of Christians are not determined by a single story but are being worked out according to the unpredictable guidance of the Spirit working upon the human will.

One possible objection to this alternative view of freedom would be to argue that it separates faith from the larger workings of politics and society, thus marginalizing Christians from these aspects of history. The problem with this objection is that it assumes that conversion within Third World contexts never had significant societal implications to begin with, or that such implications can be appreciated only in relation to an American template for historical progress. Recent studies on conversion in South India and East Africa clearly demonstrate how conversion, rather than consisting purely of a change in belief, functioned as a form of cultural criticism and engagement. (30) Dalit conversion in India was an act of social protest against upper-caste domination. Similarly, "Bible women" within churches of colonial Kenya confronted a moral crisis within Kikuyu culture that resulted from their men being dispossessed of land. (31) Far from being steeped in a detached, inward piety, conversion within such contexts bears immediate connections to cultural, social, and political reality. But do scholars possess the interest or the tools for exploring these connections?

Simply said, to assume that the only way to think comprehensively about faith and society is to do so within the theological categories of Protestant America is to ignore the richness and variety of other forms of Christian engagement occurring elsewhere in the world. How scholars narrativize the changing demographics of the church carries weighty implications. Their accounts may deepen our appreciation for the incarnation or coopt new Christian movements for the cause of Pax-Americana.


(1.) My sincerest thanks to colleagues who have read and offered valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this essay: Eric Carlsson, Elesha Coffman, Thomas Fikes, Michael Jindra, Mark Noll, Derek Peterson, and Richard Pointer.

(2.) The support given by conservative evangelicals to the Bush administration's "war on terror" and the president's own assertion that "God is for freedom" shows how a relationship between religion and "America's mission" has sustained itself to this day. See "George Bush and God: A Hot Line to Heaven," Economist, December 18-31, 2004, p. 39.

(3.) In 1941 Lesslie Newbigin delivered a series of lectures in Bangalore, India, attempting to delink the Christian message from Western ideals of progress. These lectures have recently been published in Signs amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History, ed. Geoffrey Wainwright (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

(4.) This question parallels those raised by Dipesh Chakrabarty in Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2000). I discuss Chakrabarty's ideas below.

(5.) "From Christendom to World Christianity" was the theme of the first of the Yale-Edinburgh Meetings on the Missionary Movement and Non-Western Christianity, organized by Sanneh and Walls, March 26-28, 1992. This theme is developed in Andrew Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2002), pp. 49-71, and in Lamin Sanneh, Encountering the West: Christianity and the Global Cultural Process; The African Dimension (London: HarperCollins, 1993), pp. 184-229.

(6.) For an excellent review of the Africa literature, see the opening chapter, "Narratives of Religion and Empire," in J. D. Y. Peel, Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2000).

(7.) Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and lts Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993), p. 5.

(8.) Walls, Cross-Cultural Process, p.132.Regarding Enlightenment values such as formal education, economic development, and modernization, Walls notes, "It is important to recognize that Christianity has made itself at home in Africa independently of these things as well as in association with them" (ibid.).

(9.) Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1989), pp. 174-81. See also Adrian Hastings, The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationalism (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 151-52, 194-95.

(10.) Hastings, Construction of Nationhood, p. 163.

(11.) B. S. Kesavan acknowledges missionary contributions throughout his History of Printing and Publishing in India: A Story of Cultural Reawakening, vol. 2 (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1988). See also Peter Schmitthenner, Telugu Resurgence: C. P. Brown and Cultural Consolidation in Nineteenth-Century South India (New Delhi: Manohar, 2001).

(12.) See P. Y. Luke and John B. Carman, Village Christians and Hindu Culture: Study of a Rural Church in Andhra Pradesh, South India (London: Lutterworth Press, 1968), pp. 149-54.

(13.) For a detailed discussion of European examples, see William R. Hutchinson and Hartmut Lehmann, eds., Many Are Chosen: Divine Election and Western Nationalism (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994).

(14.) See Hastings, Construction of Nationhood, pp. 185-97, and Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), pp. 131-39.

(15.) Mark Noll, America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), p. 54.

(16.) Dana Robert, "The First Globalization: The Internationalization of the Protestant Missionary Movement Between the World Wars," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 26 (April 2002): 50-57.

(17.) Many adopted the insights of Henry Venn, the renowned advocate of "missionary euthanasia," and Rufus Anderson, the foreign corresponding secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who tried to separate Scripture-based goals of Christian missions from the "civilizing mission" of colonialism. See Wilbert R. Shenk, "Henry Venn, 1796-1873: Champion of Indigenous Church Principles," and R. Pierce Beaver, "Rufus Anderson, 1796-1880: To Evangelize, Not Civilize," in Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, ed. Gerald H. Anderson et al. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1994), pp. 541-47 and 548-53.

(18.) "On the ruins of anarchy and social chaos he built up a Christian state, stable and orderly, and he made home sacred and a purer morality to grow up side by side with better crops" (A. T. Pierson, The Miracles of Missions, 4th ser. [New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1901], p. 36).

(19.) Paul Landau, The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender, and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1995), pp. 8, 17-29.

(20.) Pandita Ramabai, Pandita Ramabai's American Encounter: The Peoples of the United States, trans. Meera Kosambi (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2003), p. 6.

(21.) See Robert Frykenberg's extremely thorough biographical introduction to Pandita Ramabai in Pandita Ramabai's America: Conditions of Life in the United States (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), pp. 1-54.

(22.) For a thorough treatment of this "American gospel" abroad, see Steve Brouwer, Paul Gifford, and Susan D. Rose, Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism (New York: Routledge, 1996).

(23.) In June 2002, for instance, the Pew Charitable Trusts sponsored a conference, "The Bible and the Ballot Box: Evangelical Christianity and Third World Democracy," directed by Vinay Samuel and Timothy Samuel Shah. The conference drew scholars from Africa, Asia, and Latin America to address the question of how evangelicalism is influencing the development of democracy within non-Western societies.

(24.) Jay Riley Case, "Ignoring Civilization? Conversion in the Holiness and Pentecostal Missionary Movements, 1880-1920" (paper presented at the Yale-Edinburgh Meeting on the Missionary Movement and Non-Western Christianity, New Haven, July 3-5, 2003), p. 8.

(25.) Ruth Marshall, "God Is Not a Democrat: Pentecostalism and Democratization in Nigeria," in The Christian Churches and the Democratization of Africa, ed. Paul Gifford (Leiden: Brill, 1995), p. 247. 26. On the subject of Pentecostal politicizationin Brazil, see Paul Freston, Evangelicals in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001), pp. 21, 22.

(27.) Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, p. 148.

(28.) Ibid, p. 104.

(29.) Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 2001), pp. 218-19.

(30.) See, for instance, Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998).

(31.) Derek Peterson, Creative Writing: Translation, Bookkeeping, and the Work of Imagination in Colonial Kenya (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2004), pp. 163-88.

Chandra Mallampalli is Assistant Professor of History at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. He is the author of Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863-1937 (RoutledgeCurzon, 2004).

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