Magazine article International Bulletin of Missionary Research

Christian Missions and the Enlightenment

Magazine article International Bulletin of Missionary Research

Christian Missions and the Enlightenment

Article excerpt

Christian Missions and the Enlightenment.

Edited by Brian Stanley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001. Pp. xi, 246. $45.

In an excellent chapter introducing the eight essays of this volume-all originally delivered at conferences sponsored by the North Atlantic Missiology Project-Brian Stanley argues that missionaries of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries stand in a more complicated relationship to the Enlightenment than is often alleged. If the modern missionary movement was a child of the Enlightenment, it was sometimes a rebellious one, and the strength of this volume is that its authors resist the prevailing tendency to "explain" the missionary movement as a simple byproduct of the era's intellectual ferment.

For example, Andrew F. Walls maintains that missions theory in the period derived less from Enlightenment thinking than from a Christendom mindset that antedated it. Chapters by Jane Samson and Brian Stanley suggest that a belief in the equal depravity of all peoples sometimes tempered the cultural pretentiousness missionaries inherited from their time.

The great importance of the Scottish Enlightenment, which domesticated the Aufklarung's anti-Christian elements, figures prominently in several essays. …

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