Nothing but Christ: Rufus Anderson and the Ideology of Protestant Foreign Missions

Article excerpt

Nothing but Christ: Rufus Anderson and the Ideology of Protestant Foreign Missions.

By Paul William Harris. New York, N.Y.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999. Pp. viii, 204. $39.95.

This book challenges the preoccupation of previous students of Rufus Anderson (1796-1880) with his ideas, and with "the false dichotomy of 'civilization' versus Christianization" (p. 163) in missionary thought. Paul William Harris, professor of history and department chair at Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minnesota, approaches Anderson by focusing on the contexts and consequences of missionary policies and practices. He examines important developments in the missions of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Hawaii, Turkey, South India, and Sri Lanka,including Anderson's controversial deputation of 1854. In the process he provides a wealth of previously unpublished information about Anderson's activities. Harris's portrait of Anderson directly challenges what he sees as the overly positive picture of Anderson as a pioneering cultural relativist.

Harris asserts that those involved in missions should be judged not on their intentions but "on the usefulness of what they had to offer for meeting the needs and aspirations of their indigenous clients" (p. 14). He is most interested in the external social, economic, and political factors that shaped missionary policies. …


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