Missions and Empire

By Norman Etherington; Roger Louis | Go to book overview

11
New Religious Movements

ROBERT EDGAR

Movements of reformation, renewal, and innovation have historically accompanied the spread of Christianity to different parts of the world. This is particularly true of the British Empire, where colonized peoples interrogated, challenged, reinterpreted, and assimilated Christianity. Sometimes the vehicle for challenge was an established mission church, but at other times it was a new religious movement. In colonial Africa and New Zealand independent churches took many forms: challenges to mission denominations; spirit churches that addressed health concerns; religious movements that responded to land conquest; and millenarian movements that appeared to challenge the colonial state.


Declarations of Independence

Colonized peoples challenged mission Christianity in the late nineteenth century through the founding of independent churches. The racist and domineering leadership of many European missionaries and their condemnations of African cultural practices often precipitated these first painful schisms. Some splits took place before colonial rule. In Nigeria cultural and leadership disputes precipitated African breakaways from Methodist, Anglican, and Baptist missions in Yoruba areas of the Niger delta. In 1888 David Brown Vincent split from the American-sponsored Baptist Church in Lagos to establish the Native Baptist Church. Africanizing his name to Mojola Agbebi, he challenged Baptist doctrine forbidding polygyny and argued for an autonomous African church freed from the 'apron strings of foreign teachers'. Several years later a breakaway from the Church Missionary Society (CMS) primarily stemmed from its treatment of Bishop Samuel Crowther, one of the few Africans in a leadership position. European missionaries marginalized and humiliated Crowther before his death, and the CMS hierarchy refused to select an African as his successor. Disaffected members

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Missions and Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • List of Contributors xi
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: Prelude: the Christianizing of British America 19
  • 3: An Overview,1700–1914 40
  • 4: Humanitarians and White Settlers in the Nineteenth Century 64
  • 5: Where the Missionary Frontier Ran Ahead of Empire 86
  • 6: Christian Missions and the Raj 107
  • 7: New Christians as Evangelists 132
  • 8: 'trained to Tell the Truth': Missionaries, Converts, and Narration 153
  • 9: Women and Cultural Exchanges 173
  • 10: Language 194
  • 11: New Religious Movements 216
  • 12: Anthropology 238
  • 13: Education and Medicine 261
  • 14: Decolonization 285
  • Index 307
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