Healing in the History of Christianity

By Amanda Porterfield | Go to book overview

5
Healing in Western
Christianity's Global
Expansion

Beginning in the sixteenth century, Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit, and other Catholic orders reintroduced Christianity in India, Persia, China, and Africa, where it had diminished or died out during the Middle Ages. They also brought Christianity to new regions in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, where it had been little if ever known. British, German, Dutch, and Danish Protestants began organizing mission societies in the seventeenth century, and by the middle of the nineteenth, Protestant missions were growing faster than any other branch of Christian missions. In Britain and America, support for foreign missions became a hallmark of evangelical religion, and the self-sacrificing benevolence demonstrated by missionaries was hugely admired, especially among evangelical women.1

Western missionary endeavors coincided with Western political and economic expansion. Initially, Western religious outreach developed in tandem with the imperialism of Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, Dutch, and German rulers eager to develop trade and win sovereignty over new lands and peoples. Later in the nineteenth century, the fast-growing global expansion of Protestant Christianity coincided with full-scale industrial development in western Europe and the United States and with aggressive effort on the part of Western businesses to extract minerals and develop agricultural resources in non-Western regions.

New and more proficient ways of seeing and manipulating the world often served Western business investments and colonial rule

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