An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920

By Jay Riley Case | Go to book overview

9
And Ever the Twain Shall Meet

In her private letters, the twenty-four-year-old Indian woman, Pandita Ramabai, called Sister Geraldine “Ajeebai,” an affectionate term meaning “grandmother.” Ramabai did not, however, automatically defer to Sister Geraldine in theology, even though she looked to this English missionary for spiritual guidance and insight. This stance unsettled Sister Geraldine, who considered herself to be Ramabai’s spiritual mentor, a role she took very seriously. That role included a public dimension, for Ramabai already had made a name for herself in India and Great Britain. Many people were watching her.1

Born in 1858 to a Brahmin priest, Ramabai grew up immersed in Hindu religious practices. Her upbringing departed from the traditional paths in two very significant ways, however: her father refused to arrange a marriage for her as a child, and he educated her in the sacred language of Sanskrit. By the age of eighteen, Ramabai had deeply impressed Hindu scholars in Calcutta with her erudition and scholarly attainments. She moved to Poona (known today as Pune), where she established a reform movement, advocated female education, and wrote a book on the status of women in India. She also met several Christians, including Sister Geraldine, who belonged to an Anglican order known as the Community of St. Mary the Virgin (CSMV). Ramabai then made her way to England in 1883, so that she could expand her education and better serve the women of India. Sister Geraldine returned as well, helping Ramabai settle in with the CSMV order and enroll at Cheltenham Ladies College. After about a year in England, Ramabai converted to Christianity.2

Ramabai’s conversion disturbed leading Hindus and thrilled leading Christians. Quite aware that many people looked with intense interest on the life of this intelligent, reform-minded young Indian woman, Sister Geraldine felt a responsibility to guide Ramabai into a mature Christian faith, which Sister Geraldine understood to be the practices and theology of high-church Anglicanism. The irrepressible convert, however, did not see the Church of England as the sole repository of mature Christian faith. Although they agreed on many points of theology, Ramabai and Sister Geraldine sparred with each other over several issues, including the Athanasian Creed, church authority, and the validity of

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An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Part One 17
  • 1- American Baptists and the "Wild" Karen People of Burma 19
  • 2- The Challenge of Karen Christianity 48
  • 3- The Native Ministry in the United States 74
  • Part Two 101
  • 4- An Appalachian Revivalist in Queen Victoria’s Colonies 103
  • 5- The Circuit-Riding Missionary and Gilded Age Methodism 128
  • Part Three 157
  • 6- The African-American Great Awakening 159
  • 7- The Ame Church and South Africa 183
  • Part Four 207
  • 8- Holiness Conversions 209
  • 9- And Ever the Twain Shall Meet 231
  • Epilogue 256
  • Notes 261
  • Index 301
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