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LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

A SKETCH THROUGH THE HISTORY OF MODERN PROTESTANT MISSIONS

A PAPER SUBMITTED TO DR. KEVIN KING

IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR

THE COURSE CHHI 525

BY

JUSTIN OWENS

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2010


Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………. 1

Pietists and the Moravian Missions Movement………………………………………………….. 1

William Carey‟s Influence on Modern Missions………………………………………………… 4

J. Hudson Taylor and His Role in Modern Missions……………………………………………... 7

Mission Societies and their Impact……………………………………………………………… 10

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………. 12

Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………….. 14
1

Introduction

Missions, in some form, has been going on since the time of Christ. From the first

apostles, to the missionaries in the Middle Ages and then into the modern and postmodern ages,

missions has never ceased. Protestant missions, however, received a big boost in the late

eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the advent of the modern missions movement.

This paper sketches the history of modern Protestant missions beginning with a look at the

Pietists and Moravians, then examines the lives and careers of William Carey and J. Hudson

Taylor. This paper also argues for the use of mission societies that played such an integral role

in modern missions.

Pietists and The Moravian Missions Movement

The Moravians were a group of people that originated out of Bohemia (or modern Czech

Republic) from the teachings of John Huss in the fifteenth century. Throughout the centuries,

they endured in one way or another in staying alive as a Protestant denomination. The

Moravians had a great zeal for missions. The modern mission movement among the Moravians

grew out of the Pietist movement in Germany in the early eighteenth century. Pietism gained

momentum in Europe under Philipp Jakob Spener in the late seventeenth to early eighteenth

centuries. Spener began Bible studies and emphasized personal piety among his followers. One

of his greatest followers was August Hermann Francke. Francke was a professor at the

University of Halle in Germany and, like Spener before him, “he also paid more attention to the

relationship between Pietism and traditional Lutheran theology.”1

Gonzalez also notes that, “At first the Pietists were not interested in world missions,

although they were active in meeting the needs of their fellow Christians by founding schools

1
Justo L. Gonzalez, The Reformation to the Present Day, vol. 2 of The Story of Christianity (New York,
NY: HarperOne, 1985), 207.
2

and institutions to serve orphans, the poor, and others in need.”2 The king of Denmark, in 1707,

decided to send missionaries to his Indian colonies and requested that Francke recommend and

send two men. Of the two, Bartholomäeus Ziegenbalg is argued by Paul Jenkins in his review of

Daniel Jeyaraj‟s Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, the Father of Modern Protestant Mission: An Indian

Assessment to be the “father of modern missions” as opposed to William Carey.

Jenkins includes in his review Jeyaraj‟s statement that “the key foundation date in the

development of modern Protestant missions was 1706 (Ziegenbalg‟s arrival in South India)

rather than 1792 (the year William Carey‟s Baptist Missionary Society was founded).” 3 A. Scott

Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee further develop Ziegenbalg‟s career by stating

that he “became fluent in the Tamil language and translated a large part of the Old Testament

and the entire New Testament.”4 Though Ziegenbalg‟s ministry seems to be very similar to that

of Carey‟s, calling him the “father of modern Protestant missions” seems to go a bit far. Though

he was sent and served as a missionary before William Carey did, Carey‟s influence on modern

missions did more to change the minds of people than Ziegenbalg.

The Moravian missions movement gained its greatest zeal and drive from the group of

Moravian refugees who took refuge with Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. The group of

refugees founded a village at Herrnhut and soon Zinzendorf joined them. Gonzalez tells of the

rise of Zinzendorf‟s missionary zeal. He notes that “in 1731, while in Denmark, Zinzendorf

meta group of Eskimos who had been converted by the Lutheran missionary Hans Egede, and

2
Gonzalez, 208.
3
Paul Jenkins, “Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, The Father of Modern Protestant Mission: an Indian
Assessment” in International Bulletin of Missionary Research 31, no. 4 (October 1, 2007), 217.
4
A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions, (Grand Rapids:
Baker Academic, 2004), 123.
3

this kindled in him an interest in missions that would dominate the rest of his life.” 5 Gonzalez

goes on to note that because of Zinzendorf‟s newly found zeal for missions, the village at

Herrnhut “burned with the same zeal, and in 1732 its first missionaries left for the Caribbean.” 6

The Moravians sent missionaries to many different places including Africa, North and South

America, India, and into other parts of Europe.

Specifically, the Moravians had an impact on missions in Estonia, where this author

currently serves. Pietists had already been active in Estonia but had created a kind of elitism

among their followers. The website Estonica: Encyclopedia about Estonia tells of the Moravian

influence saying, “In contrast to the elitist Pietism, emphasizing penitence in the spirit of the Old

Testament, the christocratic theological approach of the Moravians made them an optimistic and

popular movement. This began to spread widely among Estonian peasants in the 1730s, when the

founder of the movement, Count Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, visited Estonia.”7 The

Moravians had such an impact on the awakening of religion in Estonia that Estonica notes that

“it was the Moravian movement that truly awakened a great number of Estonians to spontaneous

and enthusiastic acceptance of the Christian truths.”8 Moreau, Corwin, and McGee note that

because of the Moravians‟ determination to “reach souls for the Lamb, [they] became devoted to

mission and were far ahead of their time in strategy and conception of Christian unity.” 9 As the

Moravians‟ influence began in the late seventeenth to early eighteenth century, the latter half of

5
Gonzalez, 208.
6
Ibid., 209.
7
Estonica: Encyclopedia about Estonia. “Influences of Pietism and the Moravian Brethren,” Estonica.org.
Available from http://www.estonica.org/en/History/1710-
1850_The_Baltic_Landesstaat/Influences_of_Pietism_and_the_Moravian_Brethren/; Internet; accessed October 13,
2010.
8
Ibid.
9
Moreau, Corwin and McGee, 123.
4

the eighteenth century saw the continuation of the modern missions movement with the work of

William Carey.

William Carey’s Influence on Modern Missions

The next great chapter in the history of modern Protestant missions centers on William

Carey. William Carey was born in the village of Paulerspury in Northamptonshire, England on

August 17, 1761. Though he was raised in an Anglican home, he eventually became a Baptist.

Carey was, according to George Smith a “village shoemaker till he was twenty-eight years of

age.”10 In the year 1789, “Carey was called to the pastorate of Harvey Lane Church at Leicester.

Here he was brought into association with men of culture, and books were freely placed at his

disposal.”11 These books and men of culture likely influenced him in his convictions toward the

Great Commission and his future influence on the modern missions movement.

In 1792, several things happened in the life of Carey. The first was the publication of his

pamphlet An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the

Heathen. It was in this pamphlet that Carey argued that the Great Commission is still binding on

Christians today and was not limited to the apostles. One of the more influential points that he

makes in his argument is that if the task of teaching all nations were reserved for the apostles,

then so was baptism and Jesus‟ promise to be with them until the end of the age. By a systematic

and expository analysis of Matthew 28:18-20, Carey effectively argues that because churches

10
George Smith, The Life of William Carey (Project Gutenberg, 2009 [EBook #2056], Amazon Kindle
Edition), locations 50-57.
11
Wholesome Words. “William Carey.” Copied and coded by Stephen Ross for Wholesomewords.org
from Great Missionaries of the Church by Charles Creegan and Josephine Goodnow. New York: Thomas Y.
Crowell, 1895. Available from: http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/bcarey12.html; Internet; accessed
October 12, 2010.
5

still baptize believers, then believers must continue to bring the gospel message to the ends of the

earth.12

The second influential thing that happened in Carey‟s life in 1792 was his address at the

Northamptonshire Association annual meeting. Carey‟s main theme was “lengthen the cord;

strengthen the stakes.” It was in this sermon that Carey proclaimed “expect great things from

God; attempt great things for God.” Doyle Young says that “the effect was electric, producing

considerable conviction. A discussion afterwards led the ministers to agree to consider a plan for

organizing a mission society at the next ministers‟ meeting, to be held at Andrew Fuller‟s church

in Kettering in October.”13 Thus the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the

Gospel Among the Heathen was formed and later took on the name of Baptist Missionary

Society. The very next year at the meeting of the Society, Carey was chosen to go as a

missionary to India. In 1793, Carey arrived in Calcutta, India with his family and a doctor who

would be with him in his missionary endeavors.

The effect of Carey‟s ministry was extensive. David A. Schattschneider, in his article

William Carey, Modern Missions, and the Moravian Influence, writes that “in 1800, with the

arrival of additional missionaries and the establishment of mission headquarters in Serampore,

the Baptist work was set upon a firm foundation. Despite some later setbacks, by the time of

Carey‟s death the Baptist mission was well established. 14 Carey had an uncanny ability for

language learning. He translated the Bible or parts of it, according to John D.W. Watts, into “22

12
William Carey, “An Enquiry Into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the
Heathens” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven Hawthorne
(Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 314.
13
Doyle L. Young, “Andrew Fuller and the modern mission movement” in Baptist History and Heritage 17,
no. 4 (October 1, 1982), 19.
14
David A. Schattschneider, “William Carey, Modern Missions, and the Moravian Influence” in
International Bulletin of Missionary Research 22, no. 1 (January 1, 1998), 9.
6

Indian languages.”15 Gonzalez offers a differing account by stating that Carey had translated the

Bible or parts of it “into thirty-five languages.”16 Carey had very peculiar beginnings in India.

Watts notes that, “He had no permit to reside in India. For five years the only way in which he

could escape arrest and find means to maintain his family was to take service as manager of an

indigo plantation in the interior of Bengal. Here little missionary work was possible; but Carey

was able to lay the foundations for his splendid knowledge of the Bengali language.”17

It is interesting to find that a missionary such as Carey would seek to elude authorities for

five years in order to perform little mission work other than gaining further aptitude

linguistically. Five years in a foreign land constantly escaping law enforcement can add to a

multitude of culture shock. However, as history has shown, Carey endured these hiccups in the

beginnings of his missionary endeavors and began a work that was continued for generations to

come.

One of the major things that Carey and his group did while in India was to form a higher

educational institution. They wanted an institution “which could prepare native preachers for

evangelism and the churches, as well as schoolmasters for the schools.”18 This institution was

supported by the King of Denmark and, according to Watts, “the college and its system of

theological education is the most obvious monument to the vision and achievements of the

Serampore trio that is extant today.”19

15
John D.W. Watts, “Baptists and the transformation of culture: a case study from the career of William
Carey” in Review & Expositor 89, no. 1 (December 1, 1992), 12.
16
Gonzalez, 310.
17
Watts, 13.
18
Ibid., 16.
19
Ibid., 17.
7

William Carey‟s role in modern Protestant missions was integral in the beginnings of

mission societies and the sending forth of missionaries to various parts of the globe. His

influence on missions is still felt today with missionaries still being sent out by mission agencies

and churches to many different countries. However, Carey was not alone in his missions

endeavors. As previously seen, the Moravians were very active and were contemporaries of

Carey. Schattschneider notes thus that “William Carey and the Moravians thus worked as part of

a single network. They all labored at crucial turning points in the development of Protestant

missions, and their stories qualify as great moments in missionary history.”20 In 1834, Carey

died, but the missions zeal that he instigated in his generation continued into the next with the

work and ministry of J. Hudson Taylor.

J. Hudson Taylor and His Role in Modern Missions

James Hudson Taylor was born May 21, 1832 in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England in a

Methodist family. J. Herbert Kane, when speaking of Taylor‟s conversion experience says, “At

seventeen years of age he experienced a quiet but rather unusual conversion, not unlike that of

John Wesley, which resulted in a full assurance of salvation that never left him.”21 What is

interesting to note is that Taylor in his Autobiography of a Missionary tells that he was about

fifteen years of age. Kane is correct in saying that it was an unusual conversion as Taylor

himself proclaims that while on holiday he was looking through his father‟s library for

something to read when, “I turned over a little basket of pamphlets, and selected from amongst

them a Gospel tract which looked interesting, saying to myself, „There will be a story at the

commencement, and a sermon or moral at the close: I will take the former and leave the latter for

20
Schattschneider, 12.
21
J. Herbert Kane, “The legacy of J. Hudson Taylor” in International Bulletin of Missionary Research 8,
no. 2 (April 1, 1984), 74
8

those who like it.‟”22 He goes on to say that when reading through the tract that he comes to the

conclusion that Christ‟s work is finished and all he had to do was to accept Him which he did.

What is also interesting about his conversion experience concerns his mother. At the time, she

was away and nowhere near Taylor and became intensely burdened for his salvation. Taylor

writes that at the place where she was,

She went to her room and turned the key in the door, resolved not to leave that spot until
her prayers were answered. Hour after hour did that dear mother plead for me, until at
length she could pray no longer, but was constrained to praise God for that which His
Spirit taught her had already been accomplished—the conversion of her only son.23

He concludes the whole affair by saying, “Thus while my dear mother was praising God on her

knees in her chamber, I was praising Him in the old warehouse to which I had gone alone to read

at my leisure this little book.”24

Taylor‟s father, before Taylor himself was born, became interested in the spiritual state of

China. He was unable to go as a missionary because, according to Taylor, “his circumstances

were such as to preclude the hope of his ever going to China for personal service, but he was led

to pray that if God should give him a son, he might be called an privileged to labour in the vast

needy empire which was then apparently so sealed against the truth.”25 God answered this

prayer as Taylor confesses his call to missions saying, “the impression was wrought into my soul

that it was in China the Lord wanted me.”26

22
J. Hudson Taylor, The Autobiography of a Missionary (Douglas Editions, 2009, Kindle e-book), locations
83-92.
23
Ibid., locations 92-109.
24
Ibid., locations 100-118.
25
Ibid., locations 57-66.
26
Ibid., locations 143-152.
9

In 1853, Taylor made his first trip to China under, according to Kane, “the auspices of the

Chinese Evangelization Society (CES).”27 Taylor‟s initial zeal for evangelization and literature

distribution allowed for many Chinese people to hear the gospel message. After some initial

trials with rebels and bandits, Taylor recalls a moment when he was able to preach the gospel to

a town of around one thousand people. He notes that as an outcome of his preaching,

I heard one of our hearers repeating to the newcomers, in his own local dialect, the truths
upon which I had been dwelling! Oh, how thankful I felt to hear a Chinaman, of his own
accord, telling his fellow-countrymen that God loved them; that they were sinners, but
that Jesus had died instead of them, and paid the penalty of their guilt. That one moment
repaid me for all the trials we had passed through; and I felt that if the Lord should grant
His Holy Spirit to change the heart of that man, we had not come in vain. 28

Also, at this town, Taylor and his colleagues distributed Bibles and gospel tracts because they

wanted them to at least go away with the gospel.

Taylor and his colleagues continued to minister in China for many years. However, in

1860, just seven years after Taylor arrived in China, he was forced to depart from China because

of his health. He writes,

It was hard to face this possibility. The growing church and work seemed to need our
presence, and it was no small trial to part from those whom we had learned so truly to
live in the Lord. At last, however, completely prostrated by repeated attacks of illness,
the only hope of restoration seemed to lie in a voyage to England and a brief stay in its
more bracing climate; and this necessity, painful though it seemed at the time, proved to
be only another opportunity for the manifestation of the faithfulness and loving care of
Him “who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” 29

His unwanted departure from China allowed for the next phase of his ministry to begin as these

events led to the founding of the China Inland Mission of which became a major society that

spread the gospel throughout China. Taylor‟s role in the early missions endeavors in China

27
Kane, 74.
28
Taylor, locations 754-762.
29
Ibid., locations 1679-1696.
10

paved the way for more mission work to be done in China; a work that continues to this very

day.

Mission Societies and their Impact

In the nineteenth century, the formation of mission societies had a huge impact on the

efforts of modern Protestant missions. With the beginning being with Carey and his associates in

the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792, a swarm of societies were formed in the

next century that sent out missionaries in an attempt to win the world for Jesus Christ. Though

groups such as the Moravians did not send missionaries through societies, but rather through a

coalition of churches, the use of mission societies had a far greater impact on modern missions

than the strategy of the Moravians. Following the Baptist Missionary Society, the London

Missionary Society was formed in 1795. It was with this society that David Livingstone was

associated and whose efforts sought to bring the gospel to the people of interior Africa.

The effects of mission societies were felt far and wide. For example, Taylor‟s China

Inland Mission had influence in Australia among societies attempting to reach aboriginal

peoples. The influence is found in Taylor‟s approach to faith and prayer for his needs instead of

an appeal for support. Taylor, being sent by the Chinese Evangelization Society, was dependent

upon them for funds and support. However, when the support dried up, Taylor “Taylor withdrew

from them and depended upon God for his physical needs.” 30 This dependence upon God for his

needs is reminiscent of George Müller‟s faith and the events that happened at his orphanage in

England. Taylor began to place an emphasis on not appealing for support, but merely depending

on God to supply his every need through fervent prayer. This strategy among Taylor and his

30
Alison Longworth, “Upon past Ebenezers we built our Jehovah-Jireh: The vision of the Australian
Aborigines‟ Mission and its heritage in the China Inland Mission,” in Journal of Religious History 31, no. 2 (June 1,
2007), 176.
11

colleagues was one that was emulated by many others and was one of the things that Taylor

implemented in the founding of the China Inland Mission. As such, Alison Longworth writes

that “in 1902, the New South Wales Aborigines‟ Mission found that financial constraints

hindered them from achieving their vision and they adopted the faith mission principles

of the China Inland Mission.” 31

The strategies in which missions was carried out by the various societies differed. The

China Inland Mission, focused on faith missions and the desire to become insiders, “pressed its

missionaries to work in the interior as well as to learn the language, eat local food, wear

customary clothes, and observe Chinese etiquette.”32 Work for the China Inland Mission was

centered in China and not in England as other societies had done. In this fashion, the specific

needs of the people could better be addressed by a local organization rather than one that was

thousands of miles away in England. In contrast, Carey and his Baptist Missionary Society

conducted the work from England with Carey regularly sending reports back to England to the

churches.

The use of mission societies allows for the work of world evangelization to grow by leaps

and bounds in contrast to one church sending a missionary. The view of this author is that a

mission sending organization, such as the missions societies of the nineteenth century, have far

greater effectiveness in the task of missions. Missions societies or organizations have more

resources available to them as they are usually an association or convention of churches who

pool their resources together for the common missions task. Andrew F. Walls in his book The

Missionary Movement in Christian History describes a missions society while part of “a

voluntary association, individuals, churches, and congregations freely act together for an object

31
Ibid., 169.
32
Moreau, Corwin and McGee, 131.
12

of common interest. It is essentially a pragmatic approach, the design of an instrument for a

specific purpose.”33 Thus, mission societies are formed at the behest of the churches that are in

association together as a means to spread the gospel to the whole world.

While many churches not affiliated with any mission society or organization do in fact

send missionaries, the missionaries supported by these churches are often times limited in

resources that a mission society provides. Sending missionaries through missions societies or

organizations allow for more member care to be provided by the association, more prayer

support through the various churches during association wide missions events, and for a more

stable support base from numerous churches channeled through the mission organization.

Because of the dramatic impact that missions societies have had through the birth and growth of

the modern missions movement, the continued use of these societies by missionaries can play a

vital role in the effectiveness of the mission and in the personal life of the missionary himself.

Conclusion

Missions has not been an isolated event that has simply been going on since the latter part

of the eighteenth century. Missions have been an integral part of the church dating back to the

time of Paul and the ministries of the other apostles. Modern Protestant missions began through

the efforts of the Pietists and the Moravians in Europe through the sending of missionaries to

Africa, North and South America, India, and to other parts of Europe. William Carey‟s emphasis

on the Great Commission in his Enquiry gave modern missions a renewed mindset toward the

missionary enterprise. With the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society, the publication of

the Enquiry, and his own service as a missionary, William Carey has been bestowed the title of

“father of modern missions.”

33
Andrew F. Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996),
242.
13

J. Hudson Taylor, as the next generation of modern missions, had a very successful

career in China which led to the formation of the China Inland Mission. This and other mission

societies had far reaching influence in strategy in various other nations. The use of mission

societies today is still needed and provides one of the most effective means for sending

missionaries, supporting missionaries, and reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
14

Bibliography

Carey, William. “An Enquiry Into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion
of the Heathens” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement edited by Ralph D.
Winter and Steven Hawthorne, 312-318. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009.

Estonica: Encyclopedia about Estonia. “Influences of Pietism and the Moravian Brethren,”
Estonica.org. Available from http://www.estonica.org/en/History/1710-
1850_The_Baltic_Landesstaat/Influences_of_Pietism_and_the_Moravian_Brethren/;
Internet; accessed October 13, 2010.

Gonzalez, Justo L. The Reformation to the Present Day. Vol. 2 of The Story of Christianity.
New York, NY: HarperOne, 1985.

Jenkins, Paul. “Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, The Father of Modern Protestant Mission: an Indian
Assessment.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 31, no. 4 (October 1, 2007):
217-219.

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Longworth, Alison. “Upon Past Ebenezers We Built our Jehovah-Jireh: The Vision of the
Australian Aborigines' Mission and its Heritage in the China Inland Mission.” Journal of
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Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

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International Bulletin of Missionary Research 22, no. 1 (January 1, 1998): 8-10.

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Watts, John D. W. “Baptists and the Transformation of Culture: A Case Study from the Career
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15

Wholesome Words. “William Carey.” Copied and coded by Stephen Ross for
Wholesomewords.org from Great Missionaries of the Church by Charles Creegan and
Josephine Goodnow. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1895. Available from:
http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/bcarey12.html; Internet; accessed October 12,
2010.

Young, Doyle L. “Andrew Fuller and the Modern Mission Movement.” Baptist History and
Heritage 17, no. 4 (October 1, 1982): 17-27.