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North American Foreign Missions, 1810-1914: Theology, Theory, and Policy.

North American Foreign Missions, 1810-1914: Theology, Theory, and Policy. Edited by Wilbert R. Shenk. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2004. 349 pp.

This symposium is an important product of the North Atlantic Missiological Project/Currents in World Christianity Project, an extraordinary decade-long endeavor in the 1990s-early 2000s, funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, that focused on mission history and global Christianity and advanced cutting-edge scholarship in the field. The book follows in the path blazed by R. Pierce Beaver, American Missions in Bicentennial Perspective (William Carey Library, 1977), and Joel A. Carpenter and Wilbert R. Shenk, eds, Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions, 1880-1980 (Eerdmans, 1990). It is paralleled by another fine volume from the project, Daniel H. Bays and Grant Wacker, eds., The Foreign Missionary Enterprise at Home: Explorations in North American Cultural History (University of Alabama, 2003).

The twelve essays, equally divided between the periods 1810-1865 and 1895-1914, deal with a variety of themes. David Kling explains the critical impact that the "New Divinity" had on the beginnings of the missionary movement among the Congregationalist/Presbyterian American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. It would have been helpful if he had shown how this impacted the Baptists. Richard Lee Rogers finds that distinct causal connections existed between evangelical millennialism in the early republic and foreign mission expansion. Paul Harris shows that the "three-self" policy of Rufus Anderson was driven mainly by the desire to maintain an economic status differential between the ABCFM missionaries and their local converts. Much like Southern Baptist missions today, the expatriate workers lived at a high socioeconomic level and used money to exercise control over the national churches. Charles A. Maxwell examines the disruptive impact of the antislavery controversy on the ABCFM. In an insightful comparative treatment of early nineteenth-century missionary wives, Dana Robert demonstrates that the Baptist women in Burma engaged in actual preaching, itinerant evangelism, and translation work. However, the wives of the American Board missionaries in Hawaii developed a theory of the Christian home that restricted them to the domestic sphere while the ordained men carried out the "important" mission work. The lessons of this for contemporary Baptist missiology are quite obvious. Susan Wilds McArver explores the problems of the pre-Civil War Presbyterian mission in Liberia.

The post-1865 section opens with a brilliant treatment of Josiah Strong's influential book, Our Country, by Wendy Deichmann Edwards. In a careful study of the late nineteenth-century Canadian Presbyterian mission in India, Ruth Compton Brouwer exposes the anomalies and inadequacies of the popular "women's work for women" paradigm. Janet Fishburn breaks new ground in her assessment of the relationship between the social gospel and missionary movements, and her discussion of the role of Baptists in the new theological advance will be of interest to readers of this journal. The same is true of Carol Ann Vaughn's edifying story of Martha Foster Crawford, the first foreign missionary commissioned by Alabama Baptists in 1851, who went to China as the wife of the controversial T. R Crawford. This remarkable woman resisted Western civilizing approaches, totally identified with Chinese culture, engaged in itinerant evangelism, and personally experienced the upheavals that wracked late-Qing China. John F. Piper sets forth the missionary ideas of Robert E. Speer and Alvyn Austin concludes with an analysis of the China Inland Mission's North American home base.--Reviewed by Richard V. Pierard, Stephen Phillips Professor of History, Gordon College, Beverly, Massachusetts.
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Author:Pierard, Richard V.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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