Christian Missions Necessary To A True Civilization -- By: Joseph P. Thompson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 014:56 (Oct 1857)
Article: Christian Missions Necessary To A True Civilization
Author: Joseph P. Thompson

Christian Missions Necessary To A True Civilization1

Joseph P. Thompson

The Westminster Review for July, 1856, with a profound simplicity of classification, informed its readers that “American Congregationalists, and English Unitarians, and some liberal German Protestants, who do not believe in the damnation of heathens on account of their ignorance, send out missions with a wider view than the old missionaries—with the hope of raising whole nations out of a state of idolatrous corruption of morals into a condition of Christian civilization.” It also commended the American missions

in “Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Ceylon,” as having avoided “the gibberish of essential doctrines,” and “rendered their pupils industrious and happy in the first place, as the best means of rendering them pious afterwards.” At the same time it condemned, in unmeasured terms, the principles and the results of American missions in the Sandwich Islands; insisting that a high civilization could never be attained “through any theological phase,”—certainly not, as the result of the labors of missionaries who regard the heathen as in a damnable state.

The fact that the American missions in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Ceylon are sustained by the same Board which originated the mission to the Sandwich Islands, and sustained that, until the native converts assumed the support of their religious teachers; the fact that the American missionaries to the Monotheists of the East hold and teach the same “gibberish of essential doctrines” which has been taught to the savages of the Pacific; the fact that these missionaries have also “Bingham’s pious caprices” about intemperance, licentiousness, and the violation of the Sabbath; the fact that both the approved and the condemned missions, originated with “American Congregationalists” solely because they do “believe in the damnation of heathens” and the unevangelized,- not “on account of their ignorance,” but on account of their wilful alienation from God, which leaves them “without excuse;”2 —these facts, familiar to Sabbath-school children in this country, lie quite beyond the pale of the Westminster Review. But what more could be expected of a Review, which gravely announces as “a new order” of missions, “the mission from Christians, not to pagans, but to Monotheists, of one sort or another?”— and which naively adds, “American missions to Mohammedans are thickly sown in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and the further East; and, as we learn by Dr. Sandwith’s book, the Greek a...

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