Mohammedanism As A Missionary Religion -- By: Charles A. Aiken

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 036:141 (Jan 1879)
Article: Mohammedanism As A Missionary Religion
Author: Charles A. Aiken

Mohammedanism As A Missionary Religion1

Prof. Charles A. Aiken

In December 1873 no small stir was created in ecclesiastical circles in England by the delivery in Westminster Abbey of a lecture on missions by the accomplished Orientalist, Professor Max Müller. Zealous churchmen were most concerned to settle the question of the right of the liberal dean to invite a layman to such a service in such a place. Others cared more to learn what the speaker would say on a theme presenting so many sides, and seldom treated by men of science from their point of view. Müller’s Lectures on the Science of Religion (delivered three years earlier) had shown not only the tastes and resources of the man, but also how wide is the reach of modern philology.

For the purposes of this paper we are concerned only with a question arising in connection with the classification of the world’s religions which Professor Müller laid at the foundation of his discussion. He divides religions into two classes, the non-missionary and the missionary, — and says very justly: “This is by no means, as might be supposed, a classification based on an unimportant or merely accidental characteristic; on the contrary, it rests on what is the very heart-blood in every system of human faith.”2 Here we may, in passing, at least ask the question, whether our principle of classification should not go beneath even such an important “characteristic “of religious faiths as this, to those views of God and man which supply or destroy all motive and impulse to extend the faith. The three religions which Professor Müller recognizes as having had a missionary character from

their very beginning are Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity. Whether we accept this principle of classification as of primary or only as of secondary importance, it is evident that practical as well as scientific issues are involved. Our evangelistic methods of approaching other missionary religions (if there are other such) must be well considered. For if these other systems are essentially aggressive, as well as our own; if their aggressive impulse has power behind it, and the prestige of wide success; if they are not only disposed to, but organized for, present and future extension, our grapple with them must be intelligent and circumspect. We have an active, and not merely a passive, resistance to encounter and overcome; our impulse and momentum must prevail over theirs by its better quality and richer measure; our truth has to triumph over their error plainly in part by laying hold of whatever truth there is in them, whether it be elements o...

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