The Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry -- By: W. B. Anderson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 090:357 (Jan 1933)
Article: The Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry
Author: W. B. Anderson


The Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry

Dr. W. B. Anderson

The Inquiry originated in a small group of Baptist laymen in the city of New York. This group from the beginning became entirely responsible for the financing of the Inquiry. They made their plans and secured the approval of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. They then placed these plans before the Boards of six other Churches for their approval, asking approval for the securing of a committee of five laymen from each of these Churches. It is quite correct to say that the Inquiry was “approved” by the Boards of these Churches. The statement broadcasted in publicity, that it was “sponsored” by these Churches, might easily be misinterpreted. The relations of Mission Boards to the Inquiry were exceedingly tenuous.

The object of the Inquiry as stated to the Boards in securing their approval is (in part) as follows:—

“(1) To aid Christian leaders in expanding, recasting or readjusting the missionary enterprise, so that it will result in making Jesus Christ more widely and more fully known, loved and obeyed, and will minister more adequately to the needs of mankind in accordance with His purpose and ideals, and

“(2) To aid laymen in intelligently determining their attitude and discharging their responsibility toward foreign missions.”

Since there seemed to be no reason why such an Inquiry with reference to the work of foreign missions should not be made, the Boards approved, being eager to secure new light on their difficult and ever changing problems.

In order that it might proceed upon a wholly independent basis, the Inquiry secured the services of the Institute of Social and Religious Research to collect and record facts from the fields. Groups of trained men were sent for this purpose to the countries selected for study,

China, Japan, India and Burma. Three groups chosen from this organization spent several months on these fields during 1930–31, selecting and tabulating facts for the consideration of the Commission later to be appointed. Five volumes of facts are said to have been secured, but have not been made available to the Boards and missionaries who are being publicly criticized on the basis of conclusions drawn from them.

While the Boards and Missions do not have access to these volumes, they are in possession of the facts of foreign missions. Probably no branch of the Church’s activity has, through the years, been more carefully studied and more severely criticised than foreign missions. The truth of this statement can be verified by a reference to the minutes of the meetings of the Boards, by a perusal of t...

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