Seeds Of Missiology In The German “Erweckung” (1815-1848) -- By: Wayne A. Detzler

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:2 (Jun 1995)
Article: Seeds Of Missiology In The German “Erweckung” (1815-1848)
Author: Wayne A. Detzler


Seeds Of Missiology
In The German “Erweckung” (1815-1848)

Wayne A. Detzler*

The great century of missionary advance dawned with the departure of William Carey in 1793. Within a decade most major confessional groups in Britain had joined in the venture. The Americans followed suit during the early years of the nineteenth century.

The initial stages of missionary advance were marked by an ecumenical spirit, although this was more true of European churchmen than of their British and American counterparts. This ecumenical spirit was accompanied by the appearance of bold individualists, who could be contained neither by a church nor by a missionary society. Johannes Aargaard has documented this.1 He regards the ecumenical period of missions on the continent of Europe as lasting from 1800 to 1830 and the period following that as characterized by confessional missionary activity. By the same token he considers the emphasis of continental missions in the early years (1800–1820) to be that of training for missions. After 1820 the emphasis shifted to sending missionaries.2

Although there were training institutions for missionaries, no formal theory of mission, or missiology, emerged for almost a century. Wilbert Shenk concludes that the first systematician of mission theory was Gustav Warneck. His Allgemeine Missionszeitschrift appeared in 1874, but his formal Evangelische Missionslehre was not published until 1892. Shenk referred to the emergence of a missiology in the writings of Henry Venn (the indigenous-church concept), Anthony Grant (high-church mission), Alexander Duff (education in mission) and C. G. Pfander (Muslim missions).3 But no continental basis for missiology was discernible by Shenk until the period of 1880 to 1918. At that point the major spokesman was held to be Warneck.

It is my contention that seeds of a primitive missiology emerged early in the nineteenth century in Germany. This was necessitated by the vitality of the religious awakening known as the Erweckung. At first this missionary impulse was sporadic, ecumenical and individualistic. By Aargaard’s milestone

* Wayne Detzler is professor of missions and evangelism at Southern Evangelical Seminary, 5801 Pineville-Matthews Road, Charlotte, NC 28226.

year of 1830, however, it had taken on a confessional form. It is my purpose to set forth some of the impulses that led at a later date to the systematization of mission theory. There are three aspects that must be considered: the theory of mission,...

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