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Religion

종교 탐방

IV. THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AND THE WORLD

 

2. Christian missions

In the late 20th century about one-third of the world's people claimed the Christian faith. Christians thus constituted the world's largest religious community and embraced remarkable diversity, with churches in every nation. Christianity's demographic and dynamic centre had shifted from its Western base to Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific region, where more than half the world's Christians lived. This trend steadily accelerated as the church declined in Europe. The tangibly real universal church represented a new phenomenon in the history of religions. This was the fruit of mission.

1) BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS

The word mission (Latin: missio), as a translation of the Greek apostole, "a sending," appears only once in the English New Testament (Galatians 2:8). An apostle (apostolos) is one commissioned and sent to fulfill a special purpose. The roots of mission, Christians have believed, lie in God's active outreach to humanity in history--as a call to those able to fulfill the divine purpose, among them Abraham, Moses, Jonah, and Paul. The New Testament designated Jesus as God's apostle (Hebrews 3:1). Jesus' prayer in the Gospel According to John includes the words "As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. . . . [I pray also] for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one . . . so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:18, 20-21). (see also Index: Bible)

The ground for mission appeared early in the Old Testament in God's concern for all nations (Genesis, chapters 10 [the "Table of Nations"] and 11) and the calling of Abraham--implicitly of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). The Jews acknowledged God's sovereignty over all the world's peoples but believed God had chosen Israel to be the sign to all nations of the divine will and purpose (compare the "Covenant on Sinai," Exodus 19:5-6). Echoing throughout the Old Testament, this theme found its clearest voice in Isaiah: "I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations" (42:6); and in God's universal task for Israel as servant to the nations: "I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (49:6). (see also Index: Judaism)

The Maccabean wars filled the Jews with fervent hope for a powerful messiah to bring political triumph to a suffering Israel. Jesus Christ, professed by his followers as Messiah in the role of suffering servant presented in Isaiah (52:13-53:12), found widespread rejection among his people. Yet those from Israel who confessed faith in him as Messiah and Lord saw in Christ's Incarnation, death, and Resurrection God's decisive entry into history--an act in continuity with God's incursions in Israel's past. In that reality they and their successors viewed the Old and New Testaments (or "Covenants") as inseparably united and mutually interdependent. The church was born and grew as the covenanted instrument of and witness to God's mission (missio Dei), the human agency of God's outreach to all the peoples of the world.

The "Great Commission" of Jesus declares: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20; compare Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:21-22, and Acts 1:8). Not an isolated command, it re-expressed, in Christian perspective, the obedience of a servant in universal witness to the mission of God as declared in the Old and New Covenants.

2) THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS

The Christian mission, the church, and Christianity--each distinguishable, but inseparably related--have experienced across 20 centuries of world history four major transitions.

i) First transition, to AD 500.

Born on Jewish soil but quickly emerging from Palestine to cover the rim of the Mediterranean world, the new missionary faith made its first major transition. The Apostle Paul became the missionary to the Gentile world. With help from Barnabas and a local network of coworkers, many of them women, he evangelized Asia Minor and southern Greece and eventually reached Rome. When Rome destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, Antioch became Christianity's centre in the Eastern Empire, and mission became one of Gentiles to Gentiles. Thus began the transition.

Dominated politically by the Roman Empire, the new religion benefited from one unifying factor in the Greco-Roman world: common, or koine, Greek provided its lingua franca. Alexandrian Jews had already translated (250 BCE) the Hebrew Bible into koine Greek for dispersed Greek-speaking Jews. The New Testament writers also wrote in koine Greek. In that largely literate empire early Christians used and widely distributed the Hebrew Scriptures. (see also Index: Roman Republic and Empire, Greek religion, Roman religion, biblical translation, early church)

Several factors brought growth to the faith. From the beginning laypeople--women and men--conducted the largest part of mission. Congregations grew in homes used as churches. Although it was owned by the husband, inside the house the wife was its mistress, and thousands of women opened their homes to newly forming churches. Most evangelization occurred in the daily routine as men and women shared their faith with others. Christianity's monotheism, morality, assurance of eternal life with God, and ancient Scriptures attracted many to the faith.

From the empire-wide occasions of emperor worship, Rome had exempted only the Jews. Christians also refused to engage in emperor worship. Rome declared their faith an illegal religion, and persecutions ensued. In the persecutions so many Christians had borne powerful witness (Greek: martyria) that the word martyr quickly evolved into its current meaning. Christian faith--not least that of young women such as Blandina, Perpetua, and Felicity--had made an impact, and many who beheld that witness became Christian. In 313 when the new emperor, Constantine, declared the persecutions ended, Christians probably constituted 10 percent of the empire's population.

Christians daily encountered members of other religions--the mysteries, Gnosticism, and philosophical cults. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries external and internal pressures drove the young church to strengthen itself through creating a structured ministry, formulating beliefs in creeds, and producing a canon of Scripture. That process transformed a movement into a young religious institution. The major thrust of the pre-Constantinian church-mission sprang from the conviction that Christians and congregations were fulfilling a mission and ministry begun in Jesus Christ. Baptism provided induction into the vibrant company of "God's own people" (1 Peter 2:9-10).

By 315 many who saw advantage in belonging to Constantine's new imperial faith poured into the churches. The result was striking: small congregations of convinced Christians serving God's outreach in the world became large churches with many nominal members whose instruction and needs had to be met within the new churches. As multitudes entered the churches, the need for outreach to others was much reduced, and most churches shifted from an outward thrust to an inward focus upon themselves. Mission and service became the province of priests, deacons, and, increasingly, monks. This Constantinian inversion helped shape the churches of Christendom.

At the same time, mission beyond the frontiers of the empire continued. Ulfilas (c. 311-c. 382), Arian apostle to the Goths, translated the Bible into their tongue. Martin of Tours (c. 316-397) served in Gaul, and Patrick (c. 389-c. 461) laboured in Ireland. In Malabar, South India, a church of ancient tradition, demonstrably present since the 3rd century, held the Apostle Thomas to be its founder. Frumentius (d. c. 380) from Tyre evangelized in Ethiopia and became the first patriarch of its church. In the 5th century Nestorians pushed into Central Asia and began a mission that eventually reached the capital of China. (see also Index: Christians of Saint Thomas)

In 410 Rome fell to the barbarians, and by 476 the entire Western Roman Empire had collapsed. In the eyes of many members of the still-pagan Roman nobility, the rise of the Christian faith in the Mediterranean world had caused the empire's downfall. Yet where Constantine had built his capital, Constantinople--the "second Rome"--the Eastern Empire continued.

In its first 500 years Christianity achieved remarkable missionary and theological acculturation. Through the first four ecumenical councils (325-451), and in the Nicene Creed (on the Trinity) and Definition of Chalcedon (on Christology), the church had stated its faith with meaning for the Greek and Latin worlds.

By the close of the period Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, had appeared. Church and state already were locked in uneasy embrace. The first great transition of the Christian mission--from Judaic Palestine to the Mediterranean world--had ended.

ii) Second transition, to AD 1500.

Rome's urban and literate world quickly disappeared under the barbarians' westward onslaught. These rough conquerors filled Europe's rural lands; however, they recognized in missionary monks the bearers of a new faith and preservers of a higher civilization. The monks instructed them in the faith and in statecraft. The mission thrust of these monks contrasted sharply with that of the tiny persecuted church in the first three centuries. Then, except for the conversions of the city-state of Edessa, in AD 200, and Armenia, declared a Christian nation in AD 300, people joined the new faith individually. In this second transition whole peoples followed their sovereigns into the new faith.

Christianity expanded in the Byzantine Empire, most notably in Russia, but it experienced a widening breach, and a split of the Eastern and Western churches occurred in 1054. Yet the major result of this 1,000-year mission was the creation of European civilization. Its emergence marked the second great transition of the faith.

(1) Western mission.

The medieval mission began in 496 with the baptism of Clovis, king of the Franks, and his soldiers. Baptized by a Catholic bishop rather than an Arian one (through the influence of Clovis' Catholic wife), they helped to turn the tide against the Arians.

Irish Celtic Christianity differed from that on the Continent. It was organized into communalized groups under an abbot and nurtured intense missionary conviction and outreach. It did not recognize Rome's authority. The abbot Columba (c. 521-597) built a monastery on Iona, off Scotland's western coast, as a base for mission to Scotland and northern England. From it Aidan (d. 651) traveled to Lindisfarne, off England's northern coast, where he and a successor, Cuthbert (634/635-687), led in evangelizing in Northumbria. Moving southward, the Celtic monks might have evangelized all of Britain, but midway they met Roman missionaries. Other Celtic peregrini, or "wanderers," evangelized on the Continent. (see also Index: Ireland, Celtic Church)

(2) Papal mission.

Pope Gregory I the Great (reigned 590-604), who possessed the mind of both a statesman and a theologian, operated as a Roman emperor and greatly magnified papal power and temporal involvement. In 596 he launched, through Augustine of Canterbury, a mission to England based on gradualism and accommodation--the first papally sponsored mission. For the next 1,000 years Roman missions operated with the pope's direction, the king's support, and the monks' services. (see also Index: papacy)

Augustine's missionaries reached England's southern coast in 597. King Aethelberht of Kent and his wife, Bertha, a Christian, enabled them to make their base at Canterbury. Within the year the King and 10,000 subjects had received baptism. Roman missionaries moving northward met the Celts, and at the Synod of Whitby in 664 the Celts accepted Roman jurisdiction and patterns.

Inspired by Irish missionary enthusiasm, the English Christians began a 500-year mission across northern Europe and finally into Scandinavia. Outstanding in this effort were Willibrord (658?-739), "Apostle to the Frisians" (Friesland, Holland, and Belgium), and Wynfrid, renamed Boniface (c. 675-754), one of the greatest of all Roman missionaries. In central and southern Germany Boniface established Benedictine monasteries for evangelization. With full papal trust and Carolingian support he strengthened and reformed the Frankish church.

Boniface also saw the need for women in mission. From England he recruited Lioba (d. 782) and entrusted her with developing Benedictine monasteries for women. Despite her outstanding and unique achievements, with her death that movement ended, and Roman Catholic women reentered mission service only in the 19th century. But the Christian wives of pagan kings, who led their husbands into the faith and through them hastened the Christianizing of whole peoples, also contributed to its spread.

In Rome on Christmas Day, AD 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne (d. 814) Holy Roman emperor. Leo thus demonstrated the primacy of papal power over temporal rulers and symbolized the growing gulf between the Eastern and Western churches. Charlemagne's missionary zeal and political goals fused. Saxons in his territories faced a choice: become Christian or die.

From the Holy Roman Empire, Catholic outreach into Bohemia took root under King Wenceslas I (c. 907-929), with evangelization complete by about AD 1000. In Poland, Mieszko I, under the influence of his wife, accepted baptism in 966 or 967. His reign saw the beginning of the evangelization of the country, which continued under his able son, Boleslav. In 955 the Holy Roman emperor Otto I defeated the Magyars and brought them to Christian faith. Later, the country's first king, Stephen (reigned 1000-38), made Hungary a Christian land. (see also Index: Boleslaw I)

Early attempts at evangelization in Denmark and Sweden were made by a German monk, Ansgar (801-865). Canute (d. 1035), Danish king of England, of Denmark, and of Norway, was probably raised as a Christian and determined that Denmark should become a Christian country. The archbishop of Canterbury consecrated bishops for him, and he saw his goal realized before he died. Olaf I Tryggvason (reigned 995-c. 1000) was baptized by a Christian hermit, returned to Norway and was accepted as king, and sought to make his realm Christian--a task completed by King Olaf II Haraldsson (reigned 1016-30), later St. Olaf. Olaf I also presented Christianity to a receptive Iceland. Leif Eriksson took the faith to Greenland's Viking settlers, who quickly accepted it. After several efforts Sweden became Christian during the reign of Sverker (c. 1130-56). Sweden's Eric IX controlled Finland and in 1155 required the Finns to be baptized, but only in 1291, with the appointment of Magnus, the first Finnish bishop, was evangelization completed.

(3) Eastern and Nestorian missions.

Removal of the empire's capital from Rome to Constantinople, the "second Rome," in 330 greatly strengthened the temporal power of the bishop of Rome. In the Byzantine Empire the patriarch of Constantinople remained under the political control of the Christian emperor. Cultural, political, philosophical, and theological differences strained relations between the two cities. Rome demanded Latin as the one ecclesiastical language, but Constantinople encouraged national languages for the liturgy and emphasized translation of the Scriptures. In 1054 leaders of the two bodies excommunicated each other. (see also Index: Eastern Orthodoxy)

One reflection of growing difficulties lay in counterclaims to pursue mission in and hold the allegiance of border areas between the two jurisdictions. Rostislav of Great Moravia sought help from the Emperor, who (presumably through the Patriarch) in about 862 sent two brothers, Constantine (later called Cyril; c. 827-869) and Methodius (c. 825-884), from Constantinople to Moravia. They provided Scriptures and liturgy in the mother tongue of each people evangelized. They also trained others in their methods--a major factor in winning Bulgaria.

Constantinople's greatest mission outreach was to areas that later became Russia. In the 10th century the Scandinavian Rus controlled the areas around Kiev. Undoubtedly influenced by his Christian grandmother Olga and by a proposed marriage alliance with the Byzantine imperial family, Vladimir I (c. 956-1015) of Kiev, from among several options, chose the Byzantine rite. Baptized in 988, he led the Kievans to Christianity. His son Yaroslav encouraged translations and built monasteries.

From 1240, and continuing for 200 years, the Mongol Golden Horde was suzerain over Russia but generally allowed freedom to the church. For Russians the church proved to be the one means through which they could express national unity. They moved the metropolitanate from Kiev to Moscow, and their church became and remained the largest of the Orthodox bodies, protector and leader for the others. In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. Moscow became "the third Rome" and accepted for itself the mystique, dynamism, and messianic destiny of the first Rome--a reality essential to understanding Russian Orthodoxy and nationalism.

East of the Euphrates River, Nestorians and Jacobites maintained headquarters in Persia for eastern outreach. The more numerous Nestorians developed a far-flung mission network throughout Central Asia. The Persian bishop A-lo-pen reached China's capital, Ch'ang-an (modern Sian), in 635 and founded monasteries to spread the Christian faith. By the end of the T'ang dynasty (618-907), however, the Nestorian community had disappeared. (see also Index: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch)

In 1289 the Pope--responding to a request made 20 years earlier by Kublai Khan for 100 Christian scholars to be brought by the Polo brothers--sent one Franciscan, Giovanni da Montecorvino (1247-1328). He reached Khanbaliq (Peking) in 1294 and launched a small but successful mission. In 1342 Giovanni dei Marignolli arrived with 32 other missionaries, but their work flourished for less than 25 years. The succeeding Ming dynasty excluded foreigners. Twice Christianity had entered and disappeared from China.

(4) The rise of Islam.

Between Muhammad's death in 632 and the defeat of Muslim forces at Poitiers by Charles Martel's Franks in 732, Arab Muslims had taken the Middle East and Egypt, then swept across North Africa, turned northward through Spain, and ventured briefly into southwestern France. Within a century Islam had eliminated more than half of Christendom.

Encouraged by the papacy, the Iberian reconquest (742-1492) became a crusade against Islam and fused an Iberian Catholicism that Spain and Portugal later transplanted around the globe. In the late 20th century its members represented more than half the world's Roman Catholics. The Crusades (1095-1396) produced among many Christians an adversarial approach to those of other faiths. Ramon Llull (c. 1235-1316) pursued a different way. He studied Arabic and sought through dialogue and reason the conversion of Muslims and Jews. (see also Index: Iberian Peninsula)

As a result of the second great transition the faith of the Mediterranean world had become that of all Europe and had largely created its civilization. Christendom had lost half its members to Islam, but Europe had become the new centre of the Christian faith.

iii) Third transition, to AD 1950.

By 1500 Europe was bursting with new energy and achievement, and from it Christianity spread worldwide. Iberian monks in the 16th century spanned the globe, and 300 years later Protestant missionaries did the same.

(1) Roman Catholic mission, 1500-1950.

With Europe cut off from Asia by the Muslims, Portugal's Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) launched exploratory voyages along the western coast of Africa. In 1498 Vasco da Gama reached India; others pushed to Asia's eastern limits. Papal grants in 1454 and 1456 gave Henry all lands, power over the missionary bishops therein, and trading rights south of the Tropic of Cancer. An early Portuguese mission to the Congo produced an African bishop, but the church quickly disappeared. Other efforts on both African coasts also were unsuccessful.

Spain sought a route to India through Columbus' westward voyages. In 1494 a papal grant gave Spain everything west of 47° W longitude (eastern Brazil). Under royal patronage (patronato real, or padroado), monarchs of both nations accepted responsibility for evangelizing the newly found peoples. Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and, from 1542, Jesuits staffed the resulting missions.

By 1600 France was becoming the third great imperial Roman Catholic power and was also deeply involved in mission. At the same time England, Holland, and Denmark--all Protestant--began an imperial thrust that challenged the Roman Catholic powers in their own territories.

When the Europeans arrived in the Americas, the Indian population south of the Rio Grande numbered some 35,000,000, but in North America there were at most 1,200,000 Indians--a marked difference. The great majority of European males entering Latin America were unmarried and quickly produced a mestizo, or mixed, population. European settlers, who expected to instruct the Indians in the faith and protect them, gained their labour. The Indians were used widely as slaves and often were treated cruelly. Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474-1566) championed their cause but, ironically, favoured increasing the already growing number of African slaves. (see also Index: American Indian)

Despite its weaknesses, the Roman Catholic mission gained vast numbers. Although later modified, a 1555 decree which held that Indians, mestizos, and mulattos could not be ordained proved ruinous. Never inspired to produce their own clergy, the new Christians became dependent upon European clergy.

Franciscans and Dominicans traveled widely and built mission churches. The most notable development--used widely but most fully developed by Jesuits in Paraguay--was the appearance of the reducciones In these mission-operated villages Indians were instructed in the faith, taught to develop trades, and protected from the Europeans. Despite good intentions this environment did not produce strong Christians. The movement dissolved when the Jesuits were disbanded in 1773.

Much of the evangelization appeared to be an integral part of military conquest. Yet in whatever way Indians and mestizos intermingled past beliefs and practices with their Christian faith, the majority thought of themselves as Roman Catholic.

Evangelization in French North America followed a somewhat different course. In 1534 Jacques Cartier claimed New France (Canada) for his homeland. A century later French missionaries began to enter the territory. In their work these missionaries sought to reshape Indian life as little as possible.

In Asia, chiefly through the Jesuits, some of the most productive missions appeared. Under a papal commission the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier (1506-52) reached Goa in 1542. He established Christian communities in India, built a college in Goa for training priests, began a prospering mission in Japan, and died off the coast of China while hoping to enter that land.

By 1600 there were about 300,000 Christians in Japan. Christianity was proscribed, thousands were martyred, and the Japanese sealed themselves off from the West.

China also was closed to foreigners, but the Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) arrived in 1582 and eventually reached the capital. His efforts brought success, and other Jesuits followed. An edict of toleration was proclaimed in 1692. Ricci's conviction that the honouring of ancestors and Confucius was a social rite that could be accommodated within the church produced the Chinese Rites Controversy (1634-1742). It brought bitter opposition from Dominicans and Franciscans. Attempts at papal intervention at the beginning of the 18th century angered the Emperor. The Chinese forced missionaries to leave the country and persecuted Christians. Yet by 1800 some 250,000 remained, and since the 16th century the church has been continuously present in China. (see also Index: Chinese Rites Controversy)

In India Jesuits were welcomed to the court during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605). The noted Jesuit Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656) sought points of agreement between Hinduism and Christianity as a means of evangelization, but this caused difficulty with the church. The missionaries also worked among India's existing Christian communities. In 1599 the Roman Catholic Church brought the South Indian Christians (Nestorians) into its fold, but in 1653 about 40 percent of the Syrian, or Thomas, Christians revolted and linked themselves with the Jacobites. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholics retained a solid base of Christians on which to build.

To provide knowledgeable oversight and to coordinate policy, in 1622 Pope Gregory XV established the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide), or the Propaganda. It provided a library for research and a school for training priests and missionaries, assigned territories, and directed ecclesiastical matters overseas. The Foreign Missionary Society of Paris (1663), directed exclusively toward outreach to non-Christian peoples, sought to produce rapidly an indigenous secular clergy (i.e., one not bound to a religious order), and focused its efforts on Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.

With the suppression of the Jesuits (1773-1814) and the decline of Spanish and Portuguese influence, Roman Catholic missions found themselves at low ebb, but French and other European missionaries steadily took up the slack. Between 1800 and 1950 new vigour paralleled that seen in Protestantism and brought new orders--such as the Society of the Divine Word (1875) and the Catholic Foreign Missionary Society of North America (1911) of Maryknoll fathers and sisters--and voluntary societies to promote and support missions. The missionary force remained overwhelmingly European.

(2) Protestant missions, 1500-1950.

Protestant missions emerged some 275 years after Martin Luther launched the Reformation in 1517. Reasons for the delay included Protestantism's thorough rejection of the theocratic and universal claims of the papacy and its rationale for papal mission. It also vigorously rejected monasticism and lacked the structure for mission that monasticism had supplied. Some Protestants--especially the Anabaptist but also other prophetic voices, including Adrian Saravia (1531-1613) and Justinian von Welz (1621-68)--called for mission but were scarcely heard. (see also Index: Protestantism)

Protestants began to expand overseas through migration, notably to North America. To minister to the colonists' needs, individual Anglicans formed the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK; 1698) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG; 1701), whose chaplains were also to spread the Gospel among non-Christians. The Dutch East India Company trained ministers in Leiden to serve their employees in Indonesia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), but they were also encouraged to catechize and baptize local people.

European colonization of North America aroused interest in the American Indians, and the Virginia and Massachusetts charters enjoined their conversion. The mission of John Eliot (1604-90) to the Pequot Iroquois and that of the Thomas Mayhew family encouraged formation of supporting societies in Britain.

The German Lutheran Pietists were the first Protestant group to launch church-supported continuing missions from the Continent. Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705) and August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) at the Pietists' University of Halle trained Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1683-1719) and Heinrich Plütschau (1678-1747). From 1706 they served the Danish mission of King Frederick IV at Tranquebar, in South India. Also trained at Halle, Nikolaus Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf (1700-60), received Moravian refugees at his Herrnhut estate and in 1732 molded them into a missionary church. Their small, self-supporting communities spread from Greenland to South Africa. (see also Index: Pietism, Halle-Wittenberg, Martin Luther University of, Moravian church)

William Carey's Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens (1792) became the "charter" for Protestant missions and produced the Baptist Missionary Society. In 1793 Carey went to India. His first letter to an England stirred by the Evangelical Revival resulted in the formation of the London Missionary Society (1795). The Scottish Missionary Society (1796) and the Netherlands Missionary Society (1797) soon appeared, Anglican evangelicals organized the Church Missionary Society (1799), and many others followed. Like the SPCK and SPG, they were founded not by churches but as autonomous societies supported chiefly by denominational constituencies. Similarly, in Europe these organizations were usually created geographically--such as the Basel (1815), Berlin (1824), and Leipzig (1836) societies.

With separation of church and state in the United States, American churches made plain that mission was the responsibility of each Christian. Most denominations developed their own boards or societies. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810) was the first, and the pattern of denominational societies spread.

Until 1890 American Protestant missions centred on the new immigrants and those following the westward-moving frontier, but from 1890 they turned their attention to areas abroad. In 20th-century "overseas" missions, English-speaking participants have represented from 80 to 89 percent, and North Americans about 67 percent, of all Protestant missionaries.

Women have not only provided the major support for mission in the modern era but also early recognized the need to found their own societies and send their own missionaries. In much of the world, because of local customs, women missionaries could perform services for other women and for children, especially in medicine and education, that men could not undertake. Their greatest impact was in the production of vast corps of able and educated women, especially in Asia, who played major roles in the professions and in church leadership.

Nondenominational faith missions viewed J. Hudson Taylor's China Inland Mission (1865; after 1965 called the Overseas Missionary Fellowship) as the great prototype. Missions such as these often sought to work in areas unoccupied by other missionaries, guaranteed no salaries, and left financial support in God's hands; but most bodies made their financial needs known to a wide constituency. Their chief aim has been to proclaim the Gospel and eschew the provision of social services. These societies joined together in the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association (IFMA; 1917). Since the 1960s they have cooperated with the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA; 1945), the missionary arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (1943), and, at the international level, with the World Evangelical Fellowship (1952).

In the early 19th century in India, William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward--the Serampore trio--worked just north of Calcutta. Their fundamental approach included translating the Scriptures, establishing a college to educate an Indian ministry, printing Christian literature, promoting social reform, and recruiting missionaries for new areas as soon as translations into that area's language were ready.

Alexander Duff (1806-78) gave India the pattern for an entire educational system, including colleges. By the 1860s education for women had advanced and nurses' training had begun; the education of women physicians began at the turn of the century. The Vellore Medical College is a monument to the missionary physician Ida Scudder (1870-1959). The vast majority of Indian nurses also have been Christian. (see also Index: nursing)

In Indonesia, Dutch chaplains established churches in the 17th century. In the mid-19th century, the German Rhenish Missionary Society enabled the Batak Church of Sumatra to grow in size and commitment and to provide leadership for the nation. Other strong churches developed in various parts of predominantly Muslim Indonesia. (see also Index: Batak Protestant Christian Church)

Following the Opium War treaties of 1842-44 and 1858-60, China was opened to Westerners. Although Roman Catholics remained from the efforts of the 16th-century Jesuit mission, the Chinese viewed Christianity as entering their homeland at gunpoint. The Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1900 brought death to thousands of Chinese Christians and several hundred missionaries. Yet what Protestant schools, colleges, and hospitals represented attracted Chinese youth to the Christian faith. With the fall of the Ch'ing, or Manchu, dynasty in 1911, Sun Yat-sen, a Christian favouring parliamentary government, became the provisional president. The Christian influence in China, particularly in education, was significant. In 1949, when the People's Republic of China was formed, Christians represented only 1 percent of the Chinese population, but they exercised an influence out of all proportion to their size.

The Chinese government expelled all missionaries in 1950-51, confiscated churches, and brought pressure on Christians. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) no churches or other religious bodies could operate. Christians continued to exist in China, but they suffered grievously. From 1976, as the government allowed some churches to open, Christians reemerged throughout the country. Roman Catholic and Protestant churches were filled, and in varied ways "silent" house-churches testified that the underground church had been dynamically growing. The state of the church in China, despite persecution, is considerably larger and stronger than it had been in 1949.

Koreans baptized as Roman Catholics in China returned in 1784 but remained underground when their faith was soon proscribed. A handful of American Presbyterians and Methodists entered Korea in 1884, and the faith they planted flourished through the 20th century, despite Korea's long wartime devastation. Evangelistic and self-supporting Korean churches were known throughout Asia for their effective promotion of Bible study. Helen Kim, a Korean graduate of Ewha College, built it into the world's largest women's university.

Unlike other Asian countries, Korea did not experience Christianity's arrival with Western imperialism but rather saw that faith as reinforcing Korean nationalism against Japanese imperialism from 1910 to 1945. Korean evangelization enabled the church to grow in less than a century to about one-third of the population in South Korea. In the late 20th century, strong annual compounding growth continued--a situation unique among the Asian nations.

The vast Pacific Ocean, with tiny, scattered island kingdoms among the Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian peoples, early attracted missionaries. Most of them were laypeople of deep Christian faith. It was the effort of the Christian islanders, however, that achieved virtually total evangelization of the Pacific. (see also Index: Pacific Islands)

In the Middle East, Protestants emphasized schools, colleges, and hospitals and witnessed to Muslims, though few Muslims became Christians. Humanitarian assistance by the Near East Relief, begun by American Protestant missions, helped those suffering during and after World War I, but this organization made its greatest efforts to aid the Armenian victims of genocide and forced deportation by the Turks. Later mission work was undertaken by the Near East Christian Council for Missionary Cooperation in Beirut (1924, 1929), which became the broadly ecumenical Near East Council of Churches in 1964.

Three major religions appear in sub-Saharan Africa: African traditional religion, Islam, and Christianity. Protestant missionaries were working in most of the West and Central African colonial nations in the 19th century, but in some parts of East Africa mission began only in the 20th century. After Ghana gained freedom in 1957, many former colonies were granted independence. Cataclysmic change appeared everywhere: in building new nations; rapid shifts from a rural to an urban population; coping with the massive problem, especially in cities, of some 2,500 languages; and developing literacy. Amid all this, Christianity grew with increasing rapidity. By 1980 more than half of the sub-Saharan African population was Christian. African independent, or indigenous nonwhite, churches proliferated, and several of the largest ones joined the World Council of Churches. These churches remain an important factor in African Christianity.

In the 19th century Evangelical churches were begun in Latin America by Protestant missionaries who were largely from the United States but also in some instances from Britain and Germany. Most of these churches have remained small. The exception was the explosion of Pentecostalism throughout the region, with heaviest concentration in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. Evangelicals also have gained members in Central America.

Protestants quickly discovered the need for cooperation and unity. As tiny minorities in lands of other religions, new Christians and missionaries together saw that denominational separatism hindered evangelization. Four streams led to the cooperation and unity reflected in the World Missionary Conference (WMC) held in Edinburgh in 1910.

First, missionary "field" conferences affirmed comity (separation of spheres of work), cooperation in Bible translation and missionary councils, and shared sponsorship in major enterprises such as hospitals and colleges. A second stream involved missionary conferences in England and the United States from 1854 to 1900. A third force flowed through the missionary concern of the international student Christian and missionary movements. The fourth stream arose in the West from continuing interdenominational conferences of mission leaders to face common concerns and forge common policies. Among others, these included the Continental European Missions Conference (1866) and the Foreign Missions Conference of North America (1893).

The Edinburgh conference was unique--a landmark and watershed for all that was to follow. Largely Western in membership, but with 17 Asian delegates, it created a Continuation Committee that in 1921 became the International Missionary Council (IMC). The IMC consisted of a worldwide network of Christian councils and the Western cooperative agencies. WMC continuation conferences in Asia (1912-13) reproduced the earlier conference in settings that incorporated national leaders of the Asian churches.

From the WMC and IMC also flowed the Faith and Order Movement (concerned with doctrine and ministry), Life and Work Movement (on the churches' moral responsibility in society), and the World Council of Churches (WCC; 1948). The IMC's member bodies became national councils of churches. The IMC and the WCC, officially "in association with" each other, worked closely together. In 1961 the IMC became the Division of World Mission and Evangelism of the WCC.

(3) Orthodox missions.

Virtually the entire outreach of the Russian Orthodox mission extended to the peoples of the vast Russian Empire across Asia. Its outstanding missionaries included the linguist and translator Nicholas Ilminsky (d. 1891) and Ivan Veniaminov (1797-1879), who in 1823 went as its first missionary to the Aleutian Islands. Veniaminov eventually became Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow, and in 1870 he founded the Russian Orthodox Missionary Society. The Russian Orthodox Church opened a mission to Japan in 1854 and in 1941 turned over all church property to its members.

For some decades the church appointed missionaries to its highest posts. Tikhon (1865-1923), who in 1917 became the first patriarch in two centuries, and Sergius (Stragorodsky; 1867-1944), who followed him in that post, had both served missions abroad. Following the 1917 Revolution, Russian missions became impossible.

The African Orthodox Church, founded in Uganda in the 1920s by Reuben M. Spartas, spread to Kenya and Tanzania.

iv) Fourth transition, from 1950.

During the third transition, Christianity had spread worldwide from a base in Europe. The fourth transition brought the reality that more Christians lived in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Latin America than in the old Christendom, part of a long-term, continuing shift in Christianity's numerical and vivifying centre. The growing churches brought new life and dynamism to the faith, along with new theologies and concerns.

The growth of the world Christian community kept pace with the 20th-century population explosion, and in the fastest-growing areas the growth rate in numbers of Christians was almost three times greater than the general population increase. The majority of the world's Christians lived in non-Western nations; a universal church had come into being.

In this transition two issues were especially prominent. First, the church found itself engaged with those of traditional or new religions and those for whom ideologies had become religions. In that setting the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox and Protestants in the World Council of Churches affirmed evangelization to be essential but also advanced dialogue for clarity, understanding, and basic engagement with other religions. This effort brought dissent and tension from many.

Second, "Third World theologies" often brought angry debate. The underlying questions concerned the identification of what was essentially Christian in Western Christianity and theology and whether Western church structures and theologies were universally normative. But the most basic question asked how Christians of all races could manifest the unity and obedience for which their Lord prayed.

Another force was the worldwide growth in the number of Pentecostals and charismatics. They formed new churches, appeared in traditional churches, and found outlet in many nonwhite indigenous bodies. Pentecostals and charismatics were most heavily concentrated in Latin America and Africa but also had grown in Asia and in the West. They forced theological reflection--perhaps best developed by Roman Catholics--on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and on authority within the church.

The second Vatican Council (1962-65) stood as the most important ecclesiological and missiological event for Roman Catholics since the 16th century. Theologically it set itself within the dynamics of the faith's fourth transition. The council's Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes) built theologically on the council's foundational document, the "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" (Lumen Gentium "Light of the Nations").

The "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" rooted the church and mission in the triune Godhead, insisted upon evangelization but presented a larger understanding of God's grace for those outside the church, and urged missionaries to pursue dialogue.

In 1975 Pope Paul VI, responding to the ensuing debate, declared in Evangelii Nuntiandi ("Evangelization in the Modern World") that God can achieve salvation in anyone through God's own ways, but that witnessing to and preaching the Gospel is the regular pattern given to Christians. The Pope also presented a theology of liberation. In many respects his statement refined and replaced "The Church's Missionary Activity" (1965).

In 1968 the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) at Medellín, Colom., worked to apply the insights and intent of Vatican II to Latin America: first, to identify with the aspirations of the masses, and, second, to seek "re-evangelization" and "reconversion" in Latin America. At CELAM III (1979) in Puebla, Mex., the final document, "God's Saving Plan for Latin America," set forth a structure built upon Evangelii Nuntiandi.

v) Scripture translations.

The translation of the Holy Scriptures has constituted a basic part of mission. During the Middle Ages few could read the Latin Bible. Within 80 years of the invention of printing in the West, however, Reformation leaders such as Luther and Calvin focused on the Word of God. Their cardinal principle remained that each should be able to read the Bible in his own tongue. The result was the development of education and literacy. The printing press greatly aided Protestantism, and widespread literacy again became the hallmark of a civilized society. (see also Index: biblical translation)

In the 20th century most of the world's people speak one of about 75 primary languages. A small minority speak one of 450 secondary languages, and more than 4,400 other languages are in use. Through Christian world mission, printed Scriptures have become available in the mother tongues of almost 99 percent of the world's people. That unprecedented accomplishment marks the greatest achievement in the history of written communications. Bibles are available in more than 300 languages, complete New Testaments in nearly 700 languages, and some portion of the Scriptures is available in 1,000 other languages. The translation effort, most of which has occurred during the past 200 years, has in many cases reduced a language to writing for the first time. The effort involved the production of grammars and dictionaries of these languages as well as scriptural translations, and an additional benefit has been the written preservation of the cultural heritage by native speakers of the language.

Bible societies, including the United Bible Societies (1946), have coordinated and aided the translation work of missionaries in this task for almost 200 years. Wycliffe Bible Translators (1936) concentrated its work among the language groups having the smallest numbers of speakers. From 1968 Roman Catholics and the United Bible Societies have coordinated their efforts and cooperated in translation and production wherever possible.

Christianity, unlike some of the other world religions, is a translating faith. In that area of God's mission the chief work in recent centuries has come from the Protestant community and has been offered as a gift to the church universal. This constitutes one of the great contributions of Christian mission to the world. (W.R.H.)

3. Ecumenism

The word ecumenism comes from a family of classical Greek words: oikos, meaning a "house," "family," "people," or "nation"; oikoumene, "the whole inhabited world"; and oikoumenikos, "open to or participating in the whole world." Like many biblical words, these were invested with Christian meaning. The oikoumene describes the place of God's reconciling mission (Matthew 24:14); the unity of the Roman Empire (Luke 2:1) and of the kingdoms of the earth (Luke 4:5); and the world destined to be redeemed by Christ (Hebrews 2:5). In the biblical community the vision of one church serving the purposes of God in the world came to reflect a central teaching of the early Christian faith, the essence of the church.

In later centuries the word ecumenical was used to denote those councils (e.g., Nicaea, Chalcedon) of bishops whose decisions represented the universal church, in contrast to other church councils that enjoyed only regional or limited reception. The honorary title of ecumenical patriarch was given to the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople because his see was located in the capital of the oikoumene and his leadership was accepted as primus inter pares (first among equals) in the faith and mission of the whole church. The Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian creeds are called ecumenical because they witness to the universal faith of all Christians. In the 19th and 20th centuries ecumenism denoted the movement of the renewal, unity, and mission of Christians and churches of different traditions "so that the world may believe." (see also Index: ecumenical council)

Ecumenism is a vision, a movement, a theology, and a mode of action. It represents the universality of the people of God, which affects the way Christians think about their faith, the church, and the world. Ecumenism, which is a long process, includes Bible study, dialogue, prayer, eucharistic worship, common witness, diaconal service, and ecclesial unity that draws Christians together, uniting their life and mission and bringing the Body of Christ and the human community closer to the fulfillment of God's purposes. To be involved in ecumenism means to participate in those ideas, activities, and institutions that express a spiritual reality of shared love in the church and the human community. It involves the work of officially organized ecumenical bodies, the confessing and witnessing of Christians in local places, and the spirituality and actions of those who live together in love and prophetic proclamation. Far more than a program or an organization, ecumenism is, according to the British ecumenist Oliver S. Tomkins, "something that happens to the soul of Christians." (see also Index: mystical body of Christ)

Any unity worthy of this vision cannot be identified with political or spiritual coercion, strategies of dominance or superiority, calls for "a return to the mother church," or expectations of monolithic uniformity or a super-church. When serving the cause of faith, the weapons of faith are not those of force or intolerance; neither can divisions be overcome nor authentic unity manifested by syncretism, a least-common-denominator theology, or a casual friendliness. Ecumenism accepts the diversity of God's people, given in creation and redemption, and strives to bring these confessional, cultural, national, and racial differences into one fully committed fellowship.

Ultimately the purpose of ecumenism is to glorify the triune God and to help the one missionary church to witness effectively and faithfully among all peoples and nations. In the last half of the 20th century Christians have learned and confessed new dimensions of this vocation, especially in relation to what divides the churches. Progress has been made on historical theological issues that have alienated Christians through the centuries--baptism, the Eucharist, and ministry. But equally divisive among Christians are the divisions of the human family: racism, poverty, sexism, war, injustice, and differing ideologies. These issues are part of the agenda of ecumenism and bring a particular context, dynamic spirit, and urgency to the pursuit of Christian unity as well as of justice and peace. The church's unity becomes essential for the renewal and unity of the human family. Through its unity the church becomes a sign, the firstfruits of the promised unity and peace among God's peoples and the nations.

1) THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

The unity of the church and of all creation is a dominant motif in the Bible. This witness begins in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures, not the New Testament. God established a covenant with the Hebrew people and gathered the disparate tribes into one religious nation, Israel, taking steps to overcome the alienation between God and humans and to reconcile God's people. The tradition of ancient Judaism, therefore, was based on the reality of the one people of God. Their unity was an expression of their monotheistic faith, the oneness of God (Yahweh). As Genesis records, God created the world as one cosmos, an ordered unity determined by one single will in which all creatures are responsive to the purposes of the Creator. Yahweh chose Israel from all the nations of the world and entered into covenant with its people. Whenever men and women sinned and alienated themselves from God and from one another, God acted to bring about their reconciliation. Israel's mission was to preserve the faithfulness and unity of all God's people and to prepare them for the realization of the Kingdom of God.

The vision of unity is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of his Apostles. Those who confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour are brought together in a new community: the church. All New Testament writers assume that to be "in Christ" is to belong to one fellowship (Greek: koinonia). Jesus clearly gave the mandate when at the Last Supper he offered his high-priestly intercession, praying that the disciples and all those who believe in him "may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee . . . so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). This unity was evidenced in the miracle of Pentecost (Acts 2) and other actions that constituted the primitive church--e.g., the epoch-making Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), which negotiated conflicts between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

The early church nevertheless had many tensions and conflicts that called for ecumenical proclamations and pleas from the writers and Apostles of the New Testament. Tensions arose between Jewish Christian churches and Gentile Christian churches, between Paul and the enthusiasts, between John and early Catholicism. Peter and Paul disagreed strongly over whether Gentiles had to fulfill Jewish requirements in order to be welcome at the Lord's Supper (Eucharist). That theological aberrations challenged the young church is shown in the New Testament: Colossians refutes Gnosticism; the Johannine Epistles warn against Docetism; 2 Peter and Revelation attack false prophets.

None of this diversity created schism nor allowed a break in fellowship. There were no denominations or divided communities, as were to develop later in the church's history. Division among Christians is a denial of Christ, an unthinkable distortion of the reality of the church. Amid their diversity and conflicts the early Christians remained of "one accord," visibly sharing the one Eucharist, accepting the ministries of the whole church, reaching out beyond their local situation in faith and witness with a sense of the universal community that held all Christians together. As Paul taught the Ephesians, God's ultimate will and plan is "to unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth" (chapter 1, verse 10).

2) THE HISTORY OF ECUMENISM

While unity is given in Christ, church history chronicles two diametric forces in the church's life. One is the tendency toward sectarianism and division; the other is the conviction toward catholicity and unity. Ecumenism represents the struggle between them. Some of the schisms were theological conflicts foreshadowed in the apostolic church; others were internal quarrels related to liturgical differences, power politics between different patriarchates or church centres, problems of discipline and piety, or social and cultural conflicts. Nevertheless, according to the American historian John T. McNeill, "the history of the Christian Church from the first century to the 20th might be written in terms of its struggle to realize ecumenical unity."

i) Early controversies.

A long and continuing trail of broken relations among Christians began in the 2nd century. Early in the 2nd century the Gnostics presented a serious doctrinal error and broke fellowship. Quartodecimanism, a dispute over the date of Easter, pitted Christians from Asia Minor against those from Rome. Montanism--which taught a radical enthusiasm, the imminent Second Coming of Christ, and a severe perfection, including abstinence from marriage--split the church. The Novatians broke fellowship with those Christians who, under pressure, offered sacrifices to pagan gods during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Decius in AD 250. In the early 4th century the Donatists, Christians in North Africa who prided themselves as the church of the martyrs, refused to share communion with those who had lapsed (i.e., who had denied the faith under threat of death). The church in Rome received the lapsed back into fellowship after services of repentance. This schism--like many since--reflected regional, national, cultural, and economic differences between the poor, rural North African Christians and the sophisticated, urban Romans. (see also Index: Novatian Schism)

In each century leaders and churches sought to reconcile these divisions and to manifest the visible unity of Christ's church. But in the 5th century a severe break in the unity of the church took place. The public issues were doctrinal consensus and heresy, yet in the midst of doctrinal controversy alienation was prompted by political, cultural, philosophical, and linguistic differences. Tensions increased as the church began to define--amid critical distortions by some--the relationship between God the Father and God the Son and later the relation between the divine and human elements in the nature and person of Jesus Christ. The first four ecumenical councils--at Nicaea (AD 325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451)--defined the consensus to be taught and believed, articulating this faith in the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Definition, which stated that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, true man, and true God, one person in "two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation." Two groups deviated doctrinally from the consensus developed in the councils. The Nestorians taught that there are two distinct persons in the incarnate Christ and two natures conjoined as one; Monophysites taught that there is one single nature, primarily divine. Several churches refused to accept the doctrinal and disciplinary decisions of Ephesus and Chalcedon and felt that they had no alternative but schism. These churches, called pre-Chalcedonian or Oriental Orthodox, became great missionary churches and spread to Armenia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, Persia, and the Malabar coast of India in isolation from other churches. (see also Index: Christology, Nicaea, Council of, Chalcedon, Council of, Christ, two natures of)

ii) The schism of 1054.

The greatest schism in church history occurred between the church of Constantinople and the church of Rome. While 1054 is the symbolic date of the separation, the agonizing division was six centuries in the making. The friction was ignited by several issues. The Eastern Church sharply disagreed when the Western Church introduced into the Nicene Creed the doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father alone--as earlier Church Fathers taught--but from the Father and the Son (Latin: filioque). When the Roman Empire was divided into two zones, Latin-speaking Rome began to claim superiority over Greek-speaking Constantinople; disputes arose over church boundaries and control (for example, in Illyricum and Bulgaria). Rivalry developed in Slavic regions between Latin missionaries from the West and Byzantine missionaries from the East, who considered this territory to be Orthodox. Lesser matters related to worship and church discipline--for example, married clergy (Orthodox) versus celibacy (Roman Catholic) and rules of fasting--strained ecclesial relations. The tensions became a schism in 1054, when the uncompromising patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, and the envoys of the uncompromising Pope Leo IX excommunicated each other. No act of separation was at this time considered final by either side. Total alienation came a half century later, as a result of the Crusades, when nominally Roman Catholic Christian soldiers made military campaigns to save Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims. In 1204 the Fourth Crusade was diverted to attack and capture Constantinople brutally. Thousands of Orthodox Christians were murdered; churches and icons were desecrated. As a consequence undying hostility developed between East and West. (see also Index: Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism)

Even so, certain leaders and theologians on both sides tried to heal the breach and reunite East and West. In 1274 the second Council of Lyon sought reunion. Agreements among the negotiators were achieved, including Orthodox acceptance of papal primacy and the acceptance of the Nicene Creed with the filioque clause. But the agreements were only a rushed action conditioned by political intrigue. As a result, reunion on these terms was fiercely rejected by the clergy and laity in Constantinople and other Orthodox provinces. A second attempt at reunion came at a council that met in Italy at Ferrara in 1438 and Florence in 1439. A formula of union was approved by both delegations, but later it was rejected by rank-and-file Orthodox Christians. (see also Index: Ferrara-Florence, Council of)

iii) The Reformation.

The 16th century experienced the next dramatic church division in the Reformation in the West. Like other schisms this one does not yield to simple analysis or exegesis. The Reformation was a mixture of theology, ecclesiology, politics, and nationalism, all of which led to breaks in fellowship and created institutional alienation between Christians in Germany, France, Switzerland, Scotland, England, and elsewhere. In one sense it was a separation, especially a reaction against the rigid juridical structures of medieval Roman Catholicism and its claim to universal truth and jurisdiction. In another sense, however, the Reformation was an evangelical and ecumenical renewal of the church as the Body of Christ, an attempt to return to the apostolic and patristic sources in order, according to Calvin, "to recover the face of the ancient Catholic Church." All the continental Reformers sought to preserve and reclaim the unity of the church. (see also Index: mystical body of Christ)

Once the separation between the Roman Catholic Church and the emerging Protestant churches was conclusive, irenic persons on both sides tried to restore unity. Roman Catholics such as Georg Witzel and George Cassander developed proposals for unity, which all parties rejected. Martin Bucer, celebrated promoter of church unity among the 16th-century leaders, brought Luther and his colleague Philipp Melanchthon into dialogue with the Swiss Reformer Zwingli at Marburg, Ger., in 1529. In 1541 Calvin (who never ceased to view the church in its catholicity), Bucer, and Melanchthon met with Cardinal Gasparo Contarini and other Roman Catholics at Ratisbon (now Regensburg, Ger.) to reconcile their differences on justification by faith, the Lord's Supper, and the papacy. Another attempt was made in 1559, when Melanchthon and Patriarch Joasaph II of Constantinople corresponded, with the intention of using the Augsburg Confession as the basis of dialogue between Lutherans and Orthodox. On the eve of the French religious wars (1561) Roman Catholics and Protestants conferred without success in the Colloquy of Poissy. It would seem that the ecumenical projects of theologians and princes in 16th-century Europe failed unequivocally, but they kept alive the vision and the hope. (see also Index: Marburg, Colloquy of)

iv) Ecumenism in the 17th and 18th centuries.

During the 17th and 18th centuries storms of contention and division continued to plague the churches throughout Europe. The Church of England, severed from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century by Henry VIII and his English theologians, experienced its first internal split when it was unable or unwilling to embrace John Wesley and the Methodist Church's insights for spiritual renewal.

During these two centuries there was an eclipse of official, church-to-church attempts at unity. Instead, ecumenical witness was made by individuals who courageously spoke and acted against all odds to propose Christian unity. John Amos Comenius, a Czech Brethren educator and advocate of union, produced a plan of union for Protestants based upon the adoption of a scriptural basis for all doctrine and polity and the integration of all human culture.

In England, John Dury, a Scots Presbyterian and (later) an Anglican minister, "a peacemaker without partiality," traveled more extensively than any other ecumenist before the 19th century, negotiating for church unity in his own country and in Sweden, Holland, France, Switzerland, and Germany. Richard Baxter, a Presbyterian Puritan, developed proposals for union, including his Worcestershire Association, a local ecumenical venture uniting Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Anglicans.

Efforts were undertaken in Germany as well. The German Lutheran George Calixtus called for a united church between Lutherans and Reformed based on the "simplified dogmas," such as the Apostles' Creed and the agreements of the church in the first five centuries. Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf applied his Moravian piety to the practical ways that unity might come to Christians of all persuasions. The philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz worked tirelessly for union between Protestants and Roman Catholics, writing an apologia interpreting Roman Catholic doctrines for Protestants.

Orthodox Christians also participated in the search for union. Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow and the Russian Orthodox theologian Aleksey S. Khomyakov expressed enthusiasm for ecumenism. Cyrillus Lukaris, Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria and later of Constantinople, took initiatives to reconcile a divided Christendom. People throughout Europe held tenaciously to the dream of ecumenism, although no attempt at union reached fruition.

v) 19th-century efforts.

In the 19th century a worldwide movement of evangelical fervour and renewal, noted for its emphasis on personal conversion and missionary expansion, stirred new impulses for Christian unity. The rise of missionary societies and volunteer movements in Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, and the United States expressed a zeal that fed the need for church unity. As missionaries in different countries began to experience the harmful results of Christian divisions, cooperation among Protestant missionaries began to take place in India, Japan, China, Africa, Latin America, and the United States.

In 1804 the British and Foreign Bible Society came into existence to bring Protestants and Anglicans together in the translation and distribution of the Scriptures. This was followed, 40 years later, by the founding of two important Christian organizations in England: the Young Men's Christian Association (1844) and the Young Women's Christian Association (1855). Their international bodies, the World Alliance of YMCAs and the World YWCA, were established in 1855 and 1894, respectively. The Evangelical Alliance, possibly the most significant agent of Christian unity in the 19th century, held a unique place among the volunteer associations of individuals for common service and mission. Founded in London in 1846 (with an American section in 1867), the alliance sought to draw individual Christians into fellowship and cooperation in prayer for unity, Christian education, the struggle for human rights, and mission.

Also pivotal in the 19th century were advocates for the visible unity of the church. In the United States, where the most articulate 19th-century unity movements were heard, the witness to the unity and union was led by three traditions. Among Lutherans, Samuel Simon Schmucker and Philip Schaff pleaded for "catholic union on apostolic principles." Among Episcopalians, the visionaries for unity included Thomas Hubbard Vail, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and William Reed Huntington, who proposed the historic "Quadrilateral" of the Scriptures, the creeds, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and episcopacy as the keystone of unity. Among the Disciples of Christ the biblical vision of unity was dramatically offered by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander, and Barton Warren Stone--all of whom taught that "the Church of Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally and constitutionally one." Ecumenism was enflamed in the hearts of 19th-century Christians and in the next century began to shape the churches as never before.

vi) Ecumenism in the 20th century.

The 20th century experienced a flowering of ecumenism. Four different strands--the international Christian movement, cooperation in world mission, Life and Work, and Faith and Order--developed in the early decades and, though distinctive in their emphases, later converged to form one ecumenical movement.

The modern ecumenical era began with a worldwide movement of Christian students, who formed national movements in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Scandinavia, and Asia. In 1895 the World Student Christian Federation, the vision of American Methodist John R. Mott, was established "to lead students to accept the Christian faith" and to pioneer in Christian unity. The World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh (1910) inaugurated another aspect of ecumenism by dramatizing the necessity of unity and international cooperation in fulfilling the world mission of the church. In 1921 the International Missionary Council (IMC) emerged, bringing together missionary agencies of the West and of the new Christian councils in Asia, Africa, and Latin America for joint consultation, planning, and theological reflection. The Life and Work movement was pledged to practical Christianity and common action by focusing the Christian conscience on international relations and social, industrial, and economic problems. Nathan Söderblom, Lutheran archbishop of Uppsala, inspired world conferences on Life and Work at Stockholm (1925) and Oxford (1937). The Faith and Order movement, which originated in the United States, confronted the doctrinal divisions and sought to overcome them. Charles H. Brent, an Episcopal missionary bishop in the Philippines, was chiefly responsible for this movement, although Peter Ainslie, of the Disciples of Christ, shared the same vision and gave significant leadership. World conferences on Faith and Order at Lausanne (1925), Edinburgh (1937), Lund (1952), and Montreal (1963) guided the process of theological consensus-building between Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics, which led to approval of the historic convergence text on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (1982).

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a privileged instrument of the ecumenical movement. Constituted at Amsterdam in 1948, the conciliar body includes more than 300 churches--Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox--which "confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Its general secretaries have been among the architects of 20th-century ecumenism: W.A. Visser 't Hooft, (The Netherlands), Eugene Carson Blake (United States), Philip Potter (Dominica), and Emilio Castro (Uruguay). The witness and programs of the WCC include faith and order, mission and evangelism, refugee and relief work, interfaith dialogue, justice and peace, theological education, and solidarity with women and the poor. What distinguishes the WCC constituency is the forceful involvement of Orthodox churches and churches from the Third World. Through their active presence the WCC, and the wider ecumenical movement, has become a genuinely international community.

Roman Catholic ecumenism received definitions and momentum at the second Vatican Council (1962-64), under the ministries of popes John XXIII and Paul VI, and through the ecumenical diplomacy of Cardinal Augustin Bea, the first president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. The church gave the ecumenical movement new hope and language in the "Decree on Ecumenism" (1964), one of the classic ecumenical teaching documents. Another result of Vatican II was the establishment of a wide variety of international theological dialogues, commonly known as bilateral conversations. These include Roman Catholic bilaterals with Lutherans (1965), Orthodox (1967), Anglicans (1967), Methodists (1967), Reformed (1970), and the Disciples of Christ (1977). Topics identified for reconciling discussions include baptism, the Eucharist, episcopacy and papacy, authority in the church, and mixed marriage.

Critical to 20th-century ecumenism is the birth of united churches, which have reconciled formerly divided churches in a given place. In Asia and Africa the first united churches were organized in China (1927), Thailand (1934), Japan (1941), and the Philippines (1944). The most heralded examples of this ecumenism are the United Church of Canada (1925), the Church of South India (1947), and the Church of North India (1970). Statistics of other united churches are revealing. Between 1948 and 1965, 23 churches were formed. In the period from 1965 to 1970 unions involving two or more churches occurred in the West Indies in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, Ecuador, Zambia, Zaire, Pakistan, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Belgium. Strategic union conversations were undertaken in the United States by the nine-church Consultation on Church Union (1960) and by such uniting churches as the United Church of Christ (1957), the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (1983), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1988).

Spiritual disciplines play a key role in ecumenism, a movement steeped in prayer for unity. During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated every year (January 18-25), Christians from many traditions engage in prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship in anticipation of the unity Christ wills. (P.A.C.)

4. The Christian church and non-Christian religions

A spiritual encounter and discussion of Christianity with other world religions has begun only during the 20th century as a consequence of change in the general religious, political, and economic situation of the world. The global spread of Christianity through the activity of the European and American churches in the 18th and 19th centuries led to Christianity's immediate encounter with all other existing religions. Until the beginning of the 19th century there were still places on Earth where non-Christian religions never came into contact with Christianity. Since then, Christianity has entered into a direct contact with all living non-Christian religions in the world. The close connection between Christian world missions and political, economic, technical, and cultural expansion has, at the same time, been loosened.

After World War II, the former mission churches were transformed into independent churches in the newly autonomous Asian and African states. The concern for a responsible cooperation of the members of Christian minority churches and its non-Christian fellow citizens became the more urgent with a renaissance of the Asian higher religions in numerous Asian states. Since World War II Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam have been trying to regain their former position of leadership in intellectual and spiritual life, mainly in the educational systems of their countries in the Asian states and--in the case of Islam--in some African states. (see also Index: Asia)

All Asian higher religions have also turned to activities in world missions in Christian countries in Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Hinduism, for example, has founded numerous Vedanta centres in North America and Europe within the framework of the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda missions. South Asian Theravada (Way of the Elders) Buddhism and the Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhism of Japan (mainly Zen Buddhism, an intuitive-meditative sect) have begun world missionary activities under the influence of a Buddhist renaissance. This influence has penetrated Europe and North America not so much in the form of a directly organized mission as in the form of a spontaneously received flow of religious ideas and methods of meditation through literature, philosophy, psychology, and psychotherapy. As a result, Christianity in the latter part of the 20th century found itself forced to enter into a factual discussion with non-Christian religions, particularly because the constitutional privileges once enjoyed by certain religions had been rescinded in most states.

Modern history of religions, on the other hand, has caused a general transformation of religious consciousness in the West since the middle of the 19th century. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the knowledge of non-Christian higher religions was still the privilege of a few specialists. In the meantime, in a second wave of enlightenment, a wide range of people have studied the results of research in the form of translations of source materials from the non-Christian religions. The spreading of the religious art of Tibet, India, and the Far East through touring exhibitions and the possibility of a direct participation in non-Christian religious ceremonies through radio and television has created a new attitude toward the other religions in the broad public of Europe and North America. The knowledge of the plurality of the world religions characterizes the religious consciousness of the 20th century in a way that was unknown in former centuries. In recognition of this fact, numerous Christian institutions for the study of non-Christian religions have been founded: e.g., in Bangalore, India; in Rangoon, Burma; in Bangkok, Thailand; in Kyoto, Japan; and in Hong Kong,China. There are also a number of more specialized centres in several countries.

The readiness of encounter or even cooperation of Christianity with non-Christian religions is a phenomenon of modern times, with few precedents in the history of the struggle of Christianity and the non-Christian religions. Until the 18th century, Christianity showed little inclination to engage in a serious study of non-Christian religions. Four hundred years after the beginning of the struggle with the Muslims in Spain, almost half a century after the proclamation of the First Crusade against Islam, Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, issued the first translation of the Qur`an (the Islamic scriptures) in 1141 in Toledo; but he was not understood by his contemporaries. Bernard of Clairvaux, the propagator of the Second Crusade, even refused to read it. Four hundred years later, in 1542/43, Theodor Bibliander, a theologian and successor of the Swiss Reformer Zwingli, edited the translation of the Qur`an by Peter the Venerable again. He was subsequently arrested, and he and his publisher could be freed only through intervention by Luther.

Knowledge of Hinduism was sometimes deliberately delayed by the missionaries. August Hermann Francke, the supporter of the Lutheran Tranquebar mission in India, prevented the publication of the work of the missionary Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg about the religion of the non-Christian Malabarese of India. The name Buddha is mentioned for the first time in Christian literature--and there only once -- by Clement of Alexandria about AD 200; and it vanished after that from Christian literature for a full 1,300 years. Pali, the language of the Buddhist canon, remained unknown in the West until the beginning of the 19th century, when modern Buddhology was founded. (see also Index: Pali language)

The reasons for such reticence toward contact with foreign religions were twofold: (1) The ancient church was significantly influenced by the Jewish attitude toward the pagan religions of its environment. Like Judaism, it viewed the pagan gods as "nothings" next to the true God, the Creator of the world and, in the case of the Christians, the Father of Jesus Christ; they were offsprings of human error that were considered to be identical with the wooden, stone, or bronze images that were made by humans. (2) Besides this, there was the tendency to degrade the pagan gods as demons, evil demonic forces engaged in mortal combat with the true God. The conclusion of the history of salvation, according to the Christian understanding, was to be a final struggle between Christ and his church on the one side and the forces, powers, and thrones of the Antichrist on the other, culminating finally with the victory of Christ. (see also Index: paganism)

1) CONFLICTING CHRISTIAN ATTITUDES

The history of religion, however, continued even after Christ. During the 3rd and 4th centuries a new non-Christian world religion appeared in the form of Manichaeism, which countered the Christian Church with new holy books, a new institution, and a new universal claim of validity. The Christian Church never acknowledged Manichaeism as a new religion but considered it a Christian heresy and opposed it as such. (see also Index: Apologist)

When Islam was founded in the 7th century as a new higher religion, it considered revelation as received by the Prophet Muhammad to be superior to the former levels of Old and New Testament revelation. Christianity also fought Islam as a Christian heresy. This new threat was seen as the fulfillment of the eschatological prophecies of the Apocalypse concerning the coming of the "false prophet" (Revelation to John). The apocalyptic interpretation of Islam as the religion of the "false prophet" also coined the archetypal struggle of the Christian Church of the Middle Ages against foreign religions, namely, the crusade. The idea of the Crusades deeply influenced the self-consciousness of Western Christianity even in later centuries. (see also Index: false prophecy)

The dialogue of the 15th-century German theologian Nicholas of Cusa on the peace of faith (1453) is the first Christian document that calls for the establishment of an eternal peace among world religions. In spite of this, the idea of the crusade remained the model for the fulfillment of the new missionary task that arose within the Roman Catholic Church with the discovery and exploration of the American continents by Spain and Portugal. Only the penetration of the Islamic wall that had separated Europe spiritually and economically from the empires of the Asian higher religions and only the encounter with these higher religions in countries such as China and Japan--which could not be subjugated to the rule of Roman Catholic kings by the sword--led to a gradual overcoming of the idea of the crusade. In China and Japan the missionaries saw themselves forced into an argument with the indigenous higher religions that could be carried on only with intellectual weapons. The old Logos theory prevailed in a new form that was founded on natural law, particularly among the Jesuit theologians who worked at the Chinese emperor's court in Peking.

The philosophy of the Enlightenment in the 18th century spread the acknowledgment of a plurality of higher religions among the educated in Europe, partly--as in the case of the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz--in immediate connection with the theories of natural law of the Jesuit missionaries in China. This insight pointed to the striking convergence of non-Christian higher religions with Christianity and in that way prepared the development of the comparative study of religion. Only in the philosophy of the Enlightenment was the demand of tolerance, which thus far in Christian Europe had been applied solely as a postulate of behaviour toward the followers of another Christian denomination, extended to include the followers of different religions.

The missions that were carried out in the late 18th and the 19th centuries by pietistically or fundamentally oriented churches ignored this knowledge or consciously fought against it. Simple lay Christianity of revivalist congregations demanded that a missionary denounce all pagan "idolatry." The spiritual and intellectual argument with non-Christian higher religions simply did not exist for this simplified fundamental theology, and in this view a real encounter of Christianity with non-Christian higher religions did not, on the whole, occur in the 18th and 19th centuries. ( E.W.B./J.Hi.)

2) MODERN VIEWS

The 20th century has seen an explosion of publicly available information concerning the wider religious life of humanity, as a result of which the older Western assumption of the manifest superiority of Christianity has lost plausibility in many minds. Early 20th-century thinkers such as Rudolf Otto, who saw religion throughout the world as a response to the Holy, and Ernst Troeltsch, who showed that socioculturally Christianity is one of a number of comparable traditions, opened up new ways of regarding the other major religions.

Given that the central concern of both Christianity and the other great world faiths is salvation, Christians today adopt one of three main points of view. One is exclusivism, which holds that there is salvation only for Christians. This theology underlay much of the history outlined above, expressed both in the Roman Catholic dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus ("outside the church no salvation") and in the assumption of the 18th- and 19th-century Protestant missionary movements that outside the proclaimed Gospel there is no salvation. The exclusivist outlook was eroded within advanced Roman Catholic thinking in the decades leading up to the second Vatican Council (1962-65) and was finally abandoned in the council's pronouncements. Within Protestant Christianity there is no comparable central authority, but most Protestant theologians, except within the extreme Fundamentalist constituencies, have also moved away from the exclusivist position.

The move, among both Roman Catholics and Protestants, has been toward inclusivism, the view that, although salvation is by definition Christian salvation, brought about by the atoning work of Christ, it is nevertheless in principle available to all human beings, whether Christian or not. The Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner expressed the inclusivist view by saying that good and devout people of other faiths may, even without knowing it, be regarded as "anonymous Christians." Others have expressed in different ways the thought that non-Christians also are included within the universal scope of Christ's salvific work and their religions fulfilled in Christianity.

The third position, to which a number of individual theologians have moved in recent years, is pluralism. According to this view, the great world faiths, including Christianity, are valid spheres of a salvation that takes characteristically different forms within each--though consisting in each case in the transformation of human existence from self-centredness to a new orientation toward the Divine Reality. The other religions are thus not secondary contexts of Christian redemption but independently authentic paths of salvation. The pluralist position is controversial in Christian theology because it affects the ways in which the doctrines of the person of Christ, atonement, and the Trinity are formulated.

Christians engage in dialogue with the other major religions through the World Council of Churches' subunit on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies and the Vatican's Secretariat for Non-Christians, as well as a variety of extra-ecclesiastical organizations, such as the World Congress of Faiths. A multitude of interreligious encounters takes place throughout the world, many initiated by Christian and others by non-Christian individuals and groups. 

   


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