William Carey and the Modernisation of India

William Carey in India

William Carey is known among evangelicals because of his missionary initiative – and his subsequent impact on 19th century missions to all parts of the globe.

His actual work in India has received less attention. This may be, in part, because it took Carey and his workers a full seven years before they saw their first Indian profess faith in Christ. That doesn’t fit too well into a modern exhortation leave all and go into the world with the gospel!

William Carey and the Regeneration of India
But Indian author and speaker Vishal Mangalwadi has done us a great service by publishing on Carey. Vishal himself deserves a wide audience and his books deserve careful consideration. As an Indian observing the West his insights are piercing.

In the book, ‘William Carey and the Regeneration of India’ Vishal and his wife Ruth outline for us the incredible impact Carey had on the modernisation and freedom of modern India.

British Greed
The British view of India during Carey’s time was not particularly benevolent. Historian Lord Macaulay described the British East India Company as ‘a gang of public robbers’.

Mangalwadi says that even British humanitarians visiting India tended to romanticise ‘the customs and wisdom of the natives’ rather than rebuke the greed of the Company.

Their desire to establish an Indian elite seemed an attempt to replicate class distinctions rather than benefit the people.

Changes did eventually come, when Wilberforce, Charles Grant and others were able to form an ‘evangelical’ core within the governors of the Company.

But before that time Carey stands out as a true servant of India and her people.

Serving India with the Bible
The first impulse in Carey’s understanding was, of course, that men and women should repent of their sin and come to Christ for forgiveness and personal transformation. Only then could families and society be impacted by the gospel.

In order to advance this cause Carey set about translating the Bible into local languages.

Mangalwadi writes, ‘Carey spent enormous energy in translating and promoting the Bible, because, as a modern man, he believed that God’s revelation alone could remove superstition and inculcate a confidence in human rationality – a prerequisite for the modernisation of India.’ (Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Nivedit Good Books, Mussouri, p. 67)

Influencing the Culture
But Bible translation, for which Carey is famous, was by no means his only work. He became involved in a vast array of technological improvements and innovations that would be impressive were we dealing with a whole denomination of men and women, and not just one man.

Read the next installment of this story, Christianity and Karma

To read the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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