The Father of Modern Missions was a Calvinist

It may come as a surprise to those unaware of the influence of Reformed thinkers and pioneers but it’s true.

William Carey was a Calvinist.

To those who are familiar with church history, of course, this is not particularly surprising. There have been passionate, missional, church-planting pioneers and Evangelists on both sides of the theological debate: Reformed or Arminian.

The causes of the church’s lack of evangelistic zeal are usually found elsewhere – weak leadership, worldliness, lack of Holy Spirit power, unbelief, fear – and it is shameful that great and glorious doctrines are used as a kind of fig leaf.

Like most other Protestant missionaries of his day
Dr Thomas Schirrmacher writes, ‘Carey was a Protestant by conviction…The turning point, he believed, was reached by the Reformers.

‘He names especially Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Bucer and Peter Martyr. He [said, in ‘The Enquiry’, that]… missionaries must, among other things, be “of undoubted orthodoxy in their sentiments” [ie, Reformed].

‘Carey’s theology is not only unusual for modern tastes in its Postmillennialism, but also in its Calvinist soteriology, for many now believe that the doctrine of predestination extinguishes missionary effort rather than intensifying it.

‘Carey, like most other Protestant missionaries and missionary leaders of his day, agreed with the Calvinist view.’ (from an essay, ‘William Carey, Postmillennialism and the Theology of World Missions’)

Let Reformed Bloggers Rejoice!
So Carey was a Calvinist. Let all Reformed bloggers rejoice! Well, not so fast!

Carey’s passion wasn’t exhausted by writing intense, Scripture-filled blogs, letters to the editor, or even in crafting water-tight sermons that harmonise good doctrine and the need for missional churches.

No, he didn’t just preach well that others should go, he and his family left for India in 1793. Radical. Normal.

As a result of his ‘Expect Great Things’ sermon some friends gathered in 1792 in Kettering, England, formed the Baptist Missionary Society and raised just over thirteen pounds for worldwide evangelisation!

For the next part of the William Carey story click here

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

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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One thought on “The Father of Modern Missions was a Calvinist

  1. Dr. Paul W. Foltz August 2, 2010 / 6:55 pm

    Calvinism is an encouragement to missions. For the sheep will hear and come in.

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