Dorothy Carey and the Cost of Mission

When William Carey announced to his wife Dorothy that he felt called to take the gospel to India she didn’t share his zeal.

In fact, as the plans developed she became increasingly nervous to the point that she concluded it would be unwise for her to go.

William appealed to his wife but without success. She was absolutely certain that this was not for her. She was heavily pregnant and not about to move her young children into the absolutely unknown.

So Carey adjusted his plans. He and his eldest son, Felix, would go to India and in a year or so they would return to bring the rest of the family.[i] Good plan. That would give him time to settle in and write to her of the conditions and also give her time to hear from God for herself.

But as things progressed the pressure mounted. John Thomas, Carey’s co-missionary, was travelling with his wife. Why not Dorothy? While the ship was delayed, Thomas and Carey met with Dorothy. Thomas so convinced Dorothy that she may never see her husband again that Dorothy was ‘afraid to stay at home’. [ii]

And so, in what can only be described as a frantic rush, ill-prepared, in just one day, she quickly packed what she could, gathered the children, including the (now) newly born son, and boarded the ship along with her husband.

A Tribute by an Indian Woman

Ruth Mangalwadi, in a beautifully written chapter entitled, ‘William Carey – a tribute by an Indian Woman’ writes, ‘Devastating circumstances overwhelmed Dorothy from the outset.

‘She didn’t share her husband’s vision. And his many accomplishments in mission, linguistics, printing, journalism and social reform overshadowed her own struggles with poverty, child-rearing, the heat, mosquitoes, her bouts of chronic dysentery and the frequent upheavals as they moved house.

‘All that William Carey was able to accomplish was possible only if he could leave the domestic responsibilities to his wife. But she paid a high price.’[iii]

Death and Distrust

In their first seven months in India they moved five times. In the eleventh month, after a struggle with fever in the heat, their five-year-old son Peter died. In the bewildering months that followed Dorothy became increasingly deranged. She had lost two daughters in infancy in England but this was different.

Any difficulty is hard to bear when you are far from home, in a different land – but difficulties are harder to bear when you’re convinced you should not be there in the first place.

One psychologist has suggested that Dorothy’s reluctant trust in William, and his friend John Thomas, which led to her changing her mind and coming to India was now shattered and ‘in its place surged a flood of distrust’.[iv]

‘She began to have delusions of Carey’s infidelity and would follow him around to catch him red-handed. She would…publicly accuse him in foul language, shouting obscenities and causing great embarrassment. She saw Carey as her enemy.’[v]

Carey considered that her problem may have been of a spiritual nature but concluded it was psychiatric in origin.

Several friends and colleagues urged William to commit Dorothy to an insane asylum. But he recoiled at the thought of the treatment she might receive in such a place and took the responsibility to keep her within the family home, even though the children were exposed to her rages.[vi]

She suffered for a further 12 years, latterly in full confinement for her own safety, until her death of a fever in 1807. She was 51.

The price of the Careys’ love for India

Ruth Mangalwadi argues that Dorothy’s sacrifice enabled Carey to have the influence on India that he did.

If she had refused to come to India, he would have been forced to return home. She did not absolutely reject the possibility of living in poor conditions during the early years in India. She committed herself to raising the children so Carey could focus on translation work. As a result of her struggles, and her mental illness, ‘mission societies began to consider the wives as equally important as their husbands: their needs and concerns were provided for.’[vii]

For me, by far the most moving reflection on this chapter in missionary history has been expressed by Ruth Mangalwadi. This statement captures the pain and mystery, as well as the outcome of the Careys’ experience in India:

‘For Dorothy’s sake, I would have been glad had Carey returned to England. For India’s sake, I am grateful that he did not.’[viii]

I was at a Leaders’ Retreat recently and was asked for my own opinion on Dorothy Carey. It may be helpful for some if I put my own thoughts in brief here.

1. I think William and Dorothy should have stuck to their first option, which was that William would take Felix and go for a year, arrange for suitable accomodation and then return to collect Dorothy and the rest of the family.

2. In terms of relocating for the sake of church-planting or extension, a general principle of mutual agreement should be upheld. In other words, if the wife is having a serious struggle with the thought of leaving and is essentially against the idea, or not yet at peace, then the husband should wait. It’s not that the wife would make the final decision but if the wife is saying no, then you’re not ready to go. Extenuating circumstances in the Carey case: what precedent was there? Also, how could Carey have known it would turn out as it did?

3. I would reiterate Ruth Mangalwadi’s compassionate but realistic insight: that in terms of Dorothy’s well-being they should have stayed in England, but in terms of India’s well-being, it was right that they went.

© 2011/2012 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

[i] Timothy George, The Life and Mission of William Carey, IVP, p.157

[ii] ibid. p.85

[iii] Ruth Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, p.26

[iv] James R Beck, Dorothy’s Devastating Delusions,

[v] Mangalwadi, p.38

[vi] George, p.158

[vii] Mangalwadi, p.39

[viii] ibid. p.26


A Breathtaking Legacy – William Carey, Father of Modern Missions

William Carey

It is not accurate to merely mention William Carey as an inspiration for global mission.

His legacy, and the breadth of his involvement and influence in Indian life, does not allow us to pass by him quickly.

Here was an ordinary man, a shoemaker by trade, converted to Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, and set on a life of service to those who don’t know Christ.

He grasped, as we should, that the Christian Gospel impacts the whole of life – not only how one prays in private, important though that is.

He saw the gospel as a powerful manifestation of grace that reconciles us to the Holy God, and enhances our intellectual, moral and social life.

What did Carey do?
As a result, we’ve seen how his career as a missionary in India places him in a unique position as a helper to India’s freedom.

He believed Scripture has greater authority than tradition
He urged others to take the ‘Great Commission’ seriously
He believed God specifically called him to go to India
He knew that the Bible was the key to human freedom and human development
He taught that Karma trapped people but Grace releases them
He preserved and enhanced indigenous languages through Bible translation
He was the first to publish on Science and Natural History in India
He introduced the steam engine to India and gave local engineers the design so they could reproduce it
He also developed locally produced paper so that locals would not have to purchase imported paper at higher prices
He introduced the idea of a savings bank to India to protect the poor from loan sharks
He was the first person to lead a campaign for the humane treatment of leprosy patients
He was the father of print technology in India
He established the first ever newspaper printed in an Oriental language – and sought to establish a ‘free press’
He was the first to translate the Indian religious classics into English
He wrote worship songs in Bengali
He established dozens of schools in India, for both sexes – disregarding colonial fears and prejudice
He founded the Agri-horticultural Society in India before the Royal Agricultural Society was formed in England
He was concerned for the environment in India and wrote essays on forestry
He established Indian lending libraries
He fought for Women’s Rights in India – successfully working for legislation that would outlaw widow burning

What should we do?
In the light of such achievements and areas of involvement we would do well to ask ourselves how far reaching our influence could be?

And, once again, as I have said several times, such a study of Carey should challenge, if not obliterate, the oft-repeated slander that the missionaries sent from Europe were primarily self-serving or Empire-serving lackeys. Rubbish!

That Carey’s life-long devotion to the liberation of India was costly will be examined next time as we consider the impact it made on his family, and more specifically, on his wife, Dorothy.

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – the Dignity of Women (Part 2)

Sati - a practice that turned Carey into a campaigner for Indian women's rights

For part one click here

In 1799 William Carey, missionary to India, witnessed the funeral of a Hindu man. The dead body was prepared and ready. The funeral pyre on which the man’s body was to be burned was ready. Nearby, the man’s living wife awaited the moment that she was expected to throw herself into the fire…

A ‘great act of holiness’
Carey pleaded with the family members of the deceased, until he blurted out that what they were doing, ‘was a shocking murder!’

‘They told me it was a great act of holiness, and added in a very surly manner, that if I did not like to see it I might go farther off, and desired me to go.

‘I told them that I would not go, that I was determined to stay and see the murder, and I should certainly bear witness of it at the tribunal of God.

‘I exhorted the woman not to throw away her life; to fear nothing, for no evil would follow her refusal to burn…

‘No sooner was the fire kindled than all the people set up a great shout – ‘Hurree-Bol, Hurree- Bol’…

‘It was impossible to have heard the woman had she groaned or even cried aloud, on account of the mad noise of the people, and it was impossible for her to stir or struggle on account of the bamboos which were held down on her like the levers of a press.

‘We made much objection to their using these bamboos, and insisted that it was using force to prevent the woman from getting up when the fire burned her.

‘But they declared that it was only done to keep the pile from falling down.

‘We could not bear to see more, but left them, exclaiming loudly against the murder, and full of horror at what we had seen.’ (From a letter to John Ryland, quoted by Timothy George, Faithful Witness, p.151, IVP)

Research, Raising Public Awareness and Legislation
Carey vigourously investigated incidents of Sati, widow-burning, and publicised them both in India and England.

Indian scholar, Vishal Mangalwadi writes, ‘Carey began to conduct systematic sociological and scriptural research…He influenced a whole generation of civil servants, his students at Fort William College, to resist these evils…

‘When widows converted to Christianity, he arranged marriages for them. It was Carey’s persistent battle against sati for twenty-five years which finally led to Lord Bentinck’s famous Edict in 1829, banning one of the most abominable of all religious practices in the world: widow burning.’ (Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussouri, India)

Carey’s wasn’t the only voice raised against the injustices against women in India at the time but both Indian historians and Indian religious leaders acknowledge his central role and influence.

More next time…

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – The Dignity of Women

Sati, or Suttee, widow burning

We’ve been examining William Carey’s career as a missionary in India.

And we’ve already seen conclusive evidence that Carey does not correspond to the standard misrepresentation of the 19th Century missionary (typically, a culturally insensitive European male, peddling, in religious guise, the agenda of his colonial masters).

But there were moments when Carey quite deliberately sought to change local customs; to bring biblical thinking to bear on the culture in which he was a guest.

The Indian Woman
Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi describes the situation in which the 19th Century Indian woman found herself:

‘The male in India was crushing the female through polygamy, female infanticide, child marriage, widow burning, euthanasia and forced female illiteracy, all sanctioned by religion.

‘The British government timidly accepted these social evils as being an irreversible and intrinsic part of India’s religious mores.’ (Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, India)

Sati, or Widow-burning
Of particular horror to Carey, as well as to others, was the shocking practice of burning widows on their husband’s funeral pyre.

This practice, known as Sati, was an accepted part of India’s cultural and religious life. A widow throwing herself into the fire and being burned alive was considered an act of great devotion to her husband, purification for her and possibly salvation for her husband’s forefathers.

The stigma attached to her remaining alive, both as a financial burden and a social embarrassment to her in-laws, was a strong incentive for them to urge her to ‘do the noble thing’.

Although this was apparently not universally practiced across India it was not something uncommon. Carey personally witnessed a widow-burning in 1799.

He wrote, ‘We were near the village of Noya Serai…Being evening, we got out of the boat to walk, when we saw a number of people assembled on the riverside.

‘I asked them what they were met for, and they told me to burn the body of a dead man.

‘I inquired if his wife would be burned with him; they answered yes, and pointed to the woman.

‘She was standing by the pile, which was made of large billets of wood, about 2½ feet high, 4 feet long, and 2 wide, and on the top of which lay the dead body of her husband.

‘Her nearest relation stood by her, and near her was a small basket of sweetmeats.

‘I asked them if this was the woman’s choice, or if she were brought to it by an improper influence. I talked till reasoning was of no use and then began to exclaim…that it was a shocking murder.

‘They told me that it was a great act of holiness and added…that if I did not like to see it I might go farther off…’ (Quoted in Timothy George, The Life and Mission of William Carey’, IVP, Leicester, p.151)

We’ll consider the remainder of this incident next time…

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

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – The Environment and Access to Information

A finger in every pie?
The breadth of William Carey’s interests and influence is stunning. He saw the Christian faith as a power for good in every sphere of human engagement.

His primary focus was to communicate the message of Christ to Indians that they might believe and be reconciled to the God of the Bible, but as many have found since his example, the gospel should impact all of life

William Carey founded the Agri-Horticultural Society in the 1820s, thirty years before the Royal Agricultural Society was established in England.

‘Carey did a systematic survey of agriculture in India…and exposed the evils of the indigo cultivation system two generations before it collapsed.

‘Carey did all this not because he was hired to do it, but because he was horrified to see that three fifths of one of the finest countries in the world, full of industrious inhabitants, had been allowed to become an uncultivated jungle abandoned to wild beasts and serpents.’

He ‘became the first man in India to write essays on forestry, almost fifty years before the Government made its very first attempt at forest conservation in Malabar.

He ‘both practiced and vigourously advocated the cultivation of timber, giving practical advice on how to plant trees for environmental, agricultural and commercial purposes.’

‘His motivation came from his belief that God has made man responsible for the earth.’

It was in response to Carey’s journal, Friend of India, that the Government made the first appointments for the supervision of forests in South India.

Lending Libraries
Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi asserts that Carey pioneered the idea of lending libraries in India. ‘While the East India Company was importing ship loads of ammunition and soldiers to subdue India, Carey asked his friends in the Baptist Missionary Society to load educational books and seeds into those same ships.’

He was working hard to encourage indigenous literature and text books in the vernacular (the local languages), but until those works were available, he sought to fast-track the education of Indians by making information accessible to them as easily as possible, using the technology available at the time – through libraries.

We’ll continue our study of this ‘Father of Modern Missions’ next time…

(All quotes from Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, India)
To see the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – Astronomy or Astrology, Building Schools

It would seem almost impossible that missionary William Carey could possibly seek to influence more areas of Indian thinking than we have already seen – but it is so.

He certainly obliterates the view that the missionaries were bulldozing local culture and arrogantly asserting a colonial agenda.

For those of you who have followed these recent posts, in which we are imagining a William Carey Quiz amongst Indian students, you might be asking, ‘Will it ever end?’

So let’s rejoin Vishal Mangalwadi’s lecture-hall and listen in as the Quiz continues…

Education – building schools
‘William Carey began dozens of schools for Indian children of all castes and launched the first college in Asia at Serampore.’ Says one student.

‘For nearly three thousand years India’s religious culture has denied to most Indians free access to knowledge, and the Hindu, Mughal and British rulers had gone along with this high caste strategy of keeping the masses in the bondage of ignorance.

‘Carey displayed enormous spiritual strength in standing against the priests, who had a vested interest in depriving the masses of the freedom and power that comes from knowledge of truth.’

Astronomy v Astrology
‘William Carey introduced the study of Astronomy into the Subcontinent,’ declares a student of Mathematics.

‘He cared deeply about the destructive cultural ramifications of astrology: fatalism, superstitious fear and an inability to organize and manage time.

‘He knew that human beings are created to govern nature, and that the sun, moon and the planets are created to assist us in our task of governing.

‘Carey thought that the heavenly bodies ought to be carefully studied since the Creator had made them to be signs or markers…They make it possible for us to devise calendars; to study geography…to plan our lives, work and our societies.

‘The culture of astronomy sets us free to be rulers, whereas the culture of astrology makes us subjects, our lives determined by our stars.’

(From ‘William Carey and the Regeneration of India, by Vishal Mangalwadi, Good Books, Mussouri, India)

A central impulse of Carey’s motivation for working in India was the desire to share knowledge. He saw the education of the population as the key to their spiritual liberation.

Could it be that the British East India Company was so reluctant to allow missionaries to serve amongst the indigenous population specifically because they realised the knowledge they brought would inevitably lead to political liberation?

In this respect it is clear that the missionaries were serving a different agenda, indeed, in Carey’s case a decidedly Biblical agenda, from the economic imperatives of the colonialists.

To read the next post, dealing with Carey’s concern for the environment, click here

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

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – Publishing, Freedom of the Press, Indigenous Literature

Indian Stamp honouring missionary William Carey

What would Carey do?
In our imaginary Quiz, where Indian students are asked the question ‘Who was William Carey?’ several answers have been given which prove Carey’s missionary interest was to benefit the peoples of India.

But there are still numerous students with their hands in the air waiting to give their answers:

Printing and Publishing
‘Dr. William Carey is the father of print technology in India.’ says one. He brought to India the modern science of printing and publishing and then taught and developed it. He built what was then the largest printing press in India. Most printers had to buy their fonts from his Mission Press at Serampore.’

A Free Press
‘William Carey,’ says another, was a Christian missionary who established the first newspaper ever printed in any oriental language because Carey believed that ‘Above all forms of truth and faith, Christianity seeks free discussion.’

‘His English language journal, Friend of India, was the force that gave birth to the Social Reform Movement in India in the first half of the nineteenth century.’

Translation and Promotion of Indigenous Literature
‘Carey was the first man to translate and publish great Indian religious classics such as the Ramayana, and philosophical treaties such as Samkhya into English,’ says a student of Literature.

‘Carey transformed Bengali…into the foremost literary language of India. He wrote gospel ballads in Bengali to bring the Hindu love of musical recitations to the service of his Lord. He also wrote the first Sanskrit dictionary for scholars.’

(All quotes from Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, India, p 2-4)

The picture we are compiling of the 19th Century missionary William Carey is not one of a blundering, insensitive cad who couldn’t care less about local culture but wants to stupefy the ‘natives’ into compliance with the colonial agenda.

Sent to Serve

Rather, we are seeing a deeply inspiring portrait of a man sent to serve; a man eager to understand the philosophical presuppositions of those he seeks to benefit.

This is no culture destroyer but someone seeking to strengthen a people, and bring them knowledge already gained elsewhere, enabling them to both believe the gospel and build a fairer and stronger society. And if you’re tempted to think, ‘Ah! It’s obvious that you, a Westerner, would say that!’ then please keep in mind that I am drawing heavily upon the expertise and research of Indologist, and Indian expert Vishal Mangalwadi.

For the next post in this series click here

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

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – Engineering, Economics and Health Care

We’ve already seen how 19th century missionary William Carey, rather than being a culture-destroyer, actually sought to strengthen and build the nation of India.

We saw how he sought to instill a ‘basic scientific presupposition’ into Indian thinking and how he even helped develop Botanical research in India.

In this post we are continuing Vishal Mangalwadi’s imaginary quiz amongst modern Indian university students about Carey’s identity.

So, in answer to the question ‘Who was William Carey?’ a student of Mechanical Engineering suggests:

Locally produced steam engines and locally made paper
‘William Carey was the first Englishman to introduce the steam engine to India!

‘Carey encouraged Indian blacksmiths to make copies of his engine using local materials and skills.’

He was also the first person to make indigenous paper for the publishing industry. (Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, p.1)

Fair and Honest Banking
‘William Carey was a missionary,’ announces an Economics Major, ‘who introduced the idea of Savings Banks to India, to fight the all pervasive social evil of usury.

‘Carey believed that God, being righteous, hated usury, and thought that lending at the interest of 36-72% made investment, industry, commerce and the economic development of India impossible.’ (ibid. p.2)

Compassionate Medical Care
Next a Medical student raises his hand: ‘William Carey was the first man who led the campaign for a humane treatment of leprosy patients.

Until his time they were sometimes buried of burned alive in India because of the belief that a violent end purified the body and ensured transmigration into a healthy new existence.

‘Natural death by disease was believed to result in four successive births, and a fifth as a leper.

‘Carey believed that Jesus’ love touches leprosy patients, so they should be cared for.’ (ibid. p.2-3)

The more we read about Carey the less he sounds like the caricature of a blundering insensitive colonial missionary, and the more he sounds like a man bringing the authentic love of God into peoples’ lives.

In the next post we’ll examine Carey’s commitment to developing printing technologies and a free press in India.

We’ll continue to examine Carey’s breathtaking efforts here

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

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Influencing Culture – Language and Science

William Carey, the so-called Father of Modern Missions gave his allegiance first to Jesus Christ. Then he gave his allegiance to Jesus’ Mission. Finally, he gave his allegiance to the peoples of India.

The somewhat outdated and negative view of the missionary has at least got one thing right: the missionary was indeed trying to influence culture.

Missionaries – the spoilers of Culture
The negative view has them destroying local culture and manipulating the indigenous population, making them dress and behave like foreigners in order to make them passively submit to a Western colonial agenda. The idea of ‘God’ was the most powerful tool in their manipulative process.

At best these Victorian missionaries are viewed as naïve and under the spell of the ‘Empire’ themselves – at worst, deliberately undermining and destroying the innocent culture of an unspoilt people.

Preserving and Promoting Local Languages
In the last post we saw how one brilliant Indian intellectual viewed the missionary work of William Carey, particularly as it related to Carey’s desire to put the Bible into the hands of Indian people. We saw how the careful translation work of the Bible actually helped preserve local languages in India.

Mangalwadi notes how Bengali, the language Carey worked so hard to formalise for the purpose of translating the Bible, is, today, the only Indian language which ‘has the pride of earning a Nobel Prize for literature, for Rabinda Nath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’. (Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, p.81)

Quoting SK De, he adds, ‘it was Carey and his missionary colleagues who ‘raised the language from the debased condition of an unsettled dialect to the character of a regular and permanent form of speech.’’ (SK De, Bengali Literature in the Nineteenth Century, quoted by Mangalwadi, ibid. p.81)

Carey’s Quiz – What Did Carey Do?
Mangalwadi proposes a quiz to the best-informed Indian students at an All-India Universities Competition. The simple question is: ‘Who was William Carey?’

Carey – the Scientist, the Botanist
‘William Carey was the botanist after whom Careya herbacea is named. It is one of the three varieties of Eucalyptus, found only in India.

‘Carey brought the English daisy to India and introduced the Linnaean system to gardening. He also published the first books on science and natural history in India such as ‘Flora Indica’…Carey believed that nature is declared ‘good’ by its Creator; it is not ‘maya’ (illusion), to be shunned, but a subject worthy of human study.

He frequently lectured on science and tried to inject a basic scientific presupposition into the Indian mind that even lowly insects are not souls in bondage, but creatures worthy of our attention.’ (ibid. p.1)

We’ll continue Carey’s Quiz next time. Click here for the next post

For the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Christianity and Karma

William Carey and the Passion to Reform India

‘Carey’s mission to India inaugurated a new era in the history of the Christian church.’ So says biographer Timothy George.

He then outlines how Carey’s example impacted others who later followed in his steps (see George, Faithful Witness, IVP, 135-152)

Carey’s ideological impact on India
Certainly his impact on the Western church was great. But author and Indologist, Vishal Mangalwadi focuses on Carey’s impact on India itself. This makes for fascinating and challenging reading!

Mangalwadi sees Carey not only as an Evangelist but as a Reformer, and a man of courage and faith.

The courage to say that there’s a problem
He writes, ‘The primary presupposition of any reform…is that before we can improve a society, we have to admit that it is degenerate. The second presupposition is that a fundamental change is, in fact, possible – even if the majority is against the change.’

Comprehensive opposition
‘The opposition to Carey was phenomenal. It came from the British Parliament, from the Company, from the Military, from the Oriental scholars, from his own mission board, and also from the very people he was seeking to serve – the Indians themselves.’ (Mangalwadi, Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, 76)

Part of the resistance to reform, Mangalwadi argues, was the traditional doctrine of karma, which teaches that the earth is the place where souls are living out the deserved consequences of the sins of former lives. Therefore to reform, to alleviate suffering, to initiate an escape from that suffering was to violate this process.

‘What then, should a man born ‘untouchable’ do? Or a widow? Or a leper? The Hindu/Buddhist answer is that each has to live with their karma and dharma, as best they can, without seeking to change fate in any fundamental way.’

‘This was not all; if karma, stars, and demons did leave some freedom for a person, it was severely limited by the Hindu scriptures, written, often, from Brahmanical self-interest.

‘[Hence] the scriptural mandates behind India’s social and intellectual evils worked powerfully against reforms…Is reform possible when religion defends evil and the State is committed not to interfere with religion?

The faith to believe that the problems can be overcome
‘Carey’s faith in a transcendant Ruler, the God of History who was above human rulers, sustained him against all odds.

‘One result of his success has been that since his day, most Indians (including even those who believe in karma, reincarnation, astrology, Brahmanical scriptures etc) now tend to agree that reform is possible. They are forced to reject the fatalistic idea that reform is not possible.

Carey’s imprint of faith is still bearing fruit today
‘That premise had ruled Indian civilisation and ruined India for two thousand years. Carey’s belief that human suffering can be and should be resisted has dominated the last two hundred years of Indian history.’ (Mangalwadi, 76-77)

That’s a pretty impressive perspective from an expert on Indian thought and history.

But Carey was a practical Reformer, and not primarily a philosopher. His efforts launched a vast number of practical projects and initiatives in Indian society.

We’ll continue to pick up the story of Carey’s reform programme next time…

For more on the William Carey story begin here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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

Colonialism and Christian Mission in India

WIlliam Wilberforce – an unfinished work

[The William Carey story cont…]

William Wilberforce – working for India’s freedom
William Wilberforce was, as yet, unable to change the policy of the British with respect to missionaries going to India.

Parliament refused to change their Indian policy to include ‘religious improvement’ as Wilberforce had hoped.

It’s interesting to note that the celebrated hero of the abolition of slavery bill was keenly involved in encouraging Christianity in India. Wilberforce was a Christian first and a politician second.

Servants of the British Empire intervene to stop Christian missionaries
William Carey attempted, perhaps in response to John Newton’s bad advice, to sail to India without a visa (or licence, as it was called then). But, although the Captain of the ship had allowed Carey to board, when a warning of legal action came from the British authorities, Carey and the team were ordered to disembark.

They watched in tears, as the only apparent means of their getting to India pulled out of the harbour – without them!

At this point Carey actually considered getting to India by land – a journey that would have taken many months.

The Adventure – The Hardship – Begins
Finally good news – a non-British ship, a Danish ship, was sailing to India and would take them. Finally there was a way around British resistance to missions.

And a further apparent answer to prayer was that, after much persuasion, Dorothy Carey, her sister, and all the children had agreed to join William and the others in the first modern attempt to take the message of the gospel to the people of India.

Colonialism and Christianity
While many assert that European missionaries were merely the puppets of colonialists and empire builders, William Carey’s story surely provides an example that this was by no means the whole truth.

Perhaps there were some hopeless, arrogant, religious manipulators who were serving money rather than God. But could this really characterise the many who forsook comfortable ministries in Europe in order to try and serve other nations with the gospel? The fact is that this was a tough and notoriously uncomfortable assignment – with little money involved.

There’s no question that 19th Century Europeans generally assumed their culture – and their race – was inherently superior to that of the colonised peoples; nor should it be a debate that to colonise (for one country to take possession of the land and peoples of another) is fundamentally wrong.

Yet in that context many genuine Christians sought to take the good news of Jesus Christ to those who hadn’t heard of him, in obedience to Jesus’ command to ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel.'[1]

And these good guys doubtless made the kind of cultural mistakes and faux pas that we still make today, in business globally, as well as in understanding and respecting other cultures.

That Carey was no destroyer of local language or culture will be seen in future posts. For now, though, it was a great relief for him just to be on the way.

They sailed at 3am on June 13, 1793

More next time…

To read from the beginning of William Carey’s story click here

[1] Mark 16.15

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

I am clear that I am called to go!

John Newton, who told William Carey to take his chances with immigration!

‘I am clear that I am called to go!’

William Carey had already stirred up a new interest in world mission. He had already prompted the formation of a ‘Missionary Society’ which had begun to raise funds for world mission.

Now came the real test: who should go?

For Carey it was clear. He knew he had been called by God to go (George, Faithful Witness,IVP p.76).  What may seem strange to us is that his wife and family would not be going with him.

William: Yes. Dorothy: No!

He had a clear call to India – an ‘appointment’, he called it. But Dorothy was not keen to go, and only consented that their eldest son should go with him until he was able to establish a home there. Then, possibly, the rest of the family would follow.

So the original party was to be William, his eight year old son, Felix, and another minister, John Thomas. But all that was to change, as we shall see.

In a final service in London, Carey shared his dream of translating the Bible in to the local Indian languages. A printer, William Ward, was in the congregation and spoke with Carey afterwards. ‘You must come over and print it for us!’ said Carey. Seven years later he did just that.

Colonialists and Missionaries were not serving the same purpose

Carey had no official documentation or permission to preach in the British territories in India. In fact, the Empire kept missionaries out. The gospel inevitably leads to emancipation and while you could go as a chaplain to expats it was not at all easy to go as a church planter amongst locals. Empire and missionary work did not always go hand in hand – as we are often led to believe.

Newton on Carey: ‘He is an Apostle!
Carey went to the converted slaver and, now, Anglican Minister John Newton for advice.

‘What is the company [The British ‘East India Company’] should send us home on our arrival in Bengal?’ asked Carey. ‘Then conclude’, replied Newton, ‘that your Lord has nothing there for you to accomplish. But if He have, then no power on earth can hinder you.’ Not brilliant advice, and Carey sought to appeal to the Company before going. (George:82)

Newton was later to describe William Carey in glowing terms: ‘Such a man as Carey is more to me than bishop or archbishop: he is an apostle.’ (ibid)

Visas aren’t just a modern necessity
Carey urged Newton to try and get special permission from the East India Company for Carey’s work but he failed. William Wilberforce, who was working hard in the background to have the company’s policy towards evangelism changed, had not succeeded yet in adding the possibility of ‘religious improvement’ to the responsibilities of the company, thus clearing a way for church planters to go officially. It seemed they were unlikely to get on board any ship bound for India without the proper licence.

To read the next post, ‘Colonialism and Christian Mission’, click here

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

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God


William Carey's Enquiry - an exhortation to world mission


In 1790 William Carey, agitated by the church’s lack of concern for global evangelisation, proposed the formation of a society for world mission.

Merely praying for the success of the gospel wasn’t enough – something further must be done: ‘means’ as they called them, must be used to bring the gospel to the world.

In 1792 Carey published his ‘Enquiry’ in pamphlet form, the full title being, ‘An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.’

‘If the prophecies concerning the increase of Christ’s kingdom be true, and if what has been advanced, concerning the commission given by him to his disciples being obligatory on us, be just, it must be inferred that all Christians ought heartily to concur with God in promoting his glorious designs, for he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.’ (Carey in his ‘Enquiry’)

One biographer suggests it is ‘the first and still greatest missionary treatise in the English language.’ (George Smith, ‘The Life of William Carey, Shoemaker and Missionary’ writing in 1887)

You can read Carey’s Enquiry in full here

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God

The publication was followed by an historic sermon at a gathering of Baptist ministers in Nottingham in 1792.

Carey preached from Isaiah 54, ‘Enlarge the place of thy tent…Spare not, lenthen thy cords…for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and they seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not.’

The sermon was not written or published, but we are told that Carey predicted the restoration of the church and the dawn of a new era of missions. The church is, therefore, urged to go to the work of mission full of faith.

‘Expect great things! Attempt great things!’ cried Carey

The impact of a good sermon!

Earlier attempts by Carey to influence his Baptist colleagues had been unsuccessful ‘Sit down young man!’ he was told,  ‘You are an enthusiast!’

But this message, and the publication of the Enquiry, which outlined the need for missions and the responsibility of the churches, marked a new beginning.

It was agreed that a meeting would take place in Kettering to discuss the formation of a Missionary Society for the evangelisation of the world.

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

Growing a Passion for World Mission

Title Page of Cook's Journal of his last voyage

Hardships at Home
In 1781, the 19 year old William Carey married 25 year old Dorothy Plackett and they lived in humble circumstances. They were married for 26 years and had seven children.

Theirs was a life of real challenges, the death of their two year old daughter, Ann, as well as the constant pressure of poverty.

William himself nearly died of a fever early in their married life. The sickness left him bald for the rest of his life. But they built a life together in service to Christ for the spread of the gospel.

In the years before they sailed to India, Carey pastored two Baptist churches, in Moulton and Leicester.

A further edition of Cook's Last Voyage (Queen's University, Ontario, Canada)

Cook’s Last Voyage
In 1783 an important book was published. It gained the attention of the English speaking world, and particularly William Carey.

Yorkshireman Captain James Cook was already as close to a ‘household name’ as you could get. The adventurer and explorer had been killed in Hawaii in 1779 and the Journal of his last voyages was published in 1783.

As Carey read the intriguing accounts of peoples from far off places and such different cultures he felt more than curiosity stirring in him. Cook’s journal was, he confesses, ‘the first thing that engaged my mind to think of missions.’ (quoted in Timothy George, Faithful Witness, IVP, p.20)

The Motive for Mission

Cook himself, wasn’t interested in promoting Christianity around the world. In fact, he disparagingly says of one particular people group, ‘No one would ever venture to introduce Christianity [here] because neither fame nor profit would offer the requisite inducement.’ (ibid p.21)

Cook’s statement reveals a spectacular misunderstanding of the apostolic impulse and is all the more ironic considering both William and Dorothy’s immense sacrifice in order to bring the gospel to India.

To read 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

William Carey the Dissenter

William Carey is one of the great heroes of the Christian Faith.

He was born into a family who considered the Church of England to be the authorised church of the English people. But when he heard the gospel and started to read the Bible, he realised he needed to find out more. He began to be drawn to those called ‘Dissenters’.

Holy Dissent
His biographer, Timothy George writes, ‘The Dissenters of Hanoverian England had inherited a legacy of persecution and harassment. When the Act of Uniformity was passed in 1662 over 2000 ministers were expelled from their posts because they refused to declare ‘unfeigned assent’ to everything in the Book of Common Prayer and seek re-ordination from an Anglican bishop…

‘In those days the Clarendon Code imposed severe penalties  on those who could not conform to the established religion; John Bunyan languishing for 12 years in the Bedford jail; George Fox locked up at Scarborough Castle in a cell which was open to the wind and rain of the North Sea, so that “the water came over my bed and ran about the room”…

‘the Welsh Evangelist Vavasor Powell dying in the Fleet Prison in the 11th year of his incarceration there; sergeants disrupting services…;meeting houses burned to the ground; properties confiscated; ruinous fines exacted. Such memories lingered long in the Nonconformist conscience…

‘In 1719 Parliament passed a bill forbidding anyone who attended a Dissenting meeting from teaching, with three months in jail as the penalty’! (Timothy George, Faithful Witness, IVP, p.9)

Nevertheless, the young Carey began preaching amongst them. First, in a house-church in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire and then later as an ordained Dissenting Pastor in Moulton.

They were tough years for Carey and his new bride, but they were years of preparation.

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

To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

William Carey, the father of modern missions, gets baptised as a believer

William Carey

A child of the Church of England
Carey was a child of the Church of England, having been christened as a baby and assuming, as almost everyone did in 18th Century England, that any other kind of church was probably not a real church at all. There was certainly no reason to reject the traditions of the church, nor to submit to a second baptism. He had already been ‘baptised’ as a baby.

But one of the other apprentices he worked alongside, John Warr, was not a member of the Church of England. He was one of these so-called Dissenters. And, rather than being strange or artificial, Warr had a clear and coherent faith in Christ.

Biographer, Timothy George writes, ‘As parish clerk, Edmund Carey (William’s father) had required his children to attend church where they listened to the Psalms and lessons from the Book of Common Prayer. Although Carey never disparaged this religious training, it left him, as he put it, ‘wholly unacquainted with the scheme of salvation by Christ.’ Indeed, he confessed, ‘Of real experimental [experiential] religion, I scarcely heard anything until I was fourteen years of age.’ [i]

Convinced by Scripture
Eventually, Carey also put his trust in Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. He was converted and immediately began to zealously tell others of Christ’s love. Being convinced by Scripture, to which he was now exposed, Carey made the brave decision to break with family and church tradition and be baptised as a believer in 1783. He wrote, “Having so slight an acquaintance with ministers I was obliged to draw all from the Bible.’ [ii]

The Baptist Pastor, John Ryland, who oversaw his baptism, later wrote,
‘On October 5, 1783, I baptised in the Nene, just beyond Doddridge’s meeting- house, a poor journeyman-shoemaker, little thinking that before nine years elapsed he would prove the first instrument of forming a Society for sending missionaries from England to the heathen world, and much less that later would become professor of languages in an Oriental College, and the translator of the Scriptures into eleven different tongues.’ [iii]

To read the first part of the William Carey Story click here
To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

[i] Timothy George, Faithful Witness (Leicester:1991 IVP), p.6
[ii] ibid. p.10
[iii] ibid p.12
© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

William Carey, Father of Modern Missions


Romanticised view of William Carey's childhood home (

Small towns can play a huge role in Global history
Kettering is a small town just 80 or so miles northwest of London, England, and which dates back to Roman times. Chances are that nowadays you would just drive past it on your way to somewhere else.

But it was here, in this humble, quiet town that an event took place the ramifications of which have truly changed the world.

It was here in Kettering that the evangelical churches finally caught up with the Moravians and a new century of Christian missions would begin when William Carey and a few like minded friends raised thirteen pounds, two shillings and sixpence to reach the whole wide world with the gospel.

If the powerful activity of the Spirit in the 18th century had served to awaken the English speaking world to the claims of Christ then His continued outpouring in the 19th century propelled the gospel to many other nations.

Instead of being weakened by the growing tide of rationalism and unbelief amongst scholars and academics the church radically invested in mission.

The Father of Modern Missions
William Carey was born in 1761, right in the thick of the Great Awakening led by George Whitefield and John Wesley.

He was born, not too far from Kettering, in a village called Paulerspury in Northamptonshire.

His father was a poor schoolmaster who apprenticed him to a local shoemaker aged only 14. And so, William Carey became a shoemaker by trade.

Like so many other heroes in the unfolding story of the Christian Church, Carey received no tertiary education and did not go to University.

We’ll continue Carey’s story next time…

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

To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

The Nineteenth Century Missionary Movement

Plaque outside the house in Kettering, England where Carey formed the Baptist Missionary Society

A culture-changing progression is observable:

In the 16th Century – the Reformation in Europe, with the rediscovery of the authority of the Bible as the basis for faith and practice. ‘You are justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law!’

In the 17th Century – the attempt by the Puritans to apply this rediscovery to all of life, and to restore the European church and society. ‘Do all to the glory of God!’

In the 18th Century – the evangelistic proclamation of this rediscovery to those outside the normal influence of the church. ‘You must be born again!’

In the 19th Century – the explosion of the message to nations beyond Europe, with thousands leaving Europe to take the gospel to those who have never heard it. ‘Go into all the world!’

In other words there was a rediscovery of the Bible as the authoritative guide for a relationship to God and each other, a thorough attempt to apply it pastorally, and then a Spirit empowered evangelistic proclamation of the gospel, first in Europe and America and then to the ends of the earth.

This progression gives us a general but helpful guide to place movements and leaders in their historical context. Of course, if you read previous posts, you’ll know that all of these various emphases have been happening all through church history, and with mighty demonstrations of the Spirit’s power, but it is not altogether inaccurate when considering Christianity in the 19th Century to speak of ‘the missionary movement’ or even ‘the missionary century’ as some do.

Nor is it altogether inaccurate to refer to one particular pioneer as ‘the father of modern missions’ as we turn our consideration to one of the most inspiring figures in church history, William Carey.

To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here

© 2010 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

The Missional Impact of an Outpouring of the Spirit

What results should we expect to see from a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, preaches the gospel
Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, preaches the gospel

In Scripture we see a definite link between believers receiving the power of the Spirit and an increased boldness and desire to communicate the faith with others.

This is evident in many places. In Acts 1:8, just prior to His ascension, Jesus tells his followers, ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ First the experience of God’s power, Second, an evangelistic community.

We see this again in Acts 4:30-31. Note what they prayed:

‘Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ (v.30)

And see the response of God to their prayer, and their subsequent behaviour:

‘After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.’ (v.31)

It is therefore, not surprising that we see this Scriptural pattern repeated in church history.

The Moravian community had experienced a ‘Pentecost’, ‘an overwhelming flood of divine grace’, as Zinzendorf had described it. Let’s see what happened next!

Their zeal for unreached peoples
As a result of the grace of God on this amazing group of believers they began sending out church planters long before William Carey (often called ‘the father of modern missions’) went to India in 1793.

Their first conference on world missions was held in 1728.  They were already involved in several countries because they had either been driven out of them or had fled into them for safety.  Nevertheless on January 4th 1728 (not even five months after their ‘Pentecost’) they began to intentionally plan to reach un-evangelised nations.

Moravian Historian Bost writes,
‘This first missionary meeting was celebrated by meditations on different portions of scripture, and fervent prayers; in the midst of which the church experienced a remarkable enjoyment of the presence of the Spirit.

The Brethren felt themselves urged to attempt something that might redound to the glory of the Lord; several distant countries were mentioned, and particularly Turkey, Northern Africa, Greenland and Lapland…They were thus inspired with great courage and disposed to hold themselves in readiness to engage in the sacred enterprise whenever the Lord should give the signal.’ (A Bost – History of the Moravians, London 1862, Religious Tract Society p.246)

The Moravians then went on to plant churches in the Virgin Islands (1732), Greenland (1733) – they saw a revival there in 1738 when hundreds of Eskimos were converted, North America (1734), Lapland and South America (1735), South Africa (1736), Jamaica (1754) and Labrador (1771).

Challenged yet? Inspired? Next time we’ll look at how they achieved this…

© 2009 Lex Loizides

John Calvin and Church Planting


We have seen how John Calvin was not passive about the Great Commission.

Calvin  commissioned four church planters to go and preach the gospel to the Indians in Brazil (Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p. 67). Yep, that’s right! John Calvin!

As Luther and other Reformers were struggling to establish the rediscovered truths of Scripture in heir own nations, Calvin was propelled into mission.

From exile in Geneva, he sent over 100 church planters to France. In fact, on the basis of his outreach to France, one could argue for Calvin as a genuinely apostolic church planter. In 1555 he planted his first Church in Poitiers.

Over the next 7 years there were 1,750 ‘Calvinist’ Churches planted in France. Not only were Calvin’s hundred there, but others were raised up to lead this new church movement.

The Protestant population increased rapidly! Loraine Boettner, in an article called ‘Calvinism in History: Calvinism in France’, writes:

‘So rapidly did Calvinism spread throughout France that Fisher in his History of the Reformation tells us that in 1561 the Calvinists numbered one-fourth of the entire population. McFetridge places the number even higher. ‘In less than half a century,’ says he, ‘this so-called harsh system of belief had penetrated every part of the land, and had gained to its standards almost one-half of the population and almost every great mind in the nation. So numerous and powerful had its adherents become that for a time it appeared as if the entire nation would be swept over to their views.’ [Nathanial McFetridge, Calvinism in History, p. 144]

Smiles, in his ‘Huguenots in France,’ writes: ‘It is curious to speculate on the influence which the religion of Calvin, himself a Frenchman, might have exercised on the history of France, as well as on the individual character of the Frenchman, had the balance of forces carried the nation bodily over to Protestantism, as was very nearly the case, toward the end of the sixteenth century,’ (Samuel Smiles, Huguenots in France, p. 100).

Not only Calvin, but many others spurred on to mission

A very large number of the 18th and 19th Century pioneering missionaries considered themselves to be ‘Calvinists’.  As we read their biographies we find that it was often their belief that God was Sovereign and had already planned to save many that enabled them to press through the most disheartening circumstances and discouragements.

These missionary heroes did not give up until the Christian faith was securely planted in other lands.
For example, William Carey (to India), David Brainerd (to the native Americans), John Elliot, Henry Martyn, Alexander Duff, Robert and Mary Moffat (to South Africa), J. Hudson Taylor (to China). The list goes on.

John Calvin, speaking of the gospel, said in 1536:

“Our doctrine must stand sublime above all the glory of the world, and invincible by all its power, because it is not ours, but that of the Living God and His Anointed, whom the Father has appointed king that He may rule from sea to shining sea, and from the rivers even to the ends of the earth.”

Read John Calvin’s Private Correspondence to other Reformers

© 2009 Lex Loizides