"the study of the methods, purposes, etc., of religious missions"

Oxford English Dictionary



Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations

poreuqenteV oun maqhteusate panta ta eqnh

Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes 

Darum geht hin und macht alle Völker zu Jüngern

Gaat dan henen, onderwijst al de volken

Allez, faites de toutes les nations des disciples

Por tanto, id, y doctrinad á todos los Gentiles

Matthew 28:19a

In his An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, William Carey names several exemplars in Christian missionary outreach.  Some of those he includes are:  John Eliot (pp. 36, 69, 70-71, 87), David Brainerd (pp. 36, 69, 70-71, 87), the Moravians (pp. 11, 37, 41-42, 71), the Dutch East-India Company, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (p. 36), Mr. Kirkland and Mr. Sergeant (pp. 36), James Hulzibos (p. 37), and Mr. Wesley (p. 37). 

John Eliot (1604-1690), a Puritan, and David Brainerd (1718-1747), a Reformed minister, served as missionaries to Native Americans in New England.  Despite Brainerd's short life and ministry, William Carey relied upon him as an exemplar for missionary outreach.  In the final paragraph of An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens (Leicester: Ann Ireland, 1792), p. 87, Carey said of Eliot and Brainerd:

It is true all the reward is of mere grace, but it is nevertheless encouraging; what a treasure, what an harvest must await such characters as Paul, and Elliot, and Brainerd, and others, who have given themselves wholly to the work of the Lord. What a heaven will it be to see the many myriads of poor heathens, of Britons amongst the rest, who by their labours have been brought to the knowledge of God. Surely a crown of rejoicing like this is worth aspiring to. Surely it is worth while to lay ourselves out with all our might, in promoting the cause, and kingdom of Christ.

In 1706, Bartholomäus  Ziegenbalg (1683-1719) and Heinrich Plütschau (1678-1747)--both German Lutheran missionaries from the Pietist tradition at the University of Halle--landed at the Danish settlement of Tranquebar on the Coromandel (i.e. southeast) coast  of India (Tranquebar is known now as Tarangambädi in the Tamil Nadu area of India).  Ziegenbalg learned the Tamil language, and he translated numerous works (including much of the Bible) into Tamil.  To view Ziegenbalg's Tamil alphabets and his signature held at the University of Cologne--IITS - Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies--click here.  

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist church along with his brother Charles Wesley, evangelized both whites and native Americans in North America before preaching tirelessly throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.  Of note is the fact that some Moravian colonists had an influential effect on the Wesleys during their joint sea voyage to the American colony of Georgia in 1735, and John Wesley closely associated himself with Moravians in London.

Of the Moravians, the Unitas Fratrum (i.e. United Brethren), Carey awards his highest praise when he says, 

Have not the missionaries of the Unitas Fratrum, or Moravian Brethren, encountered the scorching heat of Abyssinia, and the frozen climes of Greenland, and Labrador, their difficult languages, and savage manners? (Enquiry, p. 11)


But none of the moderns have equalled the Moravian Brethren in this good work; they have sent missions to Greenland, Labrador, and several of the West-Indian Islands, which have been blessed for good. They have likewise sent to Abyssinia, in Africa, but what success they have had I cannot tell (Enquiry, p. 37).  

One of the primary sources for the Moravian Church's missions outlook was August Gottlieb Spangenberg's An Account of the Manner in Which the Protestant Church of the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, Preach the Gospel, and Carry On Their Missions Among the Heathen (German ed., 1780; English translation, London: H. Trapp, 1788).  In similarity to Spangenberg, Carey's 1792 essay, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, sets forth a missiology in unison with the growing eighteenth century Protestant consensus that the Christian gospel should be extended to all people around the world.  

Among others, one particular important missionary that Carey followed in India includes  Christian Friedrich Schwartz (1726-1798), a Lutheran missionary who served Tranquebar, Trichinopoly, and Tanjore, India, for forty-eight consecutive years without returning to his native Prussia.  Originally sponsored by the Danish Missionary Society in Copenhagen, Schwartz later served as a chaplain-missionary to the British community and was sponsored by the Anglican Society for the Promoting Christian Knowledge, London.

Ideological and pragmatic connections between William Carey and the host of other missionaries from various denominations become obvious as one examines the materials linked below.  Whether Reformed, Moravian, Lutheran, Anglican, or Baptist, these texts document the eighteenth and nineteenth century Protestant consensus of taking the Christian gospel to all people around the world.


Selected Sources in Modern Missiology


An Entrance into Roman Catholic Missionary Work: San Antonio Missions


Bogue, David.  "Objections against a mission to the heathen, stated and considered."  A Sermon Preached at Tottenham Court Chapel Before the Founders of the Missionary Society, 24 Sep. 1795.  The First American Edition.  Cambridge: Hilliard and Metcalf, 1811.


Brainerd, David.  An Abridgement of Mr. David Brainerd's Journal Among the Indians, With a Dedication by P.[hilip] Doddridge.  London: John Oswald, 1748.


Buchanan, Claudius Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India; both as a Means of Perpetuating the Christian Religion among our own Countrymen; and as a Foundation for the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives Second Cambridge Edition.  Cambridge, Mass.: Hilliard and Metcalf, 1811.


Buchanan, Claudius.  "The Star in the East." A Sermon Preached in the Parish Church of St. James, Bristol, England, Sunday, February 26, 1809.


Carey, WilliamAn Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the HeathensLeicester, England: Ann Ireland, 1792.


Doddridge, Philip, 1702-1751.  Northamptonshire Nonconformist Minister and Missions Enthusiast.


Friar Lane Baptist Chapel: Site of William Carey's Deathless Sermon Nottingham, England


Grant, Charles (1746-1823).  Observations On the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain, particularly with respect to Morals; and on the means of improving it.—Written Chiefly in the Year 1792.  Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be printed, 15 June 1813.


Hill, George.  SERMON  XIV.  Preached at the Opening of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, May 20, 1790.  Psalm xxii. 27, 28.  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.  For the kingdom is the Lord's; and he is the Governor among the nations.  In Sermons. London: Printed for A. Strahan, and T. Cadell Junr and W. Davies (successors to Mr. Cadell) in the Strand, and sold by Bell & Bradfute, W. Creech, J. Dickson, E. Balfour, P. Hill, and J. Ogle, Edinburgh, 1796.

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Pond, Enoch.  "The Work of Missions a Divine Institution."  In Short Missionary Discourses, or Monthly Concert Lectures.  Worcester, Mass.: Dorr & Howland, 1824, pp. 1-16.


"Modern Christian Missions."  The Quarterly Review.  168 (July & October, 1886).  London: John Murray, 1886.  Pp. 116-150.


Schwartz, Christian Friedrich.  "The Utility of Missions to the Heathen, as Exemplified in the Life and Conduct of the Late Rev. Mr. Swartz."  The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine,  V/10 (March 1813): 289-298.  [originally published 1787]


Shipley, Jonathan.  Bishop of St. Asaph, 1769-1789.  A Sermon Preached Before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," At the Anniversary Meeting of the SPGFP in the Parish Church of St. Mary-Le-Bow, London, February 19, 1773.  London: T. Harrison and S. Brooke, 1773.


Spangenberg, August GottliebAn Account of the Manner in Which the Protestant Church of the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, Preach the Gospel, and Carry On Their Missions Among the Heathen(German ed., 1780; English translation, London: H. Trapp, 1788).


Thomas, Rev. John.  "An Account of the Hindoos, and of the Possibility of Spreading the Gospel among Them," Correspondence To the Rev. Mr. Rippon" London, August 25th, 1792.  In The Baptist Annual Register, for 1790, 1791, 1792, and Part of 1793, ed. John Rippon.  London, 1793.

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Wesley, John, 1703-1791.    Founder of Methodism and Missionary to America, 1736-1737.    The Journal of John Wesley (1735-1790).


________.  Sermon 63.  "The General Spread of the Gospel."


White, Joseph.  "Sermon X.  Mark XVI.15.  Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."  In Sermons Containing a View of Christianity and Mahometanism, in their History, their Evidence, and their Effects. Preached before the University of Oxford, in the Year 1784, at the Lecture Founded by the Rev. John Bampton, M. A., Late Canon of Salisbury.  The Second Edition.  To Which is Now Added a Sermon Preached before the University of Oxford, July 4, 1784, On the Duty of Attempting the Propagation of the Gospel among our Mahometan and Gentoo Subjects in India.  London: Printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson, Paternoster Row, 1785.  Pp. 465-526.


Williams, Samuel Porter.  "A Compendium of the Gospel."  In Sermons on Various Subjects, Chiefly PracticalSalem: Essex Register Office, 1827.




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Created:    February 18, 2002                        Updated:    November 30, 2010