1. Carey's Theology - the 'Missing Link'
Almost nothing about Carey's theology
William Carey is considered the "Father of Protestant missions"1, his book, "An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens"2, written in 1792, the beginning of the so-called 'Great Century'3 (1792-1914) between the French and the Russian Revolutions. For the centennial anniversary, none lesser than the mentor of German missiology, Gustav Warneck, wrote, "Thus, the year 1792 may be considered the true birthdate of modern missions."4 Less that twenty days after the publication of the "Enquiry", Carey held his sermon on Isaiah 54:2-3 and began to disseminate it with a clear appeal for missions to his fellow pastors,5 which soon led to the foundation of the mission society, "The Particular Baptist Mission". The first mission society to do without state supervision, it was founded on different lines than the Anglo-Saxon honor societies.6
Much has been written about Carey and his colleagues, their mission field in Serampore, and their achievements in printing, in Bible translation, in teaching and in many other areas.
Strangely enough, however, little attention has been paid in his numerous7 biographies8 to his theology, as expressed in his major work, even not in Bruce J. Nichols' article "The Theology of William Carey"9. (The only exception I know of is Iain Murray's study, The Puritan Hope).10 This failure is probably due to the fact that Carey's theology differs from that of the presently predominant, Post-Classical mission societies, which happily claim him as their father, although he was a Calvinist and a Postmillenialist.11 Even the two dissertations which discuss his achievements12 ignore large areas of his theology. Neither mention his eschatological views, which played a major role in his decisions. The best description - interestingly, actually a biography of his first wife13 - mentions his personal optimism in the chapter on "Attitudes Towards the Future",14 but not his optimistic perspective on world missions, which he derived from his Postmillenial theology.
German15 speaking theologians have shown little interest16 in Carey's "Enquiry" although Protestant mission societies continually refer to his work as the origin of their own.17 The German edition, which identified the geographical details for the first time,18 did not appear until 1993.19 In 1987, the first German biography of Carey was published,20 a work which, however, only described his life up to the publication of the "Enquiry" and has little to say about his theology.
This fact is even more surprising, for Carey was no pioneer missionary who, due to conditions, left no material for posterity. A. Christopher Smith writes, "He was much more of a mission motivator and Bible translator than a pioneer in the heart of India - or a mission strategist"21
The significance of Carey's work lies not in the 420 converts22 in Serampore. Carey, settled and a thorough designer, left many texts which describe his thought and his theology.23
Smith attempts to liberate Carey from false renown by referring to the achievements of his colleagues, William Ward and Joshua Marshman,24 but goes too far, in my opinion. The whole idea behind the "Enquiry" and the 'Baptist Mission', as well as most of the work of translation were Carey's work. Besides, Carey's team, particularly the 'Serampore trio', Carey, Marshman and Ward, have always been properly esteemed, especially since the publication of John Clark Marshman's The Life and Times of Carey, Marshman and Ward in 1859.25 "Carey was a man of team-work,"26 writes W. Bieder, who advises the modern missionary:
"He can learn from Carey, that is quite possible to work for twenty three years under difficult conditions - together rather than against each other."27
Even E. Daniel Potts, who has best analysed and honored the significance of the teamwork in Serampore, emphasises Carey as the driving force behind the work.28
2.1 Postmillennialism and Missions
Classical and Post - Classical Missions and Eschatology
Klaus Fiedler has suggested a good classification of Protestant mission societies.29 "Classical" mission societies are denominational organizations which usually originated with the Reformed tradition. They began with Carey's 'Baptist Mission Society' of 1792. "Post-Classical" missions are those of the Brethren, including the socalled free missionaries, the faith missions, which, Fiedler believes, originated with Hudson Taylor (and include most modern Evangelical mission boards), and Pentecostal mission societies (movements listed in chronological order of origin). Classical mission societies arose during the first and second Great Revivals (Pietism), the Post-Classical faith missions during the third Revival (the socalled Sanctification movement).
The difference between modern 'evangelical' missions and modern 'ecumenical' missions is a century old. 'Ecumenical' missions are Classical, Reformed missions which have become liberal. Faith missions are those, which differ from the Reformed theology of the Classical mission societies on various points and in various intensity.
Eschatology is a clear example. The Classical churches tend to be A- or Postmillenial, while the Post-Classical mission boards are generally Dispensationalist or Premillenialist.
Eschatology, Missions and Postmillennialism
Already at the beginning of this century, Theodor Oehler, director of the Basler Mission, observed, as Gustav Warneck had done:
". . . there is an undeniable connection between missions and the Christian hope for the future: 'We will soon discover that missionary attitudes will be suppressed by a certain view of the future, which will dampen earnest motivation for missionary activity."30
"Expectations on the future of God's Kingdom have not always moved in the same direction as missions, which has not served to vitalise them."31
Of the three most common eschatologies, Pre- , A- and Postmillennialism,32 the latter has most often been the champion of increasing missionary fervor.
R. G. Clouse defines the role of Postmillennialism fittingly:
"In contrast to premillennialism, postmillennialists emphasize the present aspects of God's kingdom which will reach fruition in the future. They believe that the millennium will come through Christian preaching and teaching. Such activity will result in a more godly, peaceful, and prosperous world. The new age will not be essentially different from the present, and it will come about as more people are converted to Christ."33
One of the best-known Reformed34 Postmillennialists, Loraine Boettner, defines Postmillenialism in his standard work, The Millennium,35 as following:
"Postmillennialsts believe that the Kingdom of God will be realised in the present age by the preaching of the Gospel and by the saving influence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, and that at an unknown time in the future, the whole world will be Christianised. They also believe that Christ will return at the end of the so-called Millennium, an epoch of unknown length, marked by justice and peace ... The Millennium, according to the Postmillennialist view, is a Golden Age at the end of the present dispensation, the Age of the Church "36
Boettner does not, however, believe that, "there will ever be a time on earth in which all living men will be converte or when all sin will be eliminated."37
Evil will, however, be reduced to a minimum, and Christian principles will no longer be the exception, but the rule.38 Boettner sees this achievement as the fulfillment of the Great Commission.39
Postmillennialism and Missions
Theologians generally ignore the origins of modern evangelical world missions in the middle of the sixteenth century. Calvinist, mostly Puritan pastors, who had immigrated to America from England, preached the Gospel to the Indians.40 Postmillennialism was the mother of Anglo-Saxon missions, as many dissertations41 and other studies42 have shown.43 This is true for Calvinists (Anglicans, Presbyterians and Congregationalists) as well as for Calvinist Baptists such as William Carey.
"The eighteenth century was the great age of Postmillennialism, which played a major role in the development of missionary thought."44
"The Postmillennialism of the eighteenth century played an important role in the development of Ango-America missions. In the light of chiliastisc expectations, British and American revival movements were considered the first signs of a great wave soon to engulf the whole world. Not only Edwards, but also English (Isaac Watts, Philipp Doddridge) and Scottish (John Willision, John Erskine) theologians related Postmillennial eschatology with revival and with the missionary idea - a combination which gave rise to the growth of organised missionary activity at the end of the century. Carey, for example, was strongly influenced by the Postmillennial view of a universal Kingdom of God."45
The close relationship between Postmillennialism and missions goes back through the Reformed Puritans of America and England to the Reformation.46 Greg L. Bahnsen mentions the Reformed47 Postmillennialists, John Calvin,48 Ulrich Zwingli, Theodor Bibliander of Zürich, Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr and Theodor Beza49; the Puritans John Cotten, Samuel Rutherford50, John Owen51, and Matthew Henry52, the missionaries John Elliot53, as well as many other missionaries of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries54.
Steve Schlissel has pointed out that, in the past as well as in the present, the Reformed Postmillennialists have believed in the future conversion of the Jews,55 basing this idea primarily on Romans 11.56 Murray considers Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) one of the first Puritans who saw the conversion of Israel not at the end of the world,57 but as the beginning of the Millennium. R. J. Bauckham holds Brightman to be the "first influential exponent" of Postmillennialism.58
Postmillennialism is, therefore, primarily a Reformed interest. Hans Schwarz writes:
"The Reformed tradition has often demonstrated greater closeness and support of the Postmillennial view than of other interpretations of history. This is to the most part due to the Reformed emphasis on God's sovereignty and on the faith that Christ is Lord over all human life. They are also convinced that the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian fellowship to achieve the thorough dissemination of the world with the Gospel and the change of culture and society according to the Spirit and the will of Christ."59
For him, as well as for Gary DeMar,60 Postmillennialim is an optimistic variation on Amillennialism.61 E. L. Hebdon Taylor writes, "The Reformed faith of the Bible is future oriented."62 Richard Bauckham, apparently an opponent of Chiliasm, still assumes that Postmillennialism was more suited to the Reformation.63
It is, thus, not surprising, that Postmillennialism has only been taught in Reformed Confessions. Early Postmillennial overtones can be heard in Calvin's notes on the second petition of the Lord's Prayer in his Catechism of Geneva:"
"268. What do you understand under the 'Kingdom of God'in the second petition? It consists basically of two things: the leadership of His own through His Spirit and, in contrast to that, in the confusion and the distruction of the lost, who refuse to submit to His rule. In the end, it will be clear, that there is no power which can resist His power.
269. How do you pray for the coming of this Kingdom? May the Lord increase the number of His believers from day to day, may he daily pour His gifts of grace upon them, until He has filled them completely; may He let His truth burn more brightly, may He reveal His justice, which shall confuse Satan and the darkness of His kingdom and obliterate and destroy all unrighteousness.
270. Does this not happen today already? Yes, in part. But we wish that it might continually grow and progress until it reaches completion on the Day of Judgement, on which God alone will rule in the high places and all creatures will bow before His greatness; He will be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:28)"64
Charles L. Chaney sees Calvin's view of the progress of the Kindgdom of God65, in his eschatology66 and in his belief in the personal responsibility of the individual Christian towards God's Word67 the roots of the Calvinists' later missionary fervor.
The Great Catechism of Westminster expresses a similar view in the notes to the second petition of the Lord's Prayer:
"What do we pray for in the second petition? Answer: In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, coutenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sin, and the conforming, comforting and building up of those that already converted; that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of His second coming, and our reigning with Him forever and that He would be pleased so to excercise the kingdom of His power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends."68
The Savoy Declaration of 1658, Article 26.5, adds a note, also adopted by the American Congregationalists in 1680 and 1708, which expresses Postmillennial views more clearly:69
"As the LORD is in care and love for his Church, hath in his infinite wise providence excercised it with great variety in all ages, for the good of them that love him, and his own glory; so according to his promise, we expect that in the latter days, Antichrist will be destroyed, the Jews called, the adversaries of the kingdom of his dear Son broken, the churches of Christ being enlarged and edified through a free and plentiful communication of light and grace shall enjoy in this world a more quiet, peaceable, and glorius condition than they have enjoyed."70
C. C. Geon considers this the "first creedal statement by any confessional group to embody definite millennial presuppositions."71
Iain Murray has further demonstrated that the notable missionaries and mission leaders, Alexander Duff,72 David Livingstone73, Henry Martyn74 and Henry Venn75, were Calvinistists and Postmillennialists. Murray notes that Postmillennial expectations can be heard in the addresses accompanying the founding of the London Missionary Society in 1795, the New York Missionary Society 1797 and the Glasgow Missionary Society in 1802. The same view influenced the Church Missionary Society in 1799.76 The London Missionary Society, an Anglican equilvalent of Carey's Baptist mission, expresses Calivinistic Postmillennialism in all its documents.77
Charles L. Chaney, in a study of the early American Protestant mision boards, writes, "Not a single sermon or mission report can be discovered that does not stress eschatological considerations."78
The early Protestant Mission Boards
All were Calvinist (Puritan, Anglican-Evangelical or Particular Baptist)
1649 The New England Company (Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in New England)
as of 1732 Supported by Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian
Knowledge (founded 1701)
1762 Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge amoung the Indians
in North America (did not last)
1787 Society for the Propogation of the Gospel amoung Indians and
Others in North America
1787 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel amoung the Heathen
1792 (Particular) Baptist Missionary Society
1795 London Missionary Society
1799 Church Missionary Society
since 1796 many American mission boards
The Postmillenialism of Spener, Francke and the Pietist Mission Work
None less than the 'Father' of German missiology, Gustav Warneck, considering the influence of eschatology on Reformed mission work, has also discovered evidence that Lutheran eschatology hindered missions up to the rise of Pietism.79 Luther believed that the world was soon to end and that the apostles had already fulfilled the Great Commission.80 Christianity waited for Christ's return, but "expects nothing from this earth."81 The is true of Lutheran theology in general, as Helmuth Egelkraut has observed, "The nearness of the end of the world is and remains the orthodox conviction, which is not to be shaken."82
The close tie between Postmillennialism, the Reformed doctrine of salvation and the awakening of Evangelical missionary thought can be observed in the German Evangelical movement as well as in America and England. Philipp Jakob Spener (1633-1705), August Hermann Francke (1663-1727)83 and other Pietist fathers of missions were also Postmillennialists.
Spener, the 'Father of German Pietism' was Lutheran and Postmillennialist. Writes Helmuth Egelkraut:
"Should one wish to sort Spener into one of the common eschatological systems, one would have to consider him a Postmillenialist. But Spener refuses to set up a closed prophetic system."84
Many see Reformed influences on Speners eschatology (and in his other differences to orthodox Lutheranism).85 Thus Carl Hinrichs says: "Pietism in Germany helped the Puritan type to come out."86
Spener's Postmillennialism inspired the first outbreak of Pietist-Lutheran world missions in the seventeenth century, particularly after the activity of August Hermann Francke, just as Puritan Postmillennialism inspired the beginning of Reformed world missions. "The enthusiasm for missions shown in the early nineteenth century arose out of the same eschatological expectations."87
Spener's "Theological Thoughts" contain a short summary of his eschatological views.
"That Popery and the Roman Babylon will be completely cast down before the end of the world, but that the Jewish people will be again converted through the grace of God, so that the knowledge of God will be gloriously increased, the Christian church transformed into a more holy and glorious condition and that thus the fulfillment of all other divine promises belonging to this time will come to pass, which I believe to be the thousand years of the Revelation of St. John. This doctrine, which is so firmly founded in Scripture, and is in the most part held by not only the ancient, but also our teachers.. . . "88
Not only Spener's major works, "Pia desideria" (Pious Wishes) and "Theologisches Bedencken" (Theological Thoughts) are determined by the expectation of a better future, but also his previous dissertation on Revelations 9:13-2189 and his book "The hope for better times in the future"90 of 1696.
Martin Schmidt has noted that Spener Reform program can only be understood on the basis of his eschatological hope.91 Johannes Wallman believes one of Spener's two major issues to be the substitution of the Chiliast expectation of a better future prior to the Second Coming for the Lutheran92 Amillennialist expectation of Christ's immediate return.93
"It is evident that Pietism won a new perspective on history, which lent it the scope necesssary for that methodical, non-sectarian missionary effectivity, which we see in August Francke or Count Zinzendorf."94
Helmuth Egelkraut writes:
"The new element, the motor which gives its ideas power and drives it forward, is its eschatological center."95
"The time of God's great deeds is not in the past - as Orthodoxy believes - but in the future."96
"An activity long unknown broke out in German Protestantism."97
Erich Beyreuter states, "In his 'Behauptung der Hoffnung künftiger besserer Zeiten", Philipp Jackob Spener separates himself radically from the dark historical view of later Orthodoxy."98
Kurt Aland wants to refute this idea. Rather than Chiliasm, he believes that Spener taught the deferment of Christ's return by the conversion of the Jews and the fall of the Roman Church.99 Aland fails, however, to recognise that Spener did not believe that Christ would return immediately after these events, but that they would first introduce a period of better days. Wallman is correct when he writes of Spener, "The Scripture teaches a promised Kingdom of Christ on earth prior to the Last Judgement."100 This is a classical definition of Postmillennial doctrine, so that Martin Greschat and Gerhard Maier rightly point out that Spener's hope of a better future is an element completely foreign to Lutheranism, an element which, along with the New Birth, was the leading idea of the new movement.101 Erich Beyreuter writes:
"Spener surprised his generation with his future expectations, which he had discovered in the New Testament ... He possessed with them the power, not to criticise the Lutheran orthodoxy, but to conquer it as an epoch."102
Peter Zimmerling expresses this achievement with the following words,
"This Chiliast-nurtured hope for the future conquered the pessimism of orthodoxy from within."103
August Hermann Francke, the second generation leader of Pietism in Germany, shared Speners views to the most part104, after Spener had helped him to give up his 'enthusiastic' "Chiliast expectations of the immediate return"105 of Christ common to radical, spiritualist Pietism. Egelkraut writes about Francke:
"The faith in the better days of the future, which Spener had rediscovered, proved to be a world - transforming power. Zinzendorf is also to be found in its magnetic field."106
"Spener's vision of the future began to take shape: the mission to the Jews and to the heathen, the ministery to the poor and the dispossessed and that across demoninational lines."107
And Zimmerling summarizes Franckes pedagogics, which led to the founding of many private Christian schools:
"In his 'Greater Essay', Francke develops a thorough program for the raising and education of children, to effect a concrete improvement of the world."108
Egelkraut mentions that Francke corresponded frequently with the members of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in London and with Cotton Mather, a Calvinist in Boston,109 thus maintaining contact and communication with Reformed, Postmillennialist mission groups. (Mather was the author of the well-known biography of John Elliot.)110
Friedhelm Groth has thoroughly traced in detail111 the development of (Postmillennial) Chiliasm propagated by Spener and Francke to the Premillennialism of the Württemberg Pietism, which was closely related to Universalism.112 The bond was Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), who assumed two millennia (one in Rev. 20:1-3 and one in 20:4-6),113 the first of which corresponded Spener's view. The other postulated Christ's direct rule and contained all the elements typical of the Premillennial view and the 'Restoration of all things",114 a view opposite to Spener's.115
More than all others, Rufus Anderson (1796-1880), the American mission leader, embodies the continuing ties between Calvinist Soteriology, Postmillennialism and active world missions a generation after Carey. After leading the oldest and largest American missionary society for decades, he accepted a position as professor for missiology at Andover Theological Seminary, the world's first chair for missiology.116 The German Lexikon zur Weltmission calls him the "most influential figure in American missions".117 R. Pierce Beaver writes, that until the Second World War, all American Protestant missionaries owed at least lip service to Anderson's goals.118 He exerted immeasurable influence on important leaders in world missions, such as Roland Allen, Robert E. Speer, John Nevius,119 Abrahm Kuyper120 and others.
In spite of his emphasis on the importance of the local church, Rufus, a Calvinist and a Congregationalist, taught the importance of evangelising the heathen, because, as a Postmillennialist, he expected the conversion of whole nations.121 R. Pierce Beaver is correct in deriving Rufus' major motivation for missions to the greater motive of love of Christ rather than to his Postmillennial expectations122, but this was only possible due to the prevailing Postmillennial attitudes in the U. S. A. at the time123, which Anderson naturally shared, as two smaller works demonstrate, "Promised Advent of the Spirit" and "Time for the World's Conversion Come".124
Postmillenialism and The Great Commission Today
One of the Scriptures most often quoted in the Postmillenialist camp, nowadays as in Carey's time, is the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.125 For Postmillenialists, this text teaches that evangelisation adn concersion have to came first, but lead to a change in life-style and society through the keeping of divine Law. Above all, the Postmillenialist interpretation, in contrast to other explanations, sees these verses not only as a commission, but also as prophecy: Jesus' commandment will become reality, for all peoples will one day be converted and keep God's Law. Kenneth L. Gentry, the author of a Postmillennial book on the Great Commission and the usual contemporary representation of Postmillennialism writes the following about the relationship between the Great Commission and Postmillennialism,
"note, that the postmillennial view is the only one of the three maor evangelical eschatologies that builds its case on the very charter for Christianity, the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20)."126
Gentry bases his statement on one of the leading Postmillennialists of the last century, the Scottish Presbyterian theologian David Brown,127 who built his eschatatology on the Great Commission, and one the Dispensationalist theologians, Charles C. Ryrie, who criticised the expectation of the Postmillennialists, who believe that, "The Great Commission will be fulfilled."128
Even today, there are Reformed denominations, such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland129 or the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the Unitee States,130 which think completely in Postmillennial terms and derive their eschatology from the Great Commission.
Jordan has demonstrated, that until 1930, almost all leading theologians and mission leaders of southern Presbyterianism were Postmillennialists.131 The leading theologians of Princeton Theological Seminary, including Benjamin B. Warfield,132 were Postmillennialists as well. John Jefferson Davis writes, "I was struck by the fact that postmillennialism, now almost forgotten in conservative circles, was for much of the nineteenth century the dominant millennial understanding".133
W. O. Carver observed in 1909, that the Postmillennial view was the most common motivation for missions,134 which remained the case until the end of the First World War.
Was Calvin a Postmillennialist?
John Jefferson Davis observes that Calvin assumed that true religion and the glory of Christ's dominion would spread over the whole earth,135 as he repeated in numerous sermons and commentaries, as well as in his dedication of the Institutes to Francis I of France. Jefferson adds, "Calvin's outlook does not, of course, represent a fully articulated postmillennialism, but does foreshadow subsequent developments."136 Stated positively, Davis says, "John Calvin. .. had an understanding of the kingship of Christ that paved the way for the full flowering of the postmillennial view in English Puritanism."137
Iain Murray shares this view and demonstrates that Calvin, in contrast to Luther, expected a great future for the Kingdom of God.138 Charles L. Chaney also assumes that the Puritans, as well as Jonathan Edwards, built their Postmillennialism on Calvin's exchatology.139 Calvin, says Chaney, had been familiar with the three steps of salvation history, the Age of the Apostles, the Age of the Antichrist (Calvin's day) and the Age of the Expansion of the Church amoung all peoples, whereby the Gospel would reach various nations at different times, according to divine election.140
Walter Nigg describing Calvin's eschatology, writes:
"Seeing the Kingdom of God in history is the new motif in Calvin's understanding of divine dominion. The Kingdom is not to be expected in its completion in the near future, it is in a state of development, in a mighty battle with the powers of Darkness."141
In his belief that the Kingdom of God is involved in an historical wrestling match, Calvin implies that salvation history is closely bound to political events and hints at a definite "progressive" opinion.142 Heinrich Berger has shown that Calvin did not express an expectation of the immediate return of Christ.143
David E. Holwerda considers Calivin to have been Amillennialist,144 and opposed to Millennialist views, because he assumed that, the Kingdom of God being already present in Christ, His rule on earth would be invisible.145 This idea does not, however, contradict Postmillennial interpretation. Holwerda adds,
"But Calvin believes that the perfected kingdom already exists in Christ, that it is eternal and includes the renovation of the world.. Consequently, Christ's visible appearance can mean only the final revelation of the perfected kingdom."146
Georg Huntemann writes in his homage to Calvin147's view,
"The Millennium had, in the Reformation, experienced progress, had gone into action. Not only the Church, but the complete world order was to be brought into line with divine order."148
The premillennialist Millard J. Erickson proved, that Reformed thinking theologians of all times as Augustin, Calvin, and Warfield, have been claimed for the amillennial as well as the postmillennial camp149, which for him is not by chance, as both views cannot clearly seperated from each other. Nevertheless for him those theologians belong to the postmillennials camp, because with true amillennial, e. g. Lutheran, theologians, the problem of being claimed for two camps never arose.
Premillennialism originally opposed to missions
The dissemination of Postmillennialism demonstrates the conflicts which developed with the growth of Premillennialism. John Nelson Darby, founder of Dispensationalism150, expresses the Premillennial view of missions in a 1840 lecture in Geneva,
"I am afraid that many a cherished feeling, dear to the children of God, has been shocked this evening; I mean their hope that the gospel will spread by itself over the whole earth during the actual dispensation."151
The influential Pietist professor of Systematic Theology in Tübingen, Johann Tobias Beck (1804-1878), opposed the work of the Basel Mission and the spreading evangelical world mission movement in general with the objection that Jesus must first return, that missions would first be carried out and succeed in the Millennium.152 Theodor Oehler153 and Hermand Gundert, representatives of the Basel Mission, confronted this opinion with the so-called 'Postmillennial154 reply'.155
Oehler, however, experienced a change of opinion on the relationship between Premillennialim and missions. Whereas Premillennialism was an argument against hopes of evangelistic success for Darby and Beck, Premillennialist faith missions became one of the major mainsprings for world missions. Oehler describes the contrast between Beck and the new mission movements, ("For these, the expectation of Christ's immediate return has become the strongest motivation for missions."156) but remarks critically,
"Here I must protest against the assertion of the Allianz Mission, namely the assumption that is our business to hasten Christ's return by our missionary activity."157
2.2. Carey's Postmillennialism
Postmillennialism in the "Enquiry"
Let us examine the central indications of Carey's Postmillennialism in the 'Enquiry".
Carey had two questions about the Great Commission to answer: 1. Was the Great Commission directed only to the apostles or is it valid for all Christians of all eras; 2. Can the Great Commission be fulfilled?
To the first question, Carey points out that the Great Commission is binding "even to the end of the age." (Mt. 28, 20)158 One of his best arguments for the validity of the Commission is the fact that it includes the command to baptise, which all churches and theologians consider valid.159 If the Great Commission directed only to the apostles, the churches would have to stop baptising people.
The answer to the second question arises out of Carey's Postmillennial expectation of missions' final success. Premillennialism, which molded Post-Classical missions, assumed no such achievement, but only the conversion of a minority from each nation.
In his introduction, Carey expresses no doubts that God would build his kingdom on this earth to the same extent as the devil's present government,
"Yet God repeatedly made known his intention to prevail finally over all the power of the devil, and to destroy all his works and set up his own kingdom and interest amoung men, and extent it as universally as Satan had extended his."160
Very early in the "Enquiry", Carey refutes objections to the continuing validity of the Great Commission on eschatological grounds:
"It has been said that some learned divines have proved from Scripture that the time is not yet come that the heathen should be converted; and that first the witnesses must be slain,161 and many other prophecies fulfilled. But admitting this to be the case (which I much doubt162) yet, if any objection is made from this against preaching to them immediately, it must be founded on one of these things; either that the secret purpose of God is the rule of our duty, and then it must be as bad to pray for them, as to preach to them; or else that none shall be converted in the heathen world till the universal downpouring of the Spirit in the last days. But this obection comes too late; for the success of the gospel has been very considerable in many places already."163
On the one hand, he questions his own eschatological view, but on the other, he objects to any interpretation which prohibits the present carrying out of the Great Commission.164 The Christian must make his decisions not according to the unknown mysteries of God's will but according to His clear, revealed commandment. Carey here follows Calvin's distinction between God's sovereign will, Providence, and His moral will, duty.165
Carey drew his argument against the predominate view of the day, that the witness must first be slain, from Jonathan Edwards detailed discussion.166
The other argument that Carey would have accepted against missions would have been the lack of converts in the heathen world. This, however, was refuted by reality. Interestingly, Carey fails to mention the expectation of the universal pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which was to initiate the great conversion of the heathen, which was, after all, his own opinion. Because this view, however, could also have been used against missions, he emphasised the role of the Great Commission as a commandment rather than eschatological opinions as the basis of our plans and actions.
Towards the end of the "Enquiry", Carey defines his eschatological view more clearly, but the complete picture becomes clear only in the light of the Postmillennial views of the day. Carey emphasises that the prophecied growth of the Kingdom of God should not make the believer passive, but increases the obligation to missions.
"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 discipies 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."167
At the same time, he sees the first signs of the approaching expansion of the Kingdom of God in the social and political arena, but above all, in the open doors.
" ... yea, a glorious door is opened, and is likely to be opened wider and wider, by the spread of civil and religious liberty, accompanied also by a diminution of the spirit of popery; a noble effort has been made to abolish the inhuman Slave-Trade, and though at present it has not been so successful as might be wished, yet it is hoped it will be perserved in, till it is accomplished."168
In Carey's view, Biblical eschatology does not refute God's commandments, but supports them. Thus, in discussing future promises, he can also allude to Christian responsibility and failure.
"If an holy solicitude had prevailed in all the assemblies of Christians in behalf of their Redeemer's kingdom, we might probably have seen before now, not only an open door169 for the gospel, but many running to and fro, and knowledge increased170; or a diligent use of those means which providence has put in our power, accompanied with a greater blessing than ordinary from heaven."171
Carey' interpretation of Zacharia was inspired by Jonathan Edward's172 interpretation, which was popular at the time.
"It is as represented in the prophets, that when there shall be a great mourning in the land, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon, and every familiy shall mourn apart, and their wives apart, it shall all follow upon a spirit of grace, and supplication173. And when these things shall take place, it is promised that there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David, and for the inhabitants of Jersualem, for sin and for uncleanness174, - and that the idols shall be destroyed175 and the false prophets ashamed of their profession176. Zech. xii. 10.14. - xiii. 1,6. this prophesy seems to teach that when there shall be a universal conjunction in fervent prayer, and all shall esteem Zions's welfare as their own, then copious influences of the Spirit shall be shed upon the churches, which like a purifiying fountain shall cleanse the servants of of the Lord. Nor shall this cleansing influcence stop here; all old idolatrous predudices shall be rooted out, and truth prevail so glorioulsly that false teachers shall be so ashamed as rather to wish to be classed with obsure herdsmen, or the meanest peasants, than bear the ignominy attendant on their detection.
The most glorious works of grace that have ever took place, have been in answer to prayer; and it is in this way, we have the greatest reason to suppose, that the glorious out-pouring of the Spirit, which we expect at last, will be bestowed."177
In the "Enquiry", Carey not only thinks and argues from a Postmillennialist position, but he finds his examples among Postmillenialist missionaries and theologians.
The Calvinist (Puritan) missionaries mentioned as examples178 in the second and third chapters of the "Enquiry" were missionaries to the Indians, John Eliot (1604-1690)179 and David Brainerd (1718-1747).180 Carey's original models,181 they too came from the sphere of Jonathan Edward's influence Both were Postmillennialists182 and believed that numerous conversions would occur at the end of time, ie. at the beginning of the Millennium, prior to Christ's return. (Carey read and continually re-read Edward's post mortem biography of Brainerd.)183
A Postmillennialist,184 John Edwards, the Calvinist evangelist and the leading American theologian of his day, called for a world-wide prayer chain for world missions in his pamphlet, "A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union Among God's People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom on Earth".185 In referring to this work in the "Enquiry",186 Carey mentions the British edition provided by John Sutcliffe in 1789, which together with the American edition of 1747 had strongly influenced the Baptists of Northumberland since 1784.187 In his arguments for Postmillennial hope in the "Enquiry", Carey sometimes used the same scripture quotatins by Edwards, particularly those from Zecharaia.188
Besides Edwards, Eliot and Brainerd, the "Enquiry" also mentions the seeman, James Cook (1721-1779),189 whose logbook he had studied diligently.190 Cook's last voyage, described in part in his logbook of 1779, was published in 1784, and in 1785, reprinted by the Northampton Mercury in a series of pamphlets.191 Carey writes, "My attention to missions was first awakened after I was at Moulton, by reading the Last Voyage of Captain Cook."192
Carey also became aware of the immense possibilities for missions of the new expeditions in the geographical discriptions of the Northampton Mercury, one of the oldest English weekly newspapers.193 Without question, world wide exploration and the new possibilities for travel inspired Postmillennialism as much as the rising of Protestant world missions did.
Not only Carey, but also his mission society and his team were Postmillennialists. A. Christopher Smith writing about Carey, his colleague John Marshman and their representative at home, says:
"In mission theology, the Serampore Fraternity194 members were at the fore in declaring that the world would be evangelised properly only after the Holy Spirit was poured forth. Rufus Anderson was perhaps even more sanguine and triumphalist in his millennialist expectations."195
The significance of Postmillennialism (and of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination) can also be seen in another aspect: "Another remarkable feature of the Enquiry is that the argument of 'perishing heathen' is never used."196
Carey believed that the heathen were lost without Christ. He builds his arguments for missions, however, on positive ideas rather than on negative ones, which distinguishes him strongly from other methods of supporting missions.
3. Carey's Calvinism
Carey was a Protestant by conviction, as the anti-Catholic and anti-Papist tenor of his history of the church clearly demonstrates.197 The turning point, he believed, was reached by the Reformers198. He names especially Luther, Calvin, Melanchton, Bucer and Peter Martyr199. He held the true Protestant dogma for essential to missions and to the missionary, for missionaries must, among other things, be "of undoubted orthodoxy in their sentiments."200
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 presdestination extinguishes missionary effort rather than intensifying it. Carey, like most other Protestant missionaries and missionary leaders of his day, agreed with the Calvinist view.201
Up into our century, the English Baptists were divided into two groups, the Arminian 'General Baptists' and the Calvinist 'Particular Baptists',202 to which John Bunyan and C. H. Spurgeon belonged.203 The designations indicate the extent of Jesus' atoning death: 'General Baptists' believe that Jesus died for all, 'Particular Baptists' believe that He died only for the Elect.204 Carey's Calvinist viewpoint is clearly demonstrated in various parts of his book.
Carey was not influenced by the Methodism of his day, as one might expect,205 but as a Calvinist206, his significance lies in his reconciliation between the theology of the Reformation, particularly Reformed theology, and the Church's responsibility for missions. Frank Deauville Walker writes,
"He could not harmonize the views of the hyper-Calvinists with the duty of calling men to Christ. On the other hand, the opposite doctrine of Arminianism held by the Methodists seemed to him to strike at the roots of belief in the grace of God."207
Hyper-Calvinism208 is the opinion that the Calvinist doctrine of Predestination refutes missions, because God would save those He wished without human aid, so that the Great Commission is already fulfilled. Although not typical of Calvinism, this viewpoint was popular, particularly among the Particular Baptists Carey knew.209
Carey's significance lies therefore in his harmonization of the Calvinist doctrine of soteriology with Calvin and with the Reformed Protestants of the first and second generation. His precursor, according to Walker,210 was his friend, Andrew Fuller, who had been a Hyper-Calvinist, but had reconsidered his position and, in his printed sermon, "The Nature of Importance of Wlking by Faith" of 1784 and in his book, The Gospel Worthy of All Acception, derived the responsibility for missions from the doctrine of predestination itself.211 Robert Hall's pamphlet, "Help to Zion's Travellers" of 1781, which deeply influenced Carey,212 also marks the transition from Hyper-Calvinism to missionary Calvinism.213 In short, "Anglican and Baptist pastors such as Thomas Scott, Andrew Fuller, Robert Hall,Sr. and John Sutcliffe ... "214 aided Carey in overcoming Hyper-Calvinism without surrendering the Calvinist view of salvation. A . Christopher Smith adds, "A neo-Puritan theology much indebted to Jonathan Edwards thus was mediated to Carey without his having to pore over theological tomes."215
This demonstrates that not only Carey advocated Calvinist soteriology (and Reformed Postmillennialism), but that the leaders of his British mission society, Andrew Fuller216, John Ryland217 and Thomas Scott, did as well. Scott wrote "The History of the Synode of Dort" and a history of the origin of the five points of Calvinism. Carey used these works in India and thanks Scott for them expressly218.
The same is true of Carey's colleagues in India, according to their 'Form of Agreement' of 1805, which gave them a common basis:219 "we are sure that only those who are ordained to eternal life will believe, and that God alone can add to the church such as shall be saved."220
Election and Responsibility
Calvin's doctrine of predestination never denied human responsibility towards divine commandments, including the Great Commandment.221 Calvin was, after all, the first, perhaps the only Reformer to enjoin world missions. In 1556, he sent two missionaries to Brazil,222 although the mission was destined to fail. In contrast to Luther, Calvin and Zwingli believed the dissemination of the Gospel to still be under way.223
In 1995, Maurus Galm demonstrated that modern Protestant missions began in the Netherlands, where Calvinist theologians were inspired by the missionary efforts of the Catholic Church.224 Gisbert Voetius225 (1589-1656, 1634 Professor of Theology in Utrecht) discovered the connection between Reformed orthodoxy and the missionary orientation of Reformed Pietism226 and wrote a thorough missionary theology.227
Gisbert Voetius (1598-1676), 1634-1676 professor of theology and Oriental languages in Utrecht, Netherlands, was an active member of the Synod of Dord (1617/19) and a chief proponent of Calvinistic orthodoxy and the most influential Dutch theologian of the 17th century. At the same time, he was one of the spokesmen of the emerging mission oriented Reformed Pietism in the Netherlands and had personal contacts to English Puritans. His book 'Disputations on Atheism' (1639) and other books against philosophies of his time show him to be an evangelist to the well educated. Voetius is also the founder of the comparative study of religions for missionary purposes. Nearly all his books and tracts contain long sections on missions, which do not appeal and call to mission work but discuss all major porblems of missions scientifically as a fourth part of Systematic Teology 'Theologica elenctica' beside Exegetical, Dogmatic and Practical Theology. Thus Voetius designed the first comprehensive mission thelogy written by a Protestant. He was well-read in Catholic mission literature. Following a distinction made in Reformed ethics, Voetius combines double predestination as God's absolute will with the conviction that God's moral will is world missions under Biblical promises.
The strict Calvinist, Dutch theologian, Adrian Saravia (1531-1613), pastor in Antwerp and Brussels, as well as professor in Leyden (1582-1587), finally Dean in Westminster, was, according to Norman E. Thomas, the only Reformer who abandoned the view that the Great Commission had already been fulfilled by the apostles, an opinion already thorougly refuted by Calvin.228 He had, however, forerunners of importance, such as the Church Father, Aurelius Augustinus, who was, significantly, also the precursor of the Calvinist soterioligcal view of double Predestination.
Augustinus, Aurelius (354-430), bishop of Hippo (North Africa), called the theologian of grace, is the most important theologian of the Roman-Catholic Church and spiritual father of all major Reformers, especially Luther, Zwingli and Calvin. In most of his writings Augustinus discusses problems of missions,229 as he was heavily involved in reaching heathen African tribal people and heathen Roman citizens. Gonsalvus Walter has combined those quotations to a full-orbed theology of missions.230 Augustinus reconciled the belief in double predestination with an urgent call, that it is the will of God to preach the Gospel everywhere. In his famous Letter No. 199,231 Augustinus denies that the Great Commission was already acheived by the apostles because, exegetically, the commission goes "till the end of the world" and practically, he knows of "innumerable barbarian tribes in Africa to whom the gospel has not yet been preached."232 God had not promised Abraham the Romans alone but all nations Before the return of Jesus Christ the majority of nations and people will become Christians,233 a typical postmillennial234 viewpoint.
Chaney has emphasised that modern Prostestant world missions began with two Calvinist groups: the chaplains of the Dutch East India Company and with the Puritans, who tried to reach the Indians of North America.235
Carey could already read Dutch well before writing the "Enquiry" and had translated two works which demonstrated missionary Calvinism.236
Of all of Carey's precursors who denied the complete fulfillment of the Great Commission by the apostles, the most important, however, was Augustinus Aurelius,237 whose theology already tended toward Postmillennialism, and who is considered the father of Calvinist soteriology.
"Augustine predates by more thatn fifteen centureis William Carey's analysis, that the apostles did not complete the Lord's Great Commission to 'go into all the world'."238
Tom Nettles has, for example, shown that almost all eighteenth century Baptist theologians and mission leaders taught a Calvinist soteriology.239
The reason for the almost exclusively Reformed nature of Protestant world missions from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries was the rise of the Netherlands (The East Indian Trading Company was founded in 1602) and England as sea powers;240 two Protestant countries, whose churches had Reformed Confessions.241
Calvinism in the "Enquiry"
Carey derives the very possibility and the responsibility for missions from the doctrine of providence itself, while Hypercalvinism derived from the doctrine of predestination its belief that the heathen were lost unless God brought them the Gospel without human assistance. 'Providence' in Calvinist theology describes God's sovereignty. Carey uses this term six times in the "Enquiry"242 and often in other writings243 as well. As a Calvinist Baptist, he believed in Providence unreservedly and continually based his belief in the necessity of missions on this idea.
"It has been said that we ought not to force our way, but to wait for the openings, and leadings of Providence; but it might with equal propriety be answered in this case, neither ought we to neglect embracing those openings in providence which daily present themselves to us. What openings of providence do we wait for? ... Where a command exists nothing can be necessary to render it binding but a removal of those obstacles which render obedience impossible, and these are removed already. Natural impossiblity can never be pleaded so long as facts exist to prove the contrary."244
Even later, Carey never changed his view. James Beck adds,
"Carey never strayed far from his Calvinistic roots when reflecting on his God of providence. God was a God of order and control."245
As we have already seen, Carey distinguishes in the "Enquiry" between God's sovereign will, Providence, and his moral will, duty. Not only here does he prove himself to be a pupil of Calvinist ethics. His arguments distinguish, for example between the moral and the ceremonial Law246, and discusses the question, what factors revoke a Biblical commandment, with reasoning typical of Reformed ethics.247 In the churches he served prior to his departure for India, he exercised a strict church discipline typical of Calvinism,248 and followed Puritan ethics in many minor decisions, such as journeys on Sundays.249
Carey's Struggles for Social Change
Carey's involvement in the battle against social injustice250 was also an element of his missionary work, as well as in the "Enquiry", as is evident in the texts already cited on religious freedom and the slave trade. These endeavors point to his Calvinist background, which considers possible the Christianisation of a nation in ethical and in social-political concerns.251 Carey aß schon in England keinen Zucker, den Sklaven anbauten und betete sein Leben lang für die Sklavenbefreiung252. Shortly after his arrival, in 1802 he began an investigation on the commission of the governor into religious killings in Hindu India, and soon attained the prohibition of the ritual killing of children - babies were annually thrown into the Ganges once a year on the Island of Saugor.253 After a lifelong battle, in 1826 he was able to obtain the prohibition of sati, the incineration of widows.254 Both prohibitions were by and large successful.
Carey was just as outspoken in his opinions on slavery255 and the caste system, which he in no case wanted to allow within the Church, even at the cost of advantages for his missionary efforts.256 In this point, he differed from the Halle-Danish mission and from the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), which retained the caste system even in the Lord's Supper. Carey insisted that the convert break with the system before being baptised.257 He wrote,
"Perhaps this is one of the greatest barriers to conversion with which the devil ever bound the children of men. This is my comfort, that God can break it."258
In this he with in harmony with his fellow workers. So Ward insisted, that the missionries would dig the graves for missionaries and other Europeans and thus did a job, which was even forbidden for memebers of the lowest casts259.
Carey's achievements in translating the Scripture260 and in preserving Indian languages,261 particularly his grammars,262 are uncontested.263 He aided in doubling the number of Bible translations in the eighteenth century from thirty to nearly sixty, and played a major role in keeping these languages from dying out, by making them written languages.
The team founded forty-five free schools264 with about 10,000 pupils265 of all social classes, the still extant Serampore College266 and several newspapers in English and in native languages to further the education of the Indian people. Serampore College, modeled on the universities of Copenhagen and Kiel,267 was India's first university.
Finally, through the Agricultural Society of India, founded in 1820,268 he did much to improve India's farming system. E. Daniel Potts writes, "Those who follow Colin Clark's lead in thinking that contributions to the devepment of India would ultimately be of far greater benefit than hand-to-mouth poor relief will applaud the advanced thinking of William Carey."269
In 1993 many Indian linguists, scientists and historians as well as theologians gathered for a jubilee symposium, emphazising the great achievments of Carey for all branches of Indian society270.
Carey and his colleagues were, however, no instruments of the colonial government. Their activities "led them to cooperate or, more often, conflict with the constituted authorities."271
The "Enquiry" shows how Carey argued for native leadership272, which aroused criticism not only in politics, but also in the church. In 1834, fifty missionaries (Six Europeans, Anglo-Indians and Indians) were working in Serampore with Carey's team of nineteen273. The British General Baptists, in particular. criticised the Particular Baptists' preference for native workers, which hindered many good British missionaries from working in Serampore.274 Carey plead for the 'modern' principle that the missionary should be able to make decisions independant of their mission boards,275 which led to the most difficult crisis of the Serampore mission station and to a temporary dissolution of the ties between the station and the mission board.276
4. Carey's Statistics
The significance of the statistic survey in the "Enquiry" is usually ignored, although the statistics and the geographical material take up most of the book.277 W. Bieder writes, "Carey challenged Christianity to accept its responsibility to become familiar with the world's religious condition. No missions without sufficient information! With astonishing accuracy, Carey drew up a sound statistic on world religion, thus recognising the importance of statistics for mission activity."278 The first German edition identified the geographical data necessary to evaluating Carey's information and his graphs.279
Almost every new beginning in missions has been accompanied by statistical achievements, for statistics serve as the basis for prayer and orientation. Carey's statistics, as well as those of Theodor Christlieb280 (1879) and Patrick Johnstone's Operation World281 have been and still are excellent reference material for 'secular' interests, and it is no accident that Carey's knowledge was almost unrivaled in his time,just as the ethnologians of Wylciff Bible Translators know more than others about the languages of the present. His suggestion of 1806,282 that an international missions conference be held in 1810 in Cape Town, South Africa, was the logical result, even though it was not realised for a century in Edinburgh.