Book

An Unpredictable Gospel

Jay Riley Case

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199772322
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932528 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199772322.001.0001
An Unpredictable Gospel

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Missionaries have often been cast as cultural imperialists, but the evangelical engagement with new movements of world Christianity in the nineteenth century reveals a different process at work. Evangelical missionaries had little ability to control these new movements, which unfolded according to the terms of indigenous cultures and democratization. As a result, missionaries often had to readjust their efforts in the face of these new developments. These dynamics unfolded in this manner because evangelicalism contained within it paradoxes of power, culture, and influence. Evangelical characteristics of conversion, biblical authority, evangelism, and conceptions of atonement placed evangelicals in tension with whatever culture they found themselves in, simultaneously affirming and critiquing that culture. Audience-driven features of evangelicalism made it difficult for missionary elites to control democratized movements. Desires to find effective means to spread the Gospel compelled evangelical missionaries to readjust conceptions of civilization once uncivilized Christians proved themselves to be effective leaders of new movements. An Unpredictable Gospel describes the complex workings of this missionary engagement with world Christianity by comparing four evangelical missionary encounters in the nineteenth century: the American Baptist engagement with Karen Christianity in Burma, the globe-trotting efforts of the popular Methodist missionary William Taylor, African-American missionary efforts in the American south and South Africa, and the decentralized worldwide network of the holiness and early Pentecostal movements.

Keywords: evangelicalism; world Christianity; missionary; civilization; democratization; Baptist; Methodist; African American; Pentecostal

Book.  328 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Christianity

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Table of Contents

Introduction in An Unpredictable Gospel

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The Challenge of Karen Christianity in An Unpredictable Gospel

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The AME Church and South Africa in An Unpredictable Gospel

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Holiness Conversions in An Unpredictable Gospel

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And Ever the Twain Shall Meet in An Unpredictable Gospel

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