September 13, 2008

William Carey's Missional Influence


On this day in 1792 William Carey, a village pastor and cobbler, wrote An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen in which the religious state of the different nations of the world, the success of former undertakings, and the practicability of further undertaking are considered (there was an era of fashionable long titles!)(I see there's a biography of him with a subtitle "Obliged to Go", a take off from his book's title - and I had read it aloud to Dawson).

Carey wrote the book as a response to the popular pseudo-Calvinism of the day - which held that God would convert the lost when He wished and that nothing men did could possibly alter His timing. His book became a catalyst for evangelism. Thus he's known as the "Father of Modern Missions".

In fact, the times believed Jesus' commission to His twelve disciples of sharing the Gospel message died when they died. William argued that "preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth" carried on throughout time. A Reverend angrily replied, "The Almighty does not need a man to speak for Him. He will enlighten the heathen in His own way, when He sees fit. It is not our place to interfere with this process."

William Carey went to India. Not only did he work at translating and education, he indefatigably fought to change some of India's barbaric practices - like the prohibition of infanticide and sati. At 73, he died in India in 1834, having watched his children and wives die.
"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God". - William Carey
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