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Christentum, Kontext und Ideologie. Die Uneindeutigkeit der "Zivilisierungsmission" im Großbritannien des 19. Jahrhunderts.

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Translated title of the contributionChristentum, Kontext und Ideologie. Die Uneindeutigkeit der "Zivilisierungsmission" im Großbritannien des 19. Jahrhunderts.
Original languageGerman
Title of host publicationZivilisierungsmissionen. Imperiale Weltverbesserung seit dem 18. Jahrhundert
EditorsBoris Barth, Jurgen Osterhammel
Place of PublicationKonstanz
PublisherUVK Verlagsgessellschaft mbH, Konstanz
Pages125 - 147
Number of pages23

King's Authors


Britain's Christian missions have traditionally been associated with a hierarchy of civilizations, the forcible imposition of cultural change, and the expansion overseas of formal and informal empire. The impact of the 'faith missions' must cause scholars to question each of these connections. First, the 'faith missions' were the repository of the surviving enlightment tradition of universality and basic human equality, this view resting on their literal fundamentalist approach to biblical interpretation unqualified by cultural differences. Rarely did any missions equate cultural variety with racial disparity, a view distancing them from other agents of imperialism after 1850. Second , 'faith missions' rejected the imposition of cultural change, resulting from either their own efforts or alliances with secular agencies, and tried to distance mission from the expansion of western civilization and control They were also very concerned to internationalize the missionary movement, a major feature of nineteenth-century evangelicalism and, again, one doing much to distance missionaries from their fellow nationals. Finally, both these conditions militated against the association of missionary enterprise with empire building. While most missionary bodies expressed themselves in the language of 'providence', where empire might have a divinely designated role, the 'faith missions'' equally teleological view was expressed in eschatological terms. The 'faith missions' focused on the individual's acceptance of the faith and experience of conversion at the expense of social transformation or interest in imperial and colonial institutions. The related concerns with civilization, community and authority which other missions saw as adaptable to their purposes was alien to the 'faith missions'' preferred mode of operation. The evangelical emphasis on preaching or conversion as evidence of christianization and on the notion of a 'civilizing mission' were thus frequently at odds with each other, no less for Britain's missions themselves than for the indigenous societies they encountered.

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