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The effect of the gospel on culture

This is a fascinating article that both reveals the influence of the gospel upon the culture of a civilization and contradicts the popular evangelical push today that insists that missionaries leave indigenous culture alone. Here’s a snippet:

Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

I would personally caution against see the purpose of missions as social change or “cultural engagement,” but I do think it is instructive to understand that when a culture is impacted by the gospel, that culture will (or should) change.

Read the whole thing.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and three children.

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2 Responses to The effect of the gospel on culture

  1. Scott, you missed one of Woodberry’s main points–“Independence from state control made a big difference. “One of the main stereotypes about missions is that they were closely connected to colonialism,” says Woodberry. “But Protestant missionaries not funded by the state were regularly very critical of colonialism.”

    Stated differently, the missionaries most interested in Westernizing natives were precisely those who had the least effect. Indigenization of Christianity was the key to the mass conversion of Africa.

  2. There is a difference between colonialism and seeing the necessity of changes in the culture. The point was not “Westernizing” natives, but rather insisting that the gospel affect every aspect of their behavior, sometimes such that there is necessity of change in the “indigenous” culture.

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