R. E. (Robert Ethol) Welsh.

Challenge to Christian missions : missionary questions & the modern mind online

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In Relief of Doubt.

By Rev. R. E. WELSH, M.A.

Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d.

New Edition, with Introductory Note by the
Right Rev. A. F, Winnington- Ingram, D.D., Bishop of London.

Dr Ingram writes : — "This little book deals with that vague atmosphere of

doubt which is so common, and dispels it by its clear and pointed arguments ;

and it is written in so racy a style that none could put it down and call it dull."

Scotsman.— '■'■ h. sensible and closely reasoned argument against scepticism."

Methodist Times. — " Nothing has appeared for years that is so well calculated

to meet the average difEculties of the average man."


God's Gentlemen.

By Rev. R. E. WELSH, M.A.

Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d.
Methodist Times. — " A good, wholesome, suggestive book."

British Weekly.—'^ A frank and manly book ; brings a young man face to
face with life. "

CoULSON Kernahan.— " Free from 'professionalism,' manly in purpose and
utterance, pure in its fearless outspokenness. A robust book for men, written
by a man who has the courage born of conscience and conviction. Here, surely,
is a book to which they will give heed."

The People and the Priest.

By Rev. R. E. WELSH, M.A.
Crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. 6d.

The Times — *' This is a timely, and, on the whole, temperate plea. Mr
Welsh puts the Protestant point of view briefly and sensibly."

Samuel Smith, Esq., M.P.— " I have read with great interest your admir-
able book. It puts the whole question with wonderful brevity and lucidity.
It is the question of the day for English people."

Manchester Courier. — "Anyone desiring in a short compass a clear statement
of the points at issue cannot do better than purchase a copy of this work. They
will find it very readable, and so plainly written as to be easily understood."











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^ Page

Introductory: Where the Question presses i^

The Storm-centre— The Missionary in the
Critics' Den— Points of View : Diplomatic,
Mercantile, Agnostic, Prophetic — The
New Horizon — The Challenge and the
Defence— The Fire that Christ has Ht.


Political Complications : Is the Missionary the

Troubler of the Peace ? . . 23

Lord Curzon, Lord Salisbury— Relentless
Propagandists — Missionary Strategy —
Souls and the Commonweal — Why the
Missionary is Suspected — Foreign Agents
Provocateurs — Cat's-paw to France — Law-
suits— R. C. Dictatorship— Secular Forces
and Missions interlinked.

Many Races Many Religions: "East is East

and West is West " ... 41

P. and O. Theology— Zone System of Race-
religions — Heathen Britain Christianised
— Christ of the East in the West— Miss
Kingsley, Kipling — Christ Catholic — A
Pantheon the Death of Christianity— The
Inevitable Break- up— The Salt of Secular

viii Contents

IV Page

Good in Every System : The Cosmic Light— and

Dark 55

Bibles of the East—** The Light of Asia "
— Confucius, Buddha — Fragments of the
Truth — Cryptic Prophecies — ' 'Some Better
Thing " — Christ's Treatment of Hebrew
Beliefs—*' Things-as-They-Are "— Bovine
Content — Elect Souls — Cake of Custom
— Mrs Besant and Pagan Morals — The
New Creation in Christ.

Liberal Thought and Heathen Destinies . 71

Dr Morrison — Where are the Convert's
Heathen Ancestors ? — Carey, Xavier —
Relenting Hearts— The Child leads the
Way — Via Media — Spirits in Prison —
Principles of Judgment — Salvation B.C.
— Symbols of the Unseen — Attitude is
Destiny — Unknown Issues.

Can the Missionary Motive Survive : Does
Liberal Thought cut the nerve of
Missions? ..... 87

Apostolic Motives — The Human Cry —
The True ' ' Damnum " and True Salva-
tion—The Child Again — The Urgency
of Christ.

Chequered Results: "Counting the Game" . 95

Civilians' Verdicts — The Cost of a Con-
vert — Laying Foundations — Sunk Capi-
tal, Future Returns — Indian Census :
30 p.c, — Korea, China — Have Literati
Believed? — Stock of the Coming Race —
Christian Public Men in Japan — ** Christ
Rules India " — ^J. Russell Lowell.

Contents ix


Chequered Results : "The Mission-made Man" . iii

Miss Kingsley — Spoiling the Natives —
Wastrels and Saints — White Men's Pre-
judice — Child-races' Slow Ascent — St
Jerome on Barbaric Britons — Happier
Raw ?— Progress by Unsettlement — The
March of Civilisation — Government
Education — Liquor and Lust — R. L. S.
— The Best the Enemy of the Good ?
— Fire-tested Converts — The Power of


The Men and their Methods . . -143

Comfortable Missionaries— Wise Men and
Zealots — The Best for Abroad — Mr
Julian Ralph v. Capt. Younghusband
and R.L.S. — Questions of Policy — Dying
Races — Industrial Training,


The Aim: The Coming Kingdom . . -159

" Outgathering " v. "National Chris-
tianisation " — Livingstone — The Second
Advent — Prepare for Permanency.


The Return- Value of Missions . . .165

Daring Faith — The Miracle proceeding
—Moffat's Vision— Dr Duff— The Social
Boon — New Verification of Christianity
— The Triumph over Paganism — The
Dynamic Love of Christ.

X Contents

Appendix A Page

The Powers and the Priests in the East . 175

Recent Literature — France, Germany,
and Roman Catholics — Foreign Priests
as Magistrates — Lawsuits — Other
Sources of Offence.

Appendix B

Checks to Progress in India . . .184

Mr Meredith Townsend's Asia and Europe
— Europeanising the Asiatic — Caste —
Convinced but Unconverted — A Prince —
Mr Kidd's "Unborn Generations."


Where the Question Presses



Where the Question Presses

With three different types of men, the minister
of state, the modern man of liberal mind, and
the civilian doing business or travelling among
native races, the work carried on by the foreign
missionary is usually a sore point and a storm

The utterances of British statesmen and
international events have been thrusting this
problem before public attention. When a
Prime Minister, an Indian Viceroy, and press
correspondents abroad deal gravely with the
complications created by mission work as " one
of the practical public questions of the day,"
it is clearly a living issue of the time which
cannot be ignored. Is not the missionary the
troubler of the international peace, the source
of racial embroilments ? This issue has been
expressly raised by Lord Curzon of Kedle-
ston as publicist, and by Dr Morrison, famous
as traveller and press representative in China.
At the same time, the missionary cause is
being called to the bar of the modern mind

14 The Challenge to Missions

and required to justify itself in the light of
liberal thought. The discovery of good things
in the bibles of the East, world-travel, com-
merce, and the spread of broader Christian
sympathies and scientific knowledge have ex-
panded our mental horizon and dispelled the
old romantic conception of the heathen. A
kindlier view is taken of ancient Asiatic re-
ligions and of heathen destinies.

The citizen of the world, too — represented
by the late Miss Mary Kingsley, traveller in
West Africa, — has pertinent questions to put,
concerning the actual effects of the work, which
demand courageous consideration.

On the veranda or the stoep after dinner,
and on board ship, what is said as to the
" mission-made " native by the average layman
who knows life among dusky races? The
subject is often on the lips of civilians, military
men, ships' officers, traders, travellers, and
ladies who have had experience of native
servants. Many of them are frankly critical
of the missionary and his converts. Some,
while disappointed with the results of the
work, are silent because reluctant to say any-
thing against well-intentioned Christian effort.
Only a few of them are warm supporters of
the missionary cause.

Home-keeping churchmen, while quietly
faithful to the enterprise, are secretly staggered

Introductory 15

to find that so many come back from business
abroad with greater or less hostility to missions.
Hence, even in the Church there are numbers,
and outside there are many, who " don't believe
in Foreign Missions."

Missionary work is challenged on the ground

1. Politically it is objectionable.

2. Religiously it is superfluous.

3 Morally and socially it is unsatisfactory in
its outcome.

From various classes of men, intelligent or
shallow, come questions such as these —

Are not missionaries the source of racial
embroilments and social disturbance ?
Why should we interfere with the religious

beliefs of other races ?
Is Christianity the thing that will best suit

them ?
Can it possibly be indispensable for their

salvation ?
Do not enlightened views of heathen
destinies take away the reason for
missionary work.?
Does it not unsettle and spoil the native
and produce but poor results ?
Missionaries know that they and their work
form a frequent dish in the den of the critic.
They do not mind that. The Church or the
Society which sends them out may mind as

i6 The Challenge to Missions

little. All of them are too busily engaged
upon their immediate duties to give heed to
what aliens say — aliens whom they perhaps
set down summarily as either worldlings or
enemies, as in numbers of cases indeed they
are. And certainly the final answer to both
friendly and hostile critics must lie in the
unfaltering fulfilment of Christ's great com-
mission, in the unconquerable vitality of the
cause. The workers must not halt in order
first to satisfy objectors ; the work itself will
answer for them better than all arguments;
there are no apologists so effectively defending
the faith as those who are living it and spread-
ing it. They feel that they are *' doing a great
work " and " cannot come down." Yet something
is due from them to honourable questioners.
Answer must be made when sinister facts and
grave problems are set before us.

It is noticeable that missionaries in confer-
ence are occupied throughout with their opera-
tions and their experiences, and take no share
in the controversy which their work raises in
the outside world and in some corners of the
Church. And those at home who have nothing
to disturb their satisfaction with the work are,
quite naturally, interested for the most part in
quotable cases of converts and in n issionary

Is there not even some prejudice in the

Introductory 17

Church against anyone who holds parley with
the critic, or who engages in discussions which
appear to doubt the wisdom of current methods
or examine the theology and social results of
missions ? The case in these respects is closed
by a foregone conclusion.

The Church, however, must not close her
ears to what is said, on the one hand by sea-
going people and men in the consular and
mercantile service, who look at the practical
outcome of the work, and on the other by
men who go deep into the problems of pagan
life and religion.

Much of the criticism current is doubtless the
irresponsible gossip of clubs and camps and
open ports. Much of it comes from objectors
who dislike all natives and carry over this
dislike to the work done among the natives.
Much of it is second-hand, the echo of common
prejudice caught up by easy people of the
world. Underlying some of it there is secret
revolt against work that condemns the treat-
ment meted out by too many white men to the
native, and that " spoils " him for their use.

Yet, as truly, it is quite unjust to ascribe all
criticism to these sources. There are weak
points and stiff problems in mission work and
its ethical outcome in the native character.
Occasionally a strong and courageous mission-
ary speaks out on the subject — witness what


1 8 The Challenge to Missions

Dr Stewart, of Lovedale, has written concern-
ing the misuse and disappointing results of the
higher education of Kaffirs.^ There are also
questions of missionary policy and methods
which are at any rate proper subjects for frank
debate. And the traditional view of pagan
religions and heathen destinies exposes the
enterprise to easy attack and calls for correc-
tion and reconstruction.

Some deduction from criticism must be made
when it comes from people who have no great
store of religious convictions, or who, like
certain men to be named in the following
pages, are infected with the sceptical spirit.
Mr Michie's Missionaries in China, the feeder
of so much other censure, has to be read in
the light of the author's disappointments and
alienation from the Christian community, and
of his ties with Li Hung Chang. Certain press-
men, whose journalistic animadversions have
been consumed by multitudes of home readers,
write out of an agnostic mind. We have to
allow for the personal equation in the sceptic's
standpoint, and must keep our judgment well
in hand.

Yet, even if the critic speak from the agnostic,
the detached, the irreligious, or the worldly
point of view, we are not to put his report or
his argument quite out of court, as though he

1 The Experiment of Native Education,

Introductory 19

had no right to give his evidence. Others
have listened to him, and we must do so also,
if only for their sake. In any case, some of
the statements advanced against the work
proceed on a basis of clear facts, and must
not be waved aside or ignored. These facts
must be balanced by other facts, and shown
not to affect the cause as a whole when a
larger outlook is taken. Many are critical
because they are ignorant of the work, or do
not see the wider bearings of it and the price
to be necessarily paid meanwhile by the
Christian Church as the condition of ultimate
success. They must be supplied with informa-
tion and carried to the higher point of view
from which the far look is taken.

It is not Miss Kingsley, Lord Curzon, and
Dr Morrison alone — I take them only as spokes-
men of a considerable public — who force this
question on us. It arises in the mind of many
within the Church because the first romantic
period of missions is over, and they find that
the campaign is to be more protracted and
costly than they expected. The glamour of
the early venture is somewhat spent. The
conquest of the pagan world is not to be
achieved by a flying column. The Church has
to brace herself for operations which will prove
taxing and will last through many generations.
Backward tides will check the onward flow of

20 The Challenge to Missions

the age-long movement. This discovery not
only gives the critic reason for his question-
ing, but it also makes many a Christian draw
breath and pause wearily to discuss the whole

Early illusions about the enterprise, then,
have been dispelled. A time of hesitancy may
follow ere the Church takes it up again in
steady persistence and enlightened faith. Even
if it were only a case of meeting criticisms
from without, we should set ourselves to realise
the true nature of the work, to take a wider
measure of the missionary cause as it is inter-
laced with all human interests, and to set
pagan religions, as related to God and the
Christian faith, in better perspective, and see
them at the modern angle.

Like all truth, the Christian cause has a habit
of going on its way independently of men's
praise or blame. It needs no defence. And
we do not come forward with any apology for
the missionary enterprise. The primary basis
of the work and the religious motives which
inspire it remain unalterable. No fluctuation
of thought and no criticism can affect our
Lord's universal love and world-wide mission.
The devout Christian heart knows a secret and
possesses a divine intuition which make this
cause a necessity. A fire has been lit which
nothing can extinguish.

Introductory 21

Yet something has to be done to interpret
the missionary cause. The task as here out-
lined is of much too great a magnitude to be
fully overtaken in a little volume of ten brief
chapters. It will be enough for the writer's
purpose if, without going into confusing detail,
he can ventilate the subject, and contribute
even a little towards the provisional solution
of current missionary problems.


Is the Missionary the Troubler of the Peace?



Is the Missionary the Troubler of the Peace?

Lord Curzon has said of the missionaries:
" It is impossible to ignore the facts that their
mission is a source of political unrest and
frequently of international trouble, and that
it is subversive of the national institutions of
the country in which they reside." ^ He is
confessedly echoing the faithful challenge of
that candid friend, Mr Michie, of Tientsin,
who holds the aggressive missionaries mainly
responsible for the civil entanglements and
the outbreak of race-hatred which time after
time have brought such confusion and loss in
the Far East.^

According to him they have driven on their
religious propagandism without considering the
difficulties they were creating for the Chinese
authorities and the foreign legations. In their
meddlesome interference with the functions of
the magistrate, in their intolerant defiance of

1 Problems of the Far East.
* Missionaries in China, by Alexander Michie.


26 The Challenge to Missions

native traditions and prejudices, in their "war
to the knife " against native faiths, they have
disregarded the religious customs and institu-
tions of the people, have denationalised the
converts, and will continue to constitute in
the future the chief obstacle to friendly re-
lations between the foreign communities and
the people of the country among whom they
reside. They have pushed far into the interior,
claiming the shelter of treaties which were
wrung from the Government under threat of
naval guns. When native animosities have
broken out and imperilled their lives, either
they have appealed for protection to their own
Governments, or their position has compelled
these Governments to come to their rescue.
In the French Chamber a similar view has
been expounded.

Lord Salisbury tells us plainly that " at the
Foreign Office the missionaries are not popular."
There are plenty of men ready to extend the
charge and say, "the missionary is at the
bottom of all the trouble, and will continue
to be so as long as he is not restrained."

The summary, loud-sounding answer might
be given that Christ's work must go on at all
costs ; that His kingdom is the greatest of all
Great Powers, with an imperial mission that
is paramount ; that He is a factor in all human
issues, and lays His hand on all institutions

Political Complications 27

and customs for their reform ; that, if His
agents are charged with creating social and
civic confusion, it is only the old complaint,
" these men turn the world upside down." In
Mr Michie's own words, "men of every shade
of opinion recognise the dynamic force of a
religion which splits up nations as frost does
the solid rock." He admits that " the mission-
aries cannot cease their operations."

" That governments should fight," says Lord
Curzon, " or that international relations should
be imperilled over his (the missionary's) wrecked
house or insulted person would strike him as
but a feather's weight in the scale compared
with the final issues at stake — viz., the spiritual
regeneration of a vast country and a mighty
population plunged in heathenism and sin."
And certainly in the last issue such " spiritual
regeneration " does outweigh every other con-

We are bound, however, to take the larger
statesmanlike view of the work as it affects
the public life and ultimate progress of the
communities in which it is prosecuted. Unlike
certain missionaries who have overlooked the
civic side of the Christian kingdom, we must
not consider merely how to "gather out" a
number of " souls " from a doomed world, but,
like our Master, must link spiritual work with
the commonweal. We must take the far look,

28 The Challenge to Missions

and consider what will ultimately work out the
joint social and moral well-being of each com-

Many of the most influential missionaries act
upon this wider view of the Divine Kingdom.
But undoubtedly there are some of them who
have an eye for little beyond individual " souls."
These are the men and women likely to make
ruthless assaults on all traditions and customs
knit into the fabric of the social life, and to
disregard the offence and the complications
they create. At home there are the same two
classes of religious teachers — (i) those who
make an outspoken frontal attack on every
public and social evil, careless of prudential
considerations and of the impediments which
their vehemence may raise, and (2) those
who spread Christian principles and rely on
enlightenment of conscience for the gradual
undermining of social and public evils. Publi-
cists like Lord Curzon have good reason for
calling upon missionaries of the more relent-
less class to calculate whether their present
intemperate methods may not arouse an undue
amount of prejudice, and raise obstacles which
in the long-run will impede the progress of the
cause. But the misguided earnestness of the
few who, with all their good intentions, are
unwise and aggressively intolerant is no argu-
ment against the quiet, steady, many-sided

Political Complications 29

work carried on by the large better-class of
missionaries. Among so many in the field, so
variously prepared, there must always be some
who are tactless, blindly making mistakes. Are
diplomatists themselves universally patterns of
wisdom, and have none of them followed a
policy which has excited native prejudice and
created disturbance? In both cases the im-
policy of the misguided few hampers, but must
not silence or cripple, the work of the wise.
And even the wise (by nature) have to learn
by experience.

From the very essence of the Christian
enterprise, however, some measure of social
disturbance and even political unrest is in-
evitable. And the Church does unflinchingly
hold that, after a policy of prudence has been
followed, these troubles must be faced and
borne, that nothing — to accept Lord Curzon's
charge — is of such moment to the races of
mankind as their moral regeneration, which,
as in our own history, may involve ferment
and disruption in the process.

Coarse pamphleteers among the Chinese
literati issue gross caricatures of Christianity
and charge the missionaries with the foulest
crimes and vices. Such things cannot be
averted under any Christian policy. Orphan-
ages and medical missions are accused of
kidnapping children and turning weakling

30 The Challenge to Missions

infants to hideous medical uses. Only by
continuing their beneficent work among multi-
plying numbers can these humane agencies
wear down blind prejudice. There are many
such misunderstandings and animosities which
are unavoidable until time and experience have
dispelled them.

But against some native prejudices, it may
well be, sufficient precautions have not been
taken in the past.

Lord Curzon is admittedly correct when he
says : " The institution of sisterhoods planted
alongside of male establishments, the spectacle
of unmarried persons of both sexes residing
and working together both in public and
private, and of girls making long journeys
into the interior without responsible escort,
are sources of misunderstanding at which the
pure-minded may scoff, but which in many
cases have more to do with anti-missionary
feeling in China than any amount of national
hostility or doctrinal antagonism." Even the
Western handshake and the friendly kiss are
grounds of suspicion.

Mr Julian Ralph demands that on this
account all women missionaries should be
withdrawn from China. This cannot be; yet
every reasonable effort should be made, even
at the sacrifice of freedom of movement and

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