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

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the secular press. And Lord Lawrence's words
are not forgotten : " Notwithstanding all that
English people have done to benefit India, the
missionaries have done more than all other
agencies combined."

Their verdict is not quoted as foreclosing
the case. But, as criticisms from mission
censors are so largely introduced in these
pages, it is fair to show that men of sane
and independent judgment, in the highest
quarters where they are likely to see the
work on the large scale and know its effects
by long residence, express an estimate of it
entirely different from the airy gossip current
in camps and treaty ports. Yet one must
deal with the average opinion that one en-
counters in moving about in the world.

First take briefly the question of numbers.

Dr Morrison, who has clearly been at school,
mirthfully reduces the outcome of the work to
fractions. " Expressed succinctly their harvest
may be described as amounting to a fraction
more than two Chinamen per missionary per
annum. If native helpers are added, the
aggregate body of converts amounts to nine-
tenths of a Chinaman per worker per annum." ^

Lord Curzon, more sedately, asserts that
the work is "not advancing with a rapidity

^ An Ausira/ian in China.

"Counting the Game" 99

in the least commensurate to the prodigious
outlay in money, self-sacrifice, and human
power." ^ So, then, it is not the missionaries
alone who, as Mr Michie puts it, "sum up
their success" as "sportsmen count their
game." If they do so, it is chiefly because
the Church at home, not unnaturally yet un-
fortunately, calls for statistics of advance,
and expects the missionary to produce his
yearly "tale of bricks." But it is the critic,
even more than the Church, that demands
results and "counts the game."

Lord Curzon himself, like Mr Michie,
shows that the test of progress does not lie
in the number of converts. "Much of their
work is necessarily devoid of immediate
results, and is incapable of being scientifically
registered in a memorandum. They sow
the seed, and if it does not fructify in
their day or before their eyes, it may well
be germinating for a future ear-time." He
pays a tribute to the missionary's "devotion
and self-sacrifice, his example of pious fortitude,
the influence of the education and culture thus
diffused in kindling the softer virtues and in
ameliorating the conditions of life ; the slow
but certain spread of Western knowledge ; the
visible products in organised philanthropy in
the shape of hospitals, medical dispensaries,

1 Problems of the Far East.

loo The Challenge to Missions

orphanages, relief distribution, and schools ;
the occasional winning of genuine and noble-
hearted converts from the enemy's fold."

" You don't get an adequate return for your
money," says the man who looks on 4 per
cent, as poor interest for any investment,
whether sacred or secular. And a return he
and we are perfectly entitled to expect. But
how much does he allow for the laying of
the foundations required before a new order
of things can be built up? How much for
the slow progress of rubbing down prejudice
and distrust, for proving the apostle's dis-
interested motives, for lifting the heavy inertia
of age-long custom, for breaking the trammel-
ling yoke and bar of caste, and for mitigating
the force of rooted superstitions and vested
interests ? How much for making dictionaries
(as missionaries have been the first to do)
and for translating the Scriptures ?

And is the critic to count it as nothing in
the balance-sheet that Christian missions have
been opening up closed countries to civilising
influences and national development as well
as to trade? (It carries no weight with the
Christian mind, but it might with the com-
mercial censor, that missions have opened
many doors for trade, and have brought back
in commerce far more than they have cost.)

How much time, and how many lives, were

"Counting the Game" loi

spent in cutting down the ancient forests of
Britain, in taming and tilling the soil, in laying
roads and building bridges, and making our
island-home the rich and comely land it is?
A long taming, tilling, preparatory work of
a similar kind has to be done among native
races before the rich harvest of human good-
ness and enlightened piety can be reaped.
In the assessment of missionary results, how
much is allowed for such preparatory, civil-
ising, educational work? With all this in
view, can any fair mind reckon up the out-
come at so many converts per missionary per
annum, costing so many hundred pounds per
head, or expect more than a moderate ad-
vance meanwhile in the numbers won from
paganism ?

Yet, even in respect of numbers, the results
sufficiently attest the progress of the cause.
In one year alone (1899), excluding the
baptised catechumens, not less than 100,000
were added to the number of communicants.
The appalling fact remains indeed, that the
number added to the native population of
such a country as India by natural increase
is larger each year than the numbers won to
the Christian fold. But the multiplication of
the Christian community marches in a rising
ratio, and will ultimately overtake and out-
strip the native growth.

I02 The Challenge to Missions

The Imperial Census for India taken for
1 90 1 has been revealing the great strides made
by Christianity during the previous decade.
The return for the entire continent, with the
exception of the Bombay Presidency and
Burma (the statistics for which had not
appeared), shows that the number of professed
Christians had risen from 1,952,704 in 1891
to 2,501,808 in 1901 — had risen in fact by
550,000. In these returns European Christians
are included; but, according to Sir Charles
A. Elliott, late Lieut-Governor of Bengal,^
they are practically stationary in numbers, the
same as in 1891. The addition of half a
million Christians, therefore, has been drawn
from among the natives. Within ten years
half a million natives of India have been won
to the open profession of Christianity. The
growth in numbers has been thirty per cent,
and that is four times the growth of the
general population. It is not merely the large
increase in itself that gratifies and reassures ;
it is the rising ratio of increase, four times the
increase of the populace. And here, of course,
no account can be taken of those who during
the same period have become Christians in
secret, and the larger numbers who have
been brought within the Christian "sphere of
influence." (See Appendix B., p. 184).

^ Times i 3rd December 1901.

"Counting the Game" 103

The increase of course varies very greatly
in different countries. In some places it is
disappointingly small thus far. In Korea, on
the other hand, at Pyeng-Yang, there was only
a handful of Christians in the whole region
in 1895 ; by 1900 there were 2,500 communi-
cants, while the total number of adherents
was 10,000. Not counting the 500,000 Chinese
claimed by the Roman Catholic Church, there
are nearly 100,000 Christian communicants in
China. And the native Christian community
attached to this church membership— young
people in schools, catechumens, families, etc.
—is many times larger.

In Uganda within a single decade the number
of baptised Christians has risen, Bishop Tucker
states, from 300 to 30,000.

" Why, the captain assured me at tiffin that
there weren't half-a-dozen Christians in all
China; and here in one meeting are more
than three hundred." This was said by a
passenger who allowed himself to be con-
ducted by a friend to a centre of mission


It is now notorious that those hasty visitors
and travellers, and even white residents, who
declare that they have seen plenty of mission-
aries but few native Christians have never gone
to examine for themselves what the missions
are doing. The Christian natives are not on

I04 The Challenge to Missions

show in the streets : they are only a fraction of
the heathen community and not distinguish-
able among the million ; and of necessity the
work is usually quiet and unobtrusive. How
can the success of the campaign be known
to those who only touch at open ports, or run
through a country on business or for sight-
seeing purposes ? They depend for their
information mainly on the Philistine gossip
current at the clubs and the dinner-tables of
residents who live almost entirely apart from
the native's life and never investigate the work
done by missions. " A little laudable curiosity
and a braving of the smells and sounds of
native streets" would reveal to them that,
whatever the failures here and there, the
floating reports do no sort of justice to the
actual results.

It is from the lower and less educated classes,
we are reminded, that the converts are drawn.
Have any of those whom Oliver Wendell
Holmes called the " Brahmin classes " of the
community believed ? Are the literati found in
the native Church? And certainly, if Christianity
does not appeal to the enlightened, grave doubt
is raised — but not about missions, rather about
Christianity itself.

But (i) our missionary experience simply
reproduces Christ's own. " The common people

"Counting the Game" 105

heard Him gladly " ; and critics were able to
ask, " have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees
believed on Him ? " Yet some of the most
enlightened rulers, like Nicodemus, did believe
on Him, although restrained by caste-fears from
at once confessing Him. It is often the educated
who are the most closely encased in prejudice ;
and, if most of the Rabbis and Herodians of
India and China are the slowest to admit the
new light, it is only what happened in the first
days of Christianity. It is clear from the
Apostolic Epistles that, while some of the well-
born in Rome and Greece belonged to the
primitive Church, most of the first Christians
were of the commonalty, numbers of them

(2) It is what seizes the great common
instincts of the people that proves its universal
truth. What captures the broad base of the
triangle shows the full width of its conquering
power. And early missions in the Roman
empire conquered the community by working
from the humbler strata upwards.

Besides (3) it is from the lower-middle (not
the lowest) classes — those very classes from
which most of the converts are drawn — that
the most virile life of the community is recruited.
"As the husbandman, driving his ploughshare
into the soil, brings the bottom strata to the
surface and turns the upper strata to the

io6 The Challenge to Missions

bottom, so in the upheavings of Providence the
lower classes of yesterday become the upper
classes of to-day."

It is what we find in the history of races.
Some ask, " Are not the rude African races
sure to be overborne and swept away by the
civilised ? " For one thing, at present these are
multiplying much more swiftly than the whites.
And just as the highly cultivated and luxurious
Romans were spent, and were out-lived by the
hardy Goths and Germanic races of the north,
so the ruder earth-children and hillsmen of the
modern world may have a large contribution to
make to the stock of the coming race. By the
same law the religion which conquers the
simpler, humbler class in the community may
be planting itself most securely in the genera-
tions to come.

But (4) numbers of the enlightened classes
do respond to mission work, markedly in some
countries if not so extensively in others.

In Japan, for example, in the year 1900 {cf.
The Chinese Recorder for 1900) Mr Loomis was
able to say, " The Minister for Foreign affairs
and the Secretary to the Prime Minister are
Christians. The honoured President of the
Lower House is a devoted member and elder
of the Presbyterian Church ; and there are
thirteen or fourteen other Christians in the
present Diet. Two battleships of the first class

** Counting the Game" 107

in the Japanese Navy are commanded by
Christian captains. There are three Christian
professors, and upwards of sixty members of
the Young Men's Christian Association, in the
Imperial University of Tokio. There are
thirty Christian Associations and eight hun-
dred and fifty members among the students
of Japan."

If in India fewer of the educated classes
become professed converts, it is partly because
of the restraints of caste — numbers of them
are known to be disciples in secret, afraid of
the awful ban of the out-caste. Yet a Madras
writer and philosopher, Mr S. Satthianadhan,
M.A., LL.M., has shown how Christianity is
being assimilated by India.

"What," he wrote, "is the influence of
Christianity on New India? We have first
and foremost a large and influential com-
munity that has severed itself entirely from
the ancient religion, and has accepted Christ
as its Saviour. Some of the keenest intellects
that India has produced, men like Professor
Ramachander, the author of 'Maxima and
Minima,' Dr Krishna Mohun Banerjee, one
of the first Indians whom the Calcutta Uni-
versity honoured with the degree of Doctor
of Laws; and Pandita Ramabai, a woman of
rare intellectual gifts, and well learned in
Sanskrit literature [he adds other names of

io8 The Challenge to Missions

equal importance], have found in the teachings
of Christ final rest and satisfaction.

" But the indirect influence of Christianity
in moulding the thoughts and aspirations of
the Indians is very considerable. The unique
personality of Christ is having, consciously or
unconsciously, a supreme attraction for even
those who are outwardly opposed to Christi-
anity. Some who have come under mission-
ary influences, even though still within the
visible pale of Brahmaism and Hinduism,
recognise the claims of Christ as the greatest
religious teacher and His right to their
allegiance, though they are not prepared to
take the step that means the severance of
family ties, social disgrace, and isolation.
The most telling testimony to the influence
of Christianity is to be found in the efibrts
made to read into Hindu religious doctrines
the moral teachings of Christ." Of this in-
corporating process the Madras thinker gives
living examples. (See Appendix B., p. 184).

Baboo Keshub Chunder Sen — head of the
Brahmo Somaj, and never attached to the
Christian Church— asked : "Who rules India.?
What power is it that sweeps the destinies
of India at the present moment? ... If
India is encompassed on all sides by Christian
literature, Christian civilisation, and Christian
government, she must naturally endeavour to

** Counting the Game'' 109

satisfy herself as to the nature of this great
power in the realm which is doing such
wonders in our midst. India knows not yet
this power, though already so much influenced
by it. She is unconsciously imbibing the
spirit of this new civilisation — succumbing to
its irresistible influence. Therefore India ought
to be informed as to the real character of the
course of this reforming influence — Christ. . . .
Christ, not the British Government, rules India."

It is by the diffusion of Christian ideas and
of civilising and humane influences, and the
general preparatory work already done, that
the progress of the cause is to be calculated ;
it is not to be measured by the numbers on
mission registers. Much of the expenditure
of life and labour is of the nature of an
investment ; the large amount of capital sunk
will bring its return in time to come.

J. Russell Lowell, American citizen of the
world and no partizan, may be allowed to
make the case acutely plain. When the keen
scrutiny of sceptics " has found a place on this
planet, ten miles square, where a decent man
can live in decency, comfort, and security, sup-
porting and educating his children unspoiled
and unpolluted, a place where age is reverenced,
infancy respected, womanhood honoured, and
human life held in due regard, — when sceptics
can find such a place, ten miles square, on this

no The Challenge to Missions

globe, where the Gospel of Christ has not gone
and cleared the way and laid the foundations,
and made decency and security possible, it will
then be in order for the sceptical literati to
move thither and ventilate their views. But
so long as these men are dependent on the
very religion which they discard for every
privilege they enjoy, they may well hesitate
a little to rob a Christian of his hope and
humanity of its faith in that Saviour who
alone has given to men that hope of Eternal
life which makes life tolerable and society
possible, and robs death of its terrors and
the grave of its gloom." ^ And this brave
argument may be extended to the cause which
carries the benefits of Christianity to pagan
races and can do for them what it has done
so amply for all of us.

^ Cf. the present author's In Relief of Doubt ^ p. 66. Also
Mr Meredith Townsend's Asia and Europe, chap, iii., a wise
valuation of the situation in India. See outline in Appendix
B., p. 184.



"The Mission-made Man"



**The Mission-made Man"

But are the natives improved by Christian
missions ? Are the results morally and socially
satisfactory? This, and not the matter of
numbers, is the serious question. And it must
be seriously and frankly answered. Let the
lay critic as seriously consider the whole
situation and do justice to the case. Readers
will bear in mind that some of the following
paragraphs deal more particularly with the
situation among African, Polynesian, and other
races just emerging out of semi-barbarism,
while others apply to conditions which exist
among the settled Asiatic races.

The late Miss Mary Kingsley — what piquant
travel books about West Africa she has left
us ! — said that " the missionary-made man is
the curse of the coast." ^ In India and the Far
East we are not allowed to forget the "rice
Christians" whose change of creed has in it
the hope of better wages. There are very

1 Travels iti West Africa.

H "3

114 The Challenge to Missions

many among the lay community — numbers of
them personally Christians — who declare that
missions only upset and spoil the native, that
they prefer the raw heathen or natural coolie to
the mission "boy," the "red" to the "School"
Kaffir. And they have come across cases
sufficient to give them reason for what they

Granted that too often these summary
verdicts are the result of light gossip among
unfriendly or easy men of the world, that
frequently they are second-hand and not drawn
from personal knowledge, mere echoes which
resound through treaty ports and foreign settle-
ments and are caught up by the casual visitor.
Something has to be discounted from the
opinion when it comes from a certain class of
European and American residents, who either
(i) have little serious interest in religion and
a traditional prejudice against missions, or (2)
show a contempt for the " blacks " which warps
their estimate of work among "niggers," or
(3) lead a gay or money-hunting life which
requires that the native be "kept in his place"
as a feeder for their pleasure or for their speedy

Yet this only explains a portion of the
criticism, much of which is offered in good
faith by men of credit.

**The Mission-made Man" 115

The scandal is caused by two classes of
natives who carry the mission brand.

(i) Some who have been educated at the
mission school or college swell with vanity or
independence, and are perhaps foolish enough
to think themselves too good for menial labour.
Without being bad, they alienate the sympathies
of the white employer.

(2) There are others who have been educated
without being morally touched. When they
have got the education they want, they scale
off all religious professions and seek only to
get some post or clerkship with the aid of
what they have learnt. Some turn out clever
rogues. Others go away and sink lower than
they were in a state of nature, adding foreigners'
vices to their own, perhaps completely " going

It is these unsatisfactory or peccant classes
with whom the shipmaster, the trader, and
the merchant come into contact. It is the
"wastrels" who usually gravitate to the ports
and become known to the foreigner ; the best
are often "up country." The critic generally
has the former in his eye, and they blind him
to the existence of others of a very different
type. Of the good, reliable Christian natives,
no worse, according to their stage of develop-
ment, if no better, than approved communi-

ii6 The Challenge to Missions

cants in our home churches, more will be said

Miss Kingsley, after paying a high tribute
to the West African missionaries as generally
brave and noble-minded men and women,
says : —

" A really converted African is a very beauti-
ful form of Christian, but those Africans who
are the chief mainstay of missionary reports,
and who afford such material for the scoffer
thereat, have merely had the restraint of fear
removed from their minds in the mission
schools without the greater restraint of love
being put in its place." " He ' rips,' but he rips
carefully, terrified by his many fetish restric-
tions, if he is pagan ; but if he is in that partially
converted state you usually find him in when
trouble has been taken with his soul — then
he rips unrestrained." It is on this account,
she says, that "the missionary-made man is
the curse of the coast."

" When trouble has been taken with his
soul," the Asiatic may not " rip " — he is already
semi-civilised, and his case differs from that
of the African — but he may disappoint in his
own more self-seeking way, when he is not
converted to his finger-tips.

Such sinister cases — although very far from
representing native Christians generally — must

"The Mission-made Man" 117

be explained. And explained they can be, if
we take a wide enough horizon for our outlook.
We must ask such questions as these : —
(i) What length of time, how many genera
tions, are we to allow undeveloped
races for ascending through temporary
failures to the social and moral level to
which we have risen only after centuries
of slow evolution ?

(2) What but unsettlement can we expect

from races and individuals passing
through the transition from a lower
to a higher order of life?

(3) Are the cases complained of peculiarly

the result of mission work, and in no
way connected with the inrush of all
kinds of foreign influences ?

(4) Is mission work raising the character

and life of the majority of the converts

within the native Church?
I. We must grant these raw, undeveloped
races time for their evolution. It cannot but
take several generations before they assimilate
Christianity, get it into their blood and incor-
porate it in the habit and traditions of their
common life. They must have time for pain-
fully learning the tastes and laws of an
enlightened existence and settling steadily into
a higher moral and social order.

ii8 The Challenge to Missions

Do we forget how many centuries it has
taken us in Britain to emerge from barbarism
and acquire some measure of the Christian
mind and habit? More than a thousand years
passed, thirty or forty generations came and
went, before our race was extensively Christian-
ised in character and social custom.

St Jerome tells that when " a boy, living in
Gaul, he beheld the Scots, a people in Britain,
eating human flesh ; and though there were
plenty of cattle and sheep at their disposal, yet
they would prefer a ham of the herdsman or a
slice of the female breast as a luxury." The
first results produced among our barbaric
ancestors by Columba, Cuthbert, Augustine,
and other early missionaries — were they even
as good as those to be witnessed to-day in
Uganda or the South Seas ? We have reached
our present mixed state only after Christianity
has been at work on us for fifteen centuries.
Are we to expect untamed races now to come
to the same level of enlightenment at one swift
leap ? It is preposterous for critics to measure
the ultimate value of mission work by the
effects produced in one or two generations.

Miss Kingsley admits that the children of
the school, with all their shortcomings, are
better than the others outside. That in itself
is much, and is the pledge of more. Has there

**The Mission-made Man'' 119

been some visible gain, some step taken upward
on the long stairway of ascent ? In spite of
bad cases, the majority of those who have come
under Christian influence have made a clear
advance upon their previous condition. That
is enough to certify the prophecy of faith — as

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