In her recent article, “Buddhist Monks and Christian Friars: Religious and Cultural Exchange in the Making of Buddhism,” Eva Pascal (PhD Candidate) demonstrated that the idea of Buddhism as a common religion across much of Asia, did not emerge in the 19th century as has been widely assumed. Instead, it was Spanish Franciscan Friars in the 16th century who, in their interactions with Buddhist monks in Thailand, China, and Japan recognized a common core. The Franciscans not only perceived a single founder behind the various names used for the Buddha in Asia, they also recognized the features of “religion.” In other words, Franciscans concluded that Buddhist monks were not merely superstitious–the label associated with heathen ideas. Instead, they began to use the term “religion” for Buddhist beliefs and practices, because the Franciscans recognized monks as their counterparts. Buddhist monks lived in monastic communities, adhered to a life of voluntary poverty, took vows of chastity, preached obedience to commandments, and the like. The parallels led the Franciscan missionaries to introduce Buddhism to the West as a religion, a total system comparable to Christianity.
At the 75th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, CGCM Associate Director, Daryl Ireland participated in a panel on “Chinese Christianity Revisited: The John Sung Papers and Chinese Evangelistic Materials.” The panel was organized by the Council on East Asian Libraries, and highlighted Yale Divinity School’s recent acquisition of the journals of John Sung, the preeminent Chinese evangelist of the 20th century. Three librarians spoke about what it means to have access to rare primary materials, particularly from a figure like John Sung. These are the necessary building blocks for scholars to piece together the dramatic story of Chinese Christianity over the last 100 years. Dr. Ireland was then featured as someone who has used the new materials, and he demonstrated how a close reading of one of Sung’s revivals can go a long way in reconstructing the class composition of the people who eagerly gathered to hear Sung preach.
On April 2, Laura Chevalier, Doctoral Fellow at the CGCM, presented a paper at the Northeast meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) in Flushing, NY. In her paper entitled “Midwives and Mamas of the Local Church: Historical Case Studies of Women in Mission,” Chevalier looked at the life writing of two twentieth century evangelical missionaries: Lillian Trasher and Dr. Helen Roseveare. She drew out five themes regarding the local church and mission in their writings and concluded by discussing what these women’s lives and writings bring to bear on evangelical mission today. The conference brought together a broad spectrum of people in the evangelical community including mission scholars and practitioners, pastors, and many lay leaders from a wide variety of denominations. Concurrent paper sessions offered in both Chinese and Spanish during the afternoon session highlights the attention to diversity by conference organizers and the diverse backgrounds of participants.
On March 30th, Dana Robert delivered the annual Donald A. Yerxa Lecture in History at Eastern Nazarene College. She probed the role of “Cross-Cultural Christian Friendships in the Age of Nationalist Revolution, 1950s-1970s,” asserting that these close connections were costly in the midst of shifting political arrangements, but that they were important reminders that Christianity was a multi-ethnic, global religion. Christian friendships that did not collapse under the extraordinary pressure and violence of nationalism underscored the reality of world Christianity.
The lecture also pointed to another type of enduring friendship. Dana Robert has been the reader for four dissertations written by Nazarene scholars. All four were able to attend the lecture and are pictured below.
Sunday, March 20th, Father Vincent Machozi, A.A. was murdered for his work in documenting the human rights abuses that were happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Machozi had been a ThD student in Mission Studies and Ethics, but returned to Congo before completing the degree in hopes that he could speak out agains the atrocities that were being committed in eastern Congo.
A memorial service will be held at Boston University. For fuller coverage of the story, BU Today, Crux, and the Assumptionists have each published accounts of the heroic life and tragic death of Rev. Machozi.
Dana L. Robert, Director of the Center for Global Christianity & Mission, was selected a Luce Fellow for 2016-2017 by the Association of Theological Schools and the Henry Luce Foundation. Selected on the basis of the strength of her proposal to conduct creative and innovative theological research, Professor Robert will conduct yearlong research on “Transnational Friendships and Fellowship in the Making of World Christianity.” At the conclusion of her research, she will meet with the other Fellows to present her work, before moving it to publication.
The BBC has produced an article about a unique book published in 1942. A Tibetan scholar stumbled across Sue in Tibet in a second-hand book store. To have a female character as the central character in a book in the 1940s was unique, but even more fascinating with the historical accuracy of the tale. The scholar found the story so intriguing that she ended up tracking down the history of the author, Dorris Shelton Still, a missionary kid.
Not long ago, Visiting CGCM Researcher Cathy Corman found herself in a similar situation. Introduced to Barbara (Barry) Beach Alter, Dr. Corman became curious about her life as a missionary in India. The stories she heard were so compelling that she helped Barry construct an audio autobiography, In the Midst. The result is a multimedia presentation, and another small advance in uncovering the stories of women who have served in missions.
Friday, March 18th, Boston University will host its second Assessment Symposium. Laura Chevalier (PhD Candidate) will represent the School of Theology, and present “E-Portfolio as an Assessment Tool in the School of Theology.” It is a tool Laura utilized in courses on mission as well as on spirituality.
The Handbook on Popular Spiritual Movements (PSM) in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia was a research project and publication owned by Trinity Theological College (TTC), Singapore, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Poon, Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia (CSCA). Boston University, through the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, was a supportive partner through the participation of Dr. Charles Farhadian (PhD 2000) as a co-editor, Dr. Dana Robert as a consulting editor, and the Drs. Septemmy Lakawa (ThD, 2011), Daryl Ireland (PhD 2015), and David Scott (PhD, 2013) as contributors to section III: Case Studies of Popular Spiritual Movements.
Education as a Mission
The Greatest Work in the World: Education as a Mission of Early Twentieth
Century Churches of Christ. Letters of Lloyd Cline Sears and Pattie Hathaway Armstrong
This work originates from a family prominent in the Churches of Christ from the mid–1800s through the 1960s. Letters exchanged principally between my grandparents, Lloyd Cline Sears and Pattie Hathaway Armstrong, constitute the bulk of the work. Augmenting their posts are letters from family members J. N. and Ida Woodson (Harding) Armstrong and Pattie (Cobb) Harding, wife of James A. Harding. Written between 1915 and 1921 these letters express an educational philosophy and understanding of Christian purpose inspired by the Stone-Campbell Movement and held in tension with the intellectual and social ferment of the times.
As leaders in “the oldest ecumenical movement in America,” the letter writers helped establish and run a series of small schools throughout the American South, Midwest, and West that influenced generations of students to become teachers, preachers, missionaries, and orphanage directors.
Today, Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee is the oldest establishment in this legacy while Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas has been the institution most closely associated with the letter writers. Correspondence contained in The Greatest Work in the World dates from a time in between the founding of these two schools, when the authors were running Cordell Christian College in Oklahoma and Harper College in Kansas.
This primary source material allows rare access to privately expressed thoughts of men and women attempting to live as Christian educators at the outset of an uncertain and rapidly changing twentieth century. Their letters also offer encouraging lessons for contemporary American Christians in this even more volatile era.
Containing a foreword by Richard T. Hughes of Messiah College and an afterword by Larry R. Long of Harding University, The Greatest Work in the World is available from Wipf and Stock Publishers.
This webpage contains excerpts from the book along with extra material and photographs not found there.
 J. D. Murch, Christians Only, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2004, 360.
 Lloyd Cline Sears, The Eyes of Jehovah, Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1970, 10.
 Thomas H. Olbricht, “Alexander Campbell as an Educator,” Lectures in Honor of the Alexander Campbell Bicentennial, 1788-1988, Nashville: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1988, 85.
 Richard T. Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, 92
Elizabeth Cline Parsons, editor
Lecturer on Religion, Culture, and Development
Faculty Associate, CGCM
It is surprising to me how untaught the people of the country generally are. They have learned a few of the very first principles of Christianity and are blinded to all the rest. . . . And so bad is this condition that it will be impossible to change it in one or two generations. The people are not willing to receive the great lessons which they ought to have. . . . Preaching to these brethren might lift them up in two or three generations, but the trouble will be in getting a preacher. All the preachers they would have are the kind which would only emphasize the same condition, and make them worse instead of better. They need someone who can teach to live among them and work and make everyone else work. This can only be done by men trained from their boyhood. And I know of no better place to give boys this training than in a Bible school. We are engaged in the greatest work in the world, and it must go on. Even if you should die the work would have to continue, and I should do my best to carry it on. And I know if I should die you would keep it going; there would still be sufficient—more than sufficient—friends to make it go. And I hope to see it turn out hundreds of preachers, boys and girls, who will make a reformation throughout this whole country [Cline Sears, June 27, 1915]
I am of the opinion you are about our Bible School in the future. . . . In all the history of the school work the schools have been small. The Nashville Bible School is larger to day than it ever has been, but it is losing its spirituality—and we must not do that. The Orphan’s Home must not be large for the same reason. If the Home is crowded I can not have the influence over the children I must have to do what I believe the Lord would want me to do. It would be impossible for me to know each child’s disposition and to know what traits should be encouraged and what traits should be fought and mastered, and, too, I want them to know and love me, but they can not do it if I have too many. [Pattie Hathaway Armstrong, June 21, 1915]
There is a great difference between the people of the world and of the popular churches, and the people of the churches of Christ. Anything that is respectable and respected by society and the world is engaged in by the popular churches. War is not condemned, but is encouraged by the ministers. I heard a prayer recently for the “success of our arms in Mexico,”—which necessarily means the destruction of hundreds of lives and the ruin of hundreds of homes, yet because the world praises it as patriotism the preachers pray for it, and buy flags to lead the army in battle. [Cline Sears, July 17, 1916]
Just before church time I went to the post office just as I told you. The office was empty, so I stood by the window and read your letter in the twilight. I came up the street wishing I could be in a boat on the lake with you when I glanced up and almost caught my breath at the beauty of the scene. Under the trees and among the flowers in Mr. Lee’s yard were hundreds and hundreds of fireflies. I think I have never seen anything more beautiful. The whole world seemed filled with these tiny fairy lanterns. This time I didn’t cry at a beautiful scene. You enjoyed it quite as much as I did. There is quite an advantage in being together though separated, isn’t there? [Pattie Hathaway Armstrong, July 12, 1915]
Click Cordell Christian College Promotional Pamphlets to see some transcriptions of promotional pamphlets produced for Cordell Christian College. The pamphlets provide additional information and perspectives on the viewpoints of the letter writers.