Papers & Publications
In a recent essay, Chris Evans explored important questions scholars need to raise when they think about American Methodism, particularly after the Civil War. One way to reconsider the role of Methodism, Evans argued, would be to look at the role of Methodist young people, citing the motive magazine as a rich and untapped source. The Center for Global Christianity & Mission will have the entire run of motive available for digital research in September 2015.
The award winning book, The Making of Korean Christianity: Protestant Encounters with Korean Religions, 1879-1915 was recently reviewed in the Africanas Journal. The publication is doubly significant for the Center for Global Christianity & Mission, as the author of the book, Sung-Deuk Oak, graduated from the Boston University School of Theology in 2002. The review was written by Gun Cheol Kim, a current PhD candidate in Mission Studies at the School of Theology.
The Historical Society received funding from the John Templeton Foundation to explore Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs. Research in various fields was conducted from 2011 to 2014, and the results were often counterintuitive. Counter to popular images of religion as a conservative force that regularly inhibits creativity, scholars described a more dynamic religious impulse. Dana Robert, Director of the Center for Global Christianity & Mission, participated in the project, arguing that Protestant missions were a major source of social innovation and democratic nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth-century. A preview of her research and that of others, may be found in: What Connection is There, if any, Between Christianity and Innovation?
Gina Zurlo co-edited the Yearbook of International Religious Demography, the first in an annual series that gives a snapshot of the world’s religious landscape, coupled with social scientific articles on specific countries and trends in religion around the world.
The CGCM’s Fall 2014 newsletter is now available. You can pick up a free hard copy at the School of Theology or read it in PDF form online at CGCM Newsletter 2014 Fall. Get your copy today!
Dana L. Robert, CGCM director, presented, “Twentieth-Century Mission Studies and the Narrative of ‘World Christianity’.’” The audio file is a fascinating historical study on the rise of the term, “World Christianity.”
Histories of American sociology generally acknowledge, to varying degrees, Christian involvement in the development of the field. Much of this attention, however, underemphasizes two highly influential movements in early-twentieth-century Christian thought, the social gospel movement (1870s–1920s) and the rise of the global ecumenical movement (beginning in 1910). One under-researched, yet particularly revealing example of the impact of these movements is the Institute of Social and Religious Research (“the Institute”; 1921–1934), founded in 1921 under the leadership of global Christian leader John R. Mott and funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Institute was comprised of Christian social scientific researchers who promoted interdenominational cooperation by engaging in scientific inquiry regarding the structure, current status, and functions of religious institutions and life in the United States. The Institute strived to maintain a high level of academic rigor while also retaining a religious motivation that included service to others, a classic struggle in the early history of American sociology.
The publications produced by the Institute were groundbreaking in their applications of social scientific methods to the study of religion in the United States, most notable of which included Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd’s highly generative and controversial Middletown study. In an overview of the largely unexplored tenure of the Institute, this paper brings together important trends in the early twentieth century to provide a unique perspective on the historical and theological contexts for the development of American sociology as an academic discipline.
To learn more, see “The Social Gospel, Ecumenical Movement, and Christian Sociology: The Institute of Social and Religious Research” (June 2014) by Gina Zurlo, a CGCM student associate, in the online version of The American Sociologist. Boston University students can access the journal through JStor and other hosts, and the article will appear in print version in 2015.
The July 2014 issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research contains a new article by alumnus Dr. David Scott, entitled “The Geographic Imagination and the Expansion of Methodist Missions in Southeast Asia,” IBMR 38:3 (July 2014): 130–34.
Synopsis: Missionary work by the Methodist Episcopal Church began in Southeast Asia in 1885 in Singapore. The Malaysia Mission spread throughout Southeast Asia, establishing work in Singapore, Penang, peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Java, and Sumatra, as well as maintaining nominal oversight of mission work in the Philippines. By using geography to justify its extension across distance, the Malaysia Mission acted similarly to other global systems.
The article is available for free to online subscribers.