Fleming, Daniel Johnson (1877-1969)

American missiologist

Fleming was born in Xenia, Ohio, and graduated from the College of Wooster. After completing a short-term mission assignment in India, he earned advanced degrees at Columbia University (M.A., physics) and at the University of Chicago (M.S., chemistry). He also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. In 1904, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions appointed him and his wife, Elizabeth (Cole), missionaries to Lahore, India, where they served for eight years. While on furlough, Fleming completed a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago Divinity School. When family health problems made a return to India impossible, he accepted a position at Union Theological Seminary, New York, serving first as director of the newly established Department of Foreign Service and later as professor of missions (1918-1944). In addition to his work at Union, he lectured widely at other academic institutions and missionary conferences. He also served on the staff of the Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry in India.

Although Fleming had an impact on many through his teaching, his greatest contribution to the Christian mission was through his writing. He wrote or edited twenty-three books and published seventy-five articles. Through his writing he sought to rethink the missionary enterprise in response to the questions raised by biblical higher criticism, the social sciences, and increasing global consciousness. He hoped to build a theory and practice of mission that would be viewed as ethical by thinking people both in the United States and in countries where American missionaries were sent. Whither Bound in Missions (1925) provides the most comprehensive statement of his thinking. His later books, which were more widely recognized, and which were devoted to the cause of world unity, include Each with His Own Brush (1938), The World at One in Prayer (1942), and Bringing Our World Together (1945).

Lydia Huffman Hoyle, “Fleming, Daniel Johnson,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 214-5.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Digital Texts

Fleming, Daniel Johnson. Devolution in Mission Administration, as Exemplified by the Legislative History of five American Missionary Societies in India. 1916. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1916.

Union Theological Seminary. Exercises connected with the inauguration of the Rev. Daniel Johnson Fleming, Professor of Missions; the Rev. Harry Frederick Ward, Professor of Christian Ethics; the Rev. Eugene William Lyman, Professor of the Philosophy of Religion. At the opening service of the eighty-third academic year at the Seminary, September twenty-sixth, nineteen hundred and eighteen. Together with an address given at the eighty-second commencement, May fourteenth, nineteen hundred and eighteen, by the Rev. Henry Preserved Smith (1918).

Fleming, Daniel Johnson. Building with India. West Medford, Mass., The Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions; New York, Missionary education movement of the United States and Canada, 1922

_____. Contacts with Non-Christian Cultures; a Case Book in the Christian Movement Abroad. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1923.

_____. Whither Bound in Missions. 1925. New York: Association Press, 1925.

_____. Attitudes Toward Other Faiths. New York: Association Press, 1928.

_____. Helping People Grow: An Application of Educational Principles to Christian Work Abroad. New York: Association Press, 1931.


Fleming, Daniel Johnson. Places of Power : A Statement of the Opportunities in the Teaching Profession for Christian Men. Lahore: Educational Committee of the American Presybyterian Mission, [189-].

_____. Suggestions for Social Helpfulness. Madras India: G.A. Natesan, 1900.

_____. Religious Instruction, Its History and Importance to the Church : A Brief Study-Book for Summer Schools and Teachers’ Classes. Lahore: United Council on Work Among Young People, [19–].

_____. Practical Service by Christian Students. Christian Student Papers, No. 2. Calcutta: Student Dept. Committee of the Nation Council of the Young Men’s Christian Association of India and Ceylon, [19–].

_____. The Vedantism of Sankara from Kantian Point of View, 1902.

_____. Special Edition of Problems in School and College Work. Cawnpore: N.p., 1907.

_____. Second Report on Problems in School and College Work. Cawnpore: N.p., 1907.

_____. Educational Opportunities in Laboratory Work. Lahore: Rai Sahib M. Gulab Singh & Sons, 1910.

Fleming, Daniel Johnson, Christian Literature Society for India, and Young Men’s Christian Associations of India and Ceylon. Twelve Studies in the Positive Life. London: Christian Literature Society for India, 1910.

Fleming, Daniel Johnson. The Social Mission of the Church in India. Calcutta: Association Press, 1913.

_____. Social Study, Service and Exhibits. Calcutta: Association Press, 1913.

_____. Fleming, Daniel Johnson. The Missionary Occupation of India. New York: N.p., 1918.

_____. Marks of a World Christian. New York: Association Press, 1919.

_____. Tests of Efficiency for Use by Colleges. Lahore: Panjab University, 1920.

_____. Schools with a Message in India. London: H. Milford, 1921.

_____. How to Use : A Book of Suggestions to Use with Building with India by Daniel Johnson Fleming. West Medford, Mass.: Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions, 1922.

_____. Fleming, Daniel Johnson. Degrees of Aggressiveness in Religion. N.p: N.p, 1928.

_____. Ways of Sharing with Other Faiths. New York: Association Press, 1929.

International Survey Committee, and Daniel Johnson Fleming. International Survey of the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Associations: An Independent Study of the Foreign Work of the Christian Associations of the United States and Canada. New York, 1932.

_____. Ventures in Simpler Living. New York: International Missionary Council, 1933.

_____. Ethical Issues Confronting World Christians. New York: The International Missionary Council, 1935.

Fleming, Daniel Johnson, and International Missionary Council. Commission I. The Function of the Ministry in Non-Christian Religions : The Ministry of Hinduism, 1935.

Fleming, Daniel Johnson. Heritage of Beauty: Pictorial Studies of Modern Christian Architecture in Asia and Africa, Illustrating the Influence of Indignenous Cultures. New York: Friendship Press, 1937.

_____. Each with His Own Brush; Contemporary Christian Art in Asia and Africa. New York: Friendship Press, 1938.

_____. Christian Symbols in a World Community. New York: Friendship Press, 1940.

_____. Foreign Missions in the World Situation, 1941.

_____. The World at One in Prayer. New York, London, Harper & Brothers, 1942.

_____. Bringing Our World Together : A Study in World Community. New York: Scribner, 1946.

_____. Education through Stone and Glass : A Study of Decorative Symbolism in Union Theological Seminary. New York: Union Theological Seminary, 1949.

_____. What Would You Do? When Christian Ethics Conflict with Standards of Non-Christian Cultures. New York: Friendship Press, 1949.

_____. Living As Comrades: A Study of Factors Making for “Community.”. Studies in Principles and Methods of World Missions, No. 13. New York: Published for the Foreign Missions Conference of North America by Agricultural Missions, 1950.

_____. Choice in Words That Travel. N.p: N.p, 1955.

_____. The Street Goes Both Ways, 1955.

_____. Limitations of an Intellectual Approach in Missions. New York: Missionary Research Library, 1957.

Missionary Research Library Collection“, Burke Theological Library “contains collections of named missionaries’ papers and institutional records within geographic divisions” including Fleming’s writings under the South Asia division.


“Daniel Johnson Fleming.” Courtesy of E. McClung Fleming. In Hutchison, William R. Errand to the World: American Protestant Thought and Foreign Missions. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.