Kraemer, Hendrik (1888-1965)

Dutch Reformed lay theologian, linguist, and missiologist


After studying at the Mission House in Rotterdam from 1905 to 1909, Kraemer studied Indonesian languages at Leiden University from 1911-1912 and was awarded a Ph.D. under the supervision of the Islamic scholar Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1921). As a linguist Kraemer served the Netherlands Bible Society in Indonesia (1922-1937). Then he was appointed professor of the history and phenomenology of religion at Leiden University (1937-1947). Finally he served as the first director of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey, Céligny near Geneva (1948-1955). During his years at Leiden he supervised only one Ph.D. candidate, Arent Th. Van Leeuwen (1947) who later wrote Kraemer’s biography (1959).

kraemer-2In Indonesia, Kraemer was more than just a linguist. He acquired expert knowledge about Indonesian Islam, established the Higher Theological School at Jakarta (1934), and traveled widely to develop Indonesian Christianity “from mission field to independent church” (the title of his 1958 book). In 1936, he was invited to write a book in preparation for the meeting of the International Missionary Council at Tambaram (Madras) in 1938. That book, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (1938), distinguished sharply between what he called “biblical realism” and non-Christian religious experience. His views, which reflect the work of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, evoked strong opposition in liberal circles and among Indian theologians.

After World War II Kraemer modified his views somewhat, as reflected in his books Religion and the Christian Faith (1956) and World Cultures and World Religion: The Coming Dialogue (1960). In these works he no longer used the term “biblical realism,” and new terms such as “dialogue” were introduced. However, in Why Christianity of All Religions? (1962) he made it very clear that his prewar and postwar views cannot be played off against each other.

Although Kraemer dealt with all religions, he had a special interest in Islam. After Indonesian independence his study on Islam (2 vols. 1928, 1933) was banned by the Indonesian government. His Islam as a Religious and Missionary Problem (in Dutch, 1938) was criticized by scholars of religion. However, Muslims such as Isma’il Raji alFaruqi invited Kraemer to write prefaces to their publications.

After leaving Indonesia, Kraemer involved himself in Dutch church and mission work. He contributed significantly to the revitalization of the Netherlands Reformed Church in the postwar situation. At Bossey he developed a “theology of laity,” publishing a book of that title in 1958. From 1938 to 1961 Kraemer dominated the scene in mission theology.

Jan A. B. Jongeneel, “Kraemer, Hendrik,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 374-375.

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.


The Mission Theory of Hendrik Kraemer

The great legacy of the Dutch missionary, scholar of religion, and theologian Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965) lay in being one of the first modern mission theorists to make a holistic attempt to wrest the church, on a global scale, from its captivity to Western Christendom. Kraemer lived through two world wars, was a prisoner during Nazi occupation in his own Holland, and was a firsthand witness to—and eventual participant in—the beginnings of the demise of Western colonialism through nationalist movements in Indonesia. Thus, Kraemer’s life was intimately wedded to the progressive decline of the West both from without and within. In such a context, a question loomed for Kraemer and the Protestant mission movement: how should the mission movement respond to this decline, the decline of the great corpus cristianum? Did the decline of Christendom imply the decline of Christianity? And furthermore, did this mean the demise of missions? In his most well-known work, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, Kraemer would answer with a resounding no; in fact, the evidence pointed to the opposite: “the Christian Church is not at the end of its missionary enterprise in the non-Christian world, but just at the beginning.[1] What then, for Kraemer, stood at the heart of this new missionary calling? Two things dominate: one, a reformational call for the church in all its local manifestations to return to the heart of the Christian faith, the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ, and two, a call for the whole church to embrace its missionary identity.

His Context

To describe the mission theory of Hendrik Kraemer, it important to recognize the power of the contextual forces that shaped his thinking. It is important because Kraemer himself was highly aware that he lived on the threshold of a new era, an era discontinuous with the one that proceeded it, and therefore necessitating a new response from the church. It is worthy of note that almost every book by Kraemer opened with a chapter on the present situation of the world—with chapter titles like “The World in Transition,”[2] “The Signs of the Time,”[3] “Where do we Stand.”[4] Such realities would necessarily shape the mission of the church, for one could not abstract the church out of history, as history was the very place where the divine drama worked itself out, most notably in God’s historic intervention in the person of Jesus Christ.

And for Kraemer two historic shifts were occurring, in “the East” and in “the West,” and both were interconnected. In describing Kraemer’s encounter with these two cultural contexts, it is important to bear in mind that he was always, even from his teenage years, a self-conscious missionary. He made the decision to become a missionary when he was sixteen, subsequently did four years of study at the Mission House in Rotterdam, was sponsored by the Dutch Bible Society to pursue his doctoral studies in Indonesian languages at Leiden University, and later spent fifteen years (1922-1937) in Indonesia as a missionary with one of his primary initial tasks to participate in the translation of the Javanese bible.

In the East, Kraemer encountered a “world in transition.” In Indonesia, he was a first-hand witness to budding and often volatile nationalist movements. Such nationalist movements were often intertwined with religious revivals, and in the case of Indonesia, revivals in Islam. For Kraemer, such religious revivals could not be interpreted apart from the pushback of the East against Western colonialism. Much to the dismay of many of his missionary counterparts—they complained he was becoming too political—Kraemer would eventually come to support Indonesian independence, even if it meant allying with leaders from other religions. This differed somewhat from Kraemer’s earlier optimism that Christianity would become the religious face of the nationalist movements. Such enthusiasm was quickly dampened when he saw many Indonesian leaders trained in missionary schools eagerly embrace different forms of Islamic nationalism. Although Kraemer’s views on non-Christian religions will be explored in greater depth below, it is important to note at this point that this experience with the way that Christianity did not become the “crown jewel” of Eastern religions, but rather was absorbed into and used by other religious movements is very significant in his rejection of “fulfillment theory” as advocated by thinkers such as J.N. Farquhar. Rather than all religions progressing toward Christianity, he saw in the East that all religions (including Christianity) were in crisis, forced to radically adapt to the changing age. In his later writings, he recognized that World War II had officially ended any notion of European centrality in the non-West and that he began to see signs of Eastern religions permeating into the West. The East and its religions were reasserting themselves in a new global age.

In the West, Kraemer saw Christendom crumbling from within. Like in the East, he saw the reassertion of nationalism in Europe, particularly in the context of the two world wars and most perniciously in the rise of National Socialism in Germany. Christendom, beyond all doubt, was not united. These movements exposed—and subsequently destroyed—the intimate ties between nation-state and church in the Christendom paradigm. “Christianity” in this context was a shallow baptism of more basic, self-referential ends. He saw this natural, self-referential quality of humanity most clearly in the rise of secularism. Kraemer recognized the numerous benefits of the Enlightenment with its bent toward rationalism, particularly as it helped Christians move beyond the outright demonization of other religions and as the critical edge of secularism exposed the idolatries of the church. Yet, he rejected secularism as an all-consuming philosophy with it penchant to limit all reality to the immanent sphere of life. More knowledge was good but such a pursuit must be kept in its place. Secularism as a principle was ultimately marked by a “pagan and anthropocentric view of life” that found its renewal in the Renaissance and was coming to fruition in his time.[5] Humanity was characterized by a dialectical good and sinful nature and yet—and here Kraemer was always a good Calvinist—left to its own design because of sin would always naturally resign itself to self-assertion and self-promotion at the expense of others. For Kraemer, the 20th century evidenced the failure of such an anthropocentric vision. Interestingly, Kraemer unified the West and the East in what he termed a “prime secularism:” “Speaking fundamentally, there is hardly any difference between the massive pragmatist religiosity of the East, in which the natural secularism of the human heart is wrapped up in a religious garb, and the outspoken a-religious secularism of modern man. The essential similarity between them is their prime secularism.”[6] And yet in the West, its own form of secularism was particularly destructive for such an anthropocentric vision led to the “‘absolutizing’ and therefore the ‘solatarizing’ of man, which means death.”[7]

Kraemer’s Response:

It is an important reminder that Kraemer encountered the world and generated a response to its challenges as a missionary and within the context of the missionary movement. In this movement, he saw two dominant responses to the radical shifts happening in the world. One the one hand, the more “liberal” wing (Kraemer almost always put the terms liberal and conservative in quotations), dominated by the Americans, had become too “humanistic” “pragmatic” and “crusading” in it its cause. They had lost the “theocentric” edge that spurred early missionaries to break out of the bounds of Christendom. Rather, they were conflating the Kingdom of God with an American vision for the world, one that was essentially secular. Such an approach for Kraemer, an approach articulated most explicitly in the William Hocking-led work Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen’s Inquiry after One Hundred Years, would lead to a radically attenuated vision for missions and a radically reduced mission force. Kraemer ultimately would agree that the mission movement must change, but not according to the principles laid out by people like Hocking.

The other response, equally dissatisfying, was the “conservative” one. Here, Kraemer saw a retreat into ossified creeds and dogmas and a static fundamentalist biblicism. Such a retreat was not just a response to secularism in the West, but also to the emergent indigenous movements in the non-West. Missionaries of all denominations were persistent in their attempt to assert their own creedal traditions and ecclesial systems built in the West. The creation of these “Western spiritual colonies”[8] was counterproductive and would equally lead to missionary irrelevance, particularly as such forms were products of a dying Christendom. Also rejected here were the approaches of many German missiologists, particularly that of Bruno Gutmann and Christian Keysser who were the inheritors of the Volkish mission tradition of Gustav Warneck. Their notions of “divine orders of creation” and “primal ties” were equally too conservative, too prone to baptize an established order, and too often ignored the persistent and surprising sinfulness of humanity.

Between these two responses, Kraemer called for no less than a reformation of the mission movement, and really, a radical reformation of the entire church. Throughout his writings, Kraemer could often speak positively of the changes occurring in the world, and most often such positive reflection centered upon the fact that such changes were acting to purify the church as it was forced to reconsider and reembrace the center of its identity and mission in a new age. Here Kraemer was true to his Reformation heritage in that the way forward for the church began with a rediscovery of God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. In this way, Kraemer can be seen as a participant in the growing Neo-Orthodox movement in continental Europe. But it is important to remember that the seeds for Kraemer’s move emerged both from Europe and from his many years spent in Indonesia. And as will be explored more below, it was this diverse experience that caused him to diverge from the great voice of the movement, Karl Barth. Yet in Kraemer’s initial call for the church to be purified by returning to its Christocentric and apostolic foundations, he was quite similar to the Swiss theologian.

One of the unique terms that Kraemer developed to describe the way forward for the mission movement was to take on the posture of “biblical realism.”[9] Explicitly defining this term is admittedly challenging, but there are a few characteristics that seem important to the way the term is employed by Kraemer. First, and quite simply, the call to return to Christ was a call to return to the scriptures. Like the rest of Neo-Orthodox thinkers, what Kraemer was calling for was a “back to the bible” movement. Again, this was not a call to assert any qualities of infallibility or inerrancy to the biblical text. Rather, the church in the present day should follow the pattern of the apostles in freely interpreting their reality and their environment in the light of the definitive inbreaking of God and his reign in the person of Jesus Christ. For Kraemer, the bible offered “no religious or moral philosophy,” no one theology (in the systematic sense), nor any comprehensive “worldview.”[10] God chose to reveal himself in history in Christ, therefore to know God and relate to God, one must know Christ, and the way to know Christ is to know the bible.

The “realism” side of “biblical realism” is found in the fact that in Christ, God reveals humanity to be both good and sinful. And so in Christ, not just God but humanity is revealed. Here, Kraemer surely embraced and promoted the dialectical theology of the Neo-Orthodox movement. In Jesus, God pronounces the great “yes” and “no” over humanity. This is the crucified and resurrected Jesus, the meeting of humanity and God in judgment and in grace. But for Kraemer, such an encounter was more intimate and subjective, an ongoing process with the risen and living Christ. And the realism of this dialectical reality of humanity had played itself out in modern history. The events of the 20th century were sobering, and dispelled any latent postmillennial illusions of a triumphant Christendom. Humanity—especially Europe—had shown its true colors. And so the biblical vision was actually a more realistic vision. But Kramer was also quick to assert both the “yes” and “no” of Christ, saying that because the world was fundamentally God’s good creation, Christians should ultimately take a positive approach in their attitude toward humanity. He felt that Barth’s famous “nein!” was too strong, emphasizing only one end of the dialectical nature of humanity.

The reembrace of the church of its witness bearing office also meant for Kraemer that “empirical Christianity,” as he labelled it, stood under the same judgment as other religions or the non-religious. He wrote, “Christ, as the ultimate standard of reference, is the crisis of all religions, of the non-Christian religions and of empirical Christianity too.”[11] This, in a sense, was a theological affirmation of the judgement that the West pronounced against itself in the first half of the twentieth century. The empirical destruction of Christendom was affirmed in the gospel. Bearing this gospel meant that the church, or its attendant culture, could make no pretentions of superiority or have any concept of “possessing” God. The church should not be self-referential, but take joy only in God as he is revealed in Christ. Western arrogance, then, had no ground in its inherited faith. This was a theological remapping of the world. And as will be explored more below, it was a shift away from dividing the world between the West (“Christendom”) and the rest (“Heathendom”), to a qualitatively different relationship between the Church and the World. It is of great importance that his first major book was entitled The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World. A theological return to the person of Christ revealed that the entire world was now “non-Christian.”

Because the world was now “non-Christian,” this meant that the church could begin to fully recover its apostolic and missionary identity. Kraemer’s entire career can be viewed as attempting to help the church, both in the East and the West, embrace this missionary calling. Dutch missiologist Libertus Hoedemaker would later write about Kraemer: “In Asia he insisted on the development ‘from mission to church,’ in the Netherlands on the development ‘from church to mission,’ but in both situations he saw one basic need for church-with-mission, for a missionary church…”[12] In places like Indonesia, this was a call for deeper indigenization of the gospel and the church. There is a sense in Kraemer, especially with the comments referenced above about the missionary age just beginning, that he saw calls to curtail the proclamatory and evangelistic aspects of missions as entirely too premature and hasty. Rather than having already moved past some “evangelistic age,” the missionary movement had actually not yet arrived at such a stage in full. The gospel was still too foreign and too bound to Western forms. Churches were not being “planted” in the local contexts, but were still being “transplanted” from the West.[13]

Kraemer’s notion of “adaptation” or “inculturation” was rooted in his notion of the church being a witness bearing body to the revelation of God in Christ. In his reading of the New Testament, he found that the apostles gave little direct concern to issues of “adaptation,” but employed “free and creative” use of thought forms and materials from their particular contexts for the purpose of expressing the gospel message.[14] “Adaptation” or “indigeneity” were not ends to pursue; such ends would only result in a culture superficially appropriating Christianity to already existing values. There would be no conversion. Rather, indigenous churches should be the goal, with both terms always existing together. This would cause Kraemer to write: “The smell of the earth, the brightness of the sky, the natural and spiritual atmosphere which, in the course of ages, wrought the soul of a people, have to manifest themselves in the kind of Christianity that grows there.”[15] Kraemer admitted that such “adaptation” was risky, but this risk was inherent in the missionary calling, no matter where a church found itself. The opposite possibility was an introverted church, but this was even more risky as such “conservativism” ultimately resulted in self-absorption, which was the opposite of the church’s apostolic calling.

One of the important aspects of Kraemer’s understanding of the church as a witness bearing body in its local context, as alluded to above, is that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ reveals not only God, but also reveals to us our own selves. And this is not simply a one-time event, but is a dynamic, living encounter throughout the life of a Christian. In this sense, Kraemer always held to certain aspects of the Dutch “ethical theology” which was prominent at the turn of the 20th century. This theological tradition sought to balance the objective side of divine revelation with its subjective experience in the life of the Christian. There was a strong emphasis here on the individual struggle and journey with God in the person of Christ. This was a dialectical journey, where the divine “yes” and “no” provoked a lifetime experience of deepening God-knowledge and deepening self-knowledge. The missionary encounter with culture, then, should be the opposite of “foreign.” Rather, it should actually lead to a deeper knowledge of one’s culture than would be the case without the presence of church. And such an unveiling was always “realistic,” resulting in both affirmation and judgment.

This is an important place to explore Kraemer’s understanding of other religions. The center of his approach was grounded in the church’s missionary encounter with the world, and it was within this space that Kraemer allowed himself to speak of the nature of other religions. It was not “Christianity” as an abstract religion that one should compare with other religions. Again, “empirical Christianity” stands under equal judgment in comparison with other living faiths. God was met in his revelation, not in any particular religion, including “Christianity.” Like Karl Barth, Kraemer was taking direct aim at Thomistic conceptions of nature and grace, which saw grace as a supernatural power perfecting nature. Kraemer saw Thomism lurking in “fulfillment theory,” which sought to read aspects of different religions as praeparatio evangelica. For Kraemer, this actually betrayed an evolutionary understanding of religions. It was Western arrogance in Christian garb. Kraemer commended Barth’s wrenching apart of grace and nature with his incessant assertion of the centrality of revelation in all theological tasks. Yet, he ultimately saw Barth’s move to be practically untenable, and not consistent with scripture. Rather, he followed Emil Brunner’s notion of “points of contact,” between nature and grace. Yet ultimately he wanted to view such theological debates within the dynamic contingencies of missionary engagement where the missionary was the most appropriate and definitive “point of contact” with other religions.[16] It is the act of communication of the gospel between people, employing all possible indigenous resources, where God meets humanity in its depths.

Kraemer was loathe to speculate too deeply into where God revealed himself in other religions outside of God’s definitive revelatory act in Christ. In The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World he described religions primarily as human products, the development of which was equally subjected to humanity’s sinfulness and goodness. He refused to identify any particular trait of another religion as more “Christian” than another. In later writings he slightly modified his position, stating that other religions were not simply human products, but were evidence of the divine-human drama issuing forth from humanity’s inherent sensus divinitatus and so “the world is the theater and the purpose of the divine drama of redemption.”[17] Such a description shows clear influences of Kraemer’s Calvinism. Kraemer’s reticence to speak of God’s revelation outside of Christ was also likely due to the Calvinist framework in which he thought. In this framework God has revealed himself to humanity definitively in Christ, but this revelation does not contain the totality of God’s essence. The transcendent aspects of God’s nature which are not revealed are hidden from humanity. The extra calvinisticum which so vexes Lutheran theologians gave Kraemer space to not deny God’s work outside of Christ, but it keeps him from putting his finger on God until Christ is revealed. And so in qualifying his affirmation that every religious system is wrapped up in error, he could write “…even at the very heart of ‘error’ itself, we are to discover and to recognize that ‘God has passed this way’; and that will be at the precise moment when in the light of Jesus Christ, which does not quench the smoking flax but ‘discovers’ whatever has an affinity with Him, we have brought home to us the nature of such a religion.”[18] And such “light” could not shine outside of the dynamic missionary encounter between the church and the religions.

While Kraemer continued to write about the relationship between Christianity and other religions well to the end of his life, the largest shift in his missiological reflections during the final decades of his life was tied to his growing commitment to assist in the rebuilding and renewing of the church in Europe after World War II. And at the heart of this work was his efforts to help the Western church recover its own missionary identity. What he learned as a missionary, then, he sought to apply to the West. One of his more exceptional works in this vein was his book, A Theology of the Laity. In it, Kraemer himself admitted that such a work was provisional, given the scant attention afforded to the subject in the history of theology. In this book, he put the laity at the center of the church’s missionary task, for it was really with the laity where the deepest encounter between church and world occurred. In their vocational and public lives, the laity felt the true weight of secularism, more so than the clergy. Due to their unique, and one might say privileged, position, the laity were especially needed in the ongoing theological task of the church, particularly as the church found itself in a new missionary relationship to its culture.

Also in his later writings, he began to include the Johannine passages describing the church as a body that was “sent” in the same way that the Father sent his Son into the world. The rooting of mission in the initiative of God was obviously not an entirely new concept for Kraemer, for even in his well-known 1938 work The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World he would write, “The missionary command and urge in Christianity thus burst forth from the heart of God.”[19] Yet equating the way of the mission of the church with the way of Christ received further definition.[20] The church in Europe must become a servant body, a “world-centered church,” not church-centered and self-referential. And so, “Only by not being or not wanting to be an end in itself, the Church arrives at being the Church.”[21] This would lead him to entitle an entire chapter: “The Church is Mission” (his emphasis).[22] Also explicit in the Johannine passages was the emphasis on the unity of the church. Mission and unity, then, were intimately tied together. Ecumenism had become a central pursuit of Kraemer’s after World War II. Yet even in his later writings he remarked that he had first learned the relationship between ecumenism and mission in his early missionary years in Indonesia, as participation in a common mission had the effect of dampening division. He even rooted his theology of the laity in a call to bridge the division between clergy and laity, a division not natural to the one Body of Christ. If Christ could not be divided, then neither could the local congregation, nor the global church, nor its mission.

The Legacy of Hendrik Kraemer

Assessing the legacy of Hendrik Kraemer is not an easy task. Outside his own era and the one or two decades following his death, one finds few thorough explorations of his work. At most, there are occasional assessments of his approach to non-Christian religions, the majority of which are critical. Missiologists in the Dutch Reformed tradition, particularly J.H. Bavinck—more of a contemporary—and others such as M.L. Daneel and David J. Bosch, were surely inheritors of Kraemer’s legacy. Perhaps Kraemer’s most conspicuous heir, at least in the English speaking world, has been the more widely influential Lesslie Newbigin. Newbigin’s positive appraisal of Kraemer is well established, particularly as it pertained to Kraemer’s theological construction of the relationship between the church and other religions.[23] And while Kraemer is most remembered for his work on other religions, it seems that he was the predecessor to Newbigin in his attempts to formulate the missional nature of the church in its relationship to the world. Decades before Newbigin returned to England after his missionary sojourn in India, Kraemer returned from the mission field to a “pagan” Europe, and began the long process of attempting to reform the European church into a missionary body.

Perhaps Kraemer’s legacy is more shrouded due to the fact that his work was marked by a certain liminal quality. He understood himself to be living in an era of great conflict and change, a transitional age in human history when centuries-old boundaries between the Christian West and the rest of the world were eroding and a new unknown era was beginning. Kraemer recognized that new trajectories needed to be established, a reformation in the church needed to take place, but he was more pioneer than systematic theoretician. It is also important that he had not yet witnessed the demographic transformation of Christianity, with its center of gravity shifting to the non-West. Furthermore, the Ecumenical Movement that he so deeply embraced and promoted was still very much a Western movement. And so while Kraemer laid the conceptual foundations for a remapping of Christianity and a reformation of its mission, the power of Christendom endured long past his pronouncement of its death.

By Tyler Lenocker

[1] H. Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (New York: Harper, 1938), 40.

[2] In H. Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (New York: Harper, 1938).

[3] In H. Kraemer, A Theology of the Laity (London: Lutterworth Press, 1958).

[4] In H. Kraemer, Religion and the Christian Faith (Philadelphia: Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1957).

[5] “Christianity and Secularism,” International Review of Mission 19 (1930): 202.

[6] Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, 214.

[7] Kraemer, “Christianity and Secularism,” 206.

[8] Kraemer, Religion and the Christian Faith, 410.

[9] See, for example, Kraemer, The Christian Message in a non-Christian World, 83.

[10] Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, 65-67.

[11] Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, 110.

[12] Libertus Hoedemaker, “The Legacy of Hendrik Kraemer,” Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research 4, no. 2 (1980): 60.

[13] Kraemer, Religion and the Christian Faith, 390.

[14] Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, 421

[15] Kraemer, Religion and the Christian Faith, 390-391.

[16] See Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, 140.

[17] Kraemer, A Theology of the Laity, 183.

[18] H. Kraemer, Why Christianity of All Religions? (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), 103. The phrase, “does not quench the smoking flax” is a reference to Matthew 12:20, which itself refers to Isaiah 42:3.

[19] Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, 72

[20] It is important to note that Kraemer does not explicitly use the term missio Dei, which was introduced into ecumenical conversation by Karl Hartenstein at Willingen in 1952.

[21] Kraemer, A Theology of the Laity, 130.

[22] Kraemer, A Theology of the Laity, 131.

[23] See T. E. Yates, Christian Mission in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 231.


Digital Text

Kraemer, Hendrik. The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World. New York: Harper, 1938.



_____. The Bible and Social Ethics.  Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1965.

_____. “Christianity and Secularism.” International Review of Mission 19 (1930): 195-208.

_____. The Communication of the Christian Faith. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956.

_____. From Missionfield to Independent Church; Report on a Decisive Decade in the Growth of Indigenous Churches in Indonesia. With an Introductory Note by W. A. Visser”t Hooft. London: SCM Press, 1958.

_____. Religion and the Christian Faith.  Philadelphia: Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1957.

_____. “Spiritual Currents in Java.” International Review of Mission 13, no. 49 (1924): 101-08.

_____. A Theology of the Laity.  London: Lutterworth Press, 1958.

_____. Why Christianity of All Religions? Translated by Hubert Hoskins. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962.

_____. World Cultures and World Religions: the Coming Dialogue. London: Lutterworth Press, 1960.


Hallencreutz, Carl F. Kraemer Towards Tambaram: A Study in Hendrik Kraemer’s Missionary Approach [in English].  Lund, Sweden: Gleerup, 1966.

Hoedemaker, Libertus A. “Hendrik Kraemer.” In Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, edited by Gerald H. Anderson et al. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1994. Pp.508-515.

Perry, Tim S. Radical Difference: A Defence of Hendrik Kraemer”s Theology of Religions. Waterloo, Ont.: Published for the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion Corporation by Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001.

WCC’s Ecumenical Dictionary entry on interfaith dialogue provides reference to Kraemer’s mission theology.


“Hendrik Kraemer.” In Van Leeuwen, Arend Theodoor. Hendrik Kraemer: Dienaar Der Wereldkerk. Amsterdam: W. Ten Have, 1959.