Warren, Max Alexander Cunningham (1904–1977)
General secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and British missionary statesman
Born in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, of Irish missionary parents, Warren spent his early years in India. After schooling in England, he studied at Cambridge — history at Jesus College and theology at Ridley Hall. As a student, he was a member of the Hausa Band, whose members committed themselves to evangelizing Muslims in northern Nigeria. However, less than a year after arriving at Zaria with CMS in 1927, he contracted tubercular iritis and had to be invalided home. After physical and mental recuperation, ordination, and youth ministry in Winchester Diocese, he served as vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge (Charles Simeon‘s church) from 1936-1942.
As general secretary of CMS from 1942 to 1963, Warren foresaw and interpreted the decolonization period, played a major role in mission conferences, acted as international adviser to Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, and educated the Christian public through the monthly CMS News-letter. From 1963 to 1973 Warren was canon and subdean of Westminster Abbey, London. A strategic organizer behind ecclesiastical and political scenes, an external examiner for Cambridge University, a valued counselor to key people in public life as well as to young mission scholars, he received a constant stream of visitors from all over the world. He was elected an honorary fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge in 1967.
A trained and perceptive historian, Warren stressed God’s involvement in the whole of history and God’s action among peoples outside the covenant. His CMS News-letter had a worldwide circulation of about 14,000. In it he interpreted current missiological books and reflected vividly and theologically of key issues of the day, drawing on his regular personal correspondence with missionaries. Avidly read by diplomas and politicians as well as by missionaries and bishops, he saw himself as on a watchtower like his favorite prophet, Habakkuk. Averse to bureaucracy and centralizing control and delighting in flexible initiatives, his writings stressed personal relationship as the heart of mission and the importance of the voluntary missionary societies.
Warren edited the Christian Presence series and gave two stimulating series of lectures in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University, which were published as The Missionary Movement from Britain in Modern History (1965) and Social History and Christian Mission (1967). Other major missiological works include The Christian Mission (1951), which was an early exposition of holistic mission; Interpreting the Cross (1966), which contains addresses given to South African clergy; and the final affirmation that summed up his life, I Believe in the Great Commission (1976).
Graham Kings, “Warren, Max,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 719.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Mamillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
Warren, Max A. C. Loyalty. London: Highway Press, 1935.
_____. Interpreters: A Study in Contemporary Evangelism. London: Highway Press, 1936.
_____. The Master of Time: An Experience of the Lordship of Christ. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1943.
_____. The Whole Church: An Anglican Consideration of the South India Church Union Scheme. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1943.
_____. The Fellowship of the Gospel: An Address to a Convocation of Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1944.
_____. What is an Evangelical? An Enquiry… London: Church Book Room, 1944.
_____. The Calling of God: Four Essays in Missionary History. London: Lutterworth Press, 1945.
_____. Strange Victory: A Study of the Holy Communion Service. London: Canterbury Press, 1946.
_____. Together with God: A Programme for Prayer. London: Church Missionary Society, 1946.
_____. The Triumph of God: A Series of Essays. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1948.
_____. The Truth of a Vision: A Study in the Nature of Christian Hope. London: Canterbury Press, 1948.
_____. Unfolding Purpose: An Interpretation of the Living Tradition which is the C.M.S. N.p.: Church Missionary Society, 1950.
_____. The Christian Mission. London: SCM Press, 1951.
_____. Revival, an Inquiry. London: SCM Press, 1954.
_____. Road to Renewal: An Address to the Synod of the Liverpool Diocese on November 3, 1953. London: S.P.C.K., 1953.
_____. Caesar, the Beloved Enemy. Three Studies in the Relation of Church and State. London: S.C.M. Press, 1955.
_____. The Christian Imperative, being the Kellogg Lectures at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, February 1955. New York: Scribner, 1955.
_____. The Gospel of Victory: A Study in the Relevance of the Epistle to the Galatians for the Christian Mission Today. London: S.C.M. Press, 1955.
_____. Partnership: The Study of an Idea, being the Merrick Lectures at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, March 1955. London: SCM Press, 1956.
_____. Missionary Commitments of the Anglican Community. London: S.P.C.K., 1957.
_____. Some Schemes of Church Union before the Anglican Communion Today: Three Lectures Given at Kent School, Kent, Connecticut, June 17-19, 1958. N.p.: Anglican Society, 1958.
_____. Challenge and Response: Six Studies in Missionary Opportunity. New York: Morehouse-Barlow Co., 1959.
_____. Tell in the Wilderness. London: Highway Press, 1959.
_____. Some Thoughts on the Mission of the Church: Four Lectures delivered at a Clergy Conference. Washington, D.C.: Overseas Mission Society, 1960.
_____. Women of Africa. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1961.
_____. The Sevenfold Secret. London: S.P.C.K. Press, 1962.
_____. “The Christian Approach to Men of Another Faith.” In Max. A. C. Warren, Aarne A. Koskinen, Raimo Harjula, and Matti Peltola, Studia Missiologica Fennica II. Helsinki: Suomen Lähetystieteellinen Seura, 1963.
_____. Letters on Purpose. London: Highway Press, 1963.
_____. “Christian Minorities in Muslim Countries.” In Race: The Journal of the Institute of Race Relations 6 no. 1 (1964): 41-51
_____. Perspective in Mission. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1964.
_____. Problems and Promises in Africa Today. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1964.
_____. The Missionary Movement from Britain in Modern History. London: S.C.M. Press, 1965.
_____. Interpreting the Cross. London: S.C.M. Press, 1966.
_____. The Legacy of Colonialism to the Christian Church. London: N.p., 1966.
_____. The Relationship Between Christianity and Other World Religions. London: Prism Publications, 1967.
_____. Social History and Christian Mission. London: SCM Press, 1967.
_____. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ. London: The Highway Press, 1969.
_____. A Theology of Attention. Madras: Christian Literature Society, 1971.
_____ (ed.). To Apply the Gospel: Selections from the Writings of Henry Venn. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1971.
_____. Crowded Canvas: Some Experiences of a Lifetime. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1975.
_____. I Believe in the Great Commission. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976.
_____. An Essay on Charles Simeon, 1759-1836: Fellow of King’s College and Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. N.p.: N.p, [197-]. [Copies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, USA, and the David Allan Hubbard Library of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA.]
_____. “The Fusion of IMC and WCC at New Delhi: Retrospective Thought after a Decade and a Half.” In Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research 3 (July 1979): 104-108
_____. But – Suppose He Was Right. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, n.d.
_____. Christianity in the New Africa. London: Insight Publications, n.d.
Cranswick, G. F. and Max A. C. Warren. A Vital Issue: Church Union in South India. London: Church Missionary Society, 1943.
Dillistone, F. W. Into all the World: A Biography of Max Warren. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980.
_____. “Max Warren.” In Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, edited by Gerald H. Anderson et al. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1994. Pp. 616-623.
Kings, Graham. “Max Warren: Candid Comments on Mission from His Personal Letters.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 17 (1993): 54-58.
_____. Christianity Connected: Hindus, Muslims and the World in the Letters of Max Warren and Roger Hooker. Ph. D. Thesis, Universiteit Utrecht. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2002.
Ward, Kevin and Brian Stanley (eds.). The Church Mission Society and World Christianity, 1799-1999. Studies in the History of Christian Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.
Yates, T. E. “Anglican Evangelical Missiology, 1922-1984.” Missiology 14 (1986): 147-57.
_____. Christian Mission in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
See “a brief history of the CMS” at the society’s website.
“Diaries of Dr. Max Warren,” University of Birmingham, Information Services, Special Collections Department; includes descriptions of content, structure, and accessibility.
“Max Warren Collection,” Partnership House Mission Studies Library; includes descriptions of content, structure, and accessibility.
“Max Warren.” Copyright CMS Archive; www.cms.uk.org.