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William Carey's Indian Mission
"Expect great things from God,
attempt great things for God"

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The bicentenary of William Carey's arrival in India (1793) was an important occasion for taking the measure of some unusual missionary achievements and for forging a profound contextual understanding of the Serampore Mission. This essay reflects on what it took to launch and then sustain that riverine venture in Bengal (1800-1837). Some important facts and processes are uncovered that have been all too "conveniently" disregarded hitherto. Thus my call for a multi-disciplinary missiological inquiry that will transcend the limitations of past publications, received traditions, treasured symbolism and the myth-like misunderstandings that have held the field since the 1800s.

Since the 1960s, several fine historical works have been published on the background and various elements of the pre-Victorian Baptist enterprise in Bengal. These have paved the way for a new era of historiography on William Carey and the mission at Serampore, upriver from Calcutta. In spite of this, many mission and church historians, have been prone to assume that the story of "the Serampore Trio" can be taken as "given," as if some definitive work on Carey and his colleagues had already been written.

Unfortunately, very few scholars have made it their business to assess whether any of the biographies published during the last fifty years have advanced our knowledge much beyond the findings of S.P. Carey (1923 and 1934). Far too often, popular publications have done little more than re-cycle received tradition -- even "pleasing dreams" -- and no effort has been made to distinguish between "the Carey of tradition" and "the historical Carey."(2) This is to be regretted because it diverts our attention away from the means that are available for more clearly perceiving the structure and dynamics of an unusual turning point in the history of the worldwide Christian movement.

In what follows, I propose to provide some leads and examples, and refer to some pregnant sources, which point to ways by which new light can be shed on the Baptist mission in pre-Victorian Bengal.(3) These need to be pursued in a spirit of biblical realism and in the interest of deeper missiological understanding.

Missiological methodology

It is well known that Christians tend to take history seriously, given the supreme revelation of God in Christ 2,000 years ago. William Carey and his colleagues certainly did. In honour of them, we do well to re-examine the foundations of what we believe about their lives and achievements. We do well to ponder whether our understanding of "the Serampore mission" is based mostly on the contents of popular biographies about William Carey and his company, or on more substantial, deep-hewn foundations. In other words, we want to beware of imaginary idealizations, distorted representations and unverifiable interpretations of the past.(4) The challenge is to recognize that the cross-cultural history of the Serampore mission was far more complicated than we have been led to suppose. The time for a full-orbed missiological, multi-disciplinary analysis of the work of the renowned trio -- William Carey, William Ward and Joshua Marshman -- has come.

Sober inquiry into multiple contexts

When taking the measure of William Carey and his Serampore partners, one does well to highlight the spirit of sober modesty with which they assessed their achievements during their sojourn in India (Smith 1992a:2,7). This study consequently moves beyond the limits of the traditions generated by "monumental" heroic historiography.(5) It involves "demythologizing" or "demystifying" important aspects of the well-known Serampore story. It invites us to focus on who the historical Carey, Ward and Marshman were, how they opted to function in pre-Victorian India and what they actually did accomplish.

Christian historians have shown that the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS, founded in 1792), rather than being "the first of a kind," stood in direct descent to a whole series of missionary exploits. Thus Brackney (1992) and I have argued that Baptist missions in general, particularly in Bengal, were able to profit greatly from others' achievements in areas such as literature production, management processes, stewardship theology, mission promotion, and partnership efforts (Smith 1992b:479-489).

Study of the context and experience of pre-Victorian missions in Bengal reveals that there was hardly any activity or enterprise that Carey and his cohort engaged in that had not been tackled already by some secular Britisher in India. One finds repeatedly that the trio and their associates came across what their compatriots had been doing there and proceeded to adopt it. Whether it was translating scripture, cutting types for printing, producing paper, engaging in Oriental Studies, learning Asian languages, working with pundits, setting up schools, engaging in agricultural and horticultural experiments, whatever, the trio applied extant knowledge and procedures in their own way to the task of sharing the gospel.

This discovery is of prime importance because it reflects the fact that a thorough-going, multi-contextual, missiological analysis of the Serampore missionary company has never been undertaken. It suggests strongly that Carey and his company cannot be understood well until they are viewed in relation to the multiple contexts of "the occupied territory" of Bengal in which they moved and were shaped. How different it all would have been for Carey and the BMS if British forces had not already imposed their rule on Bengal! If the European powers had not vied for control of that prosperous territory in the second half of the eighteenth century, Carey might never have been writ large in Christian mission or evangelical tradition. In that case, modern technology and literary expertise would have figured much less in the dissemination of the gospel in Bengal and Carey's cross-cultural interaction would most probably have been much more of an incarnational, grassroots style of evangelism.

Serampore's pioneer missionaries thus need to be seen as players on a large multi-cultural playing field at a very unusual moment in time. They were able to take advantage of a window of opportunity -- from a quasi-colonial British point of view -- during the grandiose rule of the Marquis Wellesley, Governor General of Bengal during the early 1800s. That setting and experience had a lasting effect on the shape, values and development of their mission venture, as did the internal contradictions of British East India Company rule in the subcontinent.

Guidelines for a new inquiry

The Serampore saga has been of great utility and symbolic significance to promoters of modern missions. It provided them with venerable, even hallowed, points of reference in the midst of a changing world and turbulent times. Yet there is much about the genesis and the acts of the pioneer Serampore mission team that still remains shrouded by dense mist. That is why a new scholarly quest has been initiated during the last ten years.

The new missiological inquiry considers the trio's sense of calling and their location in time, both chronological and theological. It looks to the rock from which they were hewn and asks how their lives were shaped -- by what and by whom -- before they ever set sail for the Bay of Bengal. New light has been shed on Dorothy Carey and William Ward, though much still remains to be discovered about the life of Joshua Marshman and the unusual significance of Charlotte Carey, not to mention less prominent characters in the Serampore saga.(6) Investigations must occur in these and related areas if we are to come within range of doing scholarly justice to William Carey and his missionary band. Then we will be better placed to tackle a surprisingly neglected series of wide-ranging partnership questions.

Glimpses of what this new quest may involve can be gained by noting various "reality checks" in the history of the Baptist missionary awakening and by looking into the curriculum vitae of Serampore College. These reveal that "storms of protest" occurred at various junctures during institutional and intellectual transition from established traditions to more effective ways of understanding and serving the kingdom of God.

Research here should lead to the development of a detailed understanding of the dynamics and evolution of the Serampore mission venture. It will be enriched by significant input from Indian scholars and Indologists from many disciplines who are positioned to uncover important facets of the missionaries' Bengali contexts that have escaped us hitherto (cf. Daniel and Hedlund 1993: 153-334). We need them to help us understand "the indigo scene" of Carey's day more accurately. We need them to do in-depth studies on the opium trade that John Company channelled through Calcutta and Serampore. We need them to provide us with a business history of the Scrampore mission estate, and then to compare that carefully with the grand international enterprise of August Hermann Francke one hundred years earlier in Prussia.(7) And that is not to mention a whole host of Indian realities, cross-cultural concerns, socio-political questions and comprehensive linguistic problems that still await serious analysis.

But let us return to the beginning of the story, in which we can discern what it took to give birth to something new.

Storms of protest during times of transition

Major upheavals have occurred in Baptist history since the time of William Carey (1761-1834). Choruses of concern have been heard loud and clear. Debates became heated as Christians strived in contrary ways to respond faithfully to changing circumstances and unexpected challenges. This was characteristic of the centuries-long Serampore saga during several periods of transition, as the following incidents attest.

An early case comes from the first half of the 1780s. Andrew Fuller, Carey's mentor and senior friend, had read Jonathan Edwards' theological classic Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will, which distinguished between sinners' natural and moral ability before God. Inspired by this, Fuller wrote a treatise that correlated "the mystery of divine sovereignty" with issues of human responsibility. He stuck close to holy scripture, but it still took much courage to reconcile evangelism and calvinism in his denomination then. This explains Fuller's reluctance to proceed to publish his work. He was afraid that it might become fuel for sectarian controversy (cf, George 1992:55-56). On 23 August 1784, the Baptist theologian wrote in his diary:

The weight of publishing still lies upon me. I expect a great share of unhappiness through it. I had certainly much rather go through the world in peace, did I not consider this step as my duty.

In 1785, he finally took the plunge and had his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation published. True to his expectations, his little book fell "like a bombshell on the playground" of British Baptist life. However, after a great struggle, it did eventually achieve "great things" in terms of theological renewal and thinking on mission -- to Carey's relief.(8)

Another noteworthy turning-point in Baptist mission history is to be found in the period between 1816 and 1827. Carey's pathway was pockmarked with crises. Witness the management re-structuring that occurred in the BMS during the first decade after Fuller's decease as its first executive secretary. A "protracted and bitter controversy" developed among his successors that resulted from a clash between "two mutually incompatible conceptions of what a missionary society is" (Stanley 1992b:57-67). A tragic series of miscommunications and misunderstandings complicated matters further. This resulted in a breakdown of trust between the trio and the London-based BMS Committee, which resisted all efforts to effect reconciliation (cf. Smith 1992c:6,13-20). Christian leaders with differing worldviews in Britain and Bengal found it impossible to agree on how to fund and run Serampore College. Thus the college became a lightning rod in a fiscal conflict that had deep missiological implications. An unpleasant schism with the BMS followed in 1827 and the Serampore Mission found itself stranded.(9) As a result, British Baptist mission work ceased to be at the forefront of the world mission movement from the 1820s onwards.

A further "storm of protest" occurred between the 1850s and 1870s, as leaders in Bengal and Britain tussled over church-mission relations. Here was further evidence that transition from one era to another did not come easily in mission work related to Serampore. During that period, the BMS urged the Baptist churches that it supported in India to move "towards genuine financial independence" of expatriate agencies. To help the work there mature, E.B. Underhill, the British BMS Secretary, "initiated a phase of renewed expansion and fundamental re-evaluation of strategic objectives." However, BMS personnel in Bengal firmly resisted his policy to discontinue "financial support for Indian agents" and to "propel" their churches "towards genuine financial independence." This sparked off considerable controversy within the denomination in Britain which was resolved only with great difficulty (Stanley 1992b: 148-156). After that, church-mission relations continued to be fraught with tension for many years.

In short, the Serampore story is not easily told. It was beset with difficult transitions and painful memories. All these constitute building blocks of deep-seated truth and timely reminders for current attempts to gain new missiological understanding. In their light, the present "quest for the historical Carey" and his colleagues seeks to discover how and what the triumvirate learned, how they developed skills, how they acted cross-culturally in the midst of complex socio-political circumstances, whom they influenced in the process of trying to be true to Jesus Christ, what they achieved, what legacy they left, and how their principles may be relevant for us today. This constitutes an agenda that is challenging in depth and breadth, and height and length.

Serampore, mythology, and theology

Missiological scholars will have to investigate the different types of partnership in which Carey and his company participated. Questions need to be asked about whom the Serampore trio fraternized with, whom they cooperated with and whom they depended on. Evidence needs to be marshalled on the sorts of partnership they engaged in and the types of cross-cultural Christian partnership that they developed.(10) Here, we must look out for indications of the extent to which Carey's cohort demonstrated loyalty to Christ and his mission without succumbing to myopic forms of nationalism, racism and ethnocentrism. Opportunities must not be neglected to learn in depth about the compromises they accepted and the costs they paid for doing mission business in a land that was under British rule. Then we will be able to develop a missiological profile of their life-work, even if their missiological reflection in India tended to be more implicit than explicit, and indirect rather than direct.

Clearly this is not the place to tackle such a task in detail. All we can do here is lay out a rudimentary sketch map for the way ahead. On this map, many elevated points appear. Two of these will now be considered since they are quite apropos to fresh reflection on the early mission experience of Bengal. The first enables us to survey a broad stretch of Carey's life and then to zoom in on an interesting proposal from his bosom-friend, William Ward. The second vantage point overlooks Serampore College itself. We now proceed to the foothills.

Heroic narrative and Indian mythology

Carey has traditionally been portrayed as a "heroic" character -- as one of a class of big, ordinary people who do not resign themselves to misfortune but give their utmost to help others find hope in life. This we can see clearly in his arduous pilgrimage between 1793 and the close of the century.

From 1800 onwards, his circumstances changed dramatically. That was when he turned away from a backwater in the north of Bengal to invest the best part of his life in metropolitan Calcutta and its suburbs. That was when he emerged from a frontier, pioneer-missionary chrysalis to use the wings of an urban professional educator and translator. Thereafter, his biographers have identified the heroic in his life by highlighting the courage with which he persevered in the midst of difficult odds; by portraying him as a person of grace, kindness and nobility who indicated how ordinary humanity can be redeemed. A noble picture, indeed, and one which has often provided Christian readers with hearty motivation to do good in "foreign places."(11) But that is only part of a much larger canvas. A missiologist's task is to transcend the boundaries of "Carey-centricity." The call is to move on: to see him as a member of a brotherhood; then to understand the Serampore mission band as part of a much larger effort to unite the east and the west -- to perceive its contribution to the coming of the kingdom of God and to better address the challenges posed by a sinful world.

The call is to see beyond the horizon of heroic tradition: to engage in more holistic, systemic and inter-disciplinary historical analysis; to take all sorts of evidence seriously. Not to shy away from unexpected light, but to proceed resolutely, accepting careful "demythologizing" of easy tradition as a therapy of great value for the advance of truth and the life of faith.

So we come to two points in the story that have been shrouded for centuries: points which western scholars, Carey biographers and Hindu devotees need to explore together.

The first elevated point has the name of William Ward written all over it. It consisted of a public recommendation for a pantheon that was first made by Carey's close companion in 1818. Although Ward's proposal came to nothing, it was remarkable enough to merit mention in any of the many books written on the trio. But that never happened. Presumably, it was discarded as unfit for inclusion in approved missionary tradition. Yet its significance remains as a challenge to facile stereotypes, posing questions that are waiting to be answered.

Ward's open-ended proposal appeared at the beginning of the second edition of his A View of the History, Literature, and Mythology of the Hindoos. He recommended

that a Society should be formed, either in Calcutta or London, for improving our knowledge of the History, Literature, and Mythology, of the Hindoos; -- that after collecting sufficient funds, this Society should purchase an estate, and erect a Pantheon which should receive the images of the most eminent of the gods, cut in marble -- a Museum to receive all the curiosities of India, and a Library, to perpetuate its literature. Suitable rooms for the accommodation of the officers of the society, its committees, and members, would of necessity be added.(12)

Ward favoured "the metropolis of India" (Calcutta) as the best location for this great project, although he was not opposed to its being set up in London. He admitted that he was recommending

an Institution of this nature from the fear that no Society now existing, that no individual exertions, will ever meet the object, and that if, (which may Providence prevent) at any future period. . . . India should be torn from Britain, and fall again under the power of some Asiatic or any other despotism, we should still have the most interesting monuments of her former greatness, and the most splendid trophies of the glory of the British name in India.

Ward's motivation for such a project seems to have been a curious mixture of respect for Indian culture and eurocentric pride in the early nineteenth century, Orientalist "Enlightenment" that occurred in India under British rule. He continued:

Another argument urging us to the formation of such a Society is, that the ancient writings and the monuments of the Hindoos are daily becoming more scarce, and more difficult of acquisition: they will soon irrecoverably perish. Should the funds of the society be ample, literary treasures would pour in daily into the Library, and scarce monuments into the Museum, from all parts of India. . . . And if formed in Calcutta, how would persons from all parts of India, European and native, and indeed from all parts of the world, be drawn to it; and how greatly would it attach the Hindoos to a people !British^ by whom they were thus honoured.(13)

Such a bold proposal would have shocked BMS leaders like Andrew Fuller and John Ryland, Jr to their Calvinistic core. Without a doubt, it challenges prevailing interpretations that Ward's tomes were a one-sided, blistering attack on hinduism. It provides another angle on the Serampore trio that suggests that they took Indian culture and belief seriously, however much they may have disagreed with it, and its local permutations, at many points. Thus Ward's call conjures up an array of questions that cannot be answered easily by conventional hermeneutics.

Ward's recommendation is so striking because it deliberately countenanced the investment of precious funds in an avant-garde, even "liberal," project. This suggests, in line with much other evidence, that he and his close colleagues do not deserve to be dismissed summarily as undiscriminating iconoclasts. Instead, their joint pilgrimage needs to be examined in the light of questions that many authors have failed to tackle. This must be remedied if we are to come closer to grasping the extent to which they were missiologists-in-the-making -- before Ward's life was suddenly cut short.

Theological education at Serampore

A second vantage point on the Serampore sketch map reveals another surprise. In Carey historiography, almost no attention has been paid to the standard of theological education provided by Serampore College during the nineteenth century.(14) This is all the more surprising since Serampore College has been lauded by mission biographers and historians for making a substantial contribution to training nationals to spread Christian faith in India. We must, accordingly, revisit this neglected area of mission history, comparing what the triumvirate said about their college with the theological education that it actually provided.

The tradition is well known that Serampore College "upheld both theological and secular disciplines side by side with lively cooperation and creative tension" (Daniel 1992:2). It was established to foster the creation of a largely indigenous church in India. Under the patronage of the Marquis of Hastings, Governor-General of India, the college was founded in August 1818 "for the instruction of Asiatic!,^ Christian, and other Youth." It was deliberately set up as a liberal arts and science college for both "Christian and heathen" students, rather than as "a strictly theological seminary for missionary students, native or East Indian" (Serampore College, 1821; cf. Laird 1993:206). Instruction was to be primarily in Indian languages and orientalism was to be honoured in the curriculum.

Classes "in Eastern literature and European science" began in 1819 and were followed by an ambitious building programme that was completed in 1823. British support was sought by the founders, who urged Christians in the motherland to view the college as a "handmaid of evangelization." Carey and his colleagues predicted that the college would enable an Indian Christian teacher or preacher to

. . . obtain full instruction in the doctrines he was to combat, and the doctrines he was to teach, and acquire a complete knowledge both of the Sacred Scriptures !Christian and otherwise?^, and of those philosophical and mythological dogmas which formed the soul of the Buddhist and Hindoo systems.

The trio adopted this course on the assumption that, "While the native preacher remained ignorant of the principles on which the learned heathen built their arguments, his position as a public teacher was necessarily disadvantageous." Ward told BMS supporters that their creation in Serampore was "a Native Missionary college" -- even "a missionary Hindoo college." But that was a bold assertion that may have been more of "a pleasing dream" than anything else. After all, the "missionary nursery" section of the institution was never more than a small fraction of the size of the broad-based "literary" department.(15)

In reality, the college had two rather different personae by which it appealed to contrasting constituencies. In India, it functioned as an Arts and Science College, while to mission supporters in the North Atlantic World it was portrayed as a school that would "train Indians to replace Europeans completely as missionaries, and so create a truly indigenous church" (cf. Potts 1967: 129-135; Ivimey 1831:40, 48). By 1825, the ambiguity and contrast between these two views was apparent to Britain's BMS officers and they firmly refused to yield to the trio's appeals to support the college.

Serampore College included a divinity department but was not constituted as a divinity college for Asiatic Christians (Marshman, II, 168-170, 463, 484-485). For several months before his untimely death in 1823, eirenic William Ward was in charge of "the theology department." His tragic departure threw a huge load onto Carey, who put his shoulder to the wheel and provided a "course of theology lectures in the Bengalee language" between December 1823 and March 1824 (Marshman 1857, II:260).(16) We then read of a Mr Swan who studied at Edinburgh University in 1824 in preparation for service under the BMS as Serampore's "professor of theology" (from 1825). Under his tutelage, a class of students was formed "to secure an increase of Missionaries in European habits."(17) However, Swan provided relief only in the short term because he severed his connections with the college in 1827, when the BMS and the Serampore Mission parted company.

After Swan's abrupt departure, Carey once again stepped into the breach, hoping that some replacement would be soon be obtained from Britain. But in this he was disappointed. The year 1830 found him still responsible for lectures in Christian doctrine.(18) To this, the dedicated veteran added "a short course . . . on the history of the Christian Church," while Joshua Marshman, who was no theologian, delivered a regular series on "Hindooism and Christianity" (cf. Smith 1990b:190-193). When Carey's health began to give way in 1830, Marshman supplied for his senior colleague by tackling "Prophecy and Revelation," "Ancient History" and "Ecclesiastical History." Thus it was left to the Serampore veterans and a junior colleague to do what they could to provide lectures in theology to small numbers of students between 1823 and 1830. They struggled to keep that small section of the college open; but it was an uphill battle. Staff shortages at Serampore made it impossible for them to provide anything resembling the "complete course of instruction in Christian theology" envisaged by the college's 1818 prospectus.

Once the triumvirate had been laid to rest, "the glory departed" from Serampore and training for Christian ministry became "increasingly marginal to the work of the College." Stanley records that by the mid 1830s it had become rather difficult to recruit suitable students -- not to mention qualified staff. During the second half of the nineteenth century the college did little better in providing specific theological training for Christian leaders. In 1851, an attempt was made with new support from the BMS to re-establish a vernacular theological class, but Serampore proved to be unviable as a base. Another attempt was made in 1884, but that too failed, as did further BMS efforts to contribute to "the creation of mature and autonomous Indian churches" before the first world war. This was a source of much discouragement and fuelled much debate among Baptists. In fact, it was only after the college was taken over by Indian leadership in post-independence India that criticism of the college as "impossibly expensive, wrongly located, and largely irrelevant to the life of the churches" begin to die down (Stanley 1992b:157-163, 296-300, 425-426).(19)

Since then, the challenge has been how to revive the college's original sense of mission as a servant to India's churches. This was addressed by Serampore's leaders in a bold and creative manner during the bicentennial "Carey celebrations" of 1992-1993, when they established a new mission studies programme in the college's theology department.

How the trio's minds changed over time

One of the important aspects of the Serampore troika's life-work may be summed up in the phrase pragmatic flexibility. By that, I do not imply at all that they were not men of high and resolute principle. Nor does my assertion diminish their stature as men of vision. Rather, it is a way of emphasizing how they learned from other people's experience and knowledge, and how they sought to fulfil their God-given mission.

Carey, Marshman and Ward left Britain with clearly formed theological ideas, but their pilgrimage demonstrated that they could not operate well in Bengal by adhering slavishly to a pre-determined plan of action. They learned very quickly that no missionary blueprint could be imposed on India, or applied to it here, there and everywhere. Instead, they opted to interact patiently with unexpected circumstances and developments in the sub-continent, adjusting course accordingly in good faith.

Nor did the three pioneers always agree on what the wisest strategy might be. At times they strongly advocated contrary courses of action among themselves and minced no words in letting BMS leaders back in Britain know about it. On some issues, the thinking of one of the three could evolve in a very different manner from that of his colleagues. On other occasions, they moved forward unanimously; then one of them reverted to his original position, after mature reflection on a spell of practical experimentation. This was only to be expected from three different characters and personalities; but it does underline the fact that the trio cannot be viewed properly as a homogeneous team who always saw eye to eye.

Because of this, we focus now on a few instances of how their thinking changed as they sought to discern God's will, honour biblical principles and face up to stern realities. Such reflection should help to displace stereotyped interpretations and facile myth in favour of more accurate historical accounts.

The significance of caste

If ever there was a challenge from India to the trio's understanding of the ordering of human life under God the Creator, it was the question of caste (cf. Mangalwadi 1993:310-317). This issue had far-reaching implications for efforts to introduce Indians to Christ and then to raise up indigenous churches. Reflecting its complexity, the BMS threesome ended up taking years to decide how best to respond to it.

Archival records suggest that the trio did try to act carefully and sensitively in this domain. Of course, they might have done much better had their first priority in practice been to live with and in the midst of India's people, rather than in a colonial enclave. But that line of inquiry must be dealt with elsewhere.

The first point to notice is that Carey did not arrive in Bengal with his mind already firmly made up on the caste question. He realized that it was a difficult and many-sided problem, on which he needed others' advice. Initially, he was inclined to lean towards the almost pre-Enlightenment position of Ziegenbalg and Plutschau, the Danish-German missionaries at Tranquebar, who viewed caste simply as a social phenomenon. As early as 1796, a confidant of Carey's reported the pioneer's misgivings on whether future converts associated with the Baptist mission could be brought to "lose cast !sic^." Carey even doubted for a while whether he ought to enforce such a step because:

(1) It is not any part of their religion, but a mere civil distinction. (2) They can leave all their Idolatries, and practise all Xn duties (except eating the bread in the Lord's Supper) without losing cast. (3) To lose cast wd. ruin not only them but their families & posterity, as no person wd. eat or drink with them, or marry them.

Thus he asked his mentors in England for their judgement.

He received a thought-provoking reply. Generally, the advice was that disavowal of caste need not "be urged in the first instance" at all. Ryland's reflection on the matter demonstrated remarkable pastoral insight. Hogg opined that losing caste would be "a fiery ordeal" that a disciple of Christ would have to expect to undergo at some future point. Fuller concurred, admitting: "It is trying, but we & you must not go out of our way to avoid" the uncomfortable issue. Casting around for some sort of solution, Fuller wondered whether they might "hope that a new !Christian^ cast may be formed?"(20) But events overtook the debate. Developments in the Malda area and lessons from the Danish mission in South India induced Carey to move beyond the BMS leaders' position. Thus he wrote back to Fuller on March 23, 1797:

Perhaps it may be as Brother Ryland suggests; general knowledge may first prevail, and pave the way for losing caste and joining to the Lord. I thank you for your opinion upon and advice about receiving the natives !viz., converts^ while they retain their caste. I have since found it to be impracticable; for they would undoubtedly be cast out of society in that case as well as the other. Mr. Schwartz's people have all lost cast who are joined to his church.

Carey concluded that caste was "one of the most accursed engines that ever the devil invented to enslave the souls of men." He became appalled by the deep social evils that the system of caste status unleashed, including the fearful persecution of any who dared to forsake hinduism. Ward called it "a scourge." Caste thus came to be seen as a religious institution: it was hinduism's implacable antithesis to the gospel. Condemnation of the system became a central element in pre-Victorian and Victorian missionaries' "total engagement with idolatry." As a result, varying policies of "exclusion of observances based on caste" were adopted in Bengal's Christian churches.(21)

The caste question came to symbolize relentless confrontation between the east and the west. It made the task of evangelizing India's people extremely difficult and did enormous damage to attempts to indigenize Christianity in the northern part of the subcontinent. Ward described his colleagues' sense of dismay in 1821 by observing that the Christian convert in India ". . . must remain a living martyr from the hour of his baptism to the day of his death" (Ward 1821:144-146).

Faced by such odds, the pioneer missioners felt compelled to bring relief to those who had lost caste, home and livelihood because they professed faith in Christ. The first step was to provide special employment opportunities at the mission's institutional base. Initially, most of the beleaguered converts lived on the Serampore mission estate, but as their numbers increased Christian villages were created for them off the property. Such an arrangement made it fairly easy for missionaries to monitor new believers' conduct; but it severely hindered the rooting of Christian faith in some Indian soils. The "reduction"-like policy provided a place of refuge; but it emphasized Christians' non-status as a marginalized group of untouchables. Members of that group suffered as if they were an alien sub-caste, "isolated from the Hindu world and not fully at home in, or fully accepted by, European society in India" (Neill 1986:381, 404; Chowdhury 1939:344-347). Who can tell what might have happened if the missionaries had not been in a position to provide employment or other facilities!

But India was not the sole contributor to the trio's cross-cultural problems, for did not the British occupiers of Indian territory themselves promote a social order that resembled the Hindu caste system in some respects? (Kooiman 1989:44-45).(22) The Serampore trio themselves became staunch supporters of the heirarchical establishment imported by their imperially-minded countrymen. Witness Marshman's declaration in 1807 that inquirers seeking Christ must be prepared to lose caste, to reject caste scruples in specified ways, and to become attached "in the most cordial manner to their Christian Governors." He and his colleagues were committed to dethroning "the gloomy, the faithless daemon !sic^ of superstition" in "the Hindoos"' hearts, in order to enable them to become "literally regenerated."(23) However, that objective appeared to meld in his thinking with political concern to render allegiance to Britain's powerful representatives in the subcontinent.

During the pre-Victorian period, cross-cultural thinking was still clearly in its infancy. Because of that, cross-cultural communication problems were magnified whenever Indian Christians' patrons failed to identify closely with native cultural life. At times, political and religious loyalties accordingly became strangely entangled. Thus biographers and mission historians of the pre-Victorian period find themselves faced with questions about caste that have strange twists in their tails.

Proper languages for instruction?

Another difficult issue that the trio wrestled with centred on questions about providing India's people with education in English, Sanskrit or the vernacular (cf. Laird 1993:207-213). If in English, how much should be provided, and at what level(s)?

Tradition has it that the mission leaders were quite unequivocal that the vernacular route was all important for the growth of an indigenous church in India. However, there is ample evidence for positing that they were prepared to invest an increasing amount of their energy in English-based education efforts. At times, Carey and his cohort see-sawed between the two alternatives, now coming down on one side, and then on the other -- frequently for pragmatic reasons.

As early as 1800, Carey confided to Fuller: "We have an intention as soon as we are able to set up a School to teach the Natives English." This embryonic policy was precipitated by the following event. During 1800, a native Malabar Christian from Tranquebar visited Serampore. He had been taught to speak German fluently by C.W. Gericke, the Halle-trained, "Royal Danish" SPCK missionary in South India, and could understand the German Bible. This led Carey to write to Britain, that November:

. . . I was much encouraged by this man, and thought. Indeed I have long thought whether it would not be desirable for us to set up a School to teach the Natives English -- I doubt not but a Thousand scholars would come: I don't !sic^ say this because I think it an object to teach them the English tongue, but quere, is not the universal inclination of the Bengallees to learn english !sic^ a favorable Circumstance which may be improved to valuable ends. I only stick at the expense.

Several weeks later, he added wistfully:

We have an intention as soon as we are able to set up a School to teach the Natives English. The design of this is to turn the almost universal desire of these people to acquire English to some profitable account -- the plan is not yet matured, nor will our circumstances admit of it at present.

Funds then could not be stretched to cover that sort of project. Thus little was attempted in this area until after Serampore College was established, when Sanskrit study was made compulsory.

At the founding of the college in 1818, the trio decided to teach English only to a select minority of its students, "to enable them to dive into the deepest recesses of European science, and enrich their own language with its choicest treasures" (J.C. Marshman, II: 170-73). Several years later, in 1822, a similar class was started for the children of Serampore's Asiatic missioners. By 1824, the time devoted to teaching Sanskrit at the college was decreasing. Transition was under way. The systematic cultivation of English was introduced and by 1829 it was receiving more attention than "the Oriental classics." In fact, English classes had already become compulsory for "native Christian students," several years before Carey died!(24)

Stephen Neill records that by 1830 the majority of missionaries in India were skeptical about the value of higher education in English as an evangelistic method. However, the newly arrived Scot, Alexander Duff, found real encouragement for his plans to pursue that type of education for young Bengali Brahmins -- from none other than William Carey. Perhaps he discovered that the veteran educator had been toying with similar ideas and had been implementing them for many years alongside his vernacular work.(25) This would make it easier to understand why Carey could be so supportive of Duff's plan to provide education in English to Bengali Brahmins. It also casts light on the popular tradition that mission promoters used -- which led British supporters to believe that Carey's great mission enterprise focused almost exclusively on vernacular education and church worship!

This leads to identification of two parallel developments in the Serampore story. Just as the trio shifted quickly away from adhering to the terms of their 1805 "Form of Agreement" -- while British BMS leaders still believed that they were following it twenty years later -- so the trio moved progressively into English education, while British supporters had little awareness or sense of the significance of the linguistic shifts that had occurred at Serampore.

Carey and his company argued continually that education was one of the best ways to prepare India's people to accept the gospel. They invested in schools on the grounds that they constituted an important praeparatio evangelica. That is understandable, given the resolute focus of their mission operation on metropolitan Calcutta and colonial Serampore (cf. Shenk 1993:20-22, 26). However, such linkage of education and evangelism afforded them little cheer in practice, and the bridge they established between the two swayed considerably (cf. Potts 1967:127). Baptist missionaries in nineteenth century Bengal rarely found that their educational schemes did much more for their converts' growth in faith than provide them with literacy for reading the Bible.(26) Thus it would appear that attempts to pattern mission today on the basis of popular tradition about Serampore is far more problematic than many biographers would have us believe. Roland Allen's missiological classics (1912, 1927) still ring resoundingly true in many missiological respects.

The achievements of Carey and his company

Whatever criteria one chooses for assessing the achievements of Carey and his missionary cohort, this much is obvious. Carey was a very poor man who made good in Bengal, with the help of some highly committed colleagues.

Per Angusta Ad Augusta(27)

As a young lay preacher, Carey never managed to live in anything but poverty until he left for India in 1793. James Beck, the biographer of Carey's first wife, has made it clear how the poor cobbler and his family had to obtain a certificate signed by three overseers in his home village before the parish of Moulton would allow him to settle into his first pastoral charge in 1785. Such filing of special documents for the poor reflected the stipulations of England's 1662 Act of Settlement, which tried to protect villages from becoming liable for destitute people who wished to move in from other rural communities. The certificate that Carey obtained was an affidavit in which Moulton was assured that Carey's home village would become responsible for his family should they fall into penury and become a burden on the parish (Beck 1992:43-45).(28) While resident in Moulton, the Careys lived in "considerable straits for want of Maintenance," as his church admitted. Thus during his eight years as a Baptist pastor, he and his family never escaped from conditions of grinding poverty (Drewery: 32-33, 44). This makes his production of a booklet such as the Enquiry all the more remarkable. On the one hand, its writing was quite a feat for someone who was almost penniless; though one could also argue that he was fairly well positioned to empathize with the "poor, abject and miserable" inhabitants of "heathen nations" -- to whom his Lord had "ordained the gospel to be preached."(29)

It was also no mean accomplishment that he and his colleagues scraped enough money together to pay the passage to India for the poor pastor and his family. Indeed, it was a labour of great love, carried out during a national food crisis.(30) We may also posit that Carey was under no illusion about the financial situation that awaited him and his family at the end of their sea journey. In no way did they have grounds for hoping that their material lot would be at all improved by leaving England, especially given the fact they were personae non grata to the East India Company. Their first year in Bengal was one of terrible financial hardship, and it was only after they found indirect means to avail themselves of the resources of the colonial British establishment that their circumstances began to improve. By then, lowever, it was too late for Carey's first wife, Dorothy, who was driven insane by the circumstances to which she and her children had been subjected. Through no fault of her own, she could hardly have been less prepared for the cross-cultural challenges that she and her family had to confront. As a result, she succumbed to more than a decade of mental illness, during which she tried to take her husband's life on several occasions.

Yet Carey managed to survive all of this. He went on to acclaim in the work of translations and a broad range of other business. That he did so suggests that he was a quite remarkable person who could persevere towards his God-given mission goal through the most daunting of circumstances. For that, we must salute him as a quite extraordinary Christian worker, who not only "expected great things and attempted great things," but also paid a great price in order to do it (Smith 1990:226-237).

A serious, trinitarian approach

His achievements, however, need to be seen in proper proportion, because he was no solitary, grand individual who towered head and shoulders above his contemporaries. What he became and what he achieved was made possible by his position in an extraordinary mission team that was backed up by a large Bengali support staff.

Such a view does nothing to diminish his stature as a noble person and an eager learner. Rather, it alerts us to eschew undue Carey-centricity. It reminds us of the real need there is for a trinitarian methodological approach to the Serampore story, for Carey was one of three (the Serampore trio), supported by three close senior colleagues in Britain (Fuller, Ryland and Sutcliffe), and served by a linguistic team of over one hundred moonshees and pundits in Bengal.(31) To that set of three teams, Carey was most indebted. Thus when he is singled out as "the father of the Serampore Mission," we also remember that there were grandfathers and uncles -- and faithful children. And of course, we must honour the memory of "the mother of the mission," Hannah Marshman, wife of one of the trio, of whom it was written late in Carey's life:

It grieves us to the heart to see that Mrs. Marshman, now approaching sixty, should be required !by the mission's "pecuniary embarrassments"^ to toil as severely as ever, to contribute to the support of the mission."(32)

All of which bears testimony to the herculean labour carried out by Carey's co-workers -- without whom, the Serampore mission enterprise could hardly have survived during Carey's lifetime.

To be sure, it has been argued that one of Carey's special accomplishments under God was to assemble and inspire a diverse and dedicated group of mission workers. But he would be loath to take the credit for it and would insist instead that Providence alone had made it happen. And in that he would be right, at least in regard to the provision of first-class Christian colleagues. Nevertheless, such mention of "Providence" provides no grounds for assuming that his dependence on the largesse of the British (quasi Civil Service) College of Fort William in Calcutta was essential for the successful accomplishment of God's mission agenda for Bengal.

Once again, this does not minimize what Carey and his cohorts achieved in the areas of philology, Bible translation, orientalism, literacy, education, publishing, technology, relief work, social reform, botany, evangelization, and mission promotion. That lengthy record is well known and can be rehearsed readily by many.(33) Instead, my point is to honour Carey and his company by urging for the development of a first-class, missiological methodology that will help us see their lives and work in all their profundity, in relation to all their contemporaries, in the midst of fascinating and unique contexts, and in light of the biblical values of the kingdom of God (Smith, 1992a:2-8; 1992b:488-496; 1990:190-199). This means opting for a dynamic, analytical approach to the veterans and their complex legacy, rather than settling for a facile, static antiquarian account (cf. Walls 1990:22). It challenges scholars and practitioners to become seriously involved in an open-minded inquiry by delving deeply into one of mission history's treasure troves.

Carey's achievements have not been examined here in detail, for several reasons. First, because the purpose and focus of this essay has been primarily methodological. Second, because he must first be understood in relation to multiple (micro and macro) contexts. Third, because one or more new volumes must be dedicated to a careful examination of the veterans' work in Bengal during the period in which the so-called "modern missionary movement" got under way (cf. Smith 1990:200-202). All that I have done is suggest how missiologists and scholars from other disciplines might consider proceeding to do justice to the great Serampore missioners. Conceivably, one or more international research teams will be needed to accomplish this in a worthy manner.

One hopes that such an inquiry would merit the approval of Serampore's pre-Victorian mission team. Appropriate studies(34) thus would be:

* carried out in keeping with their noble spirit and basic attitude of Christ-centred modesty.

* pursued with wide-eyed awareness of the breadth and depth of the mission team partnership on which Carey depended so heavily.

* enriched by an unfailing memory of Carey's character as a minister and professor who acted according to a high standard of moral integrity, doing his best to serve in God's world according to "the freedom with which Christ has made his followers free" (cf. Galatians 5:1,13).

* undertaken with lively appreciation of the focus of the trio's pilgrimage and testimony, which can be summed up in lines from a nineteenth century hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness....

His oath, His covenant, and blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

Thus we may fairly take the measure of some famous Serampore souls, without any need to be defensive, knowing that our lives, our identity and our confidence are founded not on earthly heroes nor on great leaders but on the Christ of Calvary, and his finished work.

Epilogue: From mythology to missiology

This essay on missiological methodology is, in part, a response to an unfortunate, and at times dangerous, tendency of most Hindus and some Christians to underestimate the need there is to distinguish between historical reality and myth (see note 4, and Winter 1993:147,n.1). It has sketched a missiological route to help us pass through the mists of tradition, to penetrate "pleasing dreams" and to stimulate a new order of cross-cultural, historically-based research. It is to be hoped that such an inquiry will stimulate a new order of mission analysis in various quarters and will contribute to the empowerment of those who are bravely tackling the agenda that God Almighty has set before India's churches.

One of the anchors of this study has been a singularly resolute young shoemaker who forged his way into the proverbial unknown. He eventually settled down in India after years of uncertainty, survived many threats to his health and life and gradually became transformed into an interpreter of the east to the west. As an Indianized Briton in quasi-colonial Calcutta, he permanently adapted to Indo-British life and left an indelible mark in Bengali society.

Like many of the Baptists of his day, he and two of his closest colleagues were deeply indebted to Europe's Protestant Reformers and courageous Dissenters. The evidence suggests that they did not father many original thoughts or do much astute missiological strategizing -- William Ward regretted this -- but they were creative and astute adaptors of others' ideas and inventions. As a dedicated threesome, they found themselves at an unusual turning-point in world history and bravely seized opportunities that came their way. The primus inter pares among them served as a potent catalyst for motivating people from the North Atlantic region to get personally involved in crossing boundaries for Christ. He became a figurehead for the development of the so-called "modern missionary movement."(35) As a result, there are many in Bengal and beyond who have thanked Providence for sending a Baptist band to sojourn among them, empower them and contribute to the renaissance of Indian culture.

History has shown that two Williams and one Joshua helped to carve out a space where Christians could rendezvous before the Lord: where they could put heads and hands, heart and mind together -- to "attempt great things" for God. This we recognize, recalling the words that the young mission company penned to anxious BMS supporters, at the end of year one in Serampore:

Farewell. . . . You have all need of Patience. The expence of the Mission is great, and success has been long delayed, but in due Season you shall reap, if you faint not. We are full of expectation -- we are full of hope.(36)

NOTES:

1 This is a revised and much abbreviated version of the "Carey Day Lecture" presented at Serampore College, Bengal, for the 1992-1993 Bicentennial Celebrations of "Carey's Contribution to India's Renaissance," on 17 August 1993. The full version with extensive footnotes is to be found in Smith (1993).

2 In addition to bringing new evidence to light and drawing on the contextual findings of Indological studies since the mid-1960s, our task must be to view the relevant parts of the Carey tradition (especially for the relatively neglected period of 18001834) with the aid of cross-cultural, social anthropology and socio-political history.

3 The quarry that provides materials for missiological analysis of the Serampore Trio and their mission is still very far from being exhausted. This essay therefore sounds a long overdue call for a new missiological era of Carey scholarship. In spite of the broad international array of bicentennial "Carey celebrations" between 1991 and 1993, nothing has yet been published that seriously addresses this focused missiological challenge from the basis of deep and detailed knowledge of the contents of the archives of the Baptist Missionary Society (England) and the Serampore Mission. For access to these archives, this author is indebted to the BMS and the Council of Serampore College.

4 It is necessary to distinguish between the generic phrase "the Serampore mission" (the Baptist mission based at Serampore since 1800) and the formal institution of "The Serampore Mission," which was established by the trio around 1818 as an operation that became increasingly independent of the BMS.

It may be said that scholars use the term "myth" in at least four different ways. Cf. IVP's New Dictionary of Theology, (1988:449-451) and Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (1985:785). When I use the slippery term "myth" in relation to the Serampore mission, I am not referring to a story of unhistorical beings, nor to a mere "legend," which is a historical but unverifiable story. Rather, I use the term "myth" as it is used in Religious Studies, to refer to "a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially, one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society." I recognize that this functional definition of the term "myth" may overlap and include "symbolical vepresentation," which points to a reality that is essentially beyond description and that is not a statement of historical fact. "Myth" then may refer to an "invented story" that may have been constructed by someone with the best will in the world who was concerned to embellish or represent the life of Carey and his company in a manner designed to advance the cause of mission. In that case, "myth" might be said to constitute "a traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the worldview of a people or explain a practice, belief or natural phenomenon." Such use has been made of the heroic figure of Carey by Baptist and other mission promoters during the last two hundred years. On this, see Smith (1992b:481-482,493-495).

To paraphrase Stephen Neill, the task of a responsible mission historian task involves: concealing nothing that he believes to be the truth and refusing to accommodate himself to what he believes are simply the errors of mythology. See his autobiography (ed. by Jackson, 1991). Idealization of the past by western Christians often reflects "a nostalgic desire to return to the womb" of the supposedly "good old days." Guinness (1983) analyzed this sort of sociological phenomenon among evangelicals. On such unrefined Christian thinking, see Smith 1992b:489,496-497.

5 Far from being reductionist, or engaging in radical relativism, or adopting a post-modernist approach, let us focus on some of the values and realities that were part of Carey's earthly existence, pilgrimage and labours. "Postmodernism denies not only suprahistorical truths but historical truths, truths relative to particular times and places" (Himmelfarb 1992:28-36). Consider Brackney (1992), who demythologizes "organizational hagiography" from the perspective of church history: this complements my approach from a missiological perspective. "Hagiography has ever been a popular literary endeavor among religious enthusiasts and Baptists have been no exception. In times of significant anniversaries of organizations, the organizations themselves have often become the objects of reverence.... In spite of the important attempts to set the record straight with historical accuracy, many Baptists and others will engage again in organizational hagiography." (Brackney 1992:364).

6 For new discoveries concerning the life of William Ward, see Smith (1991). This is a classic expose and example of the way in which parts of the historical record were "sanitized" or entirely glossed over by certain purveyors of mission tradition. For an entirely new angle on the life and progressive insanity of Carey's first wife, Dorothy, see Beck (1992). Although some of Beck's reconstruction of her life is conjecture, he does make a respectable attempt at analyzing Carey's domestic life. He brings forth new evidence, sheds new light on Carey's personality, and applies his psychiatric skills in a thought-provoking manner. His writing is not at all a vain attempt to re-visit the Carey story. The missiological implications of his findings still have to be worked out fully.

7 On Francke's extraordinary Stiftungen, or philanthropic "Foundations," in the Halle area of Saxony, in Prussia, see Smith (1992b:486-488). This Christian mission-complex consisted of a large college and a nexus of practical ministries on an even larger scale than Serampore.

8 This publication was of immense help to Carey and a whole host of his Baptist brethren. It proved to be a great step forward in the development of pre-Victorian, Reformed mission theology.

9 One of his colleagues wrote from Serampore to Joshua Marshman (who was then in England) in mid-April 1826: "Dr. Carey's spirits have been broken by the unkindness of the society, which has dispelled all hope of reconciliation. It has been to him like the hand of death": quoted by Marshman (1857, II:354). On the contrast between the trio's missionary view and the BMS' metropolitan view, see Stanley, (1992b:66-67).

10 What sort of partners did the trio function as in Bengal? Junior partners? Senior partners? Sleeping partners? Equal partners? Colonial partners? Imperial partners? Unequally-yoked partners? Independent partners? Loyal partners? Legal partners? Professional partners? Private partners? etc., etc.

11 Carey and his Serampore colleagues likewise had their own heroes, to whom they looked up with reverence. They often sought to emulate aspects of their lives. David Brainerd (1718-1747) was a psychological lodestar for Carey in the 1790s and perhaps for Ward at the turn of the century. It is possible that Joshua Marshman had Dr John Clarke as a hero and named his son after him. Brainerd and Clarke were British-type, Puritan pioneers in New England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Clarke was a Rhode Island colleague of the unusually able Baptist missionary to the Indians (native Americans), Roger Williams. Williams appears to have been much more adept at cross-cultural communication of the gospel than Brainerd ever was.

12 Altogether, some five editions were published of Ward's opus magnum. Their contents and titles varied considerably. The second edition, entitled A View of the History, Literature, and Mythology of the Hindoos: including a minute description of their manners and customs, and translations from their principal works, was published at Serampore between 1815 and 1818. A variation of this edition was published in London in 1820. For Ward's recommendation, see volume I (1818:lxix-lx). This proposal is also to be found in the 4th edition of Ward's opus magnum, volume I, (1822:clxxiii-clxxiv), suggesting that the project idea was not dropped quickly; rather, it endured for several years.

13 Ward suggested that "such a Society ... should employ individuals in translations from the Sungskritu, and offer suitable rewards for the best translations of the most important Hindoo works" (1818:lxix). His recommendation finished thus: "By the employment of an artist or two from England, all the sculptured monuments of India would soon be ours, and thus be carried down to the latest posterity." Just what did Ward have in mind in writing this?

14 This is even true of the coverage given to the theology department by Stewart (1961:58-69). She referred only to the period between 1929-1960. The useful survey of "The Story of Serampore College, 1818-1929" by D. A. Christadoss (Ibid:20-40) did not compensate for this.

15 According to the "Third Report relative to Serampore College, for the year ending December 31st, 1822", the college contained "a preparatory Seminary for those Native Christian Youths sent to the College too young to enter immediately ... "into regular classes. Note that the use of the term "seminary" here is very different from late twentieth century, American usage. S.P. Carey noted (1923:330) that less than ten percent of the students were "expected to be preachers. Most would be schoolmasters, writers, doctors, lawyers...."

16 Cf. the BMS' Missionary Herald (no. 69, September 1824, p. 66); also Carey to Dyer, 18 March 1824, p. 3. Since, to the best of my knowledge, no lecture notes have remained, we cannot tell whether Carey, who was no theologian, borrowed significantly from the Divinity Lectures of Doddridge, which were published posthumously between 1763 and 1805. Cf. Smith (1992a:2-3,7).

17 Swan provided "a course of Divinity Lectures on the 'Evidences, External and Internal, for the Truth of Revelation, and on the Existence of God and his Attributes"' to a number of youths to whom he taught Greek and Latin. He also gave several theological lectures to students in Bengali: Periodical Accounts from the Serampore Mission !1828 I(1):72-74^.

18 An outline of Carey's lectures in 1829 is provided in the "Ninth Report of Serampore College" (Serampore 1830 I(5):332); for 1830, see Ibid.(1831 I(7):548). It is not clear whether Carey drew on some of Swan's printed lectures (in English) here, nor whether he lectured only to "the class of Students in European habits," which included British men who had left the army in India.

19 For some of the telling objections to the training of a vernacular ministry at Serampore, see Howells and Underwood (1918:49-51). Stanley's concluding assessment (1992:380-381) is objective, fair and missiologically sound.

20 Andrew Fuller wrote about Carey's wrestling with the caste issue to John Saffery on 22 August 1796; see also Fuller's reply to Carey, dated 1 September 1796. Fuller tried to make some sense of the situation in his letter of 1 August 1801 to William Ward.

21 Such enslavement was in the interest of one group in Indian society, viz., the Brahmins. Cf. Jackson (1984:346357) and Forrester (1979:25-26). According to Forrester, by the middle of the nineteenth century missionaries were almost universally hostile to caste.

22 At the top of the British social order in India "were the members of the senior government services. This ruling class was followed by British military officers and next in social order came different categories of businessmen, traders and planters. At the bottom of the scale, ordinary British soldiers, domiciled Europeans and Eurasians were to be found" (Kooiman 1989). "In the social heirarchy of the Raj, religious specialists, such as missionaries and clergymen, occupied a rather humble position on the periphery of fashionable European society." "Even among themselves, the missionaries were subdivided among several denominational subcastes with their own territorial sphere of influence."

23 Marshman to Ryland, ca. February 1807; cf. Carey to Sutcliffe, 17 March 1802. For actions that resulted in the loss of caste in Carey's time, see John C. Marshman (1857 I:181,186).

24 Hugald Grafe is correct in asserting that the trio's "gradual switch-over to English medium at Serampore College . . . made them take a middle position between the 'Orientalists' and the 'Anglicists '": see his review of Potts' 1967 work, in Indian Church History !1968 II(1):73^. Carey was not a simple Orientalist nor a simple vernacularist, nor was he a strong Anglicizer; rather, he was an Anglo vernacularist-cum-orientalist.

25 The trio's policy was to use the vernacular for "native" elementary school education. By way of contrast, their initial policy for higher education through Serampore College had an Orientalist emphasis on Sanskrit.

26 This is not the place to evaluate the quality of Serampore's Bible translations into Indian languages that were based on, or mostly conducted from, English or Sanskrit versions of the Bible (rather than from Hebrew or Greek). Nor is there space here to discuss whether the veterans were more active in, and adept at, vernacular translation than vernacular training.

27 This Latin phrase translates as: "Through difficulties to honours." It is quite appropriate for August-born Carey (17 August 1761). "Carey Day" is traditionally held at Serampore on 17 August each year.

28 In the early 1780s, Carey's poor mother was "shocked at the abject conditions" in which he and his young wife lived in Hackleton, Northamptonshire (Beck 1992:39). Several years before the consecrated cobbler and his wife moved from Hackleton to Moulton, people in his home village collected money to help them survive.

29 Carey's early writing resonated with the concern for the poor expressed in John Fawcett's Considerations Relative to the Sending of Missionaries to Propagate the Gospel among the Heathens (1793:5). Fawcett's booklet was written one year after Carey's Enquiry.

30 Carey preached his "deathless sermon" in Nottingham in May 1792 only two days after troops were brought in to suppress food riots in Leicester (his home town since 1789) -- and eighteen days after the same in Nottingham! !Rivington, Annual Register, 1792, 'Chronicle' section, pp. *20, 22.^ England suffered from an epidemic of strikes and food riots from October 1792 onwards: cf. Bryant (1942:68-69).

31 On the "Native Establishment of the College of Fort William," which comprised learned natives, some of whom were employed in teaching students in Calcutta, some in making translations, and others in composing "original works in the Oriental tongues," see !anon.^, The College of Fort William in Bengal (1805:239-240). These learned men had been encouraged by Lord Hastings, the governor general of Bengal in the 1770s-1780s and a great promoter of Orientalist studies, to come "from different parts of India, Persia, and Arabia" (Pearce 1846, II:295). Marshall and Williams are quite correct in pointing out that "men like Halhed, Wilkins or Jones would have been able to accomplish very little without the cooperation of learned Indians" (1982:77). The same holds true for Carey and his colleagues (who learned much from those British scholars in Bengal) in the translation of the Bible and other Oriental literature.

32 Letter of 16 April 1826 from someone at Serampore to Joshua Marshman. What Hannah also did to keep the Serampore family together has been covered in many biographies of Carey's life.

33 Assessors of the trio's achievements, however, do have to reckon with a communication problem that plagued the Serampore Mission and that has occurred in all sorts of other situations (not least in theological education projects in the two-thirds world) until the present day. It may be expressed in paraphrased terms:

Early in Serampore's meteoric rise to world acclaim, the trio's innovations acquired an aura of myth. Although motives clearly were high and no deception was intended, much that was aspiration in the mission experiment was reported in such a way that first world supporters assumed that it was already a fact; this was then held up as strong justification for continuing to provide financial support (cf. Ferris 1990:14).

34 Such a call for cerebral concentration to go hand-in-hand with "celebration" at major anniversaries needs to be heard during the 1990s when many organizations, institutions and mission societies are celebrating centenaries or bicentenaries. Strong partnerships of heart and mind are needed for fostering the development of a missiological spirituality, rooted in scripture, informed by historical analysis, guided by first-hand experience and thus adequately equipped to face the missional challenges of our day.

35 For Carey as both a catalyst and a transitional figure of singular symbolic significance in the world Christian movement, see Smith (1992a:5-7). Cf. Brackney (1992:364).

36 Carey to Fuller, 23 November 1800, p. 8: Fuller received this letter sixteen months later, in March 1802, such was the slowness of oceanic travel then.

Source: http://www.csichurch.org/article/william_carey.htm

 



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