With Surprises For Many
Ecumenical Beginnings in Protestant World Mission: A History of Comity, by R. Pierce Beaver (Thomas Nelson, 1962, 356 pp., $5), is reviewed by William J. Samarin, Assistant Professor of Lineuistics, Hartford Seminary Foundation, Hartford, Connecticut.

An evaluation of this book is affected by whether one takes the title or the subtitle as its real subject. As a history of comity in Protestant world missions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this work is unquestionably a major contribution to the literature on missiology; as a demonstration that comity is “the first concrete step in the evolution of the ecumenical movement,” however, it never makes its case. Demonstrating Christian unity in one field is not proving its causal relations to organizational ecumenism.

The modern missionary movement was characterized from its inception by interdenominational cooperation. News was shared. Funds from different branches of the Church were used to support missionary endeavors. And abroad, policies were hammered out to permit each missionary body to devote itself to the paramount concern—evangelizing the world.

Denominationalism did not characterize the work of most missionaries; many even envisaged the establishment of truly indigenous churches, Christian but not necessarily replicas of the churches of the missionaries. This is the part of modern missions which Beaver very carefully describes, first in general and then in detail for each of the major areas of the world. (The book concludes with a good bibliography and index.)

A book as well documented as this one is provides the reader with many surprises—unless he happens to be as well-read as its author. (Dr. Beaver is professor of missions and director ...

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