Adoniram Judson and the American Apostles: Contextualizing the Motivations of Early 19th Century American Missionaries


  • Jonathan Liversedge


Historical studies have made of missionaries a false dichotomy: the academy has portrayed them as the vanguard of imperialism, and Christians have lionized them as the grandest heroes of the faith. This paper will examine the motivations of an early 19th century American missionary, Adoniram Judson, in the attempt to show that, while traces of cultural imperialism and Christian heroism were present, most motivation came from a melding of Christian and American doctrines as his political, cultural and theological contexts combined to emphasize specific Biblical concepts: the universality of God’s love, the inerrancy and necessity of Scripture, and the Great Commission. By contextualizing one missionary’s experiences, perhaps we can understand him—and missionaries generally—in a more human light.






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