Missionaries Made Modernity

“Missionaries profoundly shaped modernity.” This is the provocative conclusion made by Robert Woodberry, as he delivered this year’s Carver-Barnes lecture for the L Rush Bush Center for Faith and Culture. Woodberry, a sociologist at the Univ. of Notre Dame, makes a compelling argument that many of the positive features generally associated with the Enlightenment–worldwide advances in literacy, health care, and human rights–were actually accomplished primarily by evangelical missionaries.

To make his case, Woodberry has amassed a remarkable amount of data. But he presents the material in a manner that is both accessible and engaging. If you care about the Great Commission then you’ll want to watch his lecture. Enjoy.


The World That Missionaries Made

Recently, Robert Woodberry created a stir when he published his findings on the impact that evangelical missionaries have had on developing countries. The current consensus among most anthropologists and sociologists is that missionaries have had an overall detrimental effect on the cultures in which they engaged. Woodberry, an assistant professor of sociology at the Univ. of Texas argues that, rather than exerting a negative influence, conversionist missionaries played a pivotal role in the rise of democracy in majority world nations. In fact, the evidence indicates that such missionaries were the key factor in those countries.Woodberry

The Southeastern community has an opportunity to hear Dr Woodberry make his case. The Bush Center for Faith and Culture and the Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies are hosting a lecture by Dr Woodberry this Thursday, at 7 pm, in the sanctuary of Wake Forest Baptist Church. The church is located on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can register for the event here.