I am taking a doctoral seminar this semester in the History of Southern Baptist Foreign Missions, 1845-1945. It is one of the last two I am taking before I finish with my coursework and take comprehensive exams (the other seminar is in Post-Nicene Christian Theology). Lord willing, I will be working on my dissertation “full-time” by June.
For the paper in the missions seminar, I am looking at how the SBC’s Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) used William Carey in it’s periodical literature from 1846-1900. So far, I have identified a number of different uses. Sometimes Carey was used as a role model. This typically entails something along the lines of “and just like Carey left the friendly confines of England to work among the heathen of India, so should you be willing to leave our southern Zion and serve God through foreign missions.”
Sometimes Carey was used for educational/inspirational purposes. At least once every other year or so a basic biography of Carey will be recounted in one of the FMB’s three periodicals.
Sometimes the emphasis was more on Krishna Pal than Carey himself, often in the context of showing what happens when missionaries are successful in their preaching of the gospel. Carey’s other accomplishments are also mentioned in this context, but none carry the “magic” of a first convert who goes on to preach the gospel himself.
Many times Carey is mentioned in conjunction with Andrew Fuller (see–this post is appropriate for the blog!), typically in an article recounting the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society and/or the beginning of a missionary movement among Baptists. In this context, Fuller is naturally put forth as a role model for all the Southern Baptists who remain in the USA “holding the ropes” for missionaries through their giving and their prayers.
American Baptists in general (and Southern Baptists in particular) saw their missionary endeavors as a continuation of what was begun by Carey, Fuller, and company. For Southern Baptists at least, these men (and especially Carey) were used in promotional and inspirational literature even more than Adoniram Judson, the first missionary from America (and himself a Baptist). I will try to keep you updated with where the research and final paper eventually take me.
Oh, and if you are wondering, Andrew Fuller is mentioned at least 22 times in FMB journals between 1846-1900. Carey is mentioned around 180 times. In many ways, they were the “poster boys” for Southern Baptist foreign missions.