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Missionary Christianity and Local Religion
American Evangelicalism in North India, 1836-1870

By Arun W. Jones

Missionary Christianity and Local Religion
Hardback, 344 pages $59.95
Published: 15th September 2017
ISBN: 9781602584327
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All History, Mission/Evangelism, World Religions

The first Christian communities were established among the population of Hindi- and Urdu-speaking North India during the middle of the nineteenth century. The evangelical North American Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries who arrived in what were considered the Hindu heartlands discovered a social and religious landscape far more diverse than expected. With its Hindu majority and significant Muslim minority, the region also proved home to reform and renewal movements both within and beyond Hinduism. These movements had already carved out niches for religious difference, niches where Christianity took root.  

In Missionary Christianity and Local Religion Arun Jones documents the story of how preexisting indigenous bhakti movements and western missionary evangelicalism met to form the cornerstone for the foundational communities of North Indian Christianity. Moreover, while newly arrived missionaries may have reported their exploits as totally fresh encounters with the local population, they built their work on the existing fledgling gatherings of Christians such as European colonial officials, merchants, and soldiers, and their Indian and Eurasian family members. Jones demonstrates how foreign missionaries, Indian church leaders, and converts alike all had to negotiate the complex parameters of historic Indian religious and social institutions and cultures, as well as navigate the realities of the newly established British Empire.  

Missionary Christianity and Local Religion provides portrayals and analyses of the ideas, motivations, and activities of the diverse individuals who formed and nurtured a flourishing North Indian Christian movement that was both evangelical and rooted in local religious and social realities. This exploration of new Christian communities created by the confluences and divergences between American evangelical and Indian bhakti religious traditions reveals the birth and early growth of one of the many incarnations of Christianity.



Part I

1. The Religious Context in North India: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity

2. The Religious Context in North India: American Evangelicalism

Part II

3. The Missionaries: Religious and Social Innovators

4. Indian Workers and Leaders: Negotiating Boundaries

Part III

5. Theology in a New Context

6. Community in a New Context


"An insightful analysis of the beginnings of evangelical Protestantism in what is today Uttar Pradesh state in north India."

—H. L. Richard, Reading Religion

"Readable, well documented, and very broadly contextualized, Missionary Christianity and Local Religion is based on careful and extensive research. Arun Jones highlights two especially important sources of influence affecting the ethos and character of mission communities: bhakti ideas that were popular in the towns and countryside of North India and the influence of mid-nineteenth-century Princeton theology on the North Indian Christian leadership. Jones’ argument that these ideas emanating from both India and the United States helped create two distinctive Christian communities somewhat different from those in the West reinforces the view that some form of ‘indigenization’ is basic for the survival and progress of the Christian movement, not only in India, but elsewhere as well."

—Geoffrey A. Oddie, Honorary Associate in the Department of History, University of Sydney

“In his captivating study, Arun Jones describes continuities between pre-existing religious movements of North India and the Christianity brought by Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries.”

—Chandra Mallampalli, Studies in World Christianity

"Arun Jones explores a new understanding of the Christian landscapes that were connected and divided in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Hindu and Muslim India, British India, and America. He traces the emergence of an Indian Christianity that formed a ‘third space’ within the religiously diverse colonial Indian landscape. Bringing new and overlooked materials into focus, Missionary Christianity and Local Religion skillfully offers a kaleidoscopic perspective on how multiple American, British, and Indian evangelical Christianities established and negotiated new locations from the early Raj to the present."

—Paul B. Courtright, Professor Emeritus Emory University

"Interrogating the religious ethos and the ‘landscape’ in which conversion movements were located and tracing disruption and continuity in the lives of nineteenth-century North Indian converts, Arun Jones locates the various subjects of his inquiry, especially the ‘native’ voices, within the broader social, cultural, and religious histories of the region without shying away from carefully considered reconstruction that thoroughly engages the material at hand and goes on to offer possibilities of understanding people and situations that are plausible and fosters ongoing discussion."

—J. Jayakiran Sebastian, Dean of the Seminary and H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

"Missionary Christianity and Local Religion is not the first publication to note similarities and draw historical connections between Evangelical Christianity and the bhakti (devotional) religious movements that preceded its arrival in North India, but it is easily the most detailed and thorough. Jones is a careful, conscientious historian, never running ahead of his evidence or oversimplifying the story for effect. The result is an argument of admirable subtlety, precision, honesty, and erudition about how bhakti religious traditions in North India opened up space for the development and growth of Evangelicalism."

—Chad M. Bauman, Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, Butler University

Arun W. Jones is the Dan and Lillian Hankey Associate Professor of World Evangelism at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 344 pages
 9in x 6in

  HIS017000, REL015000, REL045000
 Baylor University Press

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