A Review of Alexander Robb’s ‘The Heathen World and the Duty of the Church’

The Heathen World and the Duty of the Church

by Alexander Robb

Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot 1863

Alexander Robb, a missionary in Nigeria, presents his church of the time with a forceful and passionate argument for mobilizing missionaries and supporting the work. He The The Rev. Alexander Robb deals with the normal questions that missionaries today still face: why support mission work when there are few converts? (God is sovereign, we don’t see fruit sometimes because we’ll get proud, etc.) What is the relation between commerce and mission in the (then) age of empire? (Let them each go their own way.) Is there possibility for salvation for the heathen without the Gospel? (Even if there is, we should act as if there is not.)

It is a short little volume, and on the whole he does a good job of providing answers that even today seem, well, let’s say less stale than other missionary texts of the mid-19th C. On the negative side, he starts the book with a catalogue of the inhumane vices of the heathen. It all seems a little overblown, but later on he strikes a balance by insisting that these are indeed human beings made in the image of God. One wishes for a little more sympathy and willingness to find positive aspects of the heathens’ cultures, but Robb doesn’t see much there.

“Reappropriation: an accomodationist hermeneutic of Islamic Christianity”

Miller, Duane Alexander. ‘Reappropriation: an accomodationist hermeneutic of Islamic Christianity’ in Saint Francis Magazine Vol 5:3, June 2009.

Link is HERE.

A section is here:

1.3 The Two Stream Hypothesis:
Rejectionists and Accommodationists

Continuing research in this area is needed, but I have come to a preliminary conclusion that there are two fairly different kinds of communities within Islâmic Christianity.  The Rejectionists are people who have come out of Islâm and often times have a negative impression of it as a dîn.  They are women who have come to an understanding that Islâm teaches they are inferior to men; they are men who have been submitted to torture and persecution under Islâmic regimes, all to the glory of God. They are people who want to coexist in a fragmented and globalizing world and grow tired of the teaching that Jews and Christians are descended from apes and pigs; they are scholars who studied history and the life of the Prophet only to be sourly disappointed with what they found in the earliest sources which are surprisingly candid – much more so than the hagiographic material widely circulated today – and came to the conclusion that he was a man of insufficient moral standing to bear the mantle of prophethood – and that is a very gentle way of putting it.

Rejectionists are, it seems, more present in places where reformed Islâm has been successful in dominating the political conversation; places like Iran4 and Egypt come to mind.  Many of these people came to faith in Christ while outside of their country of birth, or perhaps by media ministry (satellite, radio, etc). But we can also identify a very different, and I am guessing numerically smaller, groups of communities.  I call them accommodationists because there is, to differing degrees, a desire to accommodate, which in Latin means ‘to cause to fit together’, the Jesus of the Gospels with many aspects of the Islâmic dîn.5  There is a desire to continue, to differing degrees again, to abide by Islâmic practices: the Islamic fast over the Christian fast, women continuing to wear the hijâb, perhaps using the Qur’ân or parts of it in worship, keeping Islâmic names over taking Christian names, using Islamic forms and customs in worship and devotion and prayer, and so on.  Generally these people do not have a negative experience of Islâm, and they probably do not have much exposure to Christianity.  This would also be more common in areas or regions where there is either no Christian church, or where the churches are ethnically defined (Armenian, Assyrian, etc.), thus making the assimilation of non-co-ethnists difficult.

pp 6, 7.

Emmanuel, Islam and Christianity

A sermon given at Northwest Community Church (NWCC) in San Antonio, Texas, in 12/2007. Discusses the different meta-themes and meta-narratives in Islam and Christianity. I propose that the fundamental difference between the two religions starts with differeing notions of sins. The talk was given at a church, so it’s not an academic discourse.

Emmanuel_God_with_Us is the link.