Monday, August 12, 2019

Review: The First Five Centuries

The First Five Centuries The First Five Centuries by Kenneth Scott Latourette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Latourette, after the most part of a Century has passed, is still the standard work on Missions from the Protestant standpoint. Yet its age shows: while an Evangelical, he does concede too much to secular conceptions of Historiography that even in today’s secular environment would be perhaps outdated, showing that it is better to stick to your tradition & convictions than to try to be modern.

While bringing in a huge amount of facts, still much is summed up, since while the field of missions can be quite detailed nowadays, at the period covered by this first volume much information is missing; on the other side, he spends quite some space on a historiographical set of questions that may today sound quite speculative and outdated.

There are more recent works that must be consulted for the developments of the last Century, but none I found of this extension & ambition. Either they are useful but specialised in a short span of time, or they are equally useful but way too short. Anyway, a global History of Missions that would cover the situation until, say, the turn of the XXI Century would certainly colour the previous periods differently.

As a Reformed Baptist reader, to me he also does sound quite Latitudinarian in his attitudes, refraining from a proper Protestant Biblical evaluation of his subject. One hungers, thus, for a new History of Missions that will be not only up to date, but also more Reformed in character; perhaps something definetly Reformed Baptist such as Nicholas R. Needham’s 2 000 years of Christ’s power would be best, as his work shows Baptists can face old realities better, not being attached to mediæval survivals in the magisterial strand of Reformation.

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