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The Missionary Impulse in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800: Or How Protestants Learned to be Missionaries *

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For more content, please see Le Fait Missionnaire.

Advocates of European expansion often justified their acquisition of territories in terms of the imperative to spread Christianity to non-believers. While Iberian Catholics converted large numbers of native Americans and later Africans imported as slaves within their New World colonies, Protestant colonizers were relatively slow to embrace the missionary imperative. This essay seeks to explain why that was the case, and to do so by considering doctrinal, institutional and political impediments. It shows how Protestants did finally put missions not only to their fellow Europeans but also to Native Americans and to slaves at the center of their imperial project. Résumé Les partisans de l’expansion européenne ont souvent eu recours à la notion du devoir de répandre la foi chrétienne auprès de non-croyants pour justifier l’acquisition de nouveaux territoires. Alors que l’Eglise catholique ibérique convertit dans les colonies du Nouveau Monde de très nombreux Amérindiens puis des esclaves importés d’Afrique, les colonisateurs protestants furent plus lents à adopter l’impératif missionnaire. Cet essai tente d’expliquer ce décalage en se penchant sur les entraves doctrinaires, institutionnelles et politiques. Il montre que les protestants mirent finalement bien au cœur de leur projet impérial la mission non seulement auprès de leurs congénères européens, mais également auprès des Amérindiens et des esclaves.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA

10.1163/18748945-02601001
/content/journals/10.1163/18748945-02601001
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/content/journals/10.1163/18748945-02601001
2013-01-01
2016-12-04

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