The Ideal of the Self-Governing Church


It is part of current missiological orthodoxy that newly created churches should obtain independence from cross-cultural missionaries as soon as possible. It is not often realised that much Victorian missionary thinking shared that objective. This important new work examines the ideal of the self-governing church in the Victorian period through a study of the official mind of the Church Missionary Society.
The study begins with an examination of Henry Venn's, the famous CMS Secretary, commitment to self-supporting, self-propagating and self-governing churches. Was he a lonely figure battling against the accepted wisdom of the mid-Victorian period? The author argues that he was not, and was, if anything a slightly conservative spokesman for much current wisdom. Far from his views being abandoned at his death, they were the accepted orthodoxy within CMS until the end of the century. Although they came under increasing attack in the nineties, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century, particularly under the influence of Eugune Stock, that they were finally abandoned.
The importance of this study lies not only in its ability to explain Victorian missionary development, but also because it takes on board the age-old issue of how quickly should a church become self-governing.
Restricted Access


EUR €139.00USD $180.00

Biographical Note

Peter Williams, Ph.D. (London), is Vice-Principal of a Church of England theological college, Trinity College, Bristol, where he teaches Church History. He is a specialist in 19th century missionary history, and he has published articles in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History, and in Anvil. He has been editor of Churchman and Anvil.

Review Quotes

' ...this is an important work...'
Steven S. Maughan, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 1992.


historians of 19th century Christianity (Anglicanism, Evangelicalism and history of missions) and also missiologists.


Collection Information