Rufus Jones and the Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry: How a Quaker Helped to Shape Modern Ecumenical Christianity

by Stephen W. Angell

It would be a mistake for historians of twentieth century religious thought to write about Quaker theology in isolation from other religious ideas, both Christian and non-Christian, which in many ways envelop it. Quaker contributions to the religious world have become a small but inextricable part of a much larger picture, and this has been occasioned by both design and necessity, as ecumenical movements grew apace throughout the century.

An interesting illustration of the way that advocacy of Quaker ideas achieved force and relevance by merging into a broader religious context is provided by Rufus M. Jones’s involvement with the influential and controversial Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry which issued a widely-noticed report, Re-Thinking Missions, in 1932.

Even historians of missions agree on little else than that the issuance of this report was a watershed event. Stephen Neill described it favorably as "the most striking expression" of "a comprehensive change ... taking place in theological climates, in attitudes toward other religions, and in the understanding of the missionary task." On the other hand, James Alan Patterson has assessed it critically as "a fatal blow to the missions consensus" engendering a "greater polarization than had ever existed in the long history of American Protestant missions."1

Jones served on the fifteen-member Commission of Appraisal that produced this report, and his role has largely escaped scrutiny so far. While Jones’s biographer Elizabeth Gray Vining devoted some attention to this important episode, most treatments of the Commission’s work focus entirely on the justly famous contributions and viewpoints of its chairman, William Ernest Hocking.2 But this Commission was not a one-man show, and others, including Jones, its only Quaker member, made vital contributions to its work. The purpose of this essay is to set the historical record straight, by examining not only how Jones influenced the Commission but also how the Commission experience influenced Jones.

Jones grew up in South China, Maine, in an Orthodox (Gurneyite) Quaker community which was sympathetic toward foreign missions, a fact celebrated in his first book, a biography of Eli and Sybil Jones, his missionary uncle and aunt. They had been humble, sensitive, courageous souls, as well as eloquent speakers, who had pursued a remarkable, far-flung ministry in Liberia, Palestine, and throughout much of Europe and North America. There can be no doubt that his uncle and aunt helped greatly to shape Rufus Jones’s ideas about what missionaries should do.3

But it would appear that he had little personal involvement with any questions related with missions until he reached his mid-sixties. The American Friend Service Committee, which he helped to found in 1917, paved the way for a new breed of religious agency which gave a strict emphasis toward humanitarian service to people in need, in exclusion of religious evangelism.4 Vining does not record any involvement by Jones in foreign missions until an unexpected invitation from the Young Men’s Christian Association arrived for him to address missionaries in China in 1926.

The nationalist turmoil which had embroiled China during that year forced the evacuation of many foreign missionaries and had made it virtually impossible for the remaining missionaries, mostly Chinese citizens, to invite any foreign clergyman to address them. Thus an invitation was extended to the layman Jones. He refused, pleading a scheduling conflict, but YMCA representative Eugene Barnett pressed the issue. Timely encouragement by Haverford College President W. W. Comfort for Jones to proceed with the visit and to take a semester’s leave from his teaching eventually helped to convince Jones that he should accept.5

Jones traveled to Japan, China, India, and the Holy Land. At the YMCA conference in China, the Quaker from a South China half a world away shared the platform with T. C. Chao, a Chinese Christian who spoke sympathetically about the religious ideas of Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Mo Tzu.

When his turn came, Jones worked diligently to convince his listeners of the compatibility of science and religion. "The missionaries have unfortunately too often presented a type of Christianity at sharp variance with modern science and when that is rejected, as it is by most students, there is no one to interpret the deeper and truer aspects of Christian faith." While in India, Jones’s appreciation for non-Christian religions was profoundly heightened by a visit to the Buddha’s birthplace and a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram.6

Shortly after his return from this world tour, Jones was invited by John R. Mott, the pre-eminent leader of the American ecumenical Christian movement, to prepare a paper for the upcoming meeting of the International Missionary Council, to take place in Jerusalem in late March and early April of 1928. The Jerusalem Council was an important successor to the famed World Missionary Conference that met at Edinburgh in 1910. The Edinburgh conference had sought to spur Christians onward to increased missionary activity for the purpose of "the evangelization of the world in this generation" (the watchword that its chairman Mott popularized).7

Jones was unable to travel to Jerusalem for the 1928 conference, but he did agree to Mott’s request to prepare a paper on the topic of "Secular Civilization and Christian Task." Jones lamented the disregard for religion brought about by a wide range of secular forces, ranging from a Marxist Russia openly hostile to religion to the benign neglect more common in Western Europe and America. Inspired in part by his experiences in China, he called for Christian leaders to be accepting of scientific advances, finding their opposition to "the march of science and historical criticism" to be one of the principal causes of dissatisfaction of the younger generation with Christianity. He called for Christians to pay more attention to ethics in their actions: "The weakest spot in our Christian armor is our failure to live the life about which we talk and preach." But, in addition to a Christianity which was at peace with science and at home with the ethical implications of its faith, Jones concluded with a call for Christianity to be open to positive influences from other world religions:

We go [to Jerusalem] as those who find in the other religions which secularism attacks, as it attacks Christianity, witnesses of man’s need of God and allies in our quest of perfection. Gladly recognizing the good they contain, we bring to them the best that our religion has brought to us, that they may test it for themselves. We ask them to judge us not by what we have as yet made of our Christianity, but by that better and more perfect religion to which in the providence of God we believe our Master is leading us.8

Of all the points which Jones lifted up in his paper, it was this final point that excited the most discussion at Jerusalem. In 1934, Presbyterian mission executive Robert Speer, a participant in the Jerusalem conference, wrote of Jones’s conclusion that "Dr. Rufus Jones had chosen his words carefully, but it was obvious that they could be misunderstood."9 In retrospect, Speer wondered whether Jones had been stating that there were values found in non-Christian religions which Christianity needed for its supplementation and enrichment, a conclusion which Speer felt would be incompatible with a Christian’s need to insist upon "the finality of Christ."

But Speer’s worries were shared by only a small minority of the participants in the Jerusalem conference, as most embraced Jones’s call to embrace the adherents of the world’s religions as allies, not adversaries, in the battle against growing secular influences. Samuel McCrea Cavert wrote that some papers (probably including Jones’s) were criticized

on the ground that they were too extravagantly favorable in their estimate of non-Christian faiths, but the very fact that such an impression could be made shows how far missionary thinking has advanced since the days when all religions except Christianity were regarded as evil... . It was agreed at Jerusalem that other religions can be regarded as allies of Christianity quite as truly as rivals; for a new enemy of all religion, Christian and non-Christian alike, was recognized in the materialism now rampant in all lands.

The final report of the Jerusalem Conference, in part written by Speer, stated that "we welcome every noble quality in non-Christians persons or systems as further proof that the Father, who sent his own Son into the world, has nowhere left Himself without witness."

The same report called on "the followers of non-Christian religions ... to discern that all of the good of which men have conceived is fulfilled and secured in Christ."10 Thus, evangelical Christians had begun to throw some bouquets, rather than a steady stream of brickbats, toward those who argued on behalf of non-Christian religions. This did not necessarily portend a lessening of missionary zeal; many argued that the qualified praise of non-Christian belief systems held more promise for conversions to Christianity than wholesale condemnation of non-Christians.11

In the conference’s final report, the bottom line had not changed; asserting the superiority of Christianity, the Jerusalem Council still encouraged Christian missionaries to press vigorously to obtain conversions of non-Christians. Still, Jones’s softening of the Edinburgh doctrine as witnessed by his straightforward assertion that Christianity and Asian religions were more properly seen as allies than as competitors had garnered a surprisingly positive reception at this staunchly Christian gathering.

It is fair, then, to ask why Jones’s ideas had met such a favorable reception. What had changed in the eighteen years between the Edinburgh and Jerusalem conferences? First, in the aftermath of a world war and a bout of Wilsonian diplomacy, a rising tide of nationalism among Asian nations had posed a sharp challenge to Christian missions emanating from Western nations. In China, European and American missionaries and their Chinese converts were reeling from an intense anti-Christian campaign, which focused largely on some severe problems in the schools run by the foreigners.

Chinese Communists and many of the Chinese Nationalists, or Kuomintang, accused the missionaries of being the "pawns of western imperialism." The Western military power that, over the course of more than a century, had been deployed to ensure the safety of the missionaries appeared to lend credence to this idea. The missionaries were divided on how to respond to these challenges. Some were disturbed by these charges and were willing to go to some lengths to refute them, by refusing military support or seeking citizenship in the countries in which they were residing, while others desperately sought to hold on to their privileges as foreigners in China. But it was also clear that it was very difficult for any missionary to resolve these challenges to the satisfaction of both themselves and the Chinese.12

Jones was well aware of the major effect that the rise of nationalism in Asia was having on Christian missions there:

The most powerful new current which is sweeping over the lives of almost every person in Oriental countries is the high tide of nationalism.... The dream of self-determination has become a widespread faith and hope. Foreign control, external domination, attitudes of superiority on the part of outsiders are oppressive weights not to be borne. Each country proposes to be master of its own fate. The missionaries of a hundred years ago would find themselves in another world if they could come back, and they would find themselves compelled to learn a new approach if they expected to have a creative influence upon anybody in the world today.13

In India, Mahatma Gandhi testified eloquently of the nobility of the essence of Christian ideals, while firmly rejecting any notion that Indians needed to convert themselves to Christianity to avail themselves of such ideas. In 1928, for example, Gandhi wrote that:

most of the effort of modern missions is not only useless but more often than not harmful. At the root of missionary effort is also the assumption that one’s own belief is true not only for oneself but for all the world: whereas the truth is that God reaches us through millions of ways not understood by us. In missionary effort, therefore, there is a lack of real humility that instinctively recognizes human limitations and the limitless power of God.14

For Jones and many other like-minded Christians, these views coming from the person whom Jones was later to characterize as "the greatest living person on the planet"15 were impossible to dismiss, causing at the very least a profound reassessment of Christian missionary activity.

Gandhi’s views were not only disseminated through print, but also through the personal encounters that he granted to Western Christians such as Jones. In their meeting, Gandhi told Jones that he loved the Sermon on the Mount, but he also remarked that Hindu religious literature was full of stories with ennobling ideals.16

Jones was not the only Christian ecumenist to hear such ideas directly from Gandhi himself. Jones’ friend John Mott also visited Gandhi in 1929, the year following the Jerusalem conference. Mott reported his disappointment with the "superficiality or evasion" of Gandhi’s responses when Mott brought up the question of religious conversions.17

Liberal theology, with a pronounced emphasis on the Social Gospel, was prevalent in Protestant ecumenical theology of the 1920s, unlike in earlier decades. This displayed itself in various ways in Asian Christianity. The most famous Asian Christian, Toyohiko Kagawa, a Japanese convert from a wealthy Buddhist family, spent many years living in the slums in various Japanese cities and dedicated himself in large part to the improvement of social conditions for the poor. E. Stanley Jones, perhaps the most famous Christian missionary in India, worked with both lower and higher castes in India, and formed Christian ashrams (centers for meditation and retreat) so that Hindus would not have to encounter Christianity in a culturally alien context.

Both E. Stanley Jones and Kagawa were outspoken advocates of world peace; in fact, Kagawa’s pacifism would land him in prison in Japan during World War II.18 Many Protestant missionaries in the 1920s embraced a culturally sensitive approach toward missions work, an approach that had been pioneered by sixteenth-century Catholic missionaries such as the Jesuit Matteo Ricci but then renounced by later popes.19Rufus Jones was certainly knowledgeable about, and supportive of, these progressive trends in Protestant missions.

It is important to note that American Protestant liberalism (or "modernism," the preferred term at the time) received during the 1920s a strong challenge from an aggressive, militant brand of Christian conservatism under the newly-minted name of "fundamentalism." Of more significance than the high-profile trial in 1925 of John T. Scopes in Tennessee over the teaching of evolution were fierce contests between modernists and fundamentalists in two influential denominations, the Northern Presbyterians and the Northern Baptists.

One modernist who became a focal point of theological controversy was Harry Emerson Fosdick. A Baptist, he resigned in 1924 from his pastorate of a Presbyterian Church in New York City in order to avoid a trial for heresy on his anti-fundamentalist views. Influenced by the work of D. J. Fleming, a professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, Fosdick became critical of the current course of Protestant missions.

In a 1927 sermon, Fosdick requested that American churches send abroad only those missionaries who represented "our best medicine, our best schools, our best ideals of character, our best friendliness, and the best asset the West ever discovered, Jesus Christ." But those who bring Christ to foreign lands must also be willing to learn from those among whom they serve. He was ready to discard "the idea that Christianity is good and all other religions ... must be reconstructed."

The credibility of the worldwide Christian message depended upon the willingness of Western leaders to promote policies, both domestically and internationally, that accorded with their Christian profession. He quoted an unnamed Indian statesman: "Your Jesus is hopelessly handicapped with his connection with the West."20

On the other hand, fundamentalist leaders such as J. Gresham Machen and William Bell Riley were gravely concerned that some missionaries abroad actually held modernist views similar to that expressed by Fosdick. This division was especially profound among American Protestant missionaries in China. As early as 1921, W. H. Griffith Thomas, a fervent opponent of modernism, returned from a visit to China with a sharply worded complaint that modernist missionaries were succumbing to the allure of secularism, overemphasizing the provision of social services and downplaying evangelism. Missionaries should be on their guard against becoming "slack in contending for the faith."21

At the highest levels (and Rufus Jones was considered a part of the highest level), the leadership of the Protestant ecumenical movement of the late 1920s and the early 1930s was closely tied in with the American financial elite, with no member of the elite more solicitous of the needs of Protestant leadership than John D. Rockefeller, Jr. In 1930, Fosdick found himself with a new pulpit as the first pastor of the Rockefeller-financed Riverside Church in New York. And it was Rockefeller who helped provide crucial impetus for the next stage of examination of missions.

"When John R. Mott returned in 1929 from his trip around the world, he brought with him a number of impressions and observations which seemed to validate [Rockefeller’s] fears."22This patron of progressive Protestantism convened at his house a group of laity from his own denomination, the Northern Baptists, to hear Mott’s report. The assemblage concluded that a study of mission work would be desirable in order to help Christian missions in Asia "make needed adjustments in objectives and programs to meet the rapidly changing situation abroad."23

Soon, the proposed study expanded beyond only Baptists to include six other Protestant denominations as well: the Congregationalists, Northern Methodists, Northern Presbyterians, Protestant Episcopalians, Reformed Church in America, and the United Presbyterians. In June, 1930, Mott approached Rufus Jones, asking him, on Rockefeller’s behalf, to serve one year to the Commission of Appraisal that would conduct this re-examination of Protestant missions. Jones’s commitment would involve travel to India, China, and Japan, as well as to participate in the subsequent writing of a report.

Jones turned Mott down, pleading that he was nearing retirement age and found his college teaching to be an exceptionally meaningful part of his life. "I have only two years more to teach at Haverford and my life is tremendously bound up with these men. Each year means more than the one before did and I have found through my work here an amazing open door into lives and thoughts of students everywhere and my interpretation of life and of God is ripening up in just the way I have wanted it to do."24

Jones felt some regret turning down Rockefeller’s request. "Mr. Rockefeller has been so splendid and so kind that I greatly dislike disappointing him. I would not do it if I could see any way to avoid it."25 Rockefeller may have seemed to Jones to be the model of a disinterested patron, but Rockefeller’s substantial and continuing financial contributions to foreign missions unavoidably gave him a significant stake in the outcome of the inquiry. It may perhaps seem ironic in retrospect that Rockefeller and Mott so earnestly sought to have a Quaker serve on their mission, when Quakers were not among the seven denominations sponsoring the commission, but it is doubtful that Jones was concerned at all about that matter, as he never raised the issue.

Mott sought to accommodate Jones, asking whether he might devote six months to the project instead of a whole year. "My mind had rested so completely on you as one having in such a remarkable degree the background, experience, insight, outlook, and temper for the all-important study that I find it impossible to turn it elsewhere." He stated that Rockefeller was "profoundly anxious" that Jones participate in the inquiry.

Mott referred to Jones’s paper that had been delivered at the Jerusalem Council as a reason that Jones should accept: "I have never been able to convey to you the position of leadership you won among the forces of the world-wide mission of Christianity through your paper for the Jerusalem meeting."26 Jones wrote a revealing letter while he deliberated on Mott’s renewed request. The letter was addressed to his friend D. J. Fleming, a professor at Union Theological Seminary well-published in the theory of missions. He sought information on five matters:

1. How far the various American denominations are overlapping in their work... 2. How far the very fact of denominational missionary work complicates the whole undertaking... 3. How much of a difficulty is produced by the division between Fundamentalism and Modernism on the Mission Field.... 4. Whether the actual fruit of foreign mission work on the field indicates that our missions are a definite success and warrant the expenditure we are making.... 5. Do the persons themselves who come under the influence of missionary work show a changed life and indicate a transformed spirit? Do they fit in to the world where they are to have their life?27

No reply by Fleming to Jones has been located. It is certain, however, that Fleming’s ideas influenced Jones as he formulated his thoughts on missions, just as they had influenced Fosdick. Fleming advocated an evangelism of service and personal example: "Not only the ethnic faiths, but Christianity itself, must stand or fall by their power to enlarge and enrich life.... In particular, the people of India, China, and Japan are not going to accept the Bible because of some statement as to its inspired origin.... The power of Christianity is to be proved by asking, not whether it can be authoritatively established, but what it accomplishes in the lives of men."28

After a period of further deliberation, Jones some time early in 1931 notified Mott that he would join the Commission of Appraisal for this shorter time period. As Jones prepared himself for this daunting new assignment, he sought the counsel of others who were knowledgeable about foreign missions. One such helpful advisor was a British Friend, Henry T. Hodgkin, a former medical missionary who had served for fourteen years (1905-1910, 1920-1929) in China.

British Quakers nurtured a thriving mission in Szechuan province in the southwest. Hodgkin had worked ecumenically with Protestant missions at the highest levels, rising to the position of secretary of the National Christian Council in China. He was also a keen observer, noting important trends that escaped other, more sentimental missionary eyes. Impressed in 1927 by the intense spirit of self-sacrifice of Chinese Communists, for example, Hodgkin predicted that they might well assume power if China’s civil wars were prolonged and produced massive suffering.

Jones had visited with Hodgkin in China in 1926. Five years later, Hodgkin lived in Jones’s neighborhood, having accepted the position of director at Pendle Hill, the newly-opened Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Hodgkin had been an enthusiastic evangelical in his youth, but the fifty-four-year-old former foreign missionary had learned great humility during his service in Africa and Asia. Over time, he recognized a change taking place in himself:

from a certain assumption that mine was really the better way, to a very complete recognition that there is no one better way, and that God needs all kinds of people and ways of living through which to manifest Himself in the World.... I really find myself wanting to learn from people whom I previously would have regarded as fit objects for my ‘missionary zeal.’

We do not know precisely what counsel Jones received from Hodgkin. It seems probable, however, that Jones’s own humility toward practitioners of other religions would have been reinforced by the wise testimony of a longtime friend who had devoted decades of his life to foreign missions.29

In March, he was cheered by the news that his good friend, William Ernest Hocking, a professor of philosophy at Harvard University, had agreed to chair the commission. Hocking helped to keep Jones informed about the results of the Commission’s visits in the fall of 1931 to missions in India and Burma, which occurred while Jones remained at Haverford.30 Rockefeller asked Jones to write a book that would "clearly define in present day language the function of foreign missions," promising to support financially this endeavor as well.

Jones agreed to write such a book. It would have no official connection with the Laymen’s Foreign Mission Inquiry, although it was definitely written with its agenda in mind.31 Jones’s foreword explained the purpose of his book, entitled A Preface to Christian Faith in a New Age, as follows: "We cannot have an effective message or a dynamic gospel for China or for India unless we can discover some fresh power, some deeper interpretation of life that will transform our own civilization and inaugurate a new epoch of faith here in America." 32

In effect, Jones wanted to level the playing field, i.e., to begin an era of "world missions" rather than "foreign missions," seeing the latter term as objectionable for its implication that somehow America was less in need of evangelization than the rest of the world.

A Preface to Christian Faith built carefully on the insights that Jones had laid out in his Jerusalem essay. The first chapter, "Obstacles and Hindrances to Christian Faith in a New Age," identified "secularism," "relativity," and the "reign of naturalism" among the threats that twentieth-century Christianity would have to overcome. Later chapters offered some positive responses to such hindrances. "The religion of the future, so far as it is creative, dynamic and transforming, will be at heart mystical, its evidence and authority will lie in an inward conviction of reality, in the discovery of a power to live by and in direct fortification for the tasks of life."

Jones emphasized that the religion of the future must include, but could not be limited to, a social gospel. "No gospel that is to touch and minister to the whole of life can ever cease from now on to be a social gospel. But the horizontal social gospel from man to man must never become a substitute for the soul’s personal upward relations with God as the source of inspiration and power."

Jones urged on his readers an enlightened Christianity, one that accorded well with the scientific and historical-critical advances in modern scholarship. Christians of the future should also realize the complementary relationship of their faith to other world religions such as Confucianism and Hinduism.

Every great religion, that is, every religion that has made a permanent contribution to human culture and civilization, has brought to light some unique aspect of the nature of God.... The supreme founders of religions have always brought a new spring of energy to the world through their ability to reveal some aspect of the nature of God which had until then been hidden.

A large part of the book was devoted to a plea for Christian ecumenism. While stating that there was a place for denominational distinctiveness, Jones clearly believed that Christian commonalities were far more important than the differences between Christian denominations. Hence, Christians should emphasize what they have at common – both in their home churches and on the mission field.33

Carrying the proofs (needing correction) of A Preface to Christian Faith, Jones, his wife Elizabeth and his daughter Mary boarded a steamship in January, 1932, for the trip across the Pacific Ocean to join his fourteen fellow commissioners for visits to missions in China and Japan.34

An extended account of Jones’s travels in China and Japan during 1932 will not be necessary for the purposes of this essay. It is clear, however, that in a time of great turmoil, including what was the beginning of Japan’s occupation of much of China that would persist throughout World War II, Jones and his fellow commissioners were able to have meaningful visits in China and Japan, and to make valuable contacts with deeply pious persons, both Christian and non-Christian.

One story well illustrates both Jones’s imperviousness to pressure and his single-minded determination to learn from all sincere spiritual seekers. While Jones was in Japan, the National Christian Council of Japan grew concerned about the Commission’s extensive contacts with practitioners of Buddhism and Shinto. When their protest was delivered to the Commission, Chairman Hocking consulted Jones about what they should do. A visit to a Zen monastery had been planned that same evening. Jones is reported to have quietly responded, "We’ll spend the evening with our Buddhist brethren." The result was "a rare and deeply moving opportunity."35

The commissioners did not insulate themselves from severe criticism of Protestant missions. An interesting case in point was a letter that Jones received from a Presbyterian missionary and also the latest star in the literary pantheon, Pearl Buck, who had published her novel The Good Earth to wide acclaim only one year previously.

Jones had written her, asking what would be required to build in China a vital religious fellowship that cut across denominational lines. Pessimistic that this kind of fellowship could be realized in China, she believed that it would take "almost totally new leadership and missionary personnel" to accomplish what Jones sought. Buck "technically" belonged to the church (an odd statement for a missionary), but she found that the churches in China had "too evil a savor." Nothing in the Christian churches there had been "of any help" to her. She still sought out those, like herself, "who are trying to find out what a Christian life really is in the circumstances in which we find ourselves... . The emphasis of the church has not been upon right living, that is, conduct, in China, at least, but upon a spoken profession of belief, and so members of the church have not been often enough Christians as well."

Buck’s profound appreciation of Chinese culture had left her significantly alienated from the aims and activities of most Western missionaries.36 It is likely that Buck’s letter reinforced Jones’s pre-existing skepticism of the course undertaken by Christian missions in China. His journey of investigation in the spring of 1932 had only reinforced his doubts.

After an intense period of writing and discussing numerous drafts, the unanimous fifteen-member report from the Commission of Appraisal was published in November, 1932, about five months after their return to the mainland United States. Virtually from its moment of publication, the report, entitled Re-Thinking Missions, created a sensation. The Book-of-the-Month club included the committee report among its offerings. Harper and Brothers observed that it was difficult to keep the book in stock. By April 1933, over 43,000 copies of the book had been sold.

Re-Thinking Missions was unveiled with a splash of publicity. Its grand unveiling at a conference at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York on November 18 and 19, 1932 (made a little less grand by piecemeal press releases during the preceding weeks for maximum publicity) covered all the major themes of the report.

In practical terms, the Commission urged more united and coordinated effort by Protestant denominations on behalf of Asian missions. A proliferation of small, underfunded, sectarian missions weakened the Protestant witness in Asia. They wanted missions to show the way toward Christian unity. Therefore, some missions and mission schools should be closed. Fewer, but higher quality, missionaries should be sent from America and Europe. New missionaries should be required to attend an orientation school, in which they would learn not only the language but also the culture of the people among whom they will serve.

The Commission also urged a devolution of control of missions from the outsiders to the citizens of the country where the mission was based. In essence, the commission was recommending churches originated by missionaries should become, as quickly as possible, indigenous and under local control.37

More controversial was the Commission’s statement of the principles (developed in the first four chapters of Re-Thinking Missions) on which Christian missions should be based. As a starting point, the Commission affirmed a general understanding among American and European Protestants circa 1930 that missionaries should seek primarily to understand, rather than to condemn, the culture of their hosts.

But then the Commission took this widely accepted point several steps further. Inasmuch as the Asian religions were part of the indigenous culture to which missionaries should relate in a positive manner, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto should be seen as sister religions, allies in the struggle against the secularism and materialism that was so characteristic of the age.

That, of course, had been a major part of Jones’s message to the Jerusalem Conference in 1928. Moreover, Christians should seek out commonalities between Christianity and Asian religions. The Commission urged missionaries to engage in more frequent and heartfelt interreligious dialogue. Christians should seek to learn from practitioners of Asian religions. There might be aspects of Asian religions – the practice of meditation by Buddhists was singled out as one such aspect – from which Christians could benefit.

Increased religious unity between non-Christians and Christians was quite desirable. Missionaries should remember that "the inalienable religious intuition of the human soul" underlies all of the world’s religions. "The God of this intuition is the true God: to this extent universal religion has not to be established, it exists." Commission members urged that Christians allow truth, rather than tradition, to be their guide: "All fences and private properties in truth are futile: the final truth, whatever it may be, is the New Testament of every existing faith."38

While affirming that there should be a role for Christian missions, the role laid out for missionaries by the Commission was a much more humble, perhaps even a self-effacing one, than the pattern that had existed heretofore. The Commission endorsed Gandhi’s views condemning the linkage of medical or social services to evangelism as compromising the purity of intention relative to the services provided.

The missionary should strive primarily to set an outstanding example in his behavior and testimony. "It is clearly not the duty of the Christian missionary to attack the non-Christian systems of religion. Nor is it his primary duty to denounce the errors and abuses he may see in them: it is his primary duty to present in positive form his conception of the true way of life and let it speak for itself."39

When Jones spoke at that November meeting in the Hotel Roosevelt, he used his time primarily to amplify this last point. In order for the church to thrive, the faith of its leaders must be lively and convincing. This is particularly true if the church wishes to gain the adherence of the youth. "What is wanted is not a person who can talk about issues that carried conviction thirty years ago, but one, who at the present moment, can diffuse and transmit the life and the spirit of Jesus Christ in convincing and demonstrative fashion to the youth of today."

Missionaries should preach with their lives, not mainly with words:

If you can go into a rural neighborhood and teach the mothers how to care for their babies, teach the children, boys and girls, how to play, and be one with them in it, if you can transform the quality of agriculture, if you can lift the economic level of the whole village and make yourself a part of the life of the village while you are doing it, and all that time be revealing the dynamic and central message of Christianity, you will probably get more permanent results than if you will hold a revival meeting of the emotional type and get just a few stirred, and then go off and leave them!

A successful missionary "lives his way into the lives of those [people]. They know him as a friend.... He feels the beating of their heart and their human needs, and he tries to draw all of them into a unity of spirit, so that when out of that comes a church, it will be a church of the community and not a foreign imported thing standing apart altogether from the main stream of the life of the neighborhood."

Several questioners pressed Jones about the allegedly corrosive effects of modernism on Asian missions, especially when it came to transmitting novel reinterpretations of the Bible. Jones refused to go along with their presuppositions: "If you are going to make the Bible a book that is dictated and to be taken literally and handled literally, and you are going to make people accept those statements on a literal basis, then ultimate failure is inevitable. But if instead we think of the Bible as a marvelous piece of inspired literature, the literature of the Spirit of God for the ages, and if we bring our students to feel its power and to see the insight there," then Jones was confident that the presentation of a missionary (or, for that matter, a college professor of philosophy) would be far more persuasive.40

Jones made similar observations about the challenges faced by missionaries in a background paper for the Laymen’s Commission:

The new missionary, in the new age in which our tasks lie, goes out, or at least should go out to other lands, to share with other peoples all that Christ has come to mean to him. He sees, or at least should see, aspects of truth and reality in all religions that have come down out of the past and have held an important place in the lives of men and women and in the cultures of races of people through centuries of generations. It is one of the first duties of a "Christian quest" in a foreign field to enter in sympathetic rapport with those with whom he is visiting and that means that he must understand with genuine insight the ideal aspects and the lifting power of their native religions. If God is truly Father we can well believe, with St. Paul at Lystra, that He has not left any of His people without some witness of Himself.

...If he is truly "sensitive" in spirit, he will realize that the civilization from which he has come and which he represents has its own shortcomings and defects, and this consciousness will keep him humble and modest in attitude of mind rather than dominant and superior. One cannot be a genuine friend and sharer of life without both giving and taking. It cannot be a "one-way process." There must be a mutual and reciprocal correspondence.41

Many of the initial reports were favorable. C. F. Andrews, a missionary in India and a mutual friend of both Jones and Gandhi, praised the report as "altogether refreshing and full of promise for the future."42 Pearl Buck reported in the pages of Christian Century that she had read Re-Thinking Missions "with enthusiasm and delight.... I think that this is the only book I have ever read which seems to me literally true in its every observation and right in its every conclusion."

If the report’s conclusions were heeded, Buck wrote, missionaries might be "sent to satisfy a special need of a community – not the artificial need of a mission station," and they would "let the spirit of Christ be manifested by mode of life rather than by preaching."43 Buck’s views caused enormous controversy, especially after she repeated them in a speech at New York’s Astor Hotel. In April, 1933, she submitted her resignation as a missionary, and the Missions Board of the Northern Presbyterian Church accepted it "with regret."44

Carl Heath with the Friends Service Committee in London wrote to Jones that he had heard much "alarmed talk of the Laymen’s Report and the excitement over it in America." From what he had heard, however, he himself was in agreement with its conclusions.45

Soon the storm hit in full force. One of the earliest critical reviews of Re-Thinking Missions was written by the formidable Robert Speer, a Presbyterian missionary executive and long-time ally of Jones and Mott in the ecumenical movement. He blasted the report as a "humanistic" document that had as its "theological basis old Protestant liberalism, already superseded in Europe by a deep evangelical wave."

Speer complained that the report slighted Christ: "This conception of Christ and His person, place and nature as a teacher and example and spirit with no avowed acceptance of Christ as God or as Redeemer or Saviour and with no witness to the meaning of His Death and the significance of His Resurrection are not possible for the Churches which hold still the great creeds."

In fact, he was uncomfortable with any suggestion that Christianity could be equated in any fashion with other religions: "Christianity is not a religion in the sense of the non-Christian religions. It is not a search of man for God. It is God’s offer of Himself to Man in Christ." Nor was Christ a founder of a religion like Buddha or Muhammad, but rather the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Speer agreed with the Report’s authors that Christianity should be "proclaimed in a simple positive message," but contended that secularism or humanism was not any more of a threat to Christianity than non-Christian religions. "Humanism must be met in the same positive spirit as the non-Christian religions."

While Speer agreed with the report’s authors on some of their practical proposals, including devolution of the control of missions to citizens of the countries in which they were located, the overall impact of his early and critical review was very damaging to the report’s chances of acceptance in American Protestant churches.46 Speer’s blockbuster assault on the report had a mammoth effect on Protestants worldwide and helped to bring forth many similarly critical evaluations. The famous Indian missionary, E. Stanley Jones, faulted the report for giving too much credence to non-Christian religions. "The soul of educated China is a great moral and spiritual vacuum," wrote Jones, a vacuum which Christianity was ideally positioned to fill.47

The eminent Japanese Christian Kagawa wrote scathingly of Re-Thinking Missions as "Missions Without the Cross." He deplored the Commission’s "lack of militant spirit," as he charged the Commissioners as having "forgotten that the starting point of missions is a commission from God."48

As the criticisms multiplied, even the Commission’s sponsors began backing away from it. Only two of the seven denominational sponsors issued something approaching an endorsement of the entire report. The Methodists were the most forthcoming in this respect. The General and Women’s Boards of the Methodist Church issued a statement that said in part that "the search for reality and the courageous facing of the issues so characteristic of this Inquiry are in full accord with the temper of the youth today and will give new meaning and effect to the Christian Message as it is presented to this disturbed and distracted modern world."

Only the Congregationalists, among the other six, seemed ready to endorse the report without any major reservations. But the Northern Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, Protestant Episcopal Church, Reformed Church of America and Northern Baptists all criticized the philosophical underpinnings of the report, while finding merit in some of its practical suggestions.

The Presbyterians wrote that "the supreme and controlling aim of Foreign Missions is to make the Lord Jesus Christ known to all men as their Divine Saviour and to persuade them to become His disciples [and] to gather these disciples into Christian Churches," and faulted the Commission for its failure to affirm the unique supremacy of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and only Savior of mankind.

The Northern Baptists, the denomination to which John D. Rockefeller, Jr., belonged, could not endorse the report but recognized that a report with such a prominent sponsor could be criticized only with the greatest sensitivity. Thus the Baptists found "the first section devoted to the philosophic and religious basis of missions ... unacceptable and inadequate" for its failure to present Christ as pre-eminent, but they also emphasized that they found themselves "in hearty accord with many of the recommendations in the report." Conservatives among the Northern Baptists attempted to force their Mission Board to prove their orthodoxy by entirely repudiating Re-Thinking Missions, but their attempt to strengthen the condemnation of the Commissioners failed.49

Some churches sought desperately to seek a private exemption from the sweeping conclusions of the Laymen’s Report. John W. Wood, a representative of the Episcopal Church, wrote to Jones, asking to what extent statements praising Episcopal missions that Jones had allegedly made during the Commission’s private deliberations were accurate. Of course, Jones could not respond to such a query.50

Roderick Scott, a philosopher sympathetic to Re-Thinking Missions, wrote to Jones from Fukien Christian University in China, querying, "Is it really true that these multitudinous conservatives are really in the seven missions investigated? I thought they were mostly outside in the ‘lesser breeds.’" Scott called the widespread criticism of the report among mainline Protestants "a good deal of a blow."51 Surely he spoke for Jones and many others with that statement.

The debate also raged among Protestant denominations which had not been sponsors of the Laymen’s Inquiry. One such debate with definite repercussions for Rufus Jones was that which occurred among the Southern Baptists. Jones addressed the Virginia Baptists, then as now among the most moderate of the Southern Baptists, early in 1933, and was pleased by the support that he received from them. In February 1933, Jones received an anguished letter from W. O. Carver, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Jones had been scheduled to deliver the prestigious Norton Lectures at the Seminary in April, only two months hence. Carver informed Jones that the faculty had decided to cancel the lectures, because of their disagreement with Re-Thinking Missions and their disinclination to hear lectures from somebody so closely associated with that work.

Jones responded in a calm and kindly manner, stating that he understood Carver’s dilemma entirely. In a low-key way, however, he gently pushed Carver on the subject of Re-Thinking Missions. Jones brought up his positive reception among Virginia Baptists, and Carver was forced to acknowledge divisions among the Southern Baptists by observing that Virginia Baptists did not speak for all Southern Baptists. Jones rebutted Carver’s statement that Re-Thinking Missions constituted a humanist assault on Christianity as follows:

Every member of the Commission was not only not a humanist, but positively an anti-humanist. Take such a statement as this: "Christianity believes in the real presence of God in personal life and teaches that the highest privilege of religion is a direct experience of companionship with God and union with his will." There is no way to turn that into humanism. There are more passages as positive as that. In fact, the Report is profoundly theistic throughout.52

Jones never came close to losing his temper in his exchanges on Re-Thinking Missions, but he was clearly nettled by attacks upon the report that explicitly or implicitly impugned the theological orthodoxy of its authors. Nor did he necessarily convince his critics with his theological defenses of it. John Mackay, analyzing the report’s theology, highlighted what he saw as a "significant, not to say pathetic, incident" from the Hotel Roosevelt Conference.


I would like to thank the staff of the Special Collections department of the Haverford College Library for their cheerful and efficient assistance with my research. All of the letters written to or from Rufus Jones that are cited in this article are housed in the Manuscript Collection, Special Collections, Haverford College Library.

1. Stephen Neill, A History of Christian Missions, 2nded. (Middlesex, England:>Penguin Books, 1986), 418; James Alan Patterson, “The Loss of a Protestant Missionary Consensus: Foreign Missions and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Conflict,” in Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 90.

2. Elizabeth Gray Vining, Friend of Life: A Biography of Rufus Jones (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1981; originally published, 1958), 228-235 is the most thorough treatment of Jones’s involvement in the Commission thus far. Treatments emphasizing Hocking’s role include William R. Hutchison, Errand to the World: American Protestant Thought and Foreign Missions (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988), 158-175; Patterson, “Loss of a Protestant Missionary Consensus,” 86-91; and Neill, History of Christian Missions, 418419.

3. Rufus M. Jones, Eli and Sybil Jones: Their Ljfe and Work. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1889.

4. On the AFSC as the principal exemplar of a Protestant religious agency engaging exclusively in service rather than evangelism, see William R. Hutchison, “Modernism and Missions: The Liberal Search for an Exportable Christianity,” in John K. Fairbank, ed., The Missionary Enterprise in China and America (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1974), 130.

5.  Vining, Friend of Ljfe, 208; David Hinshaw, Rufus Jone& Master Quaker (New York: 0. P. Putnam & Sons, 1951), 171-172. On events in China, see Jessie Gregory Lutz, Chinese Politics and Christian Missions: The Anti-Christian Movements of 1920-1 928 (Notre Dame, IN: CrossRoads Books, 1988), 160-208.

6.   Eugene E. Barnett, “Some Impressions of the Tenth National Convention of the YMCA’s of China, Tsinan, August 4-10, 1926,” Chinese Recorder, 57 (Sept. 1926): 677; Vining, Friend of Life, 214,217-222.

7.   Neill, History of Christian Missions, 331-334.

8.   The Jerusalem Meeting of the International Missionary Council, March 24- April 8, 1928 (New York: International Missionary Council, 1928), 1,239,251,273.

9.Robert E. Speer, The Finality of Christ (Westwood, N. J.: Fleming H. Revel! Co., 1934), 315.

10. Samuel McCrea Cavert, “Beging at Jerusalem,” Christ ian Century 45 (May 10,1928): 598-601;American National Biography, s.v. “Robert Speer,” by John F. Piper, Jr.

11. See, e.g.. Rick Nutt, “0. Sherwood Eddy and the Attitudes of Protestants in the United States toward Global Mission,” Church History 66 (Sept 1997): 511.

12. Lutz, Chinese Politics and Christian Missions, 1-26, passim.; “Let Jerusalem Answer,” Christian Century45 (Feb. 16,1928): 198-199; Lian Xi, The Conversion of Missionaries: Liberalism in American Protestant Missions in China, 190 7-1932 (University Park, Penn.: Penn State Univ. Press, 1998), 160-162.

13. Rufus M. Jones, “The Background and Objectives of Protestant Foreign Missions,” in Orville A. Petty, ed.,Laymen’s Foreign Missionary Inquiry:>Regional Reports of the Committee of Appraisal: China, Supplementary Series, Vol. II, Part One (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1933), xx.

14. Young India, March 22, 1928, in Gandhi, Collected Works (New Delhi: Government of India), 36: 137.

15.>Vining, Friend of L!fe, 222.

16. Ibid., 219-220.

17. C. Howard Hopkins, John R. Mott, 1865-1955: A Biography (Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1979), 671.

18. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. “Toyohiko Kagawa;” Dictionary of Christianity in America, s.v. “E. Stanley Jones.”

19. An interesting treatment of Ricci can be found in Jonathan D. Spence, The Memory Palace ofMatteo Ricci (New York: Penguin Books, 1984).

20. Fosdick’ s sermon was entitled “Rethinking the Problem of World-Wide Christianity.” See “Dr. Fosdick Wants New Mission Split,” New York Times, Mar. 14, 1927, 22. Fosdick’s quotation from the Indian statesman was most likely drawn from D. 1. Fleming’s Whither Bound in Missions (New York: Association Press, 1925), 59, also quoted in Hutchison, Errand to the World, 150. A good general treatment of the modernist-Fundamentalist controversy in the 1 920s can be found in Martin Marty, Modern American Religion, Volume 2: The Noise of Conflict, 1919-1941 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 155-214, passim.

21. James Alan Patterson, “The Loss of a Protestant Missionary Consensus:  Foreign Missions and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Conflict,” 73-91; Lutz, Chinese Politics and Christian Missions, 41; Hutchison, Errand to the World, 138-145, Xi, The Conversion of Missionaries, 143-144.

22. Raymond B. Fosdick, John D. Rockefeller, Jr : A Portrait (New York: Harper Brothers, 1956), 214.

23. Kenneth S. Latourette, “The Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry: The Report of its Commission of Appraisal,” International Review of Missions 22 (April 1933): 154.

24. John R. Mott to Ruts Jones, Oct. 24, 1930;Jones to Mott, Nov. 5, 1930, The Rufus M. Jones Papers, Manuscript Collection, Special Collections, Haverford College Library.

25. Ibid.

26. Mott to Jones, Nov. 7; Nov.25, 1930;Vining, Friend of Life, 228-229.

27. Rufus Jones to D. J. Fleming, Dec. 11, 1930.

28. Fleming, Whither Bound in Missions, 67-68, quoted in Hutchison, Errand to the World, 151.

29. Hodgkin was also listed as an advisor for Jones’s book, A Preface to Christian Faith in a New Age. Tragically, he died young, at age 56, in 1933. A. J. Hawkings, “Obituary: Henry Hodgkin,” Chinese Recorder 64 (May, 1933): 316-319; Vining, Friend of Life, 229,236; John Punshon, Portrait in Grey: A Short History of the Quakers (London: Quaker Home Service, 1984), 218; Paul A. Varg, “The Missionary Response to the Nationalist Revolution,” in John K. Fairbank, ed., The Missionary Enterprise in China and America (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1974), 318. The quotation can be found in Christian Faith and Practice in the Experience of the Society of Friends (London: London [Britain] Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1972), 102.

30. Albert L. Scott to Jones, March 16, 1931; W. E. Hocking to Jones, Dec. 23, 1931.

31. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to Jones, Sept. 25, 1931; Oct. 2, 1931; Vining, Friend of 14fe, 229.

32. Jones, A Preface to Christian Faith in a New Age (New York: Macmillan, 1932), ix. Emphasis is Jones’s.

33. Ibid. Emphases are Jones’s.

34. Vining, Friend of Ljfe, 229; Rufus Jones to John Mott, Dec. 5, 1930; Rufus Jones to John D. Rockefeller, Dec. 5, 1930.

35. Vining, Friend of Life, 232.

36. Pearl Buck to Rufus M. Jones, undated (but ca. 1932). An insightful evaluation of Buck’s views on religion can be found in Xi, The Conversion of Missionaries, 95-128.

37. The Commission of Appraisal, William Ernest Hocking, Chairman, Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen’s Inquiry after One Hundred Years (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1932), 327-329, passirn.

38. Ibid. Quotation: 37.

39. Ibid. Gandhi’s remarks quoted: 68. How missionaries should regard non-Christian religions: 40. Truth the New Testament of every faith: 44.

40. The Proceedings of the Meeting of the Directors and Sponsors of the Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry and Representative of Foreign Mission Boards at Hotel Roosevelt, New York City. Friday and Saturday. November 18 and 19. 1932, ed. by William Ernest Hocking and Orville Petty. N.p., n.d., 28, 66-68. See also “Backs Lay Report on Missions Abroad,” New York limes, Nov. 19, 1932, 9; “Foreign Missions Said to Need Unity,” New York limes, Nov. 20, 1932, 30.

41. Jones, “The Background and Objectives of Protestant Foreign Missions,” xx-xxi.

42. C. F. Andrews, “Lifting the Deadweight from Missions,” Christian Century 50 (Jan. 25, 1933): 115-117. On his friendship with Jones and Gandhi, see C. F. (Charlie) Andrews to Jones, April 4,1930.

43. Pearl S. Buck, “The Laymen’s Mission Report,” Christian Century 49 (Nov. 23, 1932): 1434-1437. See also her “Is There a Case for Foreign Missions?” Harper’s 166 (Jan. 1933): 144-155.

44. Xi, The Conversion of Missionaries, 220-222; Hutchison, Errand to the World, 167-169.

style="line-height:103%;tab-stops:16.7pt" 45. Carl Heath to Rufus Jones, Nov. 27, 1832.

46. Robert E. Speer, “An Appraisal of the Appraisal: An attempt at a Just Review of the Report of the Appraisal Commission of the Layman’s Foreign Mission Inquiry,” Missionary Review of the World 56 (Jan. 1933): 7-27. Quotations can be found on pp. 15-17. See also “Dr. Speer on the Laymen’s Report,” Christian Century 50 (Feb. 8, 1931): 184-185.

47. E. Stanley Jones, “What I Saw in China,” Christian Century 50 (Feb. 8, 1933): 187-188; “China and the Laymen’s Report,” Christian Century  50 (Feb. 15, 1933): 220-221.

48. Toyohiko Kagawa, “Missions Without the Cross,” Christian Century

50 (Mar. 24,1931): 685-686. A sampling of other critical articles on Re-Thinking Missions include: Mrs. Henry W. (Lucy Waterbury) Peabody, “A Woman’s Criticism of the Laymen’s Report,” Missionary Review of the World 56 (Jan. 1933): 39-40; Charles F. Raven, “What is the Christian Message?” Christian Century 50 (Feb. 1, 1933): 149-152; Nathaniel Peffer, “The Twilight of Foreign Missions,” Harper’s Magazine 66 (Mar. l933):402-408; Kenneth S. Latourette, “The Laymen’s Foreign Missionary Inquiry: The Report of Its Commission of Appraisal,” International Review of Missions 22 (April 1933): 153-173.

49. “Reactions to the Laymen’s Report,” Missionary Review of the World 56 (Jan. 1933): 43-45; Archibald U. Baker, “Reactions to the Laymen’s Report,” The Journal of Religion 13 (Oct. 1933): 379-398

50. John W. Wood to Rufus Jones, Mar. 2,1933.

51. Roderick Scott to Jones, May 11, 1933.

52. Rufus Jones to W. 0. Carver, Mar. 11,1933; see also W.O.Carver to Rufus Jones, Feb. 14; Mar. 7, 1933; and Jones to Carver, Feb. 17, 1933.

53. John B. Mackay, “The Theology of the Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry,” International Review of Missions, 22 (April 1933): 177-178, quoting Proceedings of the Meeting, 37.

54. Rufus Jones to W. 0. Carver, Mar. II, 1933; Proceedings of the Meeting, 28; Howard Thurman, With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979), 74-77, 103-105; “Reactions to the Laymen’s Report,” The Missionary Review of the World 56 (Jan. 1933): 44.

55. Robert J. Davidson, The Christian Approach to Other Religions, “Rethinking Missions” Series, No. 1 (London: Friends Service Council, 1933), 5, 7-8.

56. Gerald K. Hibbert, The Christian Faith and Modern Missions: A Quaker Contribution, “Rethinking Missions” Series, No. 2 (London: Friends Service Council, 1933), 5, 7,10.

57. Charles. Emerson to A. L. Scott, Feb. 14, 1933. A copy of this letter was sent to Rufus Jones.

58. Mabel Ruth Newlin to Rufus M. Jones, Mar. 1, 1933.

59. Speer, “An Appraisal of the Appraisal,” 14.

60. W. F. Hocking to Rufus Jones, Mar. 1, 1932; Jones to Hocking, July 28; Aug. 4,1932

61.Proceedings of the Meeting, 6.

>62. Hocking originally assigned chapter 6 to Jones, but there is no specification of the content of chapter 6 in Hocking’s letter. Why state that Jones most likely wrote chapter 7? Both chapter 6 and chapter 7 were on education. Chapter 6 dealt with primary and secondary education, whereas chapter 7 dealt with higher education. Jones, as a Haverford College professor, was more qualified to write about higher education. Furthermore, at the Hotel Roosevelt conference, Jones was referred questions about higher education in missions (Proceedings of the Meeting, 28, 37, 43), whereas others handled the questions on primary and secondary education. Jones could not have written all of chapter 7, e.g., the section on “The Christian Colleges in India and Burma,” which would have been written by another commissioner since Jones was not present during that part of the Commission’s travels. All of this leads to the conclusion that chapter content or numbering had somehow changed since Hocking’s original assignment and that Jones actually was more involved in the writing of chapter 7.

The report had fourteen chapters altogether. There is no evidence that either Jones or Hocking had primary responsibility for the other eight chapters, exclusively dealing with various social and practical aspects of missions; presumably, some of the other thirteen members of the Commission of Appraisal assumed leadership for those. The first four chapters, however, were clearly the most controversial.

63. Jones to Carver, Mar. 11, 1933; Proceedings of the Meeting, 27.

64. Dr. Boddy, quoted in a letter by Charles Ewald to Rufus Jones, Nov. 27, 1933.

65. John D. Rockefeller to Rufus Jones, Jan. 9, 1934.

66. Fosdick, Rockefeller, 218-219; Hopkins, Mat, 681.

67. Hopkins, Mott, 681.

68. Vining, Friend of Life, 235.

69. Rufus Jones to W. 0. Carver, Feb. 17, 1933; Mar. 11, 1933.

70. Charles Ewald to Rufus Jones, Apr. 25; May 9,1934.

71. American National Biography, s.v. “Robert Speer,” by John F. Piper, Jr.; “J. Gresham Machen,” by D. G. Hart.

72. Baker, “Reactions to the Laymen’s Report,” 392-396.

73. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Rufus Jones Speaks to Our Time (New York: Macmillan, 1951).

74.> Joseph John Gurney, Observations of the Distinguishing Views and Practices of the Society of Friends, 7thed. (London: John and Arthur Arch, Cornhill, 1834), 27-33.

Back Home Mail Next