A Catastrophic Mission Ice Age Descends on the Reformation (1st of 9 Timelines)

What caused a mission ice age to last 275 years, and how did it come to an end?

Gerald Anderson has compiled a great number of missionary biographies and published them in a superb collection, The Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. I read every one of the 1400 entries, then created a database in order to understand what happened in 500 years of Protestant mission history. We are going to look at historical data, and draw conclusions based on facts. Michael Faraday said, “Conclusions are drawn from data, and its principles supported by evidence from facts.” Here are two conclusions I have drawn from data:

  1. A catastrophic “mission ice age” descended at the beginning of the Reformation. It lasted 275 years.
  2. The Ice Age endured until William Carey published his Enquiry in 1792, when a burst of mission activity began, setting in motion the Protestant mission era.

The 500 year Reformation can be divided into two parts. First, a mission ice age descended when the Reformation began. Until 1517, many Catholic missionaries regularly sailed from Germany. This came to a sudden halt. Beginning in 1517, Reformation churches sent only two notable missionaries sent every decade for 275 years. This was a catastrophic mission ice age. Then, in 1792, a great change began; from 1792 until 1998, when The Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions was published, Gerald Anderson collected 1059 notable Protestant missionary biographies, or 53 every decade. What made the difference? That is the subject of our next several blogs.

Next: A Mission Ice Age in the First Century of Luther and Calvin (2nd of 9 Timelines)

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