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Preparation and Fulfilment

A History and Study of Fulfilment Theology in Modern British Thought in the Indian Context



This book studies the history and theology of Christianity’s encounter with the world’s other faith traditions. Covering the pivotal period from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, when knowledge of the religious traditions beyond Europe – especially India – was first becoming widely accessible, this study looks at the response of Christian theologians, scholars of the newly emerging ‘comparative science of religion’ and missionaries to this situation. Focusing upon the concept of fulfilment theology, which provided the key to understanding the non-Christian religions for many of the period’s greatest thinkers, a number of accepted assumptions about this era are called into question. By examining and reevaluating texts that are often ignored it is demonstrated that many theologians and missionaries of the nineteenth century had thought deeply about the non-Christian religions, and it is argued that by the latter part of that century a positive attitude towards these religions existed in quite unexpected quarters, including many missionary societies. Also the received conception that John Nicol Farquhar’s book The Crown of Hinduism stood at the beginning of fulfilment theology’s history and inspired its popularity is critically assessed. The final section of the work considers fulfilment theology’s critics, as well as the reasons for the doctrine’s decline and an analysis of its contemporary relevance.
Contents: Methodological Introduction – The Concept of Fulfilment and Fulfilment Theology – Commissioned Works (key figures include: F.D. Maurice, Rowland Williams) – Comparative Religion (M. Monier-Williams, F. Max Müller) – Missionary Usage (Ram Mohan Roy, K.C. Sen, K.M. Banerjea, T.E. Slater) – British Theology and the Church (B.F. Westcott, J.H. Newman, A.P. Stanley, E.W. Benson) – «Edinburgh 1910»: the World Missionary Conference – J.N. Farquahr and the Crown of Hinduism – Criticisms and Assessment (A.G. Hogg, H. Kraemer, Radhakrishnan, C.F. Andrews, Sadhu Sundar Singh).