A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1917-1945

A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1917-1945

Hardback Religion and American Culture

By (author) William Lawrence Svelmoe, Series edited by David Edwin Harrell, Series edited by Wayne Flynt, Series edited by Edith L. Blumhofer

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  • Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
  • Format: Hardback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 231mm x 36mm | 748g
  • Publication date: 12 October 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Alabama
  • ISBN 10: 0817315934
  • ISBN 13: 9780817315931
  • Edition: 1
  • Edition statement: Parental Adviso.
  • Sales rank: 1,354,985

Product description

This title contains a deep biography of the pioneering missionary William Cameron Townsend. "Cam" Townsend is rightly known as the visionary founder of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and the Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT). This joint effort is now the largest Protestant mission organization in the world, a mission which has dramatically changed the culture of what used to be known as faith missions.Townsend revolutionized Protestant missions by emphasizing that missionaries needed to learn the language of the people to whom they were sent and to live among them in order to understand their communities. His system stressed training the missionaries in public health, basic education, and agricultural skills. The demonstrated success of missionaries who followed Townsend's plan led to SIL/WBT influence in the larger societies in which the organization was present. Townsend was non-dogmatic in seeking allies to pursue his objectives, including local political movements and power structures, academics, and other religious faiths, increasing the influence of his group to the point that SIL/WBT became a major factor in the national affairs of the countries in which they were active, particularly in Latin America.The very success of Townsend's methods led to trouble with his base in the United States. As conservative and evangelical financial backers and prospective missionaries saw the organization and Townsend working amicably with Roman Catholics, leftist political groups, and atheist and agnostic academics, the SIL/WBT ran into trouble at home.

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Author information

William Svelmoe is Associate Professor of American History, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana.

Review quote

"This book is well-written and makes an original and significant contribution to the field of writing on Townsend and SIL. A New Vision for Missions is based on sound research and scholarship. The Christian public, both evangelical and mainstream, will want to read this book." - Ralph R. Covell, Senior Professor of World Christianity, Denver Seminary"