Master Narratives of Imperial Missions

  • Jeffrey Cox


The two most important stories about Western religion during the last 300 years are the progressive de-Christianization of Europe and the expansion of Western religion beyond the boundaries of Europe. In Europe the decline of Christian institutions, and the abandonment of religious faith, reached new and unprecedented levels in late twentieth century, requiring a reevaluation of the timing of the decline of religion in Europe. In The Death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown identifies the 1960s as the decade of secularization in modern British history (Brown 2001, chapter 8). Scholarly discussion over the de-Christianization of the Christian heartland has focused for the most part on questions of timing rather than fundamental explanations, largely because of the pervasiveness of the master narrative of secularization in both scholarly and journalistic discussion of the problem of decline.


Master Narrative Mission Study Imperial Agency Missionary Society Imperial History 
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  1. 1.
    I depend here on Allan Megill’s essay, “‘Grand narrative’ and the discipline of history,” which classifies narratives as narrative, master narrative or grand narrative (Megill 1995). There are other ways to classify narratives, and other terms, that would serve the same purpose.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, e.g., Jeff Guy’s book on John William Colenso (1983) and Daniel O’Connor’s on Charles Freer Andrews (1990), which represent two very good studies of liberal Protestant missionary heroes.Google Scholar

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© Jamie S. Scott and Gareth Griffiths 2005

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  • Jeffrey Cox

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