Protestant Missions in the Sixteenth Century
In his paper Glenn Sunshine reports that foreign missions were not the primary focus of the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe and examines some of the underlying reasons for this reality. Aside from Catholics, Anabaptists were the primary participants in foreign missions, and Anabaptists differed markedly from the more influential magisterial reformers in their approach to spreading the gospel. These differences primarily surrounded Millenarianism, ecclesiology, and the role of the state as it relates to the Church’s mission. Anabaptists were political separatists who looked to a direct interpretation of the Great Commission to inform their approach to missions. Magisterials used existing social and political structures, such as printing, preaching, and public debates with Catholics, to spread the gospel and get governments and public opinion on their side. Trained missionary pastors were perhaps the best example of magisterial foreign missions.
Glenn S. Sunshine is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, joining the faculty there in 1994. He received his B.A. in Linguistics from Michigan State University in 1980, M.A. in Church History from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1987, and Ph.D. (1992) in History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has also taught at Calvin College and the Universität der Bundeswehr-Hamburg (now Helmut Schmidt University) in Germany. Dr. Sunshine’s teaching interests encompass the Renaissance and Reformation in Europe, as well as the history of plagues, church history, economic history, and military history. His first book, Reforming French Protestantism, won the 2005 Bi-Annual Huguenot Society Award.