Monday, February 25, 2019 -
I just finished reading a very interesting book originally published in India, called “The Legacy of William Carey.” Carey went to India as a missionary in 1793 and never returned to his homeland, Great Britain. But Indians today, a mere 15 years prior to the bicentennial of his death, still revere and respect William Carey. And I’m speaking not of the Christians or the churches, but the general population. That is the impact one man, who believed in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform an entire society, had on an entire nation. It was because William Carey “was and evangelist who used every available medium to illumine every dark facet of Indian life with the light of the truth.”
William Carey, a poor cobbler, homeschooled by his father only until the age of ten when he became an apprentice shoemaker, self-taught himself theology, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, before God called him to give up everything to help take Christ to India to help transform that dark land.
Unlike Western missionaries today, Carey went to India with his family without much financial support, very few belongings, and lived in poverty until Carey found a good job in Calcutta. He saw his calling to the mission field as a life calling, never expecting to go back to India.
And Carey found Indian society pitifully backward, spiritually dark and idolatrous. Learning had pretty much ceased and ordinary education scarcely existed in the India he met. It is remarkable that his name is today a household name within secular India because he was faithful to the gospel that he believed was central to India’s modernization and transformation. Today, he is recognized not only as a Christian missionary, but a renowned botanist, industrialist, economist, medical humanitarian, media pioneer, agriculturalist, translator and educator, astronomer, library pioneer, forest conservationist, crusader for women’s rights, public servant, reformer, cultural transformer, and the father of the Urdu and Hindi languages.
Carey knew that the only way to bring civilization to a society was to bring the gospel and its transformational power to India. Yet that would not happen until he provided the Scriptures in languages they could understand. Even then, the Scriptures would do them no good until they learned to read. But he realized the Indian people were as capable of knowledge as he was. And he taught them to read, developed languages, and printed the Scriptures and other literature. He faced great opposition, especially among his own countrymen who feared “improving” Indian society would mean revolution. He argued that a civilized India would be far more beneficial to Britain than an enslaved one, and saw Christ as the answer to the destructive superstitions and evil religious practices that inhibited India’s development.
In order to overcome the obstacles within the English parliament and the East India Company, he and his contemporaries, including William Wilberforce, encouraged fellow evangelists to take over the control of both – and they succeeded through prayer, determination, and the hand of God. “It was this non-humanistic, transcendent faith that sustained Carey and helped him to liberate India from its two-millennia-long bondage to fatalism and religious escapism.”
Carey knew nothing but the gospel could counter the “social darkness” of India. It was the only effective antidote to social evils. The author, Vishal Mangalwadi, stated, “Our mistake today is that some who believe the gospel look upon it merely as a means of private salvation, for going to heaven. They do not realize that the Gospel is the God-given ‘public truth’ – the means of organizing a decent society. Therefore, their faith becomes privately engaging but publicly irrelevant.”
I couldn’t help in reading this book – really a treatise but think about our own country and our own society. Although still considered civilized, and no doubt wealthy, it is becoming unbelievably pagan, to the point where God and the Christian witness have no place in our society. While God’s law is the basis for our law, today the acknowledgment of God in the context of law, society, or government has become an anathema.
I have always felt for many years that our nation’s decline can be attributed to the removal of God and the lack of the fear of God, and refusal to acknowledge His role in our civilization, even within our pluralistic society. Christians and churches have also abandoned vocations and social roles that could have made a significant impact, and it is time to reclaim the land for Christ. But it must be through the testimony and life-witness of every believer. Churches have mostly abandoned the mandate which God gave to care for the widows and orphans and poor to the government, which has by-and-large made the church ineffective in witness and testimony within their communities. At the same time, idols of materialism, self-indulging, and gratification, entertainment and recreation have crept into our lives, and Satan is destroying our effective witness for Christ.
This is why American society is in such decay, and we are now at the point where society’s overall greed is threatening to embrace socialism, or perhaps even communism (where God is banned), which will completely drive us to the point where we will be like the India that William Carey found in 1793 – totally degenerate, ignorant, uneducated, corrupt, and enslaved.
The only answer now, as it was for India, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But first Christians must themselves confess their sin and idolatry – renouncing all idols they’ve placed before God Almighty and completely surrender themselves to be used of Him. And then we must be willing to invade every stronghold Satan has claimed his own – and reclaim it for God’s purpose – not violently or overtly, but in subtle and Scriptural ways, to be the light shining on a hill, the salt that provides savor and preservation. Just as one obedient man’s life helped to modernize and transform a nation in India, so an army of righteous, sold-out believers can transform every aspect of American society – the media, entertainment, education, government, law and justice, medicine, and our local communities. The two million-plus home-schooled children today have the potential to accomplish this in our lifetimes – but it is going to take a concerted effort, with God’s help, to reclaim our nation for righteousness.