n Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Another missionary heretic among the Zulus : a case of alleged heterodoxy in the Hermannsburg Mission

Volume 35, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9507



Theological strife was not uncommon on the nineteenth-century mission fields of southern Africa, but while some disputes, such as that surrounding the Anglican bishop of Natal, John Colenso, have been analysed by theologians and historians, most have not received appropriate scholarly attention. The present article seeks to fill one of the by exploring the roots of a controversy, which began in Natal but had repercussions in Germany and Scandinavia, where theories of the meaning of the atonement that departed from the Anselmian satisfaction doctrine incorporated in the Augsburg Confession were multiplying. In the 1870s, Johan Moe, a Norwegian in the employ of the Hermannsburg Mission in Zululand, propounded an interpretation in his book (1878), of which the original German text and his Dano-Norwegian translation prompted strong reactions in northern Europe. His dismissal in 1877 from that agency had also evoked strong reaction. It is argued that Moe's disagreement with the received Lutheran doctrine was not influenced by such contemporary theologians as Albrecht Ritschl but stemmed in large part from his disillusionment with ineffective missionary praxis and frustrations experienced in his ministry.

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