n Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies - In the intersection of the ecclesial boundaries: an ecumenical exploration of Benjamin Schultze for the sake of Madras Mission

Volume 4 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2414-8636



Ecumenical musings and deliberations are not new to Indian Christianity. While the formation of Church of South India is an far-reaching milestone to cherish and celebrate in the history of the Church and ecumenism, another national and ecclesial boundary crossing occurred among the two major Protestant confessional families little more than two centuries prior to it. This ecumenical enterprise is generally unknown or overlooked, if not ignored. This less known ecumenical undertaking brought together the Lutherans and the Anglicans in launching the Madras Mission, aka “English Mission” in 1728, during a spell of confessional rivalry among the Lutherans and Anglicans were quite intense and atin its apexes in Europe. The architect of this great ecumenical initiative was Benjamin Schultze (1689-1760), a Ger-man Lutheran missionary, who served in Tamil Nadu, India from 1719 to 1743. This article argues in spite of the conflicts and controversies he had to endure in Tranquebar and Madras, Schultze played a pivotal role in establishing Protestant Christianity in Madras through developing an ecumenical paradigm that endured for more than a century and contributed immensely to the fledgling Protestant Church in Madras. Knowing the limitation of the remotely located Tranquebar to reach the entire India, he had meticulously worked toward convincing the English to start the “English Mission” in Madras. The unending controversies he suffered with his fellow missionaries and the constant mistrust and rebuttal from the Mission Collegium regarding decisions he made in critical circumstances, only augmented his decision to move from Tranquebar to Madras and to found the “English Mission”.

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