Can I play with madness : American missionaries in Iran during the 1960s and 1970s
This thesis studied the interaction of American Protestant missionaries with Iranians during the 1960s and 1970s. It focused on the missionary activities of four American Protestant groups: Presbyterians, Assemblies of God, International Missions, and Southern Baptists. It argued that American missionaries’ predisposition toward their own culture confused their message of the gospel and added to the negative perception of Christianity among Iranians. This bias was seen primarily in the American missionaries’ desire to modernise Iran through education and healthcare, and between the missionaries’ relationship with Iranian Christians. Iranian attitudes towards missionary involvement in these areas were investigated, as was the changing American missionary strategy from a traditional method where missionaries had final say on most matters related to American and Iranian Christian interaction to the beginnings of an indigenous system where a partnership developed between the missionary and the Iranian Christian. Freedoms that American missionaries were given under Mohammed Reza Shah to be overt in their evangelistic and discipleship activities, and details of the amount of Christian material propagated, were investigated. As missionaries eventually withdrew from Iran’s education and healthcare systems, more opportunities to be involved in Christian and Western activities were given to Iranian Christians. Finally, the state of the Iranian Church after 1979, when American missionaries were expelled from the country, was contrasted with the Iranian Church during the Pahlavi era. This section explained that while Iranian Christians were thankful for American missionaries, they were also resentful because Iranian Christians wanted Christianity to fit better within Iranian accepted norms and practices.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-06-11
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 11th June 2024
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