- Kramer, Hendrik
- (1888-1965)Dutch missiologist and ecumenical leaderThe writings of Dutch Reformed minister/educator Hendrik Kramer dominated missiology (the study of missions) in the mid-20th century. Raised in Holland, partly at a church-sponsored orphanage, he attended Leiden University and received a Ph.D. in 1921. Already committed to a missionary career, at college he studied Indonesian languages and Islam, and in 1922 offered himself for service in what was then the Dutch East Indies. He moved there in 1922 under the auspices of the Dutch Bible Society with the twin tasks of overseeing Bible translations and working with converts from Islam. After 15 years in the Indies, he returned to Leiden as a professor of linguistics and the phenomenology of religions.Kramer helped establish a seminary in Jakarta and became a major force in assisting the various missions to make the transition into autonomous churches. Under the influence of Neo-Orthodoxy, he brought a new emphasis on the Bible to his missionary work. The work of theologians such as Karl Barth and Emil Brunner underlay his 1938 classic study, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World. In this and other writings, Kramer called for a clear biblical Christian witness in the face of other religions. In tune with NeoOrthodox perspectives, he saw God's dealing with humanity as distinct from what might be seen as natural human religious aspirations. These themes reappeared in his later books.Upon his return to Holland in 1937, he became an active force for renewal in the Reformed Church and an ecumenist. In 1948, he left his teaching post to become the first director of the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Institute at the Chateau de Bossey near Geneva. During his later years, he promoted the new emphasis on the ministry of the laity, which matured in the decades immediately following his death.Kramer retired in 1956 and died in 1965.See also Indonesia.Further reading:■ Libertus A. Hoedemaker, "Hendrik Kramer, 1888-1965: Biblical Realism Applied to Mission," in Gerald H. Anderson, et al., eds., Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of the Modern Missionary Movement (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998): 508-15■ Hendrik Kramer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (London: Edinburgh House Press, 1938)■ S. Kulandrian, "Kramer Then and Now," International Review of Missions 46 (1957): 171-81.
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.