three-self principles
   The three-self principles were an early statement of the view that Protestant missions in non-Christian countries should aim to be independent of the mother churches in Europe or the New World. This idea became the majority view in the second half of the 20th century, as mission churches became indigenized all over the world.
   The idea was originally advanced by three prominent Protestant missionaries - Henry Venn (1796-1873), Rufus Anderson (1796-1880), and John L. Nevius. For more than 30 years, Venn served as the honorary secretary of the Church Missionary Society (1841-72). Venn believed missionaries should aim to set up local churches that would be "self-governing, self-supporting, and self-extending." As an Anglican, he opposed setting up missionary dioceses, or naming bishops, before a local following had developed. He argued that foreign missionaries should quickly turn over control to local leadership.
   Operating as an executive for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston, Rufus Anderson arrived at essentially the same ideas as Venn. He argued for a focused and purposeful missionary program whose only goal was the creation of a scriptural, self-propagating Christianity. Missionaries were to seek the conversion of the lost, organize them into churches, train a competent local ministry, and lead the congregations to a stage where they became self-propagating. Any other activities were superfluous and even distracting. By the end of the 1860s, he was clearly articulating the three-self principles.
   John Nevius was a Presbyterian missionary who further developed the three-self idea while working in China and Korea. The key to making the three-self principles work, he believed, was teaching converts to become a witness for Christ among their neighbors and coworkers. The building of local leaders meant that churches would not be dependent on foreign funds for their survival and growth.
   Churches were often reluctant to give control of their missions to local leaders. But with the decolonization and other changes brought by World War II, the idea became unavoidable. During the war, many churches had been forced into self-sufficiency; most of them demonstrated their readiness for self-governance. After the war, the end to colonization was frequently accompanied by the transformation of missions into autonomous churches.
   As a philosophy, the three-self principles survived most visibly in China. The Communist government expelled all foreign missionaries in 1950, and in 1954 forced the Protestant churches to merge into a single body, the Three-self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China. Ostensibly formed to break church reliance on foreign money, influence, and leadership, the movement was actually designed to train leaders in patriotism (support for the government) and to facilitate communication between the government and the Christian community. In 1966, as the Cultural Revolution began and the government attempted to destroy Christianity, the Three-self Movement was disbanded. It was reorganized in 1980. Its main role is to articulate new government policies regarding religion. On a more positive note, it has helped foster the sense that the contemporary Chinese Protestant church is an indigenous body and no longer a branch of a foreign institution.
   Further reading:
   ■ Gerald H. Anderson, ed., Mission Legacies: Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998)
   ■ Scott W. Sunquist, ed., A Dictionary of Asian Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerd-mans, 2001)
   ■ Philip L. Wickeri, Seeking Common Ground: Protestant Christianity, the Three-Self Movement and China's United Front (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1988).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Three-Self Patriotic Movement — The Three Self Patriotic Movement (officially zh. 中国基督教三自爱国运动委员会, National Committee of the Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China; colloquially zh. 三自教会, the Three Self Church) or TSPM is the government sanctioned (… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-help groups for mental health — are voluntary associations of people who share a common desire to overcome mental illness or otherwise increase their level of cognitive or emotional wellbeing.cite journal | last = Humphreys | first = Keith | coauthors = Rappaport, Julian |… …   Wikipedia

  • Three Principles of the People — ▪ Chinese ideology also called  Three Great Principles , Chinese (Pinyin)  Sanmin Zhuyi  or  (Wade Giles romanization)   San min Chu i        the ideological basis of the political program of the Chinese Nationalist leader Sun Yat sen (1866–1925) …   Universalium

  • Principles of Intelligent Urbanism — (PIU) is a theory of urban planning composed of a set of ten axioms intended to guide the formulation of city plans and urban designs. They are intended to reconcile and integrate diverse urban planning and management concerns. These axioms… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-creation cosmology — (SCC) theories are gravitational theories in which the mass of the universe is created out of its self contained gravitational and scalar fields, as opposed to the theory of continuous creation cosmology or the steady state theory which depend on …   Wikipedia

  • Self-evaluation maintenance theory — refers to discrepancies between two people in a relationship. Two people in a relationship each aim to keep themselves feeling good psychologically, when they are being compared to the other person [(Tesser, 1988)] .Self evaluation is defined as… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-relations Psychotherapy — Self relationship is an aspect of psychotherapy which describes and focusses on the crucial relationship between a person and their own self. Formally described in Stephen Gilligan s article: The relational self: the expanding of love beyond… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-referencing doomsday argument rebuttal — Self referencing doomsday argument rebuttals attempt to refute the Doomsday argument (that there is a credible link between the brevity of the human race s existence and its expected extinction) by applying the same reasoning to the life time of… …   Wikipedia

  • Self-determination — This article is about self determination in international law. For other uses, see Self determination (disambiguation). Self determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and… …   Wikipedia

  • Principles of War — The Principles of War were tenets originally proposed by Carl von Clausewitz in his essay Principles or War [ [http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/PrincWar/Princwr1.htm#I] , Gatzke] , and later enlarged in his book, On War . Since the mid 19th… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”