Those supporting “Insider Movements,” like Dudley Woodberry, have been telling us for decades that “conversional protestantism” was ineffective, unwise, and even damaging to the cultures where we have sent our missionaries. They argue that we should not be converting people to Christianity but rather we should be helping them to come into the kingdom of God through their own religious contexts. They say that Muslims should remain Muslims, Hindus should remain Hindus, etc…. So, it was surprising to read an article by John Piper about a research paper published by Woodberry that shows that “areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.” However, before you get your hopes up believing that a change of heart may have taken place, realize that it is Robert Woodberry, and not Dudley Woodberry, who did the research. I truly hope the many Christian missionaries who have forgotten the Great Commission and have endorsed leaving people in the bondage of false religious systems will take the time to read Robert Woodberry’s research because it demonstrates the truly transformative power that accompanies genuine faith in Christ.
Piper’s summery of this research can be found here.
Robert Woodberry’s research paper can be found here.