Christians Guilty of Colonialism and Imperialism?
Are Christians guilty of colonialism and imperialism?
There definitely were many grievous times in history when representatives of the Christian religion did great harm to societies. And while this needs to be acknowledged, there are also a few other important points to keep in mind.
First, just because some people claimed to be Christians does not mean they actually were. Many people claim to follow a particular religion simply because their parents were adherents, and not because they have decided for themselves. Jesus made it clear that following him requires genuine repentance and a commitment to make him the Lord of one’s life (Luke 9:23, 14:33). And even if someone has made this commitment, that does not mean he is acting in full accord with Jesus' teaching. Jesus emphasized compassion and love for the vulnerable, poor, and those who were condemned by "respectable" society.
Second, it’s worth noting that there has also been a lot of harm done by non-Christian societies as well. For example, Muslim colonists, Mongol colonists, Japanese colonists and Chinese colonists (to name just a few) have done extraordinary damage to the cultures they have conquered. This includes not just "cultural genocide" but even mass slaughter of the people they conquered. This does not justify what Christians have done but it is worth noting because it helps correct the perception that “Christian societies” have been particularly vile relative to other societies.
Third, in the past few hundred years, many Protestant-Christian missionaries did a lot of work to protect the cultures, property and lives of the people they encountered. They also left long-lasting positive impacts on the societies they encountered. This is a fact that is often ignored by mainstream academia and the mainstream media. But it is backed by the pioneering work of Dr. Robert Woodberry, who has had his work accepted by secular peers despite a great deal of skepticism. For example, Robin Grier, Professor of Economics and International & Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, commented on Dr. Woodberry’s findings.
𝘐’𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴. 𝘐 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘢 𝘰𝘧 [𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬]; 𝘪𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦-𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘺. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘐 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘉𝘰𝘣’𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬. 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵, 𝘞𝘰𝘸, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘻𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘭𝘦𝘧𝘵 𝘢 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘭𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘤𝘺. 𝘐𝘵 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬.
Andrea Palpant Dilley, “The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries,” ChristianityToday.com, January 8, 2014, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/january-february/world-missionaries-made.html.
To learn more about how Jesus loved outcasts: 5 Groups of Outcasts That Jesus Loved
Listen to Dr. Woodberry explain his research.