Informed take on the amazing growth of a very unusual missionary organization
The two-sided mission organization comprising Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics is a paradox that begs for an explanation. The Summer Institute has long been doing laudable linguistic, humanitarian work in many countries, while Wycliffe has been one of the largest, fastest growing, and most controversial Christian missionary enterprises in the world.
In this wide-ranging study Boone Aldridge—a religious historian and twenty-year insider at WBT-SIL—looks back at the organization’s early years, from its inception in the 1930s to the death of its visionary founder, William Cameron Townsend, in 1982. He situates the iconic institution within the evolving landscape of mid-twentieth-century evangelicalism, examines its complex and occasionally confusing policies, and investigates the factors that led, despite persistent criticism from many sides, to its remarkable rise to prominence.
Boone Aldridge has served with Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International in both Africa and the United States since 1996. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Stirling in Scotland. This is his first book.
David Bebbington — author of Baptists through the Centuries: A History of a Global People “Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics were two sides of the same Christian institution. Wycliffe appealed to the evangelicals of America; the Summer Institute, an academic and humanitarian organization, attracted support from foreign governments. Boone Aldridge has written a penetrating analysis of how founder Cameron Townsend resisted a chorus of criticism to maintain this dual strategy over subsequent decades.”
Joel Carpenter — author of Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism “This thorough and intelligently presented study proves that the more closely we examine American fundamentalism and evangelicalism, the more fascinating and unpredictable the story becomes. . . . There is a remarkable second generation of evangelical studies emerging just now, and this book is one of the best.”
Daniel Silliman on Reading Religion "This is critical reading for anyone interested in the history of 20th century evangelical missions, the Bible in America, and the modern history of Bible translations, but it also touches on an incredibly wide array of subjects and will be interesting to those studying the history of philanthropy, anti-Catholicism, religious higher education, parachurch organization, private aviation, linguistics, Protestant debates about ecclesiology, and developments in the construction of evangelical identity."
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