Mission and the Meeting of Faiths: Max Warren and John V. Taylor

by Graham Kings

Date added: 02/08/2023


Mission and the Meeting of Faiths:

Max Warren and John V. Taylor


By Graham Kings


in Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley (eds), The Church Mission Society and World Christianity, 1799-1999 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), pp. 285-318. 

republished in

Graham Kings, Nourishing Mission: Theological Settings (Leiden: Brill, 2022), pp. 85-113.




You'll be amused to hear that the Swedish missionary society have asked me for a paper on 'Christians and Other Faiths' and as they gave me a month's notice. I have told them I can only let them have a reduced Kelham paper...but privately, and just between you and me, and the door of your study, I am rather thrilled that some folk on the continent are interested in my views on this subject.  The origin of their curiosity is my introduction to the ‘Christian Presence Series’ which, so it appears, are very widely read in Scandinavia.

Max Warren wrote this letter on 18 January 1969 to his daughter Pat and son-in-law Roger Hooker, CMS missionaries at Bareilly in North India. The letter is part of an extraordinary fortnightly correspondence, between 1965, when they went out to India, and 1977, when Warren died.[1]When he wrote this letter Warren was a Canon at Westminster Abbey, but from 1942-1963 he had been General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society.[2]

The quotation manifests various aspects of Warren’s character and life’s work. It is personal and witty: ‘just between you and me, and the door of your study’, concerns a key theme in his thinking: ‘Christian Presence’, and shows the sort of lecture invitations he was receiving at the time and also his enthusiastic delight in his wider influence: ‘I am rather thrilled that some folk on the continent are interested in my view on the subject.’

In the same month, John V. Taylor, Warren’s successor as General Secretary of the CMS (1963-74), addressed the theme of ‘the Cross and Pakistan’ in his influential monthly CMS News-letter. He wrote: ‘He did not call his disciples to brandish the cross but to carry it on their shoulders’ and went on to point out the importance of ‘the sign of the broom’, for in Pakistan the name Christian is synonymous with ‘sweeper’[3].

CMS celebrated its bicentenary thirty years after these writings and it has been fascinating to discern and trace the works and influence of Warren and Taylor on the subject of mission and the meeting of faiths. Both of them included in their thinking and writing a whole range of subjects which related to the mission of God. After the Second World War, Warren wrote prophetically about the rise of nationalism and the demise of colonialism, seeing key issues well before many politicians. Taylor, in the late 1960s, advocated the strategic development of small ecclesial groups for mission. Yet the key issue in both missiological and theological debate at the end of the twentieth century is this subject of Christianity and people of  ‘other faiths’, and both Warren and Taylor have made significant contributions to the development of an open approach that is centred on Christ.[4]

In this chapter we shall be considering first the people who helped to shape their thinking, before looking at their own writing and their influence on British and world Christianity at the end of the twentieth century.

Background Influences on Warren and Taylor

In his autobiography, Crowded Canvas, Warren described inviting, in 1927, a famous missionary to tea in his student rooms at Ridley Hall, Cambridge:

Among many memories of that happy four terms was the privilege I had of entertaining Temple Gairdner of Cairo, already a hero for me long before Constance Padwick’s magnificent biography which appeared in 1929. It was as stimulating as it was humbling to have this experienced veteran of work in the Muslim world listening to my ambitions for literature work in the Western Sudan, this being my private dream, and kindly encouraging me to follow the dream as a not impossible one (Warren, 1974a, p. 49).[5]

Temple Gairdner (1873-1928), a CMS missionary in Cairo from 1899, was the author of Edinburgh 1910 (Gairdner, 1910) and the pioneering The Reproach of Islam (Gairdner, 1909) which he later retitled The Rebuke of Islam (Gairdner, 1920). He was an important forerunner of the respectful witness to Muslims that was developed by Kenneth Cragg. When he died, his colleague in Cairo, Yusef Effendi Tadras, commented: ‘Other teachers taught us how to refute Islam; he taught us how to love Muslims (Padwick, 1929, p. 302).’  This was also to epitomize the approach of Warren and Taylor.

In his CMS News-letter for December 1973, Taylor described appreciatively the significance of Gairdner:

Hardly has one man enriched the mission of the Church with such diversity of talents. The fastidious musician, and collector of Near Eastern airs, the writer and producer of plays, the Christian apologist versed in the thought of Islam, the Arabic scholar and author, the creator of a profoundly beautiful and vivid worship, the great inventor of games and family celebrations, the perceptive lover of books and places and peculiar people, were all equally and totally at the disposal of the Living Christ and his Gospel (Taylor, 1973).

The spirit of Gairdner’s approach to Christian witness in a Muslim society was crucial to Warren and Taylor’s own thinking about the meeting of faiths. Even in the 1960s, however, it was felt to be dangerously radical and alarming as far as many in the Church of England were concerned. This is illustrated by a review in the Church Times of a superb collection of Muslim prayers edited by Constance Padwick, a second background influence (Padwick, 1961). Padwick (1886-1968) was one of the leading British women missionaries in the twentieth century. She made her way in the Middle East under her own steam, having been rejected by the CMS, but was in very close liaison with various CMS personnel and continued to be in contact with Warren in the 1950s.[6] As well as the biography of Gairdner, she also wrote the lives of Henry Martyn and Alexander Mackay.

Kenneth Cragg, who, as a missionary scholar himself, continued the tradition of Gairdner and Padwick, wrote to Warren on 8 March 1961:

The ‘Church Times’ of February 25th ... included a rather adverse review on Constance Padwick’s ‘Muslim Devotions’. It strongly disapproved the S.P.C.K. publication of a book which it described as wholly unchristian and argued that such interest in other faiths tended towards ‘religious indifference (Hooker Archive, Cragg to Warren, 1961).’  

Cragg enclosed a copy of the sharp letter he wrote to the Church Times in response to this attack, which manifested his own approach:

It would seem that ‘religious indifference’ lies squarely with the reviewer. When has it been a principle of apostolic Christianity to ignore whole stretches of human experience or to secure its exclusiveness by a studied repudiation of interest in everything outside its own interior confines (Hooker Archive, Cragg to Church Times, 1961)?

Later in the letter he commented on the review attributing to him an advocacy of the ‘need to regard Muhammad as a true prophet.’

This is one of those unhappily ambiguous sentences, which might mean an acceptance of the truth of all the prophet ever said or claimed. There are numerous things, most notably the claim to the superceding of our Lord, which for the Christian are manifestly untrue. But that is not to disqualify the deep and positive content of the Qur’an in such areas as the Divine unity, the created order, the dignity of man, the enormity of idolatry and the fact of nature as a realm of Divine ‘signs’ to be taken with reverent gratitude. Not to acknowledge these is to repudiate one’s Christianity (Hooker Archive, Cragg to Church Times, 1961).

Kenneth Cragg (b. 1913) had the most profound influence on Warren from the time of the publication of his book The Call of the Minaret (Cragg, 1965).[7] Cragg was never technically a CMS missionary but was part of the tradition developed by Gairdner and remained in close contact with CMS leaders. T. E. Yates has commented that ‘copies of Warren’s Newsletter were studded with references to this book and appeals to his readers to acquire it (Yates, 1994, p. 141).’[8] The News-letter for March 1957 took it as its text and freely quoted from it:

Part at least of the deepest significance of Dr. Cragg’s book is that it prepares us for the possibility that a genuinely Christian encounter with Islam will be almost as much a discovery for the Christian as a revelation for the Muslim (Warren, 1957a, p. 1).

In the three main sections of his book, Cragg set out the contemporary political and economic environment of the Muslim peoples since 1945.[9] He then went on to play with the ambiguity of the word ‘call’ by showing a deep understanding of what it meant to a Muslim to hear the call to prayer, and what the call of the minaret demanded for a Christian. Part of this final section was a ‘call to retrieval’, which for Cragg involved redeeming the failures of love in the past centuries of tragic Christian encounter with Islam by witnessing to a new future of relationships possible in Christ. His concern was not to have the map more Christian, but the Christ more widely known. Near the end of the book there was a call to patience. In commending it to his readers, Warren ended his News-letter with this quotation from Cragg:

If Christ is what Christ is, He must be uttered. If Islam is what Islam is, that ‘must’ is irresistible. Wherever there is misconception, witness must penetrate: wherever there is the obscuring of the beauty of the Cross it must be unveiled: wherever men have missed God in Christ He must be brought to them again (Cragg, 1956, p. 304).

The fourth influence on Warren was his son-in-law, Roger Hooker, through their regular correspondence between 1965 and 1977. Hooker’s ministry in North India was firstly as a teacher at Bareilly Theological College and then as a student of Sanskrit at the Sanskrit University, Benaras (Varanasi), which also involved deep friendships with Hindus and Muslims. This sensitive, pioneering post had been set up by John V. Taylor. Hooker later became the Bishop of Birmingham’s Adviser for Inter-Faith Relations based in the inner-city area of Smethwick. Hooker had also been influenced by Gairdner and Cragg as well as by Warren and Taylor.[10]

Warren bore witness to the importance of these letters in the foreword to his final book I Believe in the Great Commission: the letters have ‘kept me in touch with the actual life and work of a foreign missionary. In particular, I have been enabled to live, if only at second hand, in the creative experience of meeting with men of other Faiths (Warren, 1976).’ In one of the letters he commented:

Now here is a point where in our discussions (you with me) we need to be clear how very great are my limitations. I know a little about Islam and Judaism and Western Agnosticism (secularism if you like). I know nothing about Hinduism or Buddhism…[Through our correspondence] my assumptions are always being very properly challenged by the reminder that there is another ‘universe of discourse’ where they cannot be applied simpliciter (Warren to Hooker, 26 Oct. 1971).

These four influences were all English. What of European, American and non-Western missiologists? Ossi Haaramäki, who wrote a dissertation on ‘The Missionary Ecclesiology of Max Warren’ commented:

Though reviewing in his monthly publication of the CMS Newsletter of 1942-1963 the contemporary literature of European and American missiology, Warren after all seldom carried out real theological dialogue with missiologists of his day (Kraemer, Freytag, Sundkler and Hoekendijk). He did quote them in his writings, yet this reflection had surprisingly little impact on his thought structure (Haaramäki, p. 159).

This comment is perceptive and generally fair, though Warren’s friendship with Walter Freytag was important. Freytag was Professor of Missiology and Ecumenical Relations at Hamburg from 1953 to 1959 and they met at various ecumenical mission conferences. In an intriguing article for Freytag’s festschrift (Warren, 1959a), after admitting that he did not know German, Warren went on to describe four emphases of Freytag which he had learnt from personal conversations, and his own detailed records of Freytag’s addresses, at these conferences. These were the corporate nature of Christian witness, mission and eschatology, the relationship between Church and mission and the importance of missiological research. It is clear from this essay that Freytag had influenced Warren, but, interestingly, the subject of the meeting of faiths was not mentioned.

The most significant non-Western (or Indo-European) scholar to influence Warren was Raymond (Raimundo) Panikkar (b. 1918). Born in Barcelona, the son of a Hindu father and a Spanish Catholic mother, he was brought up in a Hindu-Catholic environment, learning the Hindu scriptures alongside the Bible. As a Catholic priest, he taught in India and the USA. His classic book, The Unknown Christ of Hinduism (Panikkar, 1964) and his personal friendship, helped develop Warren’s thought and phraseology in the late 1960s.

Warren, and the above scholars, also fed into the stream of learning of Taylor (though Taylor has been more critical of Panikkar’s thought). Soon after Warren had been appointed General Secretary in 1942 he helped Taylor find his missionary vocation as Principal of Bishop Tucker College, Mukono, Uganda. Later he was appointed as Africa Secretary of the CMS.[11] Taylor was profoundly influenced by his students at Mukono and by the village people in Uganda amongst whom he lived while researching his book The Growth of the Church in Buganda (Taylor, 1958). This bore abundant fruit in The Primal Vision (Taylor, 1963) which includes quotations from the works of Walter Freytag.[12]


Warren’s Theology of Christian Presence and of Attention

     Christian Presence Series

‘Christian presence’ surfaced as a theme in the Catholic worker-priest movement in France after the Second World War, where close, incarnational involvement with workers alienated from the church produced a call for a radically new approach to mission in an industrialised society.[13]It also came to be important in European Protestant theology engaging with issues of a secular society following Bonhoeffer’s influence. Warren, inspired by Cragg’s Call of the Minaret (Cragg, 1956), developed and edited his own series, published by SCM Press between 1959 and 1966, which focused mainly on other faiths. He invited Cragg to write the first book Sandals at the Mosque (Cragg, 1959). Others followed on Buddhism by George Appleton, on Japanese Religions by Raymond Hammer, on African Traditional Religion by John V. Taylor, on Judaism by Peter Schneider, on Hinduism by William Stewart and on Secularism by Martin Jarrett-Kerr.[14]

Account needs to be taken of the context in which the series was initiated (before Vatican II developed a new openness to other faiths), in order fully to appreciate the extraordinary openness of approach. Warren aimed to invigorate a major shift in attitude towards other faiths, but one which was still authentically biblical. Each book began with a general introduction by Warren, at the end of which was a comment on that particular volume. He outlined the new opportunities and challenges at the ‘end of Empire’ and moved from there to the ‘co-existence with other religions’ (a strange sounding phrase today). His fundamental stress was on respect and humility:

When we approach the man of another faith than our own it will be in a spirit of expectancy to find how God has been speaking to him and what new understandings of the grace and love of God we may ourselves discover in this encounter.

Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on men’s dreams. More serious still, we may forget that God was here before our arrival. We have, then, to ask what is the authentic religious content in the experience of the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, or whoever he may be. We may, if we have asked humbly and respectfully, still reach the conclusion that our brothers have started from a false premise and reached a faulty conclusion. But we must not arrive at our judgement from outside their religious situation. We have to try to sit where they sit, to enter sympathetically into the pains and griefs and joys of their history and see how those pains and griefs and joys have determined the premises of their argument. We have, in a word, to be ‘present’ with them (Warren, 1959, pp. 9-10).

This became a famous quotation. Stephen B. Bevans, a Catholic missiologist in Chicago, cited it in his book Models of Contextual Theology, and continued:

These words express perhaps more clearly than any I know the central and guiding insight of the anthropological model: Human nature, and therefore human culture, is good, holy, and valuable. It is within human culture that we find God’s revelation - not as a separate supracultural message, but in the very complexity of culture itself, in the warp and woof of human relationships, which are constitutive of cultural existence (Bevans, 1992, p. 49).       

The phrase ‘Christian presence’ came to have a slightly different meaning in the student world, with greater stress on anonymity in witness and on social justice. In 1964 the World Student Christian Federation adopted the idea of ‘Christian presence’ in a policy statement which defined the phrase as follows:

[The word ‘presence’] tries to describe the adventure of being there in the name of Christ, often anonymously, listening before we speak, hoping that men will recognise Jesus for what he is and stay where they are, involved in the fierce fight against all that dehumanizes (Student Christian Federation 1965, p. 233).[15]

Warren’s own use of the phrase also developed. In the series he used the word to refer to the Christian being present; in his later thought, influenced by Panikkar, as we shall see, he used the word presence to refer to Christ’s presence.[16]


         Ecumenical Lectures in Israel


Warren prepared four lectures which were read at an ecumenical conference in Israel in March 1967 (Warren, 1967). He had been unable to attend, because of a heart attack. The first two concerned other religions.[17] In the first lecture, ‘A Christian Theology of Attitude Towards Other Religions’, his biblical theology led him into various ‘insights’ (his preferred word to overdefined ‘doctrines’).

He showed that the good news of the cross is part of the whole story of redemption:  ‘God did not start loving the world at the Incarnation of our Lord’ and more controversially ‘There is a deep and profound sense in which we can claim that because what happened at Calvary happened once and for all, all men have been redeemed. The difference between men is that some know it and some do not know it.’ He then introduced the concept of the ‘uncovenanted’ Christ:

Assuming the word ‘cosmic’ to refer to the whole world, or in more modern parlance, to the whole created order, I would propose to speak of the ‘uncovenanted’ Christ, that is the Christ who was not pre-figured in the Old Covenant with Israel, and is only hinted at in the New Covenant with the New Israel (Hooker, 1987, p. 8).

Warren then referred to John 1:9 ‘The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.’

That enlightening, I want to suggest, is much more than the provision of conscience. It should, I believe, be understood as the activity of the uncovenanted Christ seeking to make de facto that authority over all the world which is his de iure...Dare we limit this attempt to make it de facto to the activities of his church? If he is thus active, then when I go to meet the man of some other religious faith, I go to meet Christ. He is already there in that other man, unrecognised no doubt, but there nonetheless (Hooker, 1987, p. 9).

In his second Israel Lecture, ‘A Christian Theology of Practice in Relation to Other Religions’, after stressing the importance of service, he came to the distinction between dialogue and evangelism:

In Dialogue we do not aim to evangelise. Rather we aim to establish a relationship of mutual understanding and respect on the basis of a common humanity and an equally genuine shared search for the truth. In quite other circumstances, perhaps of great personal need, we bear witness to Christ as the one who can meet the need... Between such a witness and the encounter through Dialogue there is no conflict. The same person can engage in both. But he resolutely refuses any attempt to confuse them. Each has its proper place (Hooker, 1987, p. 9).           


A Theology of Attention


The particular phrase ‘A Theology of Attention’ was used first in a lecture to the annual CMS School of Mission in January 1970 and was later published in Face to Face: Issues in Inter-faith Dialogue (Taylor, 1971) and republished in India by the Indian SPCK, together with two other essays ‘Attention and the Problem of Idolatry’ and ‘The Universal Christ and the Problem of Interpretation (Warren, 1971)’. These three essays form a coherent presentation of Warren’s thought at that time. He drew on the compelling work of a German missionary monk in India, Klaus Klostermaier (Klostermaier, 1969), and in particular his chapter ‘Theology at 120 Degrees Fahrenheit’, to which Warren added the reminder ‘in the shade’.

Warren answered his rhetorical question, why he had substituted the word ‘attention’ for ‘dialogue’, thus:

My reason is fundamental to all that follows. The essence of true dialogue is that it is an activity of listening, mutual listening. Unless that attitude is recognised as basic there will always be the danger of dialogue becoming an argument and even degenerating into a shouting match, however discreet the shouting, neither party to the dialogue paying serious attention to what the other is saying (Warren, 1971, p. 1).

He developed his theme with reference to Christ:

When you and I venture to listen to another person ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ there is an unseen listener present, Jesus himself. We have to listen to him listening. We have to know Jesus and be ready to learn all his meanings too. And in the context of this listening it may be that he will have something new to say, something we have never heard before. And if we listen very carefully, with concentrated attention, it is likely that we will hear him speaking through the lips of a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, a man or woman of some tribal religion - or perhaps a Marxist or humanist. Jesus, now as always, is very full of surprises (Warren, 1971, p. 6).

He suggested that our humility should be shown in three ways: towards God, towards people of other faiths and in our questioning. All these comments were based on years of regular reading, rereading and notetaking during his early morning bible studies. Primarily Warren was an historian, but the biblical theology movement flowed in his blood. He stressed that redemption must be seen in the context of creation and cited passages which have now become well known in ecological reflections (Ps 50.10-11, Ps 19.1) and in recent discussions concerning people of other faiths.[18]

For redemption he focused on Colossians 1.15-20 and Ephesians 1.10 and raised the issue of the Omnipresent Christ. His section on God the Sanctifier was, interestingly, weaker: it needed Taylor to develop this theme in depth.

In Warren’s second way, mentioned above, of ‘humility towards people of other faiths’, he advanced a tentative distinction between the two Pauline phrases ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ and ‘being in Christ’. The former, he suggested, was wider and included unconscious and inarticulate experience of the ‘Christ-presence’ while the latter concerned being consciously incorporated into Christ.[19] It seems to me that a distinction between conscious and unconscious response to Christ is valid, but is not warranted by the distinction between these Pauline phrases. ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ refers to the extraordinary context of the gentiles receiving Christ.[20]

Warren’s third section of ‘A Theology of Attention’ raised key questions on idolatry, universalism and the uncovenanted Christ, which were developed in later chapters of the Indian edition.

Firstly, the Old Testament prophetic denunciations of idolatry. These, he stressed, were mainly focused ‘inwards’, as a warning to Israel, rather than ‘outwards’, commenting on the Gentiles’ behaviour. Warren developed this theme in the chapter ‘Attention and the Problem of Idolatry’:

The attack is made upon those who know better, not on those who know no other way. In defending Israel’s belief about God, all idols have to be attacked, and within the historical context of the Old Testament this involved an attack upon idolaters (Warren, 1971, p. 31).

This emphasis is no doubt correct, though not all biblical texts support it, particularly those which indulge in heavy sarcasm.

Secondly,with regard to the ‘universalist’ texts in Romans (5.18, 3.23-4, 11.32-36). Warren commented that he was not ‘arguing for a facile universalism’, but asked: ‘can we seriously believe that there are any men anywhere unaffected by this all-embracing redemption (Warren, 1971, p. 21)?’ Warren discussed this question with Hooker in his letter of 17 October 1971:

I am always grateful for being challenged on 'universalism'. But with you I believe in paradox.  I'm sure that two mutually inconsistent ideas may have to be held in tension in this our time of ignorance.  I wholly agree that God only wants the free response of man and that must involve the possibility of a free rejection. Yet I find myself increasingly perplexed as to what to do with the multitudes an ever increasing number who are not free to reject because they know of no one to accept.  Isn't this one of the vastest problems of today…

This, so it seems to me, gives a dimension of depth to all one's thinking about 'Universalism’ and the ultimate destiny of man and the meaning of anakephalaiosis.[21]...

So you see what a long chase your paragraph on 'Universalism' has taken me.  Keep up this challenge - you are, as I said in my last letter, the only person with whom a regular conversation is possible.

The twin strands of judgement and the promise of ‘all things being summed up in Christ’ (Ephesians 1.10 was a fundamental text for Warren), can, perhaps, be brought together if judgement is seen as ‘annihilation’, banishment into nothingness.[22] This would mean that all who remain, (with many, many surprises, including people of other faiths) will indeed be summed up in Christ. As a stone dropped into a pond causes ripples in all directions, so the cross of Christ, at the epicentre of history, has effects backwards to the patriarchs as well as forwards to us and outwards to those who have not yet fully heard of Christ, but are open to God as they know him. Salvation by faith (not by religious observances), by Christ (even if unknown) and by the cross (which challenges all claims on God) seem to me to be ‘three themes in one’ that bring the promise of God’s hope.

The third key question of Warren related to this discussion. It considered the prologue of John’s gospel, ‘the light of men’ and the ‘uncovenanted Christ’. This is developed in the chapter ‘The Universal Christ and the Problem of Interpretation’.

Warren outlined three ways of response: argument, dialogue and empathy. As examples of the apologetics of the first way he found illustrations in Justin, Origen, Aquinas and especially Henry Martyn, including the story of a Persian Muslim scholar who came to faith. As an example of dialogue he pointed to Gairdner.[23] He presented the vital importance of friendship (‘...he taught us how to love Muslims’), a favourite theme of Warren’s, which surfaced again and again in his letters to Hooker:

We shall not get very far with our meeting, with arriving at a ‘mutual courtesy of respect’ unless we forget all about dialogue in the sheer enjoyment of making friends. Friendship without any arrière pensée is to be our first achievement (Warren, 1971, p. 54).

In this chapter Warren quoted four times from Hooker’s letters to him. On 4 October, 1969 Hooker wrote about a visit to a satsang, a weekly Hindu meeting consisting of loving devotion to Ram and Sita and expositions of the Bhagavadgita:

Simply to proclaim the gospel to these people would simply be an exercise in insensitive futility. I think that the way must lie is in ‘listening and asking them questions’. What was thrilling was to be accepted so readily and completely into their circle (Warren, 1971, p. 56).

Warren also mentioned another important influence on him:

A dear friend of mine, priest of the Roman Obedience, Fr. Raymond Panikkar, of the Hindu University of Varanasi,[24] wrote some years ago a work with the title The Unknown Christ of Hinduism in which he seeks to show something of the unexpectedness of the way Christ himself is to be discovered in Hindu spirituality (Warren, 1971, p. 58).[25]

As an example of his third way of response, empathy, Warren quoted Klostermaier’s incisive insight ‘Christ does not come to India as a stranger, he comes into his own. Christ comes to India not from Europe, but directly from the Father (Klostermaier, 1969, p. 112).’ He then gave  the example of Charles de Foucauld and the Little Brothers of Jesus[26] and ended with the words of de Foucauld which focus on a theme dear to his own heart. ‘Being present amongst people, with a presence willed and intended as a witness of the love of Christ (cited in Voillaume, 1955, p. 120).’


The Debate with John Hick on Uniqueness


Finally, in considering Warren we come to his debate with John Hick on the uniqueness of Christ. A working party of the British Council of Churches had asked Warren for a memorandum on this subject. It was later published in The Modern Churchman (Warren, 1974b) and Dillistone reckoned it to be one of the finest articles Warren ever wrote (Dillistone, 1980, p. 202). Warren endeavoured to show that the uniqueness of Christ consisted of the fact that Jesus’ intimate relationship with his Father, and supremely the Cross and resurrection, explicitly demonstrated what had been felt after, or even implicitly believed, by other faiths.

He accepted the need for a ‘Copernican revolution’ but not such a one as expressed by Hick in God and the Universe of Faiths (Hick, 1973).  ‘The new centre is not a theological term - God - ...but an historical person Jesus in whom God is to be recognised as uniquely revealed (Warren, 1974b, p. 61).’ Hick wrote a short comment, which was also published.[27] Warren stressed the personal nature of God and the importance of the incarnation. He was first of all an historian, and while acknowledging the need for a major rethink in theology, he argued as an historian with Hick, the philosopher of religion, who denied the coherence of holding to the uniqueness of Christ in the modern world.

At the close of this century and the beginning of the next, the real focus of debate is between those who follow the line developed by Hick and those who, like Warren and Taylor, hold to the finality, ultimacy, and distinctiveness or uniqueness of Christ.[28]


Taylor’s Theology of the Go-Between Spirit and the Meeting of Faiths


In a letter to Pat Hooker dated 26 April 1973, Warren gave a wonderfully witty pen portrait of John V. Taylor:     

He is head and shoulders spiritually and mentally above any of his contemporaries and is one of the few Anglicans with a capacity for seeing 6 feet in front of his nose and then a little more.  What is more he doesn't possess the peculiar Anglican Ecclesiastical squint which gets virtually every important issue out of focus.


The Primal Vision


Warren invited Taylor to write in his Christian Presence series and this produced The Primal Vision. Earlier in the century, the missionary scholars Placide Tempels (Tempels, 1945), (Belgian Catholic), Edwin Smith (Smith, 1936 and 1959) and Geoffrey Parrinder (Parrinder, 1949 and 1954) (both British Methodist) had pioneered studies on African religion in a sensitive way. Taylor developed their work. He presented Christ as ‘the Coming One’, elucidating the widespread African myth of the ‘lost presence of God’, the divine withdrawal. The ‘Coming One’ renews that presence.[29]

The ‘pagan’ sees the Erchomenos, the Coming One, standing in the midst of his own world-view and presenting to him several points of reference so relevant and yet so startlingly new as to command immediate recognition and immediate resistance (Taylor, 1963, p. 120).

He that should come, the Emmanuel of Africa’s long dream, is, I believe, this God who has been eternally committed to, and involved in, the closed circle, even to the limit of self-extinction. His symbol is not the cross above the orb, but the cross within the circle. His is the lost Presence that the primal faith of man has always sensed. In the meeting of the Christian with the man who clings to that faith it may be that he will show himself to them both (Taylor, 1963, p. 92).

Taylor began the book by drawing on his experience of living, during his research for The Growth of the Church in Buganda (Taylor, 1958), in a thatched hut for several months close to a bush school in Uganda. After discussing whether one religion had to cede to another, he went on:

Ruthlessness has had a long run in Africa, and so long as the missionary encounter is conceived of as a duologue one will have to ‘cede to the other’. But may it not be truer to see it as a meeting of three, in which Christ has drawn together the witness who proclaims him and the other who does not know his name, so that in their slow discovery of one another each may discover more of him (Taylor, 1963, pp. 34-35)?

Taylor went on to argue that the two key surprises that Christ brings to the African world-view are the recognition of a direct relationship with God and the solidarity of all humanity, the discovery of ‘Adam’ when ‘the first ancestor in most African myths is, strictly speaking, the equivalent of Abraham (Taylor, 1963, p. 122).’

         In The Primal Vision, Taylor manifested his close affinity with African spirituality, which came out of years of profound involvement, and engagement, with the African world view.


The Go-between God


In chapter nine of his classic book The Go-between God: The Holy Spirit and Christian Mission (Taylor, 1972) entitled ‘Meeting: the Universal Spirit and the Meeting of Faiths’,[30] Taylor set out his underlying conviction:

We are citizens of a forgiven universe. Being-in-Christ is a more primary and essential condition of a man’s existence than is his ignorance of Christ. It follows that any and every movement of his mind and spirit which can be called an act of faith is truly faith in Christ, even though Christ is still the unknown magnetic pole which draws him. Evangelism, therefore is, inviting a man to become what he is, helping him to accept the fact that he is already accepted in the beloved (Taylor, 1972, p. 180).  

Then he developed a careful, fascinating definition of religion. He criticised a static view of religion as ‘primarily a body of propositions and regulations, standing over against people who either believe or do not believe’ and then continued:

But I believe it is truer to think of a religion as a people’s tradition of response to the reality the Holy Spirit has set before their eyes. I am deliberately not saying that any religion is the truth which the Spirit disclosed, nor even that it contains that truth. All we can say without presumption is that this is how men have responded and taught others to respond to what the Spirit made them aware of (Taylor, 1972, p. 182).

For Taylor, therefore, religion was ‘a tradition of response’. When he turned to dialogue he mentioned two particular truths he had learned from his own experience in dealing with disagreements: 

Firstly, I would say, pay attention to the real conviction that underlies the precise point at which disagreement appears and then try to turn mere confrontation of opposites into a real and possible choice (Taylor, 1972, p. 187).        

After mentioning the differences between the response of Jesus and Muhammad to violence, he continued:

The gulf between is seen, as it were, in cross section. Both I and the Muslim may go forward either on the one side or the other. I said ‘cross section’; for it is nothing less than the cross which is now demanding our decision. Once more we see the evangelism of the Holy Spirit consists in creating occasions for choice (Taylor, 1972, p. 188). 

He described the second truth, ‘I must be patient enough to listen and learn until I begin to see his world through his eyes’, before discussing what is beginning to happen within the very life of these other faiths themselves, ‘a fervent, a subtle change, brought about by the influence of Jesus Christ upon them, far beyond any conscious impact that Christians are making (Taylor, 1972, p. 189 and p. 194).’

The Go-between God was written during the early period of the influence of the charismatic movement in Britain and had a sympathetic chapter on world Pentecostalism; yet in his treatment of other faiths Taylor sensitively challenged some of the attitudes that have been characteristic of that movement.


Lambeth Inter-faith Lecture


Finally we come to Taylor’s Lambeth Lecture: this was the first Lambeth Interfaith Lecture and was delivered on 2 November 1977 (Taylor, 1979). He began  with the fundamental insight that ‘respecting an opinion that conflicts with one’s own without itching to bring about a premature and naive accomodation’ is what is entailed in ‘loving one’s enemies’ (Taylor, 1979, p. 373). He went on to make several carefully crafted points which built on, and developed, the discussion in the Go-between God.  He described  how ‘past isolation has bred ignorance and suspicion’, defined religion again as a ‘tradition of response by ordinary people’ (pointing out that this response included disobedience as well as obedience), outlined ‘the open, inclusive view in Christian theology’, quoting biblical passages, among others, cited in Warren’s Theology of Attention (Warren, 1971), and insisted on the Christian claim for ‘an absolute centrality for Jesus Christ’ including the conviction, based on the biblical phrase ‘before the foundation of the world’  that this is a ‘pre-forgiven universe’:

In other words, wherever we see people enjoying a living relationship with God and experiencing his grace we are seeing the fruits of Calvary though this may neither be acknowledged nor known (Taylor, 1979, p. 379). 

The next section was headed with a phrase that became widely known, ‘Every religion has its jealousies’. He meant ‘those points in every religion concerning which the believers are inwardly compelled to claim a universal significance and finality (Taylor, 1979, p. 380)’:

One of the most significant things we have in common on which to build our mutual understanding is the experience of having a conviction that by definition precludes the other person’s belief, and being unable to accommodate it with integrity…So I would plead with those who want to make all intractable convictions relative and level them down for the sake of a quick reconciliation: Leave us at least with our capacity for categorical assertion, for that is what we have in common (Taylor, 1979, p. 381).       

The lecture, given in the wake of the ‘Myth of God Incarnate’ debate[31], continued with ‘some experiences that have to be absolute and universalized’ focused on the incarnation, and finished with a plea to ‘expose our experience to one another’s questionings’ and a summary of ‘things we have in common’.

Twenty years later, in reflecting on these issues in a letter, Taylor commented:

The historic Christ, the Logos fully revealed, comes as a story that must be told and an image reflected in other human lives - but he does not come as a stranger. He has been there all along, but his footprints were not on the most frequented paths and he is recognized as a face seen in half-forgotten dreams like that of the Suffering Messiah foreshadowed in the Old Testament but neglected in the ongoing tradition of Judaism. He comes to his own in the other faiths in another way also, in that he, the Logos incarnate once for all in Jesus of Nazareth, matches the need and fulfils the promise of each traditional world-view as though he had emerged from within it with no less relevance than he did within Judaism. We who stand outside the other traditions may only guess how this may be (Taylor, 1997).[32]

It can be seen that Taylor’s thought on other faiths was more developed than Warren’s, and his tone was different, in that he considered the theological structure of religion itself and sought to work out a theology of religions.


Conclusions: Warren and Taylor’s Influence in World Christianity in the Later Part of the Twentieth Century

In concluding, some similarities and contrasts between Warren and Taylor will be suggested, before considering their influences on British and world Christianity.

Similarities and Contrasts

Warren and Taylor shared much in common, including their education at Cambridge,[33] their great gift for friendship across cultures and for keeping in touch with friends, their early prophetic insights which became accepted orthodoxies, their insistence on the context of politics, their invigorating encouragement of younger missionaries and scholars,[34] their stress on the ‘personal’ as a priority in all mission, and their courteous, respectful, patient attitude to people of other faiths which could be summed up as ‘implicit universalism focused on Christ.’[35] Both rejoiced in the adjective evangelical, but refused to hyphenate it (adding the words ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’) when pressed by conservatives for further definition (Yates, 1985).It is interesting to note that both of them had more first-hand African than Asian experience, which is unusual for those who write on other faiths, and both also had to return to Britain from Africa before they had hoped to do so.

The general contrasts between the two are also significant. Warren’s formative subject discipline was history and Taylor’s was English and then theology. Warren had ten months in Nigeria as a missionary overseas, and Taylor had ten years in Uganda plus other periods of research. Warren had little appreciation for the arts and wrote only in prose, whereas Taylor has great insights into music and art, writes poetry and even his prose is poetic. Warren focused on Christ; Taylor developed a distinctive theology of the Holy Spirit. Warren was outgoing in personality but essentially a layman in a clerical collar, preferring to work on the creative margins of Church structures as a  ‘backroom boy’ and refusing to become a bishop. Taylor, by contrast, is rather shy in nature, but eventually became Bishop of Winchester, and influenced the Church of England from the centre as Chairman of the Doctrine Commission.

What of Taylor’s views on the contrasts between them? In discussing the difference between Warren’s early use of the term ‘Christian presence’ and its later missiological use by others, and also Warren’s phrase ‘the uncovenanted Christ’, Taylor has commented:

The difference lay between what I expressed in that book [The Primal Vision] and the meaning which other people gave to the phrase ‘Christian Presence’, a meaning that Max seemed to endorse in some of his later writing…What I meant, and mean, by the term is Christians being present in a profound sense to adherents of other faiths or ideologies, and I believe that is what Max had in mind when he launched the series of books. But it fairly quickly became a shorthand for the concept of a non-historical, ‘cosmic’ Christ being inherently present within the beliefs and traditions of all religions, a concept towards which Max seemed to be veering when in 1967…he proposed for his Israel lectures the strange term, ‘the uncovenanted Christ’.

Taylor later continued:

To call the timeless Logos ‘Christ’ is to fasten upon him, as we should, the historical identity which he took upon himself in his incarnation. His universality was not diminished by that identification; rather was his eternal likeness revealed in sharper focus. If, therefore, our use of such terms as cosmic, unknown or uncovenanted Christ serve to bring the image into softer focus and make it more conveniently undefined I am doubtful of their value. And yet I wholly endorse Klostermaier (Klostermaier, 1969) and have done ever since I introduced his manuscript to the SCM Press.[36]

Christianity in Britain

Several missiologists in Britain have been influenced by both Warren and Taylor in their writings on this subject - for example, Kenneth Cracknell who served with the Methodist Missionary Society in Nigeria before working for the British Council of Churches. Included amongst those who have served overseas with the CMS are Roger Hooker, Christopher Lamb, Philip Lewis, Andrew Wingate and Colin Chapman. To varying degrees and in different directions, these may see themselves as developing the Warren/Taylor tradition in ecumenical contexts.[37] The Church of England’s Doctrine Commission’s book, The Mystery of Salvation, specifically mentioned this tradition in its chapter on other faiths, which was drafted by Wingate, who was a consultant (Church of England, 1995, p. 157 ff.).

As noted above, Taylor, while Bishop of Winchester, became the chairman of the Church of England Doctrine Commission.[38] Other bishops who have written on other faiths and have served with the CMS include David Brown, David Young, Simon Barrington-Ward, and Michael Nazir-Ali.[39]

World Christianity

What then of responses to their writings and their influence on others in world Christianity in the later part of the twentieth century? The fact that three dissertations, in the universities of Pretoria, Louvain and Helsinki, have been written on Warren’s missiology shows a widespread interest in his work. These were by Meiring, an Afrikaans-speaking Dutch Reformed missiologist (Meiring, 1968), Furey, an Irish Catholic missionary (Furey, 1974) and Haaramäki, a Finish Lutheran pastor, which has been published (Haaramäki1982).[40] In considering  the wider stream of influence,  the international evangelical movement and  Roman Catholic missiology will be examined,  before considering a personal letter from an ecumenical Indian theologian and the writings of a leading Presbyterian theologian from Ghana.

The Lausanne Covenant of 1974 has acted as a significant confessional statement for international evangelicalism and represents a conservative position concerning attitudes towards people of other faiths. However, Paragraph 4, entitled the nature of evangelism, did have an echo of Warren’s terms:

Our Christian presence in the world is indispensible to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally, and so be reconciled to God (Stott, 1996, p. 20).

The shape and wording of the Covenant were greatly influenced by its architect, John Stott, who chaired the drafting committee. In his book Christian Mission in the Modern World (Stott, 1975), based on addresses at the Lausanne congress and the Chevasse Lectures at Oxford, Stott showed how the above wording specifically responded to Warren’s thought (and perhaps also to the development of the concept of presence noted above by the World Student Federation):

The notion of the ‘Christian Presence’[41] has not always commended itself because its advocates have sometimes spoken of a ‘silent presence’ or an ‘authentic silence’. No doubt there are occasions when it is more Christian to be silent than to speak. Yet Christian presence in the world is intended by God to lead to Christian proclamation to the world (Stott, 1975, p. 55).

In his chapter on dialogue, Stott showed Warren’s influence also on Paragraph 3 of the Covenant:

Dialogue, however, to quote Canon Max Warren ‘is in its very essence an attempt at mutual “listening”, listening in order to understand. Understanding is its reward.’ It is this point which was picked up in the Lausanne Covenant (Stott, 1975, p. 73).[42]

The majority of Protestant western and non-western mission personnel in the world today are evangelicals, with conservative attitudes to other faiths. Most have probably not heard of either Warren or Taylor, whose works are now little quoted in their literature, partly because not much of their writing was published in the USA and also because of the generational gap. Since South Korea is providing such an inspiring growing proportion of mission partners, perhaps more of their work should be translated into Korean?

Paul F. Knitter, a Roman Catholic Professor of Theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, USA, represents a radical theology of religions. In his fair-minded and comprehensive survey No Other Name? (Knitter, 1985), he outlined four models of Christian attitudes towards the world religions: ‘Conservative Evangelical (one true religion)’, ‘Mainline Protestant (salvation only in Christ)’, ‘Catholic (many ways, one norm)’ and ‘Theocentric (many ways to the center)’.

It is interesting to note that, as a Catholic, Knitter treated Warren, Cragg and Taylor as a group and included them under the Catholic model, in the section ‘A Mainline Christian Model’. This positioning is both ironic (in that they come from the Evangelical Anglican tradition), but also perceptive in that they would not fit particularly easily into the mainline Protestant model (where Knitter placed Lesslie Newbigin and Stephen Neill). Knitter, who had studied under Karl Rahner (a key influence at Vatican II) commented:

Typical of the Anglican tradition, these theologians speak with admirable respect for the spiritual values of other religions. They advocate a method of dialogue called ‘Christian presence’; it requires a long, respectful listening before trying to converse with members of other faiths.

When these theologians take up that conversation, however, they restate much of Rahner’s theory of anonymous Christianity.[43] Warren speaks of ‘the unknown Christ’ who saves even when ‘unrecognized as the Savior’ (Knitter, 1985, p. 135).

Knitter’s linking of their thought with Rahner’s is significant. They all represented different aspects of similarly open positions, but were part of independent streams of investigation that came to converging conclusions, using different language.  Warren mentioned that he had just completed reading Rahner’s three volume Mission and Grace (Rahner, 1964)in a letter to Hooker, dated 7 March 1969:

This is coming to be very much the new R.C. approach to the other religions. I am hoping, some of these days, to do a study of contemporary Roman Catholic ‘Missionary’ writing. In some ways it has gone an astonishingly long way. I’m not sure that it is not going to be the real break-through out of the bondage of much Roman legalistic thinking.

We turn now to a criticism of the Christian Presence series from an Indian scholar, writing in the year that Warren died. On the 4th July 1977, Stanley Samartha, then Director of the WCC unit ‘Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies’, replied to a letter of Warren’s and commented:

I know that 15 years ago you asked Stewart[44] to write a volume on Hinduism in the Christian Presence series. My immediate reaction then - as it is now - was why ask a British missionary to write such a book rather than an Indian Christian theologian? I have great respect for Bill Stewart who was my predecessor as Principal of Serampore College. But my point is that while missionaries from other countries have a contribution to make it is more important now for people to struggle with these questions from within their own cultural situation. The intellectual decolonisation of our minds seems to be a much slower process than the geographical retreat of colonialism (Hooker Archive, Samartha to Warren, 4 July 1977).

The point was well made. The 1970s introduced a new context in theological writing and writers ‘from within their own cultural situation’ did indeed  produce such works, including Samartha himself (Samartha, 1991) and his successor Wesley Ariarajah (1991), both of the Church of South India.[45] Current writing on other faiths from Asia refer little to the works of Warren and Taylor, both of whom, as noted above, had their own personal focus more on Africa.

African theologians have regularly returned to Taylor’s Primal Vision (Taylor, 1963) as an early example of a white man’s sensitive appreciation of African Traditional Religions. Kwame Bediako, (Director of the Akrofi-Kristaller Memorial Centre, Akropong, Ghana) in an exciting book on African theology, commented in a discussion concerning ancestors:

Conceivably it could happen, as John V. Taylor wrote nearly thirty years ago, with great insight and deep African sympathy, that: ‘when the gaze of the living and the dead is focused on Christ Himself, they have less compulsive need of one another.’ However, Taylor felt able also to add: ‘But need is not the only basis of fellowship; and Christ as the second Adam enhances rather than diminishes the intercourse of the whole community from which he can never be separated (Bediako, 1995, p. 228).’

Bediako himself built on the concept of presence and described Christ, present in Africa, calling in missionaries from outside:

In missiological terms, this is another way of saying that the cross-cultural transmission did not bring Christ into the local African situation. If that were to be the case, then, in African terms, Christ would be a disposable divinity, actually able to be taken, carried and brought…and presumably also, disposed of if not needed. The deeper insight is, however, that Christ, already present in the situation, called in His messengers so that by proclamation and incarnation, He might be made manifest (Bediako, 1995, p. 226).

This chapter has considered the contributions of Warren and Taylor to the subject of mission and the meeting of faiths, with discussions of earlier influences on them, and of later responses to them, in the setting of world Christianity. It has been argued that, although their particular writings are not widely known to the majority of mission partners at the end of the twentieth century, their key ideas of ‘presence’ and ‘attention’, of ‘awareness’ and ‘jealousies’ have entered the stream of thinking of various theologians, missiologists and statements from different traditions.

The writer of the epic The Lord of the Rings,J. R. R. Tolkien (Tolkien, 1954-55), commented on his earlier book, The Hobbit (Tolkien, 1937), ‘One writes such a story out of the leaf-mould of the mind.’[46]  Perhaps the ideas of Warren and Taylor have bedded down in the fertilising leaf-mould of past missiological thinking and are silently enriching new and growing plants?


[1] I am grateful to Roger Hooker, John V. Taylor, Kenneth Cragg and Christopher Lamb for their stimulating discussions in preparation of this chapter. I would like to thank Roger and Pat Hooker for permission to use these letters (the originals are housed in the CMS archives). For further extracts from this correspondence see (Kings 1993), and (Kings, 1996c).

[2] As a CMS missionary in his younger days, Warren (b.1904) had only experienced ten months working amongst Muslims in northern Nigeria before being invalided home with bovine TB in 1928. After convalescence and a post as youth officer for Winchester Diocese, he was appointed to be vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge (1936-42), before becoming General Secretary of the CMS.

[3] John V Taylor (b. 1914) had two curacies in England, before serving with the CMS as Warden of Bishop Tucker Theological College, Mukono, Uganda (1944 -1954). After a year’s deputation he joined the research department of the International Missionary Council, then became Africa Secretary of the CMS (1959-63) and finally General Secretary (1963-74). He served as Bishop of Winchester from 1975 to 1985.

[4] I am very wary (and weary) of using the adjectives ‘exclusive’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘pluralist’ for various positions on this issue, although they have been widely used since the publication of (Race, 1983). Some people may, in the past, have found them useful as a grid for general ‘mapping’ and they appear in (D’Costa, 1986). He provides the following concise summaries of these, now outdated, categories:

The exclusivist paradigm has been characterized as maintaining that other religions are marked by humankind’s fundamental sinfulness and are therefore erroneous, and that Christ (or Christianity) offers the only valid path to salvation…The inclusivist paradigm has been characterized as one that affirms the salvific presence of God in non-Christian religions while still maintaining that Christ is the definitive and authoritative revelation of God. …The pluralist paradigm has been characterized as one that maintains that other religions are equally salvific paths to the one God, and Christianity’s claim that it is the only path (exclusivism), or the fulfilment of other paths (inclusivism) should be rejected (D’Costa, 1986, p. 22, p. 52, p. 80).

[5] Furey, who wrote his dissertation on Warren’s theology of mission, cited a letter to him from Warren in which he acknowledged Gairdner to be one of the formative influences on his thinking, ‘giving me a vision of just how rich and wide a true understanding of Evangelism and mission could be.’ (Furey, 1974, p. 3)

[6] Padwick wrote to Warren, ‘I greatly appreciate your Newsletter and always wonder how you find time for all the reading involved. I was delighted when a young American missionary pounced upon the letter saying “we always saw that at Hartford’”. (Hooker Archives, Padwick to Warren, 1959). Note also Cragg’s chapter on Padwick in (Cragg, 1992).

[7] For an excellent exploration of Cragg’s thought see (Lamb, 1997).

[8] Yates listed the following mentions of The Call of the Minaret in Warren’s News-letters for Mar. 1957, June 1957, Oct. 1958, Feb. 1959, Jan. 1961 and Mar. 1963 (Yates, p. 141). Cragg stated in this autobiography, with a twinkle in his pen, that Warren gave the book almost lyrical acceptance in a double issue of his News-letter ‘though he sobered me later by observing that “the Irish were given to strange enthusiasm (Cragg, 1994, p. 119).”’

[9] Warren commented, in the light of the Suez crisis, ‘I wish that every member of the House of Commons, and some other legislatures, could read the first thirty pages (Warren, 1957a, p. 1).’ Contemporary political issues are deeply affected by understanding or misunderstanding of religions. Warren reached some 14,000 readers with his News-letter; see (Warren, 1957b).

[10] R. Hooker to M.A.C. Warren, 24 April 1969: ‘I feel that now after ten years I am fulfilling, just a little, that vision I first caught at Wycliffe from reading Temple Gairdner and the Call of the Minaret for the first time’.

[11] For more details, see (Taylor, 1993, p. 59).

[12] Examples of these can be found in (Taylor, 1963, pp. 36, 42 and 129). Freytag’s influence is broader, but these references serve as summative.

[13] In (Thomas, 1969, p. 219).

[14] The quotation by Warren at the beginning of this chapter makes clear that this series was well read in Scandinavia. See especially (Lande, 1994) and (Lande, 1996).

[15] Cited in (Thomas, 1969, p. 219). The last chapter of this work was devoted to the concept of presence in the work of Warren and Taylor and included extracts. Other chapters had extracts from the works of, amongst others; Schleiermacher, Troeltsch, Barth, Hocking, Tillich and Kung.

[16] See Taylor’s comments cited in the conclusion of this chapter (Taylor 1997) and (Lausanne, 1974, para 4).

[17] The other two lectures were on ecumenism. Hooker’s unpublished paper ‘CMS and other faiths – some lessons from our history’ (Hooker, 1987) included summaries and quotations from these lectures, which were circulated in facsimile type print in Israel (Warren, 1967).

[18] Amos 9.7 ‘Did I not bring Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Capthor and the Shyrians from Kir?’ and Isaiah 19.23-4, where Egypt is called ‘my people’ and Assyria ‘the work of my hands’.

[19] There is a fascinating marginal note in Warren’s own copy of Barth’s Epistle to the Romans (in the Henry Martyn Centre, Cambridge) (Barth, 1933). He marked on the cover that he  bought it in April 1953 and at the top of the page  (p. 164), where Barth commented on Romans 5.9-11, Warren wrote in pen:

Surely with Barth’s contempt for all human consciousness he unwittingly prepares the way for the view that more may stand ‘unconsciously’ in the light of Christ, that a ‘good’ Muslim or Hindu may in fact be very near the kingdom. If this is so it is an important conclusion for our thinking about the ‘other’ religions. Barth cannot really have it both ways.

[20] Warren’s New Testament mentor, C. F. D. Moule, indicated a reservation in a footnote which Warren, with humility, included in Face to Face (Taylor, 1971, p. 27) and Warren made a point of noting this in his own hand written bibliography of his work on other faiths.

[21] Anakephalaiosis is the Greek word used in Ephesians 1.10 to describe the ‘recapitulation’ or ‘summing up’ of all things in Christ.

[22] ‘Annihilation might be a truer picture of damnation than any of the traditional pictures of the hell of eternal torment (Church of England, 1995, p. 199).’

[23] For sources for both of these, Martyn and Gairdner, he shows the influence of Constance Padwick quoting from (Padwick, 1923, p, 270) and (Padwick, 1929, p. 148-9, 158-9).

[24] Varanasi was also where the Hookers were based.

[25] Warren focused further some of his ideas from his Ecumenical lectures in Israel (Warren, 1967) in (Warren, 1968). He showed the influence of Panikkar again in quoting him:

The Christian attitude is not ultimately one of bringing Christ in, but of bringing him forth, of discovering Christ; not in command but of service. Or, in other words, Christ died and rose again for all men - before and after him - his redemption is universal and unique (Warren, 1968, p. 8) citing (Panikkar, 1964, p. 45).

Warren concluded:

Dwell on that thought of the ‘present’ individual unveiling the ‘present Christ’. When I go to meet the man of another Faith I do not, in any sense whatever, precede Christ. He is there before me…He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other way, no other truth, no other life but he (Warren, 1968, p. 13).       

[26] Foucauld (1858-1916) was a Catholic hermit, who lived in the closing years of his life in the Sahara, Algeria, among the Muslim Tuaregs. He won their respect, compiled their first grammar and dictionary, translated the Gospels and transcribed proverbs and songs. Through a tragic misunderstanding, he was shot by an anti-French Tuareg in 1916. After his death the Little Brothers followed a rule of life that he had composed. For more, see (Voillaume, 1955), written by one of that order.

[27] Warren’s letter in reply, in which he used the word ‘distinctive’ rather than ‘unique’, may be found as Appendix II in (Dillistone, 1980).

[28] The so-called ‘pluralist’ case has been set out in (Hick and Knitter, 1987); the case against this ‘pluralism’ has been set out in (D’Costa, 1990) and, from a more conservative position, in (Ramachandra, 1996).

[29] In a discussion between Taylor and the author in July 1997 regarding The Primal Vision, he commented, ‘I felt that Christ must make his own way into African Religion: it is not that he is already there, nor that we bring him in, but that he needs to make his own way in’.

[30] A portion of it first appeared in (Taylor, et. al, 1971) and many of the ideas were developed originally in his CMS News-letters.

[31] This debate had been launched with the publication of John Hick (ed.) The Myth of God Incarnate (Hick, 1977). The book criticised traditional belief in Christ’s divinity from philosophical, New Testament and patristic perspectives. Maurice Wiles, one of the contributors, later gave a critique of Taylor’s concept of ‘jealousies’ in this lecture, in (Wiles, 1992).

[32] Taylor’s letter to the author, 27 July 1997, cited with thanks and permission.

[33] They were also both appointed honorary fellows of their Cambridge colleges: Warren at Jesus College and Taylor at Trinity College.

[34] In his memory, Max Warren Fellowships were set up by CMS to fund the ‘immersion’ of young scholars in the cultures of other faiths.

[35] This phrase tries to describe a desire to combine the openness of seeing God at work in people of other faiths, with a belief that ultimately God will indeed be the saviour of all people, through his Son Jesus Christ, who was, and is, fully divine as well as fully human.

[36] Taylor’s letter to the author, 27 July 1997.

[37] Roger Hooker has been mentioned above; Christopher Lamb served in Pakistan and became Officer for Other Faiths in the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland and in the Church of England; Philip Lewis also served in Pakistan and was appointed Adviser to the Bishop of Bradford on Inter-Faith Issues; Colin Chapman served in Egypt and Lebanon, later became Director of Faith to Faith, an (evangelical) Christian consultancy service for inter-faith concerns and represents an articulate conservative position of many  CMS members; Andrew Wingate served in India and later as Principal of the United College of the Ascension, the joint USPG and Methodist training college in Selly Oak.

[38] Also on that commission was John Bowker, then Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and prolific writer on other faiths, including the Oxford Dictionary of Religions (Bowker, 1997). He was greatly influenced by Warren who had nearly succeeded in encouraging him to serve in Nigeria with CMS.

[39] David Brown served in the Sudan and became Bishop of Guildford; David Young served in Sri Lanka and became Bishop of Ripon; Simon Barrington-Ward served in Nigeria and was Taylor’s successor as General Secretary (1975-85) and later Bishop of Coventry; Michael Nazir-Ali, previously Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan, became General Secretary of CMS (1989-94) and then Bishop of Rochester.

[40] The Afrikaans and Finish dissertations have short concluding summaries in English.

[41] Later, in a chapter on Dialogue, Stott mentioned the series. He mentioned Cragg with approval and said that his dialogical approach seemed to have been the main inspiration of the series of ‘Christian Presence’ books which Canon Max Warren had edited (Stott, 1975, p. 76).

[42] The quotation of Warren is from an unpublished paper, Presence and Proclamation (Warren, 1968). Stott goes on to cite the two references to dialogue in the Covenant: ‘On the one hand it says firmly that we “reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue that implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies” (para. 3). But on the other it says with equal firmness that “The kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand” is actually “indispensable to evangelism” (para. 4) (Stott, 1975, p. 73)’.

[43] For a lucid and nuanced elucidation of Rahner’s (often misunderstood) concept of ‘anonymous Christianity’ see (Knitter, 1985):

In showing that other believers can be called ‘Christians without a name,’ Rahner tries to break through Christian exclusivism…It states not only that  there is a saving grace within other religions but also that this grace is Christ’s…Especially in his earlier writings, Rahner clearly sets a time limit for the validity of religions. Once a religion really confronts the gospel – once the gospel is translated into the new culture and embodied in community – then that religion loses its validity. It must make way for him who is greater (Knitter, 1985, p. 128-130).

For Rahner’s own foundational treatment of the subject, see ‘Christianity and the Non-Christian Religions’ (Rahner, 1966).

[44] Stewart, a Church of Scotland missionary, was Principal of Serampore College, India, from 1959 to 1967.

[45] For an excellent critique of the radical theologies of Samartha, Pieris and Panikkar, see (Ramachandra, 1996).

[46] Cited in (Carpenter, p. 178).

Graham Kings

Graham Kings

Wood panel


A bronze

Wood panel