NESTORIANS - LETTER
TO THE EDITOR OF TIMES
Sir,-Mr. Cutts’s somewhat tardy reply to the letter you were good enough to print on the 1st inst. invites a word of rejoinder, which I hope you will permit me to offer. In writing the letter in question my object was in no way to provoke controversy with the Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel as to the merits of its proposed mission to the Nestorians, but to supply what I could not help regarding as an ungenerous omission in its appeal of all allusion to the more than 40 years’ labours of the American missionaries among the sect. Nor can I consult to modify
this opinion under cover of Mr. Cutts’s suggestion that I am "not aware of the existing state of things.” My visit to Oroomiah was, indeed, prior to his own, but since then my information has been kept fairly up to date by the regularly published reports of the missionaries, which are, at least, as trustworthy as any Mr. Cutts may have received from his (I believe) old acquaintance, Priest John, whose begging mission to England some years ago may yet be in the recollection of your readers, and whose -to say the least- eccentric proceedings after his return to Geog Tapa Mr. Cutts can hardly regard as edifying from any Anglican point of view.
I fail, too, to see how his quotation from the letter of the American missionaries to the Archbishop of Canterbury at all contradicts my statement that since the transfer of the mission to the Presbyterian Board its work “has been conducted on the old lines"–that is, on the lines adopted by the previous Board, after, as the missionaries admit, many years of fruitless labour had compelled recognition of the hopelessness of reforming the "existing ecclesiastical organization.” On the contrary, the extract so confirms what I wrote that I invite comparison at the missionaries’ statement with my own, and am quite willing to let judgement go on the result.
As to Mr. Cutts’s personal testimony that "the way in which the American missionaries are carrying on the work with the people is by trylng to set up separatist congregations on Dissenting principles," I am too bad a Churchman or Dissenter to either share or resent his jealousy of their modus operandi, so long as they suceeed-as my last letter showed they largely have done–in morally and socially elevating a body of Eastern Christians for whom English missionary effort has hitherto done nothing. Yet even for this uncanonical way of proceeding – which was absolutely the only one possible in the circumstances-I fancy apostolical precedent might be pleaded. I should like, however, to know Mr. Cutts's authority for affirming that what he terms " this change in policy has alienated even the old disciples of the American missionaries," for certainly the reports of the missionaries themselves lament no such defection. Be this as it may, Mr. Cutts’s notion of success must be grandiose when he avers that the establishment of more than 80 self-supporting congregations under native pastors and schools with more than 1,000 pupils in (excluding the 20,000 Catholic Chaldeans) a community numbering only some 50,000 in all cannot be so regarded.
I venture to believe that such a percentage of results would compare not unfavourably with the average of the society’s successes in other fields. At the same time, if the aim of the proposed mission be to evangelically reform, and not merely to Anglicanize, this interesting branch of the old Eastern Church, it will deserve better success than the previous tentative efforts-on narrower lines-of Dr. Badger and Mr. Cutts, and will, I feel confident, be heartily welcomed by the Americans themselves. I am, &c.,
January 8. J.C. M’COAN