“This Greater Issue of Light against Darkness”: Sereno Edwards Bishop, Missionary Religion, and the Hawaiian Islands, 1827–1909*

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Abstract

The history of nineteenth-century missions provide a fruitful field to explore the development of religious thought and practice in a secular setting. This article shows how the religious views of the clergyman and educator Sereno Edwards Bishop, born in Hawai‘i of American missionary parents, were shaped by his childhood among the mission community in Hawai‘i and by his American college education. These instilled in him a liberal approach to theology that was informed by a spiritually alert sense of Hawaiian geography and environment. Contrary to the notion that he cast his faith aside in addressing matters of wider social and political importance, Bishop emerges as someone who thought critically about mid-nineteenth-century Protestant Christianity, grounding his perspective on politics, society, and natural history in Hawai‘i according to his religious principles. Given Bishop’s specific intellectual and cultural heritage, it is difficult to subsume his perspective within broader narratives of American expansion; rather, both Pacific and mainland American elements shaped the thought of such mission-descended figures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Religious History
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Religious studies

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