What Motivated the West's Interest in Asia and What Impact Did That Eventually Have?

Topics: Society of Jesus, China, Philippines Pages: 6 (2200 words) Published: October 14, 2012

Missionaries in Asia and Their Impact on Education

Religion was one key reason which attracted the Westerners into Asia. Because Christianity was the dominant religion in Western countries, the dispatching of missionaries into Asia was a common sight. Because they came in masses and moved conspicuously, they left rather astounding impacts on the host countries - educational impacts in particular. By the end of the Middle Ages, Europe developed a strong belief in its own cultural superiority due to cultural and technological developments. This was extended to a superiority of Christianity over other beliefs because European Culture and European Christianity were one and the same. Religion constitutes a part of a country's culture. Europeans viewed all non-European cultures and therefore all non-Christians as the work of Satan. As a result, the spreading of the Gospel was seen as a task of utmost importance to the various religious societies in Western countries at that point of time. Secondly, another reason for their persistence on spreading God's words was due to the Priests. It took 12 years of training before one can be a ''fully professed Jesuit''. Priests are bounded by the vows of obedience, celibacy, poverty and personal loyalty to the Pope. As such, they are deeply embedded in their beliefs and want to spread this to the world outside. Lastly, Protestants Reformation in Europe and widespread criticisms of the Roman Catholic church in the 16th century, precipitated by the Black Death and Western Schism, affected and battered people's faith in the Church. Therefore, they need new and stronger converts to help bring back the power and influence they used to hold. The Society of Jesus, found by Ignatius Loyola in 1540, was one of the biggest missionary group even established to help restore people's faith in the Roman Catholic Church. '' 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”[1] (NIV: Matthew 28:19-20) As instructed by the Gospel, missionaries hence started their journey around the world, and ultimately, set Asia as their next big target after the Age of Discovery where new sea and trade routes, especially that around the Southern tip of Africa was discovered by Portuguese and Spanish in the 15th century. The path of missionaries to Asia was opened by the voyages and discoveries of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) where he opened a trade route to the West for Spain in 1492 as well as by Vasco da Gama who sailed to India in 1498. This opened the East to the Europeans. Thereafter, most Western missionaries who were headed towards Asia travelled on Portuguese ships, while some of them took Spanish ships to Mexico, crossed the Pacific Ocean and into the Philippines, where the Spanish established their sole base in. The Spanish missionaries reaped success over there, with the Augustinians arriving first in 1565. Within a century, almost the entire population of the Philippines was converted to Christianity.[2] Asia also became the major target of Western missionary work because of its huge population and because of the Western conviction that Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism were not legitimate or appropriate religions. Conversion to Roman Catholicism was a major motive of the Portuguese and Spanish drive overseas. They freely slaughtered Muslims and Hindus because they saw them as the works of Satan. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Spain had three major goals for the occupation of the Philippine Islands. The booming spice trade dominated by the Portuguese was enticing for the Spanish and they wanted a share of it, while also colonizing the Philippines in the meantime. They also wanted...
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