Lecture Series: The Hidden History of How Protestantism Went Global

1 December 2021 - 8 June 2022

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Professor Alec Ryrie presents a series on how Protestantism went global.

The Hidden History of How Protestantism Went Global a series of lectures by Professor Alec Ryrie, professor of divinity at Gresham College in London. In his lectures, Professor Ryrie looks at the hidden history of how missionaries and others took Protestantism around the world.

The story of Christianity’s global spread is usually told in two parts: first the conquistadores took Catholicism to the Americas and elsewhere in the 16th and 17th centuries; and then the global empires of the 19th and 20th centuries brought Protestant missionaries to most of the rest of the planet.

This lecture series takes us into new research revealing the forgotten piece of the puzzle connecting those two stories: how Protestants and evangelicals laid the foundations for their global reach before the high imperial age. It will also look at the tangled relationship between trading empires like that of the British and Dutch East India Company and Christianity, with commercial concerns and religious priorities often coming into direct conflict, but sometimes forming an unexpected alliance.

These hesitant early missionary ventures did not win many converts, but they formed Europeans’ assumptions about ‘race’, ‘justice’, ‘civilisation’, ‘religion’ and the nature of Christianity itself. To see the world through those early missionaries’ eyes is to see not only why their ventures were so slow and stumbling, but how their experience primed the age of Christian expansion which followed, producing world-views which still underpin our own secular age.

Dates and times

  • 1 December 2021
  • 2 February 2022
  • 9 March 2022
  • 27 April 2022
  • 8 June 2022

All the lectures are live-streamed online starting at 6pm and are available to view after.

How to take part

Register to watch the livestream at Gresham College's website.