A Reformed Demonology?

John Livingston Nevius, Missionary to China (Wikipedia)


By Bruce Baugus - Posted at Reformation 21:

The rather measured and restrained work by John Livingston Nevius (1829-1893), Demon Possession and Allied Themes; Being an Inductive Study of Phenomena of Our Own Times, delivers exactly what the title promises, though what it promises is rather unusual by the author's own admission.

Nevius was a Presbyterian missionary with a Dutch Reformed background. He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1853 with the high regard for science but firm commitment to the supreme authority, pristine integrity, and complete trustworthiness of Scripture instilled in the students by the faculty he studied under (Archibald Alexander and Charles Hodge, for starters). Upon graduating he was promptly ordained and then went straight to China with his new wife in cramped quarters on a leaky old merchant ship out of Boston. He would serve there the rest of his life--over forty years--with just a handful of interludes due mostly to his wife's uneven health.

The Nevius Plan

Nevius is best remembered today for the "Nevius Plan" of mission work. In brief, he believed the missionary's task was nothing else but the old school task of preaching the gospel to all kinds of people at every opportunity and building up a self-propagating, self-governing, and self-supporting indigenous church. To do this required a robust program of systematic Bible study alongside evangelism in order to train up local leaders to rule and minister effectively.

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