A Study of Christian Mission in Thailand

Christianity has been introduced to Thailand by two major Christian missions: Roman Catholic mission which has gained its foothold in Thailand since the second half of the sixteenth century, and Protestant mission which has begun its work since the first half of the nineteenth century. Though it is quite a long period of time of the establishment of Christianity in this country, its membership is still small. The writer, therefore, needs to investigate the attitudes and strategies of the missions which brought about its unsatisfactory results. The writer also wants to observe if there is any Christian impact upon the state religion and social values, despite its small number of believers.

1. Catholic Mission
The people of Siam (former name of Thailand) came into contact with the Christian world during the second half of the sixteenth century through the adventurous and enterprising spirit of the Portuguese. The earliest  missionaries known in Siam were the Dominicans. The first missionaries to the kingdom of Siam were Friars Jerome of the Cross and Sebastian de Canto; both belonged to the Portuguese Dominican Order of Goa. They were sent by their religious and ecclesiastical Superior, Friar Ferdinand di. S. Maria, who was also Vicar of Malacca, in 1567 during the reign of Pra Maha Dhamma Raja the King of Siam. I There was a sizable Portuguese community in Ayuthya the capital of Siam, the two priests therefore began to minister to the spiritual needs of their fellow countrymen. Later on Jerome of the Cross was killed, this was due to the instigation of the Muslims…………

2. Protestant Mission
Protestant work in Thailand was begun about 250 years after the Catholic mission was established in the country. The first Protestant missionaries to reach Thailand on August 23, 1828, were the Rev. Or. Carl Augustus Friederich Gutzlaff, M.D., and the Rev. Jacob Tomlin of the London Missionary Society. x Both of them received permission to work only  among the Chinese. This was due to the fact that during the reign of King Tai Sara, the French bishops and Fathers attempted to use the Thai and Pali languages as medium of instruction of the Catholic faith. The King and Thai officials were afraid that the people would be converted to the Christian faith. The King thus promulgated the Edict of Religious In-toleration in October 1730.” Its contents were as follows:

1. No Christian literature can be put into Thai and Pali languages.  2. No one is permitted to teach the Christian faith to the Thai, Mon and Lao peoples.  3. No one is allowed to convert the Thais, Mons, and Laos to Catholicism.  4. No one is allowed to criticize the Thai religion.

However, one hundred years later when the Protestant missionaries arrived, they realized the necessity of using Thai language to teach the Protestant Christian faith, although the Edict still existed………

Study the complete document on Christian Mission in Thailand here….

Article by Saad Chaiwan who is a member of the McGilvary Faculty of Theology, Payap College, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

[Thumbnail photo taken from this source ]

Posted by on Jun 5 2011. Filed under Training. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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