Early Christian History Between Hawaii and the United States

Early Christian History Between Hawaii and the United States

By Robert Hernandez Kajiwara

Christianity played a pivotal role in the early histories of both the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States. This short article will briefly examine this early history.

In 1809 five young Hawaiians arrived in New England via an American trade ship. Among them was Henry Obookiah (or Opukahaia), a young man who would go on to play a huge role in Hawaii’s history.1 Opukahaia displayed much academic and linguistic aptitude, eventually studying at Yale University and converting to Christianity.2 Opukahaia spoke and wrote about his home islands, asking that churches in New England send missionaries to Hawaii to share the gospel.3 Opukahaia tragically contracted typhus fever and died at the age of twenty six before he could return home.4 His death, though, sparked a wave of interest among New England Christians, dozens of whom would eventually become the first Christian missionaries to Hawaii. This is well-documented in Opukahaia’s own writings, as well as in the writings of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missionaries (ABCFM) and Lyman Beecher, who was Opukahaia’s pastor.

The first American missionaries arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1820. Through 1848 the ABCFM, a Congregational and Presbyterian organization, would send around 150 missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands.5 Several other denominations, such as Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, and Roman Catholics, would later send their own missionaries and establish thriving churches, some of which last to the present day.

Many of these early missionaries displayed a prejudice and xenophobia towards Hawaiian people, their culture, customs, and lifestyle, as can be seen in their writings. History of the Sandwich Islands: with an account of the American mission established there in 1820, compiled by Ephraim Eveleth and published in 1831 in Philadelphia, is a collection of documents (mostly letters) written by these missionaries. They tend to portray Hawaiians as poor, barbaric, uncivilized, and oppressed by their leaders, which the missionaries would use to justify their eventual takeover of Hawaiian land and government. It should be noted that Hawaiians of the day (including Hawaiian Christians) considered Hawaii to be a thriving, prosperous, and advanced society where poverty and homelessness were practically non-existent, and where good health and longevity were the norm.6

Not all of the missionaries were prejudiced, however. Some were respectful towards Hawaiians and assimilated into Hawaiian society. Perhaps the most important positive contribution of the missionaries was their promotion of literacy. Over the next several decades they would write several works of Christian literature in both the Hawaiian and English languages, and conduct wide-scale literacy campaigns that proved very effective. By 1860 the literacy rate in the United States was approximately 74%, while in Hawaii it was at over 90%.7 “The standard of intelligence among the native Hawaiians is higher than that of any other nation in the world, with illiteracy being practically unknown,” wrote Charles Gulick, whose parents were among the first missionaries to Hawaii.8 Gulick was one of the few members of the missionary families to support the Hawaiian Kingdom during the illegal overthrow in 1893, and today there is a street named in his honor in downtown Honolulu.

The original instructions from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the missionaries to Hawaii had been to work “for no private end, for no earthly object” and “wholly for the good of others, and for the glory of God our Savior.”9 By the 1840s, though, the interests of the missionaries had turned to business and politics, and they began acquiring large amounts of Hawaiian land for themselves. Later in the century the missionary families had developed into a business oligarchy collectively known as the Big Five, exerting a large amount of political-economic control over Hawaii that would last until the mid-twentieth century. In 1893 a group of these American missionaries conspired with the U.S. ambassador to invade the Hawaiian Kingdom and overthrow the monarchy at gun point in what is considered to be the single most harmful event in Hawaiian history.10

The missionaries, most of whom were young adults when they came to Hawaii, used religion to amass political-economic power for themselves and oppress Hawaiians. By taking advantage of Hawaiian interest in Christianity, these missionaries, who had little in the way of accomplishments back in their home towns, found a tremendous amount of personal wealth and influence under the guise of “missionary work” in a foreign land. Many of their descendants enjoy the fruits of their wealth to this day, while Hawaiians, who had sincerely converted to Christianity, continue to be oppressed, marginalized, and even homeless within their own home islands.

Primary Sources:

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.. A narrative of five youth from the Sandwich Islands, now receiving an education in this country. New-York, 1816. 42pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

Beecher, Lyman. A sermon delivered at the funeral of Henry Obookiah : a native of Owhyhee and a member of the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut : … Elizabeth-town [N.J.]; (Elizabeth-town), 1819. 31pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019

Eveleth, Ephraim. History of the Sandwich Islands : with an account of the American mission established there in 1820. Philadelphia, 1831. 200pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894, Appendix II, Affairs in Hawaii. Retrieved 19 November 2019 from: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1894app2/d306.

Instructions of the Purdential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the Sandwich Islands Mission (Lahainaluna, 1838), 19-20, 27-28.

Kamakau, Samuel (1815-1876). Writings, later published in several collections: Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii; Ka Poe Kahiko: The People of Old; The Works of the people of Old: Na Hana a ka Poe Kahiko; Tales and Traditions of the People of Old: Na Moolelo a ka Poe Kahiko.

Secondary Sources:

Charlot, John. “Two Early Hawaiian-Christian Chants.” Anthropos105, no. 1 (2010): 29-46. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25734737.

Coffman, Tom. Nation Within: The History of the American Occupation of Hawaiʻi. Duke University Press. 2003.

Kajiwara, Robert. Hawaii, Christianity, and the United States: A Complicated History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2019. https://www.amazon.com/Hawaii-Christianity-United-States-Complicated-ebook/dp/B07Z2K93F3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=robert+kajiwara&qid=1574205062&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Kuykendall, Ralph S. The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1, 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation. 119-120.

Shulz, Joy. Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific. University of Nebraska Press. 2017.

Williams, Ronald Jr. “A Nation Refuses to Forget.” November 25, 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9CTLnKoUI8

1 American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.. A narrative of five youth from the Sandwich Islands, now receiving an education in this country. New-York, 1816. 42pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

2Ibid.

3 Beecher, Lyman. A sermon delivered at the funeral of Henry Obookiah : a native of Owhyhee and a member of the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut : … Elizabeth-town [N.J.]; (Elizabeth-town), 1819. 31pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

4Ibid.

5Schulz, Joy. Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific. University of Nebraska Press. 2017. 1.

6 Kamakau, Samuel (1815-1876). Writings, later published in several collections: Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii; Ka Poe Kahiko: The People of Old; The Works of the people of Old: Na Hana a ka Poe Kahiko; Tales and Traditions of the People of Old: Na Moolelo a ka Poe Kahiko.

7 Williams, Ronald Jr. “A Nation Refuses to Forget.” November 25, 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9CTLnKoUI8

8Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894, Appendix II, Affairs in Hawaii. Retrieved 19 November 2019 from: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1894app2/d306. 766.

9 Charlot, John. “Two Early Hawaiian-Christian Chants.” Anthropos105, no. 1 (2010): 29-46. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25734737. 34.

Instructions of the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the Sandwich Islands Mission (Lahainaluna, 1838), 19-20, 27-28.

Kuykendall. The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1, 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation. 101.

10 Coffman, Tom. Nation Within: The History of the American Occupation of Hawaiʻi. Duke University Press. 2003.

Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage Are Persuasive

By Kevin DeYoung, Pastor, Author

With two landmark gay marriage cases before the Supreme Court we are already seeing a flurry of articles, posts, tweets, and status updates about the triumph it will be when America finally embraces equality for all and allows homosexuals to love each other. These tweets and posts and articles perfectly capture the reason why the arguments for gay marriage have become so persuasive so fast. Given the assumptions and patterns of thinking our culture has embraced in the last fifty years, the case for gay marriage is relatively easy to make and the case against it makes increasingly little sense.

I don’t think the arguments or gay marriage are biblically faithfully, logically persuasive, or good for human flourishing in the long run, but they are almost impossible to overcome with most Americans, especially in younger generations. By and large, people don’t support gay marriage because they’ve done a lot of reading and soul searching, just like people didn’t oppose it on high flying intellectual grounds either. For a long time, homosexuality seemed weird or gross. Now it seems normal. More than that, it fits in perfectly with the dominant themes and narratives shared in our culture. Gay marriage is the logical conclusion to a long argument, which means convincing people it’s a bad idea requires overturning some of our most cherished values and most powerful ideologies.

Think of all the ways gay marriage fits in with our cultural mood and assumptions.

1. It’s about progress. Linking the pro-gay agenda with civil rights and women’s rights was very intentional, and it was a masterstroke. To be against gay marriage, therefore, is to be against enlightenment and progress. It puts you on the “wrong side of history.” Of course, most people forget that lots of discarded ideas were once hailed as the inevitable march of progress. Just look at Communism or eugenics or phrenology or the Volt. But people aren’t interested in the complexities of history. We only know we don’t want to be like the nincompoops who thought the sun revolved around the earth and that slavery was okay.

2. It’s about love. When gay marriage is presented as nothing but the open embrace of human love, it’s hard to mount a defense. Who could possibly be against love? But hidden in this simple reasoning is the cultural assumption that sexual intercourse is necessarily the highest, and perhaps the only truly fulfilling, expression of love. It’s assumed that love is always self-affirming and never self-denying. It’s assumed that our loves never require redirection. Most damagingly, our culture (largely because of heterosexual sins) has come to understand marriage as nothing but the state sanctioning of romantic love. The propagation and rearing of children do not come into play. The role in incentivizing socially beneficial behavior is not in the public eye. People think of marriage as nothing more than the commitment (of whatever duration) which romantic couples make to each other.

3. It’s about rights. It’s not by accident the movement is called the gay rights movement. And I don’t deny that many gays and lesbians feel their fundamental human rights are at stake in the controversy over marriage. But the lofty talk of rights blurs an important distinction. Do consenting adults have the right to enter a contract of their choosing? It depends. Businesses don’t have a right to contract for collusion. Adults don’t have a right to enter into a contract that harms the public good. And even if you think these examples are beside the point, the fact remains that no law prohibits homosexuals (or any two adults) from making promises to each other, from holding a ceremony, from entering into a covenant with each other. The question is whether the government should bestow upon that contract the name of marriage with all the rights and privileges thereto.

4. It’s about equality. Recently, I saw a prominent Christian blogger tweet that she was for gay marriage because part of loving our neighbor is desiring they get equal justice under the law. Few words in the American lexicon elicit such broad support as “equality.” No one wants to be for unequal treatment under the law. But the issue before the Supreme Court is not equality, but whether two laws–one voted in by the people of California and the other approved by our democratically elected officials–should be struck down. Equal treatment under the law means the law is applied the same to everyone. Gay marriage proponents desire to change the law so that marriage becomes something entirely different. Surveys often pose the question “Should it be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to marry?” That makes it sound like we are criminalizing people for commitments they make. The real issue, however, is whether the state has a vested interest in sanctioning, promoting, and privileging certain relational arrangements. Is it unjust for the state not to recognize as marriage your group of four friends, close cousins, or an office suite just because they want their commitments to be called marriage?

5. It’s about tolerance. Increasingly, those who oppose gay marriage are not just considered wrong or mistaken or even benighted. They are anti-gay haters. As one minister put it, gay marriage will eventually triumph because love is stronger than hate. Another headline rang out that “discrimination is on trial” as the Supreme Court hears arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA. The stark contrast is clear: either you support gay marriage or you are a bigot and a hater. It’s not wonder young people are tacking hard to left on this issue. They don’t want to be insensitive, close-minded, or intolerant. The notion that thoughtful, sincere, well-meaning, compassionate people might oppose gay marriage is a fleeting thought.

So what can be done? The momentum, the media, the slogans, the meta-stories all seem to be on the other side. Now what?

For starters, churches and pastors and Christian parents can prepare their families both intellectually and psychologically for the opposition that is sure to come. Conservative Christianshave more kids; make sure they know what the Bible says and know how to think.

We should also remember that the church’s mission in life is not to defeat gay marriage. While too many Christians have already retreated, there may be others who reckon that everything hangs in the balance on this one issue. Let’s keep preaching, persevering, pursuing joy, and praying for conversions. Christians should care about the issue, and then carry on.

And if we are interested in being persuasive outside of our own churches, we’ll have to do several things better.

1) We need to go back several steps in each argument. We’ll never get a hearing on this issue, or a dozen others issues, unless we trace out the assumptions behind the assumptions behind the arguments behind the conclusions.

2) We need more courage. The days of social acceptability for evangelicals, let alone privilege, are fading fast in many parts of the country. If we aren’t prepared to be counter-cultural we aren’t ready to be Christians. And we need courage not to just say what the Bible says, but to dare say what almost no one will say–that gay sex is unnatural and harmful to the body, that abandoning gender distinctions will be catastrophic for our society and for children, and that monogamy and exclusivity is often understood differently in the gay community.

3) We need more creativity. Statements and petitions and manifestos have their place, but what we really need is more than words and documents. We need artists and journalists and movie makers and story tellers and spoken word artists and comedians and actors and rappers and musicians who are galvanized by the truth to sing and speak and share in such a way that makes sin look strange and righteousness look normal.

4) We need a both-and approach. In the months ahead I imagine we’ll see Christians wrestle with whether the best way forward is to form new arguments that appeal to people where they’re at, or whether we simply need to keep preaching the truth and trust God to give some people the ears to hear. I’m convinced we need to do both. Let’s keep preaching, teaching, and laboring for faithful churches. Let’s be fruitful and multiply. Let’s train our kids in the way they should go. Let’s keep sharing the good news and praying for revival. And let’s also find ways to make the truth plausible in a lost world. Not only the truth about marriage, but the truth about life and sex and creation and beauty and family and freedom and a hundred other things humans tend to forget on this side of Adam.

The cultural assumptions in our day are not on our side, but if the last 50 years has shown us anything, it’s that those assumptions can change more quickly than we think.

Kevin DeYoung is Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is married to Trisha with five young children. This article originally appeared on Kevin DeYoung’s blog, “DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed,” at The Gospel Coalition website. Used with permission.

Link to the original article:

http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/political-and-social-issues/why-the-arguments-for-gay-marriage-are-persuasive.html?p=0

Why is Tim Tebow’s Cancellation Significant?

By Denny Burk

In a series of tweets, Tim Tebow has announced that he has cancelled his upcoming appearance at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. In his own words:

While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!

Tebow leaves this “new information” undefined. For those who have been following this story, you know that Tebow has been under fire for agreeing to speak at a church that The Huffington Post calls an anti-gay, anti-Semitic church. Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports has warned that Tebow was about to make “the biggest mistake of his life” by speaking at the church.

What are we to make of this? I am a big Tebow fan—for reasons that go beyond football—and I think he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt. He left his reasons ambiguous, and absent further clarification I don’t think this move should be interpreted as an expression of support for gay rights or some liberalized distortion of Christianity. In fact, I’m confident that he is an orthodox believer in Jesus Christ. I have a hunch that he’s probably just trying not to get entangled in the culture war. At the end of the day, I don’t know why he cancelled. Perhaps he will elaborate on his decision at some point.

In any case, it is impossible to ignore the context in which this decision was made. There will be some—despite Tebow’s ambiguity—who will assume that the “new information” is that which emerged in articles like the ones linked above. These articles criticize not just the church’s pastor, but the church’s views: that Jesus is the only way of salvation, the certainty of eternal judgment for those who die outside of Christ, the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

These teachings are not the innovation of a single pastor but are the established consensus of the Christian Church over its entire 2,000-year history. If this church’s views on these matters cannot be tolerated (and I encourage you to read the overt intolerance expressed in Doyel’s article), then we are in a scary place. In short, to marginalize this church for holding such views is to marginalize Christianity itself. It means that the tolerance police have finally achieved their ironic end—the intolerance of Christianity in American culture.

Christianity in America does not rise or fall on whether or not Tim Tebow speaks at First Baptist Church of Dallas. Nevertheless, this moment will appear to many as another marker of Christianity’s cultural marginalization. In the broad tolerance of views in our public discourse, who’s in and who’s out? What voices are allowed in the cacophony that is American democracy? Which voices should be excluded? Christian voices have long been a part of the din, but moments like these make it seem like those days are coming to an end.

Denny Burk is an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as an Associate Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church, which is in Louisville as well. Visit his website atwww.DennyBurk.com

Publication date: February 22, 2013

Link to the original article:

http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/political-and-social-issues/why-is-tim-tebow-s-cancellation-significant.html