Chapter 27 » 27.07

Friends and other faiths

Henry T Hodgkin (1877–1933) played a leading part in the Friends Foreign Mission Association and the Student Christian Movement, and in founding the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He worked as a missionary in China and came to appreciate the validity of other witnesses to God than the Christian one.

By processes too numerous and diverse even to summarise, I have reached a position which may be stated in a general way somewhat like this: ‘I believe that God’s best for another may be so different from my experience and way of living as to be actually impossible to me. I recognise [a change] to have taken place in myself, from a certain assumption that mine was really the better way, to a very complete recognition that there is no one better way, and that God needs all kinds of people and ways of living through which to manifest himself in the world.’

This has seemed to carry with it two conclusions which greatly affect conduct. One is that I really find myself wanting to learn from people whom I previously would have regarded as fit objects for my ‘missionary zeal’. To discover another way in which God is operating – along lines it may be distasteful or dangerous to me – is a large part of the fun of living. The second direction in which conduct is influenced is the deliberate attempt to share the life and interests of others who are not in my circle … [for] in such sharing I can most deeply understand the other’s life and through that reach, maybe, fresh truths about God.


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