Tanap Research

The Propagation of Dutch Reformed Protestantism on Java in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century c. 1753-1835: A Study of Religion and Society in two colonial Towns (Batavia and Semarang) and its Perception by Early Nineteenth Century Missionaries


Yusak Soleiman

curriculum vitae

Most studies on the Protestant Church in Java in the second half of the eighteenth to early-nineteenth centuries were the products of members of modern missionary societies. Some of these members have served as missionaries, others were members of the board of missionary societies. They shared the same view over the Indische Kerk and her ministers, namely that there were many deficiencies in the Church under the VOC.

Most important was that government intervention in the Church affairs was too great. For example, the Company was in charge of recruiting, selecting, paying and assigning the minister to certain places. They also believed that the Indische Kerk did not carry out its mission seriously: it limited itself to European and the VOC personal. It was a handelskerk. Therefore the number of indigenous converts was not enough to establish an indigenous Church.
Until now many Indonesian church historians accept this view without reserve. They still do not consider the period before the age of mission seriously as a part of the history of Indonesian Protestantism. An exception however is the Eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, Maluku. The period of the eighteenth, even of the seventeenth century, was proudly accepted as a part of the long history of the Eastern Indonesia Protestantism. I believe that it is necessary to study this 'lost century' of Western Indonesian history of Protestantism, for the sake of Indonesian as well as and Dutch church history.

In order to address this problem I need to find out what the reality was, and how the perception of Protestantism in the Western part of Indonesia grew among the earliest 'modern' (i.e. nineteenth-century) missionaries.

Six research objectives come in order:

  1. Religion and the Colonial State 1750-1835;
  2. The Indische Kerk in the second half of eighteenth to early nineteenth century (organizational and functional aspects of the Church in an urban society);
  3. The life and works of the ministers of the Indische Kerk;
  4. An analyses of the spread of  Protestantism outside Batavia, Semarang and Surubaya from 1752 onward;
  5. The influence of local consistories on the local Christian community in Batavia, Semarang and Surabaya;
  6. Early missionaries and their critical perception and the Indische Kerk and her ministers.




Prof. Dr. Gerrit J. Schutte

Dr. Jan Sihar Aritonang

Prof. Dr. Pieter N. Holtrop

Dr. Hendrik E. Niemeijer

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