South American Problems by Robert E. Speer

Robert E. Speer [1867-1947], South American ProblemsRobert Elliott Speer [1867-1947] served as secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in the United States. The Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions notes:

Speer’s missiology reflected many of the principles of Rufus Anderson. He emphasized the primary evangelistic aim of foreign missions, the necessity of developing indigenous local churches with native pastors, and the basic distinction between the proclamation of the gospel and the spread of civilization. In later years he reiterated his conviction about the uniqueness of Christ and the superiority of Christianity to other religions. Although not a theologian, he consistently set forth an evangelical and Christocentric conception of the missionary task.

In this well-illustrated volume Speer turns his attention to an analysis of the hinderances to missions in South America. My thanks to Redcliffe College for providing a copy of this book for digitisation. This title is in the public domain.

Robert E. Speer [1867-1947], South American Problems. New York: Student Volunteer Movement, 1912. Hbk. pp.270. [Click to visit the download page]


  • Preface
  1. The Great Past
  2. The South American Republics of to-day
  3. The Problem of Education
  4. The Roman Church and the Problem of Religious Liberty
  5. Present Religious Conditions
  6. Present Religious Conditions (continued)
  7. The Indians
  8. Protestant Missions in South America
  • Index

Chapter 1: The Great Past

I. The early peoples. The origin and character of the earliest South American civilization are completely hidden from view. The most ancient traces of man on the continent are the “kitchen-midden” found on the coast of Peru, consisting of sea shells and refuse, mixed with fragments of earthen pots and ashes and occasionally the implements used by these primitive people. After these men, who lived on sea-food, there came more advanced tribes of whom we know nothing except what may be inferred from their pottery and textures found in the deepest layers of the soil. This development, such as it was, was confined to the sea coast. It was followed by a wondedul civilization on the high tablelands. Where this civilization came from is a mystery. We know nothing of how long it lasted or what its nature was except as its architectural ruins show that it had Oriental kinships and that it was as interesting as it was powerful…

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One Comment

  1. I wrote my Ph.D. diss. on Speer (1980) and also the dictionary article. He was a major missions leader and statesman in early 20th century. I

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