Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ministry in a Pluralistic Context - Day 3

We spent time on two things today: (1) a video on Hinduism and (2) a case study on a true account of a missionary in India.

The video on Hinduism gave a very good introduction to a very complex religion, which in actuality is more of a way of life than religion. One new thing I discovered was this: according to the Hindu, the worship of the figurine of deities do not result in idolatry. They explain that they are worshipping what the idols represents and not the idols themselves. This is interesting to me because if this is so, then the discussion on the subject and approach of worshipping with a Hindu will take a different turn. I have yet to further reflect on this.

As such I might take up a comparative study of the different ways of worship as my essay topic. I wonder if comparing the worship practices of all four religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam - would be too much for a 3,000-word essay paper.

The case study that we did on Hinduism was a very interesting one - I highly recommend that you read a short version of the work of Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656) here. Nobili is now termed as the Roman Catholic Brahmin as he adopted customs and practices of the Brahmin caste in his personal lifestyle. He believed that it was the only way in which the Christian faith could be presented to the Hindus.

The lecturer forced us to vote - if we were the leaders of the church council, would we allow Nobili to continue with his work or call him back? To me, there were more questions than answers, but since we have to vote, I voted for the latter, though with qualifications. I felt that based on the information give in the case study, he had gone a tad too far in it. Had he kept to a certain limits, or even presented a more forward looking plan, he would be impactful in his work -- e.g. he formed a Brahmin church because the Brahmin caste Christian would not worship in the same place as the rest of the castes. It would have been better if he had planned for the assimilation of the differnt "caste-churches" through time. He might have, I don't know. But what's more glaring is the fact that he did not criticise the custom of suttee. If he were to have continued, would it result in an assimilated Christian faith with practices that are not Christ-like?
However, I also see that if he had continued with his work, he could have made an great impact with the Hindus and converted more and something could have been worked out to trim down his practices.

He was apparently called back and the spread of the gospel among the Hindus fell back.



  1. 1. 3000 words - definitely not enough.

    2. I think, and if I have to make a choice, I would call the guy back. It is not so much about not appreciating what he did for the Brahmans, but to have a church only for the privileged ... this is not the Gospel, no matter how much or how far you might go with it.

    Let's think about the OUTCOME and REPERCUSSIONS. It is not so much about not caring to reaching out to them, it is about not giving in to some kind warped Christianity, which is no Christianity at all ...

    Well, at least that's what I think ... :) Peace.

  2. 1. 3000 words - definitely not enough.
    Yea, I think so -- and so I might limit it to a comparison between Buddhist worship and Hindu worship (both being polyteistic) and see how we are Christian can encounter with them with our way of worship. I have sent a mail to the lecturer (hopefully he has access to his mail remote) and see what he says.

    2. I think, and if I have to make a choice, I would call the guy back
    As would I -- but I still feel more could have been done to make it more possible but Hinduism is more than a religion, it is a way of life and therefore it is really very, very difficult to do it without blurring some boundaries.