INSIGHT XXII: Reality of Christian missionaries through the lens of Arun Shourie's book

Namaskar, the new series "INSIGHT" is an attempt to present the central thought of a thought-provoking book. "Missionaries In India Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas", a book by Shri Arun Shourie compels readers to contemplate various points put forth.

NewsBharati    26-Nov-2022 11:27:30 AM   
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British left India. It was a transfer of power, loss of safeguards that forced the church to make many adjustments. The changes in Europe too struck Church in many ways. The growth of rationalism and developments in science was in a way, like a blow. ' Word of God ' could not be viewed as exempted from error.

The claim of infallibility of the Bible could not be accepted by a reasonable person. The author states that history of popes and their actual conduct hinted that they as an institution, were far from dependable. Rome and colonial Christian governments were losing power.

INSIGHT XVIII: Reality of Christian missionaries through the lens of Arun Shourie's book

This gave rise to national feeling in non-Christians, it was becoming difficult to to assert that there was no salvation outside the Church. The corollary of this development was, that good could be found outside Christianity too, and it was in a way accepted too. ( Good in other religions ) The image of other religions changed a bit. They were viewed as preparatory stages to Christianity.

Now the possibility of salvation in each religion was acknowledged by the Vatican. And this probably destroyed the ground for conversion in principle. Others could not be viewed now as infidels living in terrible distress. This obviously was reflected in the background paper prepared for Pune, the decline in the number of conversions was also noted clearly. It showed the unsettling effects of the new position and unease too. The problem was, the Church had to accept ( though grudgingly ) the existence and principles of other religions, but it was expected that it had to proclaim that Christ is the only way or solution to everything.

The problem was, if the philosophy of Buddha and Gandhi Ji was to be accepted then it had no space left for the Church. Some still adhered to the old and aggressive methods for conversion, at the same time, some tried to get accommodated to the changed situation. Lack of zeal, the report said, was apparent, many wanted to go to rich countries,at least wanted a good bank balance.

However the changed scenario did not deter missionaries, there always was an obligation of conversion which was strongly reaffirmed. Their distress was apparent. Gradually there were many Indians at many levels in the order of the religious system as noted in the report in the early nineties. In a way Indianisation of the church began, this was not the case with the Muslim religion. Of course, such a change in attitude implied many unsettling effects. Issues like the liberalization of Dalits, tribals, and women were being raised, and even the protection of the environment too was accepted as an important issue. Now it became a little difficult to show the focus on the upliftment of the downtrodden.

Managing hospitals, schools, and other institutions needed a lot of time investment. The primary mission of conversion could not get the due focus.

When social change started getting focused, it gave rise to some conflicts. Was the change in focus to address fighting injustice or eradicating poverty or to concentrate on socio-political aspects of society? The question raised was whether a radical manner was the right method to be used to strike the cause of these problems.

A secular point of view implied involvement in development activities too.

The response to these activities was not as per expectations. Some concentrated more on these aspects at the cost of the Christian message. This was in a way a summary of the report.

Prof. Vidya Deshpande

Professor Vidya Deshpande has had a journey of more than four decades in the field of education. Her  main expertise is in the subject of Philosophy,  and she has worked as a teacher of philosophy and logic with Nowrosjee Wadia college for 36 years. She has been associated with the Janakalyan Blood bank for last for 38 years and has also carried out the responsibility as a management committee member of Karve Stree Shikshan Sanstha for 10 years. Her special fields of interest are Philosophy of social sciences, school education, development of skills for self reliance,  and top up skills to make students profession ready,