INSIGHT XXIII: 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    29-Nov-2022 11:31:00 AM   
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The church always worked to serve the imperial interest and equated Indian Nationalism with Hindu Nationalism purposely. Universalism advocated by Hindu philosophy was ridiculed as a ' utopian expectation of non-christian religion '. As it would have neglected transnational character of Christianity.

The Vatican council was almost a European affair. The question was raised in the Pune review, who was to coordinate the work of proclamation in India? Basically, all were obliged to accept any document issued from Rome. (Same is the case with the communist parties, opined the author, with the only difference that authority is with Moscow and Peking.)

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

The author states that contextualization and localization are essential, and so is the national character of the Church. It was pointed out by Cardinal Josef Tomko in his address in 1991.

Localisaton results in a dilemma, if it is sought, it faces the consequences of getting absorbed. If not, it creates some issues of othering and getting alienated. Engagement between Christian Gospel and a particular culture was in a way necessary, but it implied the danger of loosing the core identity. The Pune review concluded that these two concepts though seem opposite to each other, have to go hand in hand.

One can see some bizarre logic in some conventions too. The idol of Vishnu is criticized but not the idol of mother Mary, turning beads in the Church is criticised, but not clutching the Cross. The notion of caste is not acceptable, but the Church demands reservation to be extended to scheduled caste Christians. ( The demand is still made ) It is suggested in the report, some traditions of the tribals and scheduled castes should be adopted by Church,of course there is not much clarity on this point.

The author observed some changes in the ways the Church dealt with the situation after independence.

1) It moved from false interpretations to empathy.

2) It claimed to be the only way to Truth, but later it expressed inclusivity.

3) From uniformity as the starting point, but it moved to 'contextualization' later.

Thus started a series of Dilemmas. What would help us understand the change in position on some issues? The author suggested some tests. He stated them clearly.

• If the Church listed all the disinformation points and their grounds accompanied by enumerating the motives,it would prove the point.

• If the Church explained with the help of scholarly work already done, the claims of the Bible, being the revealed words of God, and the Pope's being infallible.

• If the Church spreads information or knowledge based on science to its target groups

• If the Church wholeheartedly accepted the fact that there are many ways to reach God and truth, and the process an inner-directed search.

• If the Church accepted salvation was possible in each religion, then it had to explain the ground for converting people, especially the way it was done in the Northeast.

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,