ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Foundations of Indian Christianity

Christianity in Indian History: Issues of Culture, Power and Knowledge edited by Pius Malekandathil, Joy L K Pachuau and Tanika Sarkar, Delhi: Primus Books, 2016; pp xiv + 283, 1,750.

Tensions generated by conversion to Christianity and anxieties produced by missionary activity are certainly no news in the Indian subcontinent. Although contemporary Evangelical and Pentecostal churches produce an especially flammable mix when confronted with the nationalist rhetoric of the 21st century variety, looking at the longer history of Christianity in India is instructive in two important ways. On one hand, the five centuries of history of conversion remind us that in spite of conflict and sometimes even overt violence, the most diverse denominations of Christianity have shown a remarkable capacity to adapt to local cultures and interact with regional power structures. Even when adaptability and conviviality struggled or failed, a great deal of creative thought and trial and error initiatives were constantly present throughout history: from the Brahminical inculturation experiments of the Jesuits in Tamil Nadu in the 16th to the 20th century efforts of Protestant missionaries in Meghalaya and Mizoram to understand traditional religious beliefs in order to make Christianity compatible with local ontologies.

On the other hand, this same history of Christianity offers valuable evidence that contemporary approaches to conversion that emphasise the rupture with pre-Christian pasts and the cultivation of deep interior spiritual states, are simply too narrow to understand the history of Christianity in India.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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