Lecture 18: Christian Response Case Studies (Part 2) | Free Online Biblical Library

Lecture 18: Christian Response Case Studies (Part 2)

Course: Introduction to Hinduism

Lecture: Christian Response Case Studies (Part 2)

I did remember the sacred thread.  God is good.  We'll be passing this around.  Yeah.  We'll invest you ??? threads in the class.  Well, actually I have several.  That is a sacred thread.  No, that is the whole thing.  Basically, it is a white thread, which is why it's called the sacred thread, not the sacred rope.  I will pass around the sacred thread.  If you feel led to cast this over your shoulder, then I won't tell anybody – but you're not allowed.
I also have here incense sticks.  It's so familiar.  This is partly what you'll smell when you're in India.  This is one of the things that wafts.  So you can pull this out and get a little whiff and you feel like you've been to India.  I associate this smell only with India.  ??? you found this same smell actually throughout south-east.  This is some sandal incense – that's actually sandal in Hindi.  So you can also kind of just smell that as well.  OK, ??? the gods love it.

OK.  I told you I do not give money to idol worshippers.  So, I don't ... unfortunately have like a chest and you ... I could bring home just chests of stuff.  These are only things I've been given.  Very happy to give it to you.  This is like something you find Brahmins wear around your neck.  It means you're like really cool dude.  This is a sacred necklace, but nowadays almost anybody can wear them.  It's like no big deal.  So it's not as sacred as it once was.  The sacred thread is still a big thing, but ...

This is, for example, the vermillion powder that you can use to sprinkle over idols or this is what you put on your forehead and in your part of your hair if you're a married woman.  So if any of you young ladies that are single would like to fool the crowds, you could put this in the part of your hair and everyone would stay away from you.  This could save you so much grief.

Question: What is that?

It's a powder.  It's a powder and the married women will not go out without placing this in the part of their hair.  It rubs off very easily and comes ...

Comment: So you can just ...

You put a little water with it, you know ...  What else do I have here?  They have other stuff you can offer to gods and stuff – incense burners.  I guess I can pass these around.  But these are just a few things.  I mainly wanted to make sure I brought in the sacred thread – but, to give you a little feel for some of that.  This is my puja paraphernalia box.

OK.  Danielle, if you'll help us in prayer.

Danielle: Lord, thank You for this day that You've made.  I thank You for sustaining us ??? this class ????

Amen.  OK.  Just to set this in the context because we won't spend a lot of time on this because we need to move on, but I've tried to lay out for you a couple of examples of how different major Indian theologians have responded to the Hindu tradition.  We're going to in a min... later on in the course of this lecture talk about some general other parameters about Indian responses to Hinduism per se as a religion.  But in terms of strategy of working with Hinduism, Brahmabandhav Upadhyay was the one that really focused on trying to address the Advaitic tradition at the highest level.  So he believed that that was really the key because, even though this is a small percentage of Hindus, this is the most powerful, dominant group.  They control the thought processes and therefore you must penetrate that.

Appasamy, on the other hand, A.J.Appasamy had a very different idea.  He's also born in the nineteenth century but later in the nineteenth century – 30 years after Upadhyay.  And Appasamy became the bishop of south India.  And he developed a Christian interpretation which is known as the Pramanas.  These are the indicators of devotion.  Probably these are the best representative of his writings I have here with me.  And the first is a book called – and I guess this title says it all.  This is actually a collection of his writings from a man named Dayanandan Francis.  Again that name Dayanandan you can again see the ananda in there.  That's a typical man who's a teacher.  Dayanandan Francis has compiled a lot of key writings of Appasamy in this book called The Christian Bhakti of A.J.Appasamy.

Appasamy went to Oxford.  He got his Ph.D. at Oxford and his doctoral work was in the area of John's gospel – and logos theology and John's gospel.  He was a very, very brilliant man, but I don' think he rises to the level of Brahmabandhav, in my humble opinion.  But he's nevertheless quite an insightful man.

So, he decided that the better way would be to focus on the bhakti tradition.  So from Upadhyay's point of view, you must see that this is waste of time because, even if you win the battle, you've lost the war – from Upadhyay's point of view.  Because you can be victorious at the level of saguna – I'm speaking as an Advaitan here – but it's all going to be illusory anyway.  So what's the point unless you're victorious at the level of nirguna.  Appasamy is actually responding in a more on-the-ground, grass-roots level, saying: Yeah, OK.  Maybe a few handful of Advaitans say that, but for the vast majority of Hindus, they are not connected to the Advaitic tradition.  They are involved in daily puja, devotion to deities – all the things that we talked about in kind of the latter part of the course.

So, let me just let you feel a little bit of Appasamy's writings.  I'm going to read you ... this is an article of his entitled The Knowledge of God.  Most of this is collected from journals.  And, by the way, I have here a very prized possession of mine.  I have this laminated so it won't fall apart.  But this is the front cover of one of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay's journals.  It's the only one in existence in the Western hemisphere – right here, in my hands.  I was given this by the librarians at the Jesuit College in India.  I couldn't refuse them – though it was totally against the law – because librarians cannot give covers of journals to people.  I don't think that's allowed.  Is that allowed?  ??? your family.  But anyway.  Like, if you walked into the library and Mr Kline were to say: OK, hey.  You like this copy of, you know, ....  Here it goes, right.  This had already fallen off from age, but I'd spent so many months there working they gave it to me.  So I accepted it.  And I have now a laminated copy of this.  I think I probably have the only personal possession of this in the world.  Why is this so important?  I don't know.  But to me ...  All right.

I bring this up only because this is so typical of nineteenth century India.  Once you really get your head in nineteenth century India, you will discover that everybody and their brother had their own journal.  It was like the way you got your ideas out.  The printing press was going big time in India at that point.  They're all excited about it.  Everyone got their ideas out.  And some of the journals were very tiny circulation.  Some were much larger.  Hey, this was actually quite a successful journal by the standards of nineteenth century India.  But what they found is these journals either the subscriptions were in the thousands, not tens of thousands, though his at times got up into ten thousand or more.  But generally what happened was that, even though there might be only two or three thousand, it would be passed from person to person to person, house to house to ...  Even to this day in India.  People bring me copies of Readers Digest from 1972.  They say: Have you read this Readers Digest article on so and so?  It's been passed around.  It's so old you can't believe it.  And you open it and somebody has some article they thought was meaningful and they save it and they pass it around.  And so Guidepost, Readers Digest, all that kind of Christian material was very popular among Indians, Indian Christians.  So, journal reading is a big thing in India.  And Bengal are the masters of it.

Brahmabandhav, in the course of his life, he, just this one man, single-handedly founded over seven journals.  It depends on how you count them, because sometimes he changed the name of a journal and reconfigured it, but essentially about seven journals he himself founded and did most of the writing for.  So Appasamy in the same way, published a lot of journals.  He did publish more in other people's journals than his own.  But nevertheless, this is from one of those articles.

Just kind of listen to this.  Don't worry about the details of it.  Just kind of feel what he's saying and the point he's making.  Because this is all familiar stuff to you now.  From the earliest times it has been felt in India that God is infinite and glorious and we cannot describe Him.  Sounds ... he's kind of toying with the Advaitic tradition here.  In the Brihad-Aranyaka the rishi says of Brahman: You could not see the seer of seeing.  You cannot think the thinker of thinking.  You cannot understand the understander of understanding.  He's quoting from the Brihad-Aranyaka 4.2.  Though Brahman cannot be known as he is in himself, knowledge of him can be gleaned from the various parts of the universe.  OK, so he begins to explain how, even though there's this exalted Brahman, we can know things about him.  So he develops this point.

And finally what he argues essentially is that over time the Hindu tradition has developed.  So you essentially have a, what we would call, progressive revelation.  So what he says is that in the Upanishads they first start out by telling you about nirguna – the god who cannot be known, incomprehensible, beyond all knowledge, on and on and on.  But then he goes on, and I'm passing over a big part of this, but he goes on to say: By the time you get to the Bhagavad-Gita, the idea of the incomprehensibility of god receives a further development.  The Brahman, the known and the incomprehensible, becomes incarnate in human form.  So he's saying the Bhagavad-Gita is developing the idea not as a, you know, lower interpretation of saguna, but is actually development of theology.  So it is true that Brahman cannot be described except in negatives, but for the sake of the world, he becomes Krishna, Arjuna's charioteer, and takes part in the affairs of men as their human friends and comrades.  The Vishnu and the Bhagavata Puranas speak of the transcendent, unknowable aspect of god.  They teach however, that god may be known by his devotees.

All right, so, the bottom line is he is going to be developing the whole idea of like Ramauja did that bhaktism is the greatest expression of god – of love of god.  So he's going to accept this.  So in all these books, The Christian Bhakti of A.J.Appasamy.  This is a book actually be Appasamy, a full-length book, Christianity as Bhakti Marga.  You know, I apologise for these books because, by our standards, these are poor quality because they're like in this shrink wrap and they look kind of cheap.  But this is typical of a lot of Indian publications.  So you have to kind of look beyond that because they're made for Indians to buy.  This book here, for example, cost 40 rupees, which is less than $1.  Well, you couldn't print this book for less than $1 in the US.  So a lot of these books look like this.  A.J.Appasamy Speaks to the Indian Church.  What Shall we Believe by A.J.Appasamy.  These are important books of his where he delineates his ideas.  So essentially, yes.

Question: Well, I just about the books.  You said those books are written for Indians?  Why are they in English?

Because the great majority of Indian discourse regarding Christianity happens in English.  It's one of the problems as well as one of the benefits of Christian discourse in India.  The way it works in south India is that every state has different language.  And so, because you can't publish in multiple languages very cheaply, English is the second language of everybody in south India.  And so when you go to school, even in secular school in India, when you go to the college level it generally takes place in English.  Therefore most of the serious book writing and all that happens in English.  And I've kind of just accepted that fact.

In north India, this is one of the things we're trying to really challenge, because in north India they have not got to that point yet.  So you still have very vigorous Hindi discourse in north India.  The schools are largely still in English, but a lot of the literature is just coming out and we're hoping to promote a lot of good vigorous Hindi material.  But these are some of the books that he's written.

What he essentially does in this is play on a very well-known tradition in south India.  And that is that knowledge is known by three testimonies – Shabda which is Scripture or testimony; Anumana reason; and Prathyaksha which is perception or experience.  Now we may not have anybody here who knows much about the Protestant tradition with John Wesley, but you may be aware that John Wesley is famous for what's known as the quadrilateral.  Basically, Wesley argued that, in order to understand the gospel and preach it appropriately, you need to take into consideration all four of these.  Scripture, of course, has priority.  But he talks of the role of experience, tradition and reason.  I think we would interpret it from our point of view as taking good heed to historic Christianity (the creeds and so forth) as understanding certain things in Scripture that might otherwise not understand.  Our exegesis involves plenty of reason.  We follow certain logical reasonable formulations and we discuss theology and so forth.  This is not actually unknown in terms of how people come about reasoning and theological analysis.

So this is something that's also popular in the south Indian tradition.  Anumana is reason.  Prathyaksha is experience.  The tradition is not part of this, but he later adds that is some of his other writings.  So, Appasamy develops this quite extensively and he demonstrates how this is used in Ramanuja to promote the devotion of god.  He has another book out.  I don't have it here.  But it's called something like The Insights of Ramanuja or whatever.  But he basically tries to build on Ramanuja the way Brahmabandhav built on Sankara.

He develops a lot based on his experience of Johannine theology – the relational aspect of this.  This has also been published by Royce Greener, a retired professor here at Gordon Cornwell who a number of years ago put out a book demonstrating the relational aspects of John's gospel that were not present in the synoptics – the Father, Son, relational language is very dominant.  The family kind of connection is there in John's gospel.  So Appasamy actually brings this out quite profoundly in showing that essentially Jesus has a devotional relationship with the Father.  It's a form of a bhakti model.  He explores all the prayers in John's gospel, all kinds of love and suffering in John's gospel.  He does a lot with showing how themes in John's gospel are consistent with the whole bhakti tradition.  So he is trying to demonstrate that bhaktism, though he doesn't believe is sufficient, of course, but it is showing through preparatio evangelica – preparation of the gospel.  It's preparing people for the true devotion which can only be found in Christ – is only truly modelled by Christ before the Father.  This is his bottom line.

I found Appasamy, in my view, at times to overstate his case.  But I nevertheless find that he's a very important, very influential person, deeply loved by south Indian Christians – by Christians all over, but particularly south Indian Christians.  He lived all the way to 1975.  He lived into ... he was like 90 years old or something.  He was extremely elderly.  And so he's considered to be one of the great statesmen of the south Indian church.  So, I guess for our purposes, my main purpose in showing this is not ...  And you'll notice that none of these terms are on the handout for you to know.  But what you should know is realising that major Christian leaders, like Brahmabandhav, coming from a high caste Brahminical background; Appasamy who also come from a Brahminical background but comes to the faith through the south Indian Tamil tradition.  They are approaching Christianity ... or the way in which you communicate the gospel through very different means – one approaching through the nriguna/saguna distinction and the other through the more popular bhaktism.  And I think basically if you were to line up all of the Indian Christian theologians, you'll find them gravitating to one of these two poles, for better, for worse.  It's a matter of strategy.  That's the real point here.  Yes.

Question: At the popular level, in the Indian kind of gospel church ???

If you are asking very precisely about the IPC Church, the Indian Pentecostal Church, the answer is absolutely no.  They will not even enter this discussion – which actually the next handout will make that clear.  The IPC is extremely anti-culture really.  That may be putting it too harshly, but they simply will not ...  ??? they won't even wear the bangles.  Women won't wear bangles.  They wouldn't wear the nose ring.

Question: ??? more Western.

They ... not that they're Western, they're just very, very strictly not going to have anything to do with anything that might be even associated with Hinduism.  And the result is they would reject a lot of things that are just Indian.

Question: ???

They're all over the world, yeah.  But there are other groups like, for example, the Church of South India, which are very much a part of this.  Appasamy was the bishop of the Church of South India.  So he was a bishop, not just a ...  Like Brahmabandhav is just like a lay person just writing.  This is an ordained bishop.  So he is writing from a position of much more influence in terms of setting out what the church should do theologically.

Question: ??? he doesn't even go far enough ???

O Rick Hivner.  He's focused on this case study #1.  He believes that the Brahminical tradition is the key.  So he's not going to be interested in the bhakti tradition.  He wants to focus on contextualising – I think, syncretising in some cases – his ideas with the high Hindu tradition.  OK.  I think Baron's question is actually probably one that's on all of our minds, but I think it might be best to summarise what I would say ...

And this is ??? I developed myself.  So it's always open for critique or further development.  But what I've done is I've kind of thought through from my experience in India five basic models of how people approach or don't approach witnessing in India.  All of these we can learn from.  All of these deserve critique.  I do not view any of these models as the model.  I'll say more about that later.  But I don't actually don't believe there is kind of like the standard model.  I think some of these are weaker than others.  I think all of these we can learn from.  So what I want to do is just briefly highlight each of these and get your feedback and thoughts about what I'm trying to say here in each of these models.

The first I call the Pentecostal Power-Encounter model.  This is the pray for the sick, see people healed and God will build His church.  There are a lot of Indian Christians who fit within this model.  And I would say, quite honestly, the group that I'm involved with in India, I would say most of our church planters subscribe to this model.  I'll say more about our own strategy more later on at the end of this lecture, but I think that essentially Elijah on Mount Carmel is a really key paradigm – that we have a confrontation between the gods of darkness and the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gods of darkness are counterfeit.  They have no true power.  They put people in bondage.  And Jesus Christ liberates and will destroy the darkness of Hinduism.  It's very, very strong on confrontation with the faultity of Hinduism.

I am deeply, deeply appreciative of all that I've learned from my brothers and sisters in this camp.  I have very, very close friends that are deeply involved in, I would say, this kind of model.  And I think there's so much to be learned from it.  I have my own questions about it which I'll raise in a moment, but they are very deeply convinced that the way Jesus broke into ministry is not a one-off kind of exception, but it is a model for the way Christian penetration should take place.  They basically say: You have the gospels first, then you have the epistles.  So you must start with the gospels theologically and then you go to the epistles.  The way they apply this is: Jesus begins with power encounter – praying for the sick, casting out demons, healing the oppressed.  And then later, once the church is established, you can establish doctrine, teaching, the whole Pauline reflection on the meaning of the cross and all that.  But that's not where you start.

So practically, what does this mean?  What this means is, and this is exactly the way the vast majority of our churches have been established in India, the ones that I'm involved in.  We have over 400 churches now planted.  That includes churches that we planted and churches that our new church plants have planted.  But those churches are largely started – I'll say more about the strategy kind of later on, but in terms of just this particular point.  When you go into the village, you go to the village and you tell people that Jesus Christ is the Great Physician and their gods have no power to heal.  Jesus alone can truly deliver and heal.  And, in order to prove that, they say: If you have sick, needy, demon-possessed, bring them to the town square.  We'll pray for the sick.  I have seen this many times.

And in a way, I admire their courage – because, you know we will sometimes say, you know, we will pray for you and if it be God's will, you know.  All that kind of like, you know, give yourself a back door in case the person's just as ill when you finish praying for them.  Or you say, you know, brother, God heals everyone in the resurrection, you know.  Which is all true by the way and I believe that.  But, I admire the boldness of these people.  You know, they're saying: O you have a lame leg?  We'll pray for you in Jesus' name.  You know, that takes a lot of courage.  And they see that in the New Testament.  And so they want to emulate that.  So they pray for the sick.

And one of my most vivid examples of this that comes to me is I was with Aydee Suna, one of our pastors, in Orissa.  We were in Orissa together.  And we were in this village.  We got there right as all of this puja was going on.  I mean it was like a major puja thing and this guy.  They had this big tent that they had erected. And I don't have pictures to show you of this particular thing, though I have slides of it.  I need to get these put on powerpoint.  But essentially they have pujari is the term for the priest – the guy who does the puja – pujari.  OK, so the purjari is there and he is saying mantras and all this.  And he starts out with just a loincloth on.  But eventually he gets dressed in this very elaborate garb.  He has this like little crown on his head and everything and this long robes and all that and their form of puja.  And he's burning incense – these incense sticks that you're passing around here.  He burns those and then he begins ...  People offer money.  That's a big part of it, of course, because that's how he gets his money.  So they give money.  He collects all the money together, you know.  Eventually he gets these mantras – these recite over the fire.  He has a little fire burning there of all the stuff.  And so he's speaking the mantras into the fire.  And he's sprinkling of this ... actually this stuff here.  He's sprinkling some of this into the fire.  It makes the fire jump up, you know.  And so he's saying the mantras.

Well then, his assistants come and they open this box up and they put these mantras into this box.  And this box is on this long pole.  OK, so here's the pole with some chains holding the box onto the pole.  And the pole was almost as long as this room is wide.  And they have one assistant one end and one is on the other end.  And this box is hanging in the middle with the mantras in it.  And these men are going to circle the village.  And everybody's all kind of gathered together.  In the centre there's a little Hindu temple there.  They're all gathered around.  And he's going to circle this village – they're all gathered together – maybe four or five times.  So these guys – I think it's pretty obvious, but they didn't think so.  These guys are like slightly, slightly moving their shoulder.  They're very good at this.  It's very subtle.  They have the ability to create some pressure on this pole – to create some movement so this box ???  It's hanging on chains this long.  It doesn't take much to get the thing to move.  But this slight movements.  They can make this box begin to make circles.   And so everyone's amazed – because they believe like there's power in this box, these mantras.  This box is going around.  And they circle the city, the village, several times.  They say various things.

Well, we found out that this whole thing was being done by the village chief because he had a son who had malaria – which, of course, is a typical problem in India – and he was dying of malaria.  So they went around.  The boy was there.  They brought him there.  We found out later it was the chief's son.  And he was sweating.  And he was obviously was a very ill young boy.

So, after the puja was over with, and they even came up to us.  We were standing there, of course, here a white face.  I was the only white person there, but several ...  George, ??? was there and a few others that some of you have met.  And they came up and they had this vermillion – the red ??? thing that's being passed round – and they tried to put it on our head.  He was trying to include us in it so that we're like O we're part of it.  Because a lot of Westerners travel all over India and they ??? anything in India they love.  So he didn't know, you now, how we would respond.  So we said, you know, naee, naee, naee.  No, no, not on our head.  So he just ignored us after that.  So we just stood there.  And I took some pictures.

At the end of the whole thing – it's all over – the boy's still laying there suffering.  So we went up to the leaders, the elders, of the village and we said: Listen, this young boy's sick.  We're Christians.  And we believe Jesus has the power to heal this young man.  We'll pray for him in the name of Jesus and he'll be healed.  This is not me – this is Aydee Suna speaking.  I'm there like – yeah, yes, praise the Lord.  So, all right, so the guy said: "No, no, no, no, no.  I paid.  I paid the puja.  I paid puja.  No pray in Jesus' name.  No pray in Jesus' name."  So, OK, fine.

So, the reason we were in that village was to visit this one Christian family in that village.  This is like several days – or a day and a half – we had a long, you now, car journey, you know, about a day walk to get back in there.  So this is a seriously remote place.

This is where I saw the women with cigars, by the way.  I tell you that story?  I had a woman with cigars?  All right.  I never heard of a woman smoking a cigar in my life.  All right.  So I was in this village.  And, in India, even the women don't smoke cigarettes, much less cigars.  I mean, these are like big fat cigars, all right.  So I get to this village, and I can't believe it.  There's these three women about 80 years – they looked 80 – 75, 80 years old – with three long cigars in their mouth.  So I said to George.  I said: "Look.  Those ladies have cigars in their mouth."  And I say: "At least they're not lit."  That shows you how stupid I was.  I mean, I know better now.  This has been many years ago.  At least they're not lit.  And he goes: "O no, they're lit."  I said: "No, they're not lit."  He said: "No, they're lit.  You wait."  And sure enough, the cigar comes out ... all this smoke.  These women will light the cigar.  They get it nice and lit and then they'll flip it around and put it in their mouth – the fire on the inside of their mouth.  So they have what looks like an unlit cigar.  So they're ??? resonating with all this smoke in their body.  And every so often they'll take it out and blow all the smoke out and start all over again.  The idea of having the fire on the outside wastes smoke – because it's like curling off.  That's like ... they don't have a problem with secondary smoke there because they get the first and second.  So, I know that ... Susan told me that now it's very cheap for women to smoke cigars now.  OK, this has been done in India.  This is not a new thing.  The Indian women had long figured this out.  This cigar smoking is a really cool thing, right.  So they're ...  ??? it was just that kind of village.  I mean, like some things I'd never seen before.

So we're out visiting the couple that ... the one Christian couple that's there to encourage them.  They're not part of the cigar-smoking crowd.  And while we're there, a family just two houses down, comes over to our little ... this was like a ??? house – this was a very tiny little shack.  I mean, you can't even stand up in it.  You know, you walk in like this and just sit down and have a cup of tea.  And you can't even stand up in it.  It's a very tiny little place.  This other couple comes down and says: "We understand that you're here and that you're Christians.  Or child has malaria too.  Would you pray for him?"  So we sure will.  So we went down there.  And there's this little boy just as sick as the village chief's son.  Same thing – child sweating, shivering, shaking.  And so we lay hands him.  We pray for him in Jesus' name.  And after we'd prayed for him the boy sat up.  He still looked delirious, but at least he sat up.  And we said, you know: "God bless you."  And we talked to the family and we left.

OK, what we didn't know was the next morning, that boy got up completely whole well.  And everybody knew that both these children had malaria.  The village chief's son was just as sick as ever and continued to be sick for weeks after that.  I don't know if he lived or died.  But the point is that the community took that as a definite sign that on the same day, the pujari showed up and these Christian, Aydee Suna, showed up.  And one prayed in the name of Hindu gods.  One prayed in Jesus' name.  And the one who prayed in Jesus' name was healed and the other guy wasn't.  Jesus is more powerful than their god ... than those gods.  Therefore we're going to become Christians.  And there's a whole group of people became Christians in that village because of that experience.

I could replicate those kind of stories by the hundred.  But that is typical of this whole paradigm.  Going to a village.  Meet them where they are.  Every village has sickness, illness, demonic problems.  Everybody that ... every village has that.  Every city has that.  So, that's their need.  Pray for the sick.  See God is pleased to heal people.  And then from there go.  So that's the Pentecostal Power-Encounter paradigm.

One of my concerns about it – and I have this reflection question here on the handout – what are the implications of a purely functional gospel?  I believe that God in His sovereignty may not choose to heal people right away immediately.  I actually do believe that some people – I mean, some people are healed now instantaneously, some are healed gradually, all are healed in the resurrection.  I actually do believe that.  And therefore, for reasons that we don't know in the New Testament itself, Jesus, for example, walked through the Temple Beautiful Gate many times and we know that the man there was born lame was there.  The Bible says he'd been there for years.  And the guy was 40 years old.  And Peter and John were the ones that were called to pray for him.  You know, you could ask: Why didn't Jesus touch him?  I don't know why sometimes God delays people's healing.  I don't understand that.  That's a mystery.  It's part of God's sovereignty.  And there's people who have died in illness – in the faith, but are ill.  But in the resurrection, we know they are healed.

So, sometimes this particular paradigm can forget that God's sovereignty and God's work may not always be manifested in the particular way that we think it should in order to demonstrate that Jesus is more powerful.  Sometimes God speaks; sometimes God speaks through silence.  And I think sometimes that's something that's hard for us to always understand.  And some of my colleagues in India, I think, or some of our churches on the field, I think at times are very deep in the area of: Jesus will heal you, Jesus will save you, Jesus will redeem you.  But not necessarily as deep in good theological rootage.  What if your children does die of leukaemia?  What then?  Does that mean Jesus is not powerful?  How do we respond to those kind of issues?  The whole theodicy and all of that comes into this.

So, I have my concerns about it and I often, in India a lot, talk about.  I compare in my sermons often what I call power-encounter and truth-encounter and the need to balance power-encounter with truth-encounter.  And I basically say in a nutshell: Power-encounter is really good, but don't forget that we also need to root people and disciple them in the faith and properly root them in good, solid Christian theology – which includes a dynamic view of God's intervention, but also includes plenty of space for God to operate in ways that are outside of our kind of visual paradigms.  Any comments about the Pentecostal Power-Encounter model?

Question: How often do you think it goes off really into works-based theology and says – well your kid wasn't healed because you didn't have enough faith ???

Our movement, we very strongly preach against that.  So, we don't have that problem.  But, that does happen in India.  Definitely.  That whole movement is there.  That it's obviously ... that it's all just a matter of instrumentality.  You know, you didn't pray enough.  You didn't fast enough.  You didn't do whatever enough.  I would say that that tendency can be there in some of our people, but I would say that they would not affirm that theology.  I think though I've had people who many times have come to me and talked about, you know, we have fasted this many days.  We've prayed for this many hours.  And this didn't happen.  So we're going to fast more, pray more and ...  And that mentality is there.  Some of that is healthy.  Some of that is very dangerous.  Depends on, you know the motivation behind it and what's involved.  Because there's nothing wrong with persistence.  But, you're right.  Thinking that it's really a matter of almost a magical formula obviously is unbiblical.

OK, the second one is called: Jesus Christ the perfect embodiment of dharma.  This one really does bring out the emphasis that Jesus cannot be known through Western creedal formulations, doctrinal discussions that are often at the centre of how we discuss Christology.  You should instead emphasise the life of Christ.  It points out that the Easterns already have a deep respect for Jesus, but they reject kind of the Western categorisation of the whole thing which sounds to them a bit imperialistic.

Here's a book, for example, I think that epitomises this.  This is by a guy named Badrinath, Chaturvedi Badrinath.  This is a book called Finding Jesus in Dharma.  Christianity in India is a sub-title.  I don't think you could possible find this book in the Western world for sale.  But this is typical of a book you'd find in India in a Christian bookshop in India.  Now, this kind of book is read by Christians.  And let me just read you the back of it – or, at least, a few excerpts.  Christianity has flourished as an honoured faith in India in Kerala for four centuries before the nations of Europe began being Christianised.  OK, so this guy, to his credit, is trying to demonstrate Christianity precedes the British.  That's a good thing.  The Indian Christians have been an integral part of Indian society for as long as Christianity itself.  They did not ever believe there was a conflict between the spiritual environment in which they had their roots and their faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour.  So, he's trying to demonstrate the connection between the two.  It's Christian missionaries from Europe and England, centuries later, who would insist there was a radical breach between the two.  So he's trying to say, you know, before the Europeans there was much more of an assimilation of Christianity and Hinduism – which is true, but may be tragic in some ways.  Missionaries were obliged to rethink Christianity in relation to non-Christian religions, especially Hinduism.  This book is about the history of the issues which Western Christianity produced in its encounter with dharmic civilisation.  OK, this is his last thing.  This is in italics.  This is his main thesis.  Above all, beyond history, beyond theology, there is Jesus as the perfect embodiment of dharma – faith, trust, carrying love and truth.  These are the meaning of Jesus as they are in dharma.  In our troubled times, hearts would heal and bring together what is falsely separated, making a journey towards both.  Very, very, very typical.

You're going to find a very strong reaction against a careful theological reasoning behind the person of Christ – especially something like the Council of Chalcedon or just basic New Testament Christological formulations that try to describe Christ as fully God and the incarnation being unique and all ...  That is something that is going to be resisted by this kind of movement.  And yet, it's very, very popular.  I mean, one of the reasons it's popular, as the next point makes clear, is that ethical teaching has been so much absent from Hinduism.  We saw this because of the problem with their view of karma and the transmigration of souls.  So this has made Hinduism vulnerable.  This is why Buddhism was able to just strike such a deep blow to Hinduism because they knew this was the Achilles Heel of Hinduism.  So Hinduism has always felt – Hindu thinkers have felt like – this was an area of vulnerability.  So these thinkers want to import Jesus, not as the incarnation of the eternal God, but as an ethical teacher who brings ethics to India.  And can therefore, by virtue of that bridge, they bridge that with dharma.  The teach... in this way dharma is used here as teaching the embodiment of truth.

I have serious problems ... in fact, just this past Sunday, it was Easter Sunday, of course, and I preached on that text in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul makes that threefold declaration.  If Christ be not raised you're still in your sins.  If Christ be not raised, you know, your faith is futile.  A whole powerful development where Paul places the entire proclamation on this one reality.  Now, I said in the sermon, I said: "Paul does not say, if Christ be not raised, follow His ethical teaching anyway, because it will help you.  He doesn't say that.  He doesn't say, if Christ be not raised, He's still a good moral example.  He doesn't say that.  Paul said: If Christ be not raised, we are of all men most to be pitied.  So Paul completely focuses the entire ethic of Christ on the fact that He's the risen Lord.  And out of that reality, Christ speaks to the world."  This group wants to downplay the resurrection of Christ.  And that's why I asked the question in my reflection: How effective is this in communicating the distinctiveness of Christ and the Christian kerygma?

Because what they're going actually accomplish, and they have accomplished – since the nineteenth century this has been a big movement in India.  They have accomplished getting more and more Hindus to say: "Jesus is wonderful.  We love Jesus."  In fact, who was it ...  O no, it wasn't this class.  It was the last class went down to meet with some Hindus in a temple.  And O, some of these Hindus said to them: "O we're Christians too.  We're Christians too.  We love Jesus.  No difference between you and me.  You Christian?  You love Jesus?  We Christian.  We love Jesus."  He said: "Woah, wait a minute.  You love Jesus as the one incarnate Son of God who came to deliver us from sins and the unique Saviour ...?"  "O, no, no, no, no.  Just kind of the idea of Jesus – the great ethical teacher."  This is very, very strong.

And yet this has infiltrated into the Church of South India and the Church of North India.  I don't know that it's a problem over in north-east, but it's certainly a problem in the main ecumenical churches in India.  Are any questions or comments about the idea of Jesus as the perfect embodiment of dharma?

If you're a church historian … you're a church history major … how many … do we have other church history majors here?  If you're a church history major, an area that you might like to explore some time – it's really interesting – is the correspondence that took place between Joshua Marshman, one of the Serampore trio, and Rammohun Roy.  Because Rammohun Roy wrote this book called The Precepts of Jesus, where he goes through the entire New Testament – takes out all the miracles.  It's like the Thomas Jefferson New Testament – same type of thing.  Takes out all the miracles of Jesus and just preserves His teaching.  Calls it The Precepts of Jesus.  And he begins to publish this – widely publish – it was published in ... O when was it?  Maybe like 1825, I think it was, first published.  O everyone in Bengal especially read it.

So Joshua Marshman wrote a article in the paper saying this is not the gospel.  He writes back and says: "Wait a minute.  Everything that's there is right out of your New Testament.  How can you say it's not true?"  And he wrote back and said: "Wait a minute.  You can't take even the teachings of Christ out of the kerygma context of the risen Lord, the miracles of Christ, and call that true to the gospel.  Because the gospel is a genre in itself to proclaim the resurrection.  You can't just pick and choose like this."  And so this is ... this goes back and forth.  A lot of embittered ... actually, very embittered correspondence between the two.  But this is actually a Indian promoting Jesus in India.

And one of the unique features about Indian Christianity – the history of Indian Christianity – is that most Indians historically speaking came to know about Jesus from Hindus, not from Christian missionaries.  It's one of those amazing I think unique features of Indian history.  Because these Hindus were all convinced that Jesus was a wonderful teacher.  And they want to promote Him in India as a teacher.  And so the Christians were actually going behind the scenes, trying to clarify the gospel to people who already knew about Jesus rather than just kind of an empty void and never heard of the man.

OK, the third model – Jesus Christ the liberator from oppressive structures.  Well, you can imagine how popular this is in the modern period, especially in the last 40 years.  The Dalit movement has exploded in India.  When I went to Edinburgh to do my doctoral work, my supervisor, he ... I eventually had to discard him – or he discarded me.  But we couldn't meet on the grounds because I wanted to study Brahmabandhav Upadhyay.  He hated Brahmabandhav Upadhyay.  And he said to me with great exasperation: "Why would you waste your time studying what a Brahmin said?  Don't you know what's happening in India today?"  I said: "Yeah, I know what's happening in India today.  That's fine.  I want to study Brahmabandhav Upadhyay."  He said: "No, no, no.  You got it all wrong.  The whole movement is towards Dalits and outcast.  Don't waste your time studying anybody in a saffron robe.  Any sannyasin, Brahmins, they have nothing to say to India."

OK, I wrote an article in Missiology, which is a famous journal in our field.  It was an article that showed the connection between high caste Brahminical theology and Dalit theology – some of the reliance upon Brahminical theology in some of the ... even the Dalit stuff.  I got hate mail from that article.  I mean, I've never gotten hate mail for anything.  You know, I'm fairly ... you know, affable guy, you know.  I get along with people all right.  I've never got any hate mail.  I mean, I ... it's so funny.  I ... my wife had trouble with this.  I've only really met hatred against me and my wife or my family from two times in my life.  Both were from fellow Christians.  I actually never have met too much problem in the world.  That's why I'm a missionary.  They're much better than the church – because the church will eat you up and spit you out.

When I was in the pastorate, we had a ministry going there and God was blessing it.  Things were going great.  And there was one little family in the church that had always controlled the church.  They had like ... they had all this money and they owned half of the town where we lived.  And their daughter – ??? I don't want to go into all the details – but essentially their daughter got into massive immorality in our town and discredited the gospel.  And so I took a stand.  I mean, it was I thought a very modest stand.  But O this family got furious at me.  And they took it as their single goal in life to get me out of the church – of that church.  You know, I had like this couple – that was their life goal.  And they had all this money and influence and they devoted it all to getting rid of me.  And I'll never forget, one time I was in the sanctuary.  I was actually there praying by myself in the sanctuary, when this woman walked in the door.  I got up off my knees and she shouted at me in the sanctuary.  There I was at prayer.  She shouted at me and she said: "I'm going to do everything I can until you're out of here and Jesus Christ is back in this church."  That's how she put it.  Wow.  I didn't know how to deal with it.  I thought: "Gosh, you know, I never took a course at Gordon Cornwell to know how to respond to this."  I mean, I was like hated.

Eventually, she made the fatal mistake of calling the superintendent – district superintendent.  And she told the superintendent that they paid all the bills in the church and they were going to leave the church if they didn't get rid of me and the church would collapse.  Well he came to our church and he told the leaders what she told him.  Ohhh – they were just absolutely outraged.  And the church, mostly in the flesh, partly in the Spirit, decided among themselves: "We'll show them who pays the bills in this church."  And I mean, money was flowing in.  We took in so much money that year.  We had special meetings to decide how to spend it.  I mean, it was unbelievable.  These people quit giving to our church of course – this big family.  And they said: "We're no longer giving to the church and we'll show you that we're the backbone of the church."  The church just gave and gave and gave.  We built a brand new parsonage.  We doubled our sanctuary.  We doubled our fellowship hall.  We built a new kitchen.  We built new Sunday School rooms.  We doubled our parking lot.  And we were on a roll.  And I said: "Man, God give me more of these enemies."  Because it brought all these people up to, you know, to take up to the bat, you know.

Anyway, I had these hate letters from these Christians in India who said to me: "How dare you say that we can learn from Brahmins!"  I mean, this is a very emotional issue.  I gave a paper on this a couple of years ago at NTC – my own home group.  And we had – and our faculty understand where I'm coming from.  They are very appreciative of all this, but there was guests from all outside brought in.  O, and I'd given a whole series of missionary lectures.  And they're all like: Yes, yes – and they were clapping their hands and all that.  But this lecture – ohh, you could see the like the beads of sweat and the big veins while I was speaking.  This is a very, very volatile issue in India, I promise you.  When you start talking about Dalits and low caste, the outcast, being empowered, it's a very powerful theme in India.  And I believe in that.  I just believe it needs to be done in a way that listens to the high caste tradition.

Because what's happened is the Dalit theology is largely void of any theological content.  It's about basically saying: "O Jesus heals social structures.  Jesus will deliver you from oppression and all that."  But it actually doesn't capture the heart of the gospel.  I compare it here to at least the more abusive examples of Liberation Theology in Latin America.  It's the same exact thing actually.  So, I think what they've done is they have to use the language of the Marxist captivity.  They have traded their Marxist captivity for Brahminical captivity.  They have become so captive to being anti-Marx – or in the case of India, anti-Brahmin – they cannot actually learn from them.  They cannot grow from them.  They cannot see anything in history as positive.  So any white Christian has nothing to say to them.  You come from oppressive structures in the West.  We have nothing to learn from you.  Well, the minute you start closing out the possibility to learn from other Christians and learning from church history and learning from even your own Indians who've gone before you happen to be Vaisyas or Kshatriyas or Brahmins, the movement begins to collapse.

They have so much we need to learn though.  There's so much they bring out which is so true that we do need to address oppressive structures.  We do need to realise the power of Christ to liberate people from social systemic evil.  All of that I accept.  But I think that to make that the gospel at that point I think is a huge mistake.  But this is a very dynamic, powerful movement today.

And I would say that the vast majority of theology being written today by Indians is coming from this perspective.  It's liberation theology of the 70s that's been recast into the Indian context and rather than inserting kind of the Marxist paradigm of the oppressive structures and the proletariat and all that you have the Brahminical thing put in.  It basically change a few words and the theology looks very much the same.  So, they don't really deal with a personal devil, for example.  And I have never heard them ever mention the Satan.  Satan is now personified into structures, societal structures.  You never really hear much about personal redemption.  It's always redemption as a people.  I'm sure you're familiar with the Liberating Theology motif and so that's kind of the way to think about this.  Thoughts or comments about model number 3?  Yes.

Question: ???

It's an Indian theology but is very well read in Liberation Theology.  They've read these books carefully and they largely use them to write their own books.  This has been completely instituted by Indians.  There's one called Towards a Dalit Theology and one called An Emerging Dalit Theology.  And what they do ...  OK, this one guy says: "Look, I'm going to show you what Dalit theology is – how it will work."  This is his paradigm.  This is one of their own theologians.  He goes out and he interviews Dalits.  And he collects poems they've written out of their oppression.  And they're very powerful poems, many of them.  Insightful, power...  about their pain and suffering they went through in India – suffering the chains of caste.  He publishes these in this little book and he says: "All the theology that you need can be learned from these poems."  Now, I believe we can learn a lot from the poems, but I'm not going to draw my Christology from them.

And so they're trying to recast Christology to mean the suffering of Christ is merely emblematic of the suffering of the Dalits.  So, you can imagine, from a curriculum point of view what that means for the whole theological structure.  In fact, I think there's ... I made a point also which has got me into trouble, but I notice how they always say in these books towards a Dalit theology or an emerging Dalit theology.  No one's actually ever published a Dalit theology with that clear title because they know they can't do it.  And so they always say: Well this is the direction it should go.  This is my idea of how it should happen.  So everyone is very .... and this has been now 20, 25 years it's been going on.  So, I think there's a real problem with their ability to really put on the table – OK, this is our view of Christ, of sin, of redemption, of the traditional categories of Christian thought.  They don't want to engage with that.

I don't mean to be overly negative on this.  I'm obviously negative on this.  But I think that, with all of these, part of the reason they've come up is they felt like that the Christians in the high caste tradition have not properly addressed many of these issues.  So a lot of this is because of a void that we have not properly preached that Jesus does speak to the poor – that the gospel does speak to the poor and the oppressed.  And so that's .... part of the blame must be on our own feet.





Now number 4. Jesus Christ is the Western Saviour in a three-piece suit. I added that little last part. I thought you'd like that. This is also very dominant in India. Many Indians have glamorised America especially and Britain. They believe that the United States is a great economic power, military power – and they want India to be like it. They would love for the Indian economy to be like the American economy. A lot of Indians are ... I mean, this recent war, Indians were not as in favour of this as past US initiatives. But, as a rule, Indians are generally very pro-US. In part, their frustration with America is that we have typically sided more with Pakistan than with India. That's been a kind of major frustration, because India's always tried to say: "Hey, you know, we've been a really good friend of yours in Asia. So why have you not been more supportive of our fight with Pakistan." And there's a lot of reasons behind that which we don't have time to develop here.

But a lot of Christians in India have only met Christianity through Western missionaries. And more prominently today, they have come to the West and studied Western formulations that were not sensitive to the Indian context; not learn how to do theology cross-culturally; do not know how to adapt to a more relevant formulation. So the result is many, many seminaries in India – not a few, many – all like miniature Gordon Cornwells. There's nothing wrong with a miniature Gordon Cornwell, but I'm saying it would be essentially you could be transported ... And our students, by the way, have sat in our class at NTC. A number of students here have gone ... they've gone to class all day long just to see what would it be like to go through a typical day at NTC. And they'll say there are many, many big differences. Now one difference is that women are on one side and men on the other. You know, the dress is different. Obviously they're all Indians. But in many ways the content of what's being taught by the professors is very, very much the same as what you have here – and, as it should be. A lot of it, of course, is cross-cultural, basic facts about church history, whatever else. But many times, there's huge gaping holes of things that are so important to Indian students. So important in context, but just simply not addressed because the person who studied, studied in the West and never learned it, never thought about it, or never knew how to address it.

You eventually have a problem, a disconnect, so that the churches begin to look more Western, sound Western, use Western vocabulary. Churches have pews and stained-glass windows, organs. All of that is definitely in India. And it looks foreign to people. And they just assume that Jesus Christ must have a three-piece suit on.

You have a lot of emphasis on the, especially the Fuller School of Theology, School of Missions, church growth techniques have been applied in India in a massive way. A lot of people deeply, deeply influenced by church growth thought of Fuller – particularly Donald McGavran. Donald McGavran was a missionary in India where his parents were. He grew up in India. They believe that McGavran's a great friend of India, which he was. But I think that some of the church growth techniques are really drawn out of Western sociology, anthropology. And many of them are foreign to the way India actually works.

So I ask the question here: Will this approach lead to an indigenous church rooted in the Indian soil. That being said, I think that the Indian church has a lot to learn from the Western church experience. I think we have a lot to offer. I think we have a lot of experiences because of the longevity of our church in the West that, especially the newer church in north India, can learn from. But we just need to go as servants and not present a Western Jesus.


The fifth and final model is Jesus Christ the unique Logos made sannyasin. This is kind of what we've seen in Brahmabandhav – Christ as the embodiment of the Brahminical ideal; Christ, true philosopher and truth bearer. We've developed this already with that case study. A lot of people believe that Jesus Christ should be made to look like a Brahminical high caste world renouncer or sannyasin. And present Jesus as an ascetic – one who has denied the world, the pleasures of the world, and is more the picture of a true teacher in the Indian context.

I think there is a place for this in a limited way. I think, though, that the vast majority of Indians, especially in the bhakti tradition, will find that Brahminical ideal not only alien to them, but actually repulsive to them in today's kind of Dalit empowerment context. Because today, you've heard of affirmative action in our culture. India also has affirmative action programs and they have what we would call reverse discrimination. I'm not sure you'd use the term reverse discrimination, but essentially trying to not only make things equal but go back retroactively and uplift the Dalits to make up for past problems. So for example, they have certain seats in their Congress. They don't call it Congress but their Lok Sabha, their house of ... Common House, reserved for Dalits. Only Dalits can run for those seats. To try to put more Dalits into the power structure of India. Universities in India have certain seats set aside for Dalits in the university. Things like that. So this kind of thing has created empowerment that the Brahmins are under a little bit of a siege in India. And because of that not everyone, including myself, is convinced that the kind of Brahminical ideal is going to be the best way to present Jesus – though I think, once again, that it has a role to play in the overall picture.

OK, so those are some models. I think probably the major models that I've observed in India that are currently present in various shades or combinations thereof. But I think essentially those five would be fairly dominant models in India. Questions or comments about any of the five?

Question: The last one viewing Jesus ??? as a sannyasin, are the pitfalls in that similar to the ones ??? Jesus as the embodiment of dharma?

Right. Actually this model is generally much more inclined to a Biblical faithfulness than is the other. This model is not necessarily trying to undermine Christ's uniqueness or Christ's authority as the normative expression of God in the world. But they want to make sure that the face of Christ is Indian – that it's presented to Indians in terms in which they're familiar with. So they have said that even though India's made up of all these different casts and Jatis and all, the actual teachers of truth in India have come from the Brahminical tradition. So Christ should be viewed in a sannyasin robe and all that.

You may notice in my book on Brahmabandhav, some of you have read that, that I purposely put on the book a picture of an Eastern Christ. Do you have that book there? Ahh, great, bless your heart. It's good to have that book. It's always available to pull out in a conversation. I chose the Brahminical ... this is the colour of the Brahmins. OK, I actually met with an artist in Delhi and I talk: "This is what I want you to do. This is what I want. Can you paint this?" And he did. A guy named Tony Smith painted this. So this is a ... my idea, but he designed it ??? artist work. But I wanted the saffron colour and showing Christ superimposed over the saffron. This has like powerful imagery in the Indian context. And yet I wanted the Jesus to be an Eastern Jesus. So he has Jesus giving a murda here, which is very Eastern ... I mean, Eastern Orthodox, I mean, have frequently Christ. This is a Trinitarian murda. And, of course, you have the halo and all that. That's kind of typical of the Eastern views of Christ. But Christ is in a kind of a dharmic pose here, superimposed over the Brahminical saffron. There's a lot of symbolism here. Whether anybody notice or not, I don't know, but I noticed it.

So, in that sense, this is the idea. We're not trying to become Brahmins. We're not trying to give away the gospel to the Brahmins like the dharma people do. We're trying to show Christ is unique, but unique over against Brahminical tradition. Sorry. Questions or comments? Yes.

Question: ??? things like ???

I mean, India, this is what you basically have. And it actually ??? seen through this. You've got the mainline churches which have ??? in a number of these categories, but you've got ??? like the PCUSA here, United Methodist. That kind of expression of Protestantism is very dominant in India. They're there in big numbers and their seminaries are very liberal and they don't preserve historic Christianity. You have the Pentecostals definitely at this level as you pointed out. You have a lot of Western missionary presence that kind of leaves it here. The Evangelical Cessationist kind of expression like, I don't know, whatever ??? how you say it, is really very tiny in India. It wouldn't make one of the categories. I'm not saying it's not important but, I mean, even in Dehradun there is a Presbyterian Theological Seminary, PTS. They're all cessationist and they have a student body of maybe 30 students. And they're all very committed to ... of that whole you know theological world. But they would not be that influential actually in the larger Indian context.

These are very ??? they're like Latinos. They're very expressive. They're very emotional. They have encountered demonic stuff all their lives. And so it's a hard sell actually for an Indian to be convinced that God doesn't heal today. That's a very hard sell. I mean, I think it's a stupid sell, from my point of view, because I'm totally unconvinced of cessationism. But with all respect to those who are, there's a place for it in India, but it's a very tiny place. Very tiny place.

Question: Being a cessationist tends to be pretty peripheral and not very central to how we're labelled theologically here. Do you think because of the emphasis on power encounters and kind of that movement in India is that why that would be kind of the etiquette here or is that the little group of seminary students ???

That's a good question. I mean, I would say that if you were to stop our student body and ask them one by one: "What do you associate with Presbyterian Theological Seminary?" They wouldn't say reformed theology – ??? five-point Calvinism. They would say, even though they're all five-point Calvinists over there, they would say: "They don't believe that people can be healed today or they don't believe we should pray for the sick. Why do they ..." I mean, that's kind of their approach. Now whether that's true for all of India I don't know. But most evangelicals today are either involved in kind of a Western reduplication of what we have here or are involved in ???

And I say Pentecostal. Please don't hear me as a classical Pentecostalism. We're talking about just kind of very broad sense. It can be everything from kind of like vibrant worship without a lot of ... I mean, I've never heard too many times like tongues, interpretation of tongues, and all that. It's not, I mean, it's not like necessarily that, but just things like somebody praying for the sick, believing that God will heal people today – in that sense, Pentecostalism, kind of general.

Question: Would you say that's what ???

Yeah, I mean, I think that the discussion for example that's present in many Pentecostal churches here about what is the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and is there initial evidence versus you know could it happen later and all that whole discussion is not as important in India. And I've had many, many students over the years to be fair, who have said to me: "I don't believe I'm filled with the Holy Spirit because I never have spoken in tongues." I've heard this many, many times. "What do you think about that? Do you think I'm filled with the Holy Spirit?" You know, this ... I've asked ... many, many times. So that mentality is kind of there. But I've never heard it publicly talked about in any doctrine or teaching that there should be some expectation about that or not. So I think that a lot of the kind of classical divisions that are here would not be as prevalent there.

By the way, our school, you know, Gordon Cornwell is a very mixed bag. We now have the number one category is undecided. And then the next two are PCUSA and Assembly of God. So that tells me that we have a really a wide mix here at Gordon Cornwell. I think that's wonderful because I love, I love my cessationist friends. I love them. I do. I think they're wonderful. I love, I love Calvinism. I love five-point Calvinism. When I hear someone preach Calvinism – O my heart is strangely warmed. It is. I love it. I'm ... I've never had a ??? a problem with it.

But on the mission field, I work in a little broader ecumenical base because on the mission field the context is different. And you've got to be able to work across certain ... I mean, you're working within evangelicalism, solid Biblical theology, but across ... kind of more along Anabaptist lines in a kind of ... in the way they did their theology. Kind of working in a little more of a broader perspective because many of these churches in India, you know, like one church in your village. You don't really have a choice of twelve churches to find the exact slice you want. And so, right, in north India when I first went to India – it's changed a bit in the last few years – but the statistics ... I figured it out on the calculator one time. The statistics – the likelihood of you being born in a village or a town or city in north India that had a church of any kind, including Catholic, any kind, Pentecostal, Catholic, whatever. The likelihood of being born in a village or town or city with a church was one in 3000. That means that 2999 people out of 3000 will be born in a village that had no church at all. So that really effects, you know, Westerners who have 20 churches in Hamilton ??? Beverley, you know, have a different kind of mentality. And on the mission field you kind of rethink that a little bit.

I go over to PTS I lecture there, speak there. One of their professors comes and teaches church history at NTC. We have a very warm relationships. They think we're really weird. We're think they're a little weird. But we're part of the body and we love each other. And we're, praise God, that there's a place for them in the body and we think actually that they could help potential abuses in our ministry. And we think they're a good check for us. And they're always worried about us. They're always telling ... especially me because they know I'm from Gordon Cornwell. They think I'm safe. Like, they'll pour out their heart to me about we're so concerned about NTC going off the theological rails, you know, and people like babbling in tongues or something. And yet, the PTS people, I explain to them that, no, this group is really, really committed to historic Christianity. You'd be surprised. Really? Yeah, these people are pretty solid, you know, and there's a few that are weird, but basically we're a pretty solid group, you know. We kind of build a little trust and we help each other. So, that's my attitude.

Biblical Training

The BiblicalTraining app gives you access to 2,300 hours of instruction (129 classes and seminars). Stream the classes, or download and listen to them offline. Share classes via social media, email, and more.