END AGGRESSIVE FAITH-MARKETING

source: Deccan Herald, September 23, 2008

By P N Benjamin
The real source of danger to
the Indian Christian community is not the handful of Hindu extremists.
Most of the violent incidents have been due to aggressive evangelising.


A senior RSS
leader once told me: “The incidents of violence against Christians are
a reaction to the aggressive propaganda and mindless evangelism,
abusing Hindu Gods and indulging in similar activities. The incidents
are blown out of proportion. We have decided not to tolerate
intolerance of other faiths. Let the Church declare that there can be
salvation outside the Church also. The whole atmosphere will undergo a
radical change…”

The real source of danger to the Indian Christian community is not the
handful of Hindu extremists. Most of the violent incidents have been
due to aggressive evangelising. Other than this, there have been few
attacks on Christians. Finally, the sensitive and sensible Christians
must realise that acts of certain groups of Christian evangelists are
the root-cause of tension between Christians and Hindus. Christian
leaders should come out in the open to disown such acts of intolerance.

The best and perhaps the only way Christians can bear witness to their
faith, is by extending their unconditional love to their neighbours and
expecting nothing in return. As such, most of the Christians are
against aggressive faith marketing by any religious group because such
efforts discredit India’s tradition of respecting all religious thought
and also runs counter to the true spirit in which the Constitution
grants people the right to profess, practice and propagate their faith.

Many of the Indian Christians were born into
Christianity and some others freely chose to embrace it. They also
believe that the Great Commission in the Gospel, according to Matthew,
unequivocally calls us to witness Christ in a pluralistic setting
without violating the right of others to preach, practice and profess
his/her faith. Witnessing Jesus cannot in any case be done by
questionable means, whether by exploiting people’s socio-psychological
vulnerabilities or by running down other religions.

The Christian injunction to make disciples of all nations in today’s
context is best honoured by the bearers of the Good News living
exemplary Christian lives and showing respect for the nation’s
commitment to pluralism, for the larger public good in a civil society.
Conversion of faith, given its life-changing nature, stems from a
considered personal experience and is less likely in this day and age
to be the stuff of dramatic immediacy.

India will continue to remain hospitable to all religions only if the
Muslim fanatics and the Christian fundamentalists accept the
pluralistic tradition of Hindus which is to consider all religions as
equal. Pluralistic Christians and liberated Muslims of India have done
that. The overwhelming majority of Hindus practice it.

Fundamentalist Christians assert that they alone are the holders of
valid visas to heaven and paradise! Many preachers of the Gospel lay
enticing traps for people whom they think must be ‘saved’ at all costs.
It is worse still that their attitudes, though they (Christians) are a
tiny minority in India, often create counter-reaction from among
militant Hindus who sometimes incite violence against Christians. The
Hindu fundamentalism is a reaction to the provocation of Christian
proselytisers. The fanatics among the Christian faith will soon realise
that theirs is a losing battle even if they derive their financial and
other means of support from the wealthy nations overseas.
Will the Christians listen to the words of sanity of Dr Ken Gnanakan,
well-known Christian scholar who told this writer the other day:
“Preach Christ, but do not condemn others.” Even Jesus said in John
3.17: “God did not send his Son to condemn the world…”

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