Communicating Christ to the Hindu World
By all means the Hindus must hear the Gospel! This is my concern. Many people ask me, "Are the Hindus interested in the Gospel? Do they respond well? Are they tough to deal with?" Well, I want to ask a different set of questions: Why has the "Hindu World" not been responding much to our presentation of the Gospel? Which type of Hindus are we trying to reach? How can we meaningfully communicate the Gospel to Hindus? I would like to focus on three factors that may help find answers to my questions.
Consider the Context: In order to understand the context of our communication, we must have a proper perspective of the Hindu religion. The problem we encounter in seeking to understand Hinduism is that it is not a single coherent religious system, but rather a conglomeration of varying religious ideas, traditions, and practices. Polytheism, monotheism, pantheism, dualism, and monism have all been recognized as an integral part of Hinduism! By trying to understand the Hindus who are influenced by these diverse belief systems, I have been able to develop more clarity in my communication by distinguishing between three major levels of Hinduism --Popular, Philosophical, and Bhakti (Devotional Theism). I am convinced we should be equipped to identify and understand the particular type of Hindu or Hindu community to whom we are communicating the Gospel. Very often we make the same stereotyped presentation to all Hindus. But we cannot communicate meaningfully unless we consider the context!
Clarify the Concepts: Hindus are religious people. They traditionally give priority to spiritual values. They have their own understanding of God, the universe, humankind, sin, and the way of salvation. The content of our Gospel message consists of Christian theological concepts such as God as Creator, the image of God in man, sin, the love of God, the justice of God, atonement, and salvation by faith. Usually in our communication of the Gospel these concepts are presented directly to the Hindus with very little or no clarification. We just take it for granted that they understand what we mean by our biblical terminology. However, we need to recognize that they cannot really comprehend the content of the Gospel and truly understand it as good news of salvation unless we clarify and articulate our Gospel concepts in the context of the religious and philosophical thinking of Hindus. I feel the Hindus will hear no unique meaningful message from us unless we clarify the concepts!
Confront the Challenges: There is a paradox of Christianity in India. On one hand, we have the Christian church that claims its existence since the first century, and on the other hand, we have about 700 million Hindus who are unreached. Obviously we realize there are some challenges we need to confront if we are to communicate the Gospel meaningfully to Hindus.
- The Problem of Dogmatism: The churches in India have developed (or inherited from the West) their dogmatic theologies. Dogmatism may sometimes help in defensive, but not in offensive warfare against the enemy. It may help in the context of heresies in Christendom, but not in facing the challenge of making the message meaningful to millions who are caught up in spiritual deception and demonic oppression. The churches that are rooted in their own dogmatic theologies have been preaching over the centuries. Yet, millions and millions of Hindus have not heard the Gospel! So I feel strongly that we need to develop more of a Mission Theology in India.
- The Danger of Syncretism: The predominant philosophy of Hinduism is "Advaita," which means "No Two." It is absolute monism: its creed is Oneness. All comes from One and all goes back to the One. (This is obviously the root of New Age!) Thus different names and forms make no real difference! The different religious paths lead to the same end. So they say, "It is all the same!" This kind of syncretism robs the uniqueness of Christ and all the claims to truth of biblical Christianity. Some Indian Christian theologians have reacted against the Western dogmatism of the Indian Church so strongly that they have even swung to the other extreme in developing a syncretistic theological basis for their approach to Hinduism. But our mission theology must be evangelical as well as evangelistic.
- The Task of Evangelism: When I think of the task of evangelizing Hindus, I feel we need to mobilize more prayer and more people--more prayer because of the invisible forces of darkness we need to confront, and more people because of the visible millions of Hindus to whom we need to communicate. Looking at the available statistics, I presume there may be about 7000 "missionaries" in India(those who are directly communicating to Hindus may be far fewer) targeting over 700,000,000 Hindus (1:100,000). On the other hand, there are at least 7,000,000 evangelical Christians in India (maybe many more in reality). This is a mighty army which is not yet engaged in fighting the battle! We need to equip and mobilize them. Then we can do the task a thousand times better!
This is the vision that has given birth to the India Center for Mission.
India Center for Mission
The goal of the India Center for Mission is to equip and mobilize believers (Indians and others) in local churches as well as cross- cultural missionaries to reach Hindus in India and overseas, and to see a church planted in each Hindu unreached people group.
With this goal in mind, the India Center for Mission has been established to awaken, motivate, and equip the church by providing the tools and resources to reach out to the Hindu World as well as the adherents of various forms of Hinduism, such as New Age and Transcendental Meditation in the Western World.
- India Mission Prayer Bands to raise up prayer partners for India throughout the United States and other parts of the world.
- Hindu Awareness Seminars to inform Christians about the Hindu world view and present key concepts that help clarify the gospel truth.
- India Mission Exposure Trips for pastors, church and mission leaders,and other interested individuals: to see missions firsthand during a two-week trip to India with national leaders.
- Hindu Evangelism Training Program for students, missionaries preparing for the field, and other workers: classroom instruction plus a short practical training trip to India.
- Lay Training Program to equip believers in local churches to have a meaningful encounter with Hindus and followers of the New Age Movement.
- Mission Internship Program in the U.S. or India to provide training in mission work among Hindus
- Videos, audio tapes, and literature to motivate and mobilize churches, mission agencies, and individuals to reach out to Hindus.
- Research Programs to develop strategies and tools to reach the Hindu World.
You can be involved in this exciting vision of the India Center for Mission to reach out to the Hindu World. You can:
- organize an India Mission Prayer Band in your community
- host a Hindu Awareness Seminar at your church
- be trained to present the Gospel to Hindu friends
- order resource materials
You can be part of a global task force for the evangelization of the Hindu world!
For further details, please contact: India Center for Mission 1605 Elizabeth Street Pasadena, CA 91104 Tel. (818) 398-2437 or (818) 584-9555