Project Documents

Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Bruce L. Bauer

Second Advisor

Jon L. Dybdahl

Third Advisor

Steven P. Vitrano

Abstract

Problem. "Make disciples of all nations" is the commission Christ gave His disciples before His ascension. In obedience to this command, the gospel has been preached in India since the arrival of Apostle Thomas in A.D. 51. For the past four hundred years Christian missionaries have tried various methods to reach the Hindus, with little success. According to a recent census, 82.64 percent of the population of India still remains Hindu, with only 2.43 percent adhering to Christianity. Therefore, discipling Hindus still remains a great challenge to the Church in India. The institutional and social-gospel approaches followed by Christian missionaries have brought nominal converts, mainly from low caste groups who previously followed animism or popular Hinduism. Consequently, the Church in India is confronted with the problem of finding a suitable approach to disciple the Hindus.

Method. This project approaches discipleship in India from a contextual perspective. Very few missionaries or their paid evangelists have adopted the local cultural and religious forms because of their fear of syncretism. This project, however, has taken a contextual approach with the belief that local forms can be adopted, while still preserving Christian meanings and without falling into the trap of syncretism.

Part One of this paper lays down a theological foundation by presenting arguments in favor of contextualization and developing a contextual theology of discipleship for India on the basis of Scripture, Church history, and Indian cultural traditions. Since this project focuses on the Hindus of Tamil Nadu, the culture and religion of the Tamil people are also examined in Part One.

Part Two of this paper deals with the practical aspect of discipleship followed by Jewish and Christian communities, and also followed in Christian and Hindu ashrams. Part Two also includes an in-depth look at certain key concepts of the ashram model.

Results. An ashram model is developed in Part Two in order to suggest a viable approach to disciple the Hindus of Tamil Nadu. The structure and function of the ashram are explained with an emphasis on spirituality.

Conclusions. The ashram model is more effective than the traditional evangelistic methods in bringing Hindus to Christ because it is an indigenous model which meets the Hindus at their deep level of spiritual need.

Subject Area

Missions--India--Tamil Nadu, Ashrams--India--Tamil Nadu, Christian communities--India--Tamil Nadu

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