Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Gordon E. Christo
Werner K. Yyhmeister
Nancy J. Vyhmeister
The St. Thomas Christians in Kerala claim their spiritual heritage from Thomas the apostle. Yet they are not generally aware of a number of scriptural teachings including the seventh-day Sabbath, which Thomas and their forefathers observed. For the last one hundred years there has been no developed Seventh-day Adventist strategy to proclaim the full biblical message, which was their heritage, to this people group.
The St. Thomas Christians of Kerala, India, believe that Thomas the apostle took Christianity to India. Their very existence bears witness to it. Thomas is reported to have arrived in Kerala in A.D. 52. He preached among the settled Jews and Hindus and established churches. The St. Thomas Christians practiced a simple faith as taught by the apostle. They had two sacraments, baptism and Lord's Supper, and they worshiped only on Saturday at least until the fourth century. They followed the Syriac liturgy. Until the sixteenth century they had ties with East Syrian (Persian) churches. They continued their Sabbath observance throughout this period.
In the sixteenth century the St. Thomas Christians came into contact with the Roman Catholics. The subsequent establishment of the Inquisition and the Latinization program led to the Synod of Diamper (1599) and later to the Humbled Cross Oath in 1653. After the St. Thomas Christians came under Roman Catholicism, the church began to fracture.
Using as a bridge the history and ancient doctrines of the St. Thomas Christians, especially the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, a strategy was developed to evangelize nominal St. Thomas Christians in Kerala. It includes a preevangelism program for two months with various awareness programs, Bible study, and the organization of succeeding events. This is to be followed by an evangelistic crusade for 21 days, emphasizing the faith and practices of St. Thomas Christians. The final step will be the formation of a church and postbaptismal care, which include spiritual growth programs, a life development institute, cell group ministry, and erecting a church building for the congregation.
Seventh-day Adventists--India--Kerala; Saint Thomas Christians; Kerala (India)--Church history; Evangelistic work--Seventh-day Adventists--India--Kerala
Yohannan, Kunjunjukutty, "Using the Heritage of the St. Thomas Christians To Develop an Outreach Strategy" (2000). Professional Dissertations DMin. 693.
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