M. M. Thomas, Man and the Universe of Faiths (Madras: Christian Literature Society, 1976), pp. 195-203.
M. M. Thomas, Risking Christ for Christ's Sake: Towards an Ecumenical Theology of Pluralism (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1987).
S. J. Samartha, The Hindu View of History (Bangalore: CISRS, 1959); Introduction to Radhakrishnan (New York: Association Press; New Delhi: YMCA, 1964); and The Hindu Response to the Unbound Christ (Bangalore: CISRS, 1974).
S. J. Samartha, One Christ — Many Religions: Towards a Revised Christology (Bangalore: Orbis-SATHRI, 1992), p. v.
servant-community, a community of communities. With regard to a proper theology of religious pluralism, Samartha oscillated between seeing 'religions as different responses to the Mystery' and warning against 'rudderless boats in the waters of relativism'. Also, in the name of an inclusive approach he was careful not to co-opt other faiths into a Christian framework without their permission. What is imperative for him is 'dialogue', which he defines as 'a mood, a spirit, an attitude of love and respect towards neighbours of other faiths. It regards partners as persons, not as statistics. Understood and practised as an intentional life-style, it goes far beyond a sterile co-existence or uncritical friendliness.'42 In the area of working for social change and protecting the environment, he says, members of different faith communities can work together with proximate goals while continuing dialogue on ultimate goals. It is a pilgrimage, focused in balance by the two eyes of 'commitment and openness'.
Chandran, the longest-serving principal of the United Theological College (about 30 years), known as the father and grandfather of several Indian Christian theologians, was committed to church unity and open to new thinking, including a broad and positive approach to people of other faiths. He pointed out how in the name of religious harmony and unity Vivekananda pushed non-Hindu religions into a subordinate position. Such harmony, he noted, could not be achieved even within and in between the schools of Vedanta.43 But later Chandran worked out a new integration. He argues that the church in India has forgotten the generosity of even the Hebrew tribes to accommodate other groups, and of the first Christians towards the gentile converts, not requiring them to adopt Jewish rituals and norms. Otherwise, he thinks, more people would have come forward to confess their faith in Christ. Hence his call for 'a new and radical ecclesiology, recognising a multi-faith community as the new body of Christ'.44
The above four theologians have influenced many who have continued their line of thinking. For example, K. C. Abraham (b. 1936), building on Thomas, argues for a new method of theologizing within the framework of an orthopraxis, which involves commitment to Christ and creative
4 S. J. Samartha, Courage for Dialogue — Ecumenical Issues in Inter-religious Relationships (Geneva: 43 WCC, 1981), p. 100.
J. R Chandran, 'A comparison of the pagan apologetic of Celsus against Christianity as contained in Origen's "Contra Celsum'' and the neo-Hindu attitude to Christianity as represented in the works of Vivekananda and an estimate of the value of Origen's reply for Christian apologetics with reference to 4 neo-Hinduism', unpublished B.Litt. thesis, University of Oxford, 1949.
J. R Chandran, 'The Church of South India Jubilee - 10: A Call to Renewal', People's Reporter (16-30 June 1997), p. 3.
action in dialogue and co-operation with people of other faiths and secular ideologies. This is with full awareness of the disastrous effect of globalization on the economic situation of the poor, cultural cohesion and destruction of the creation.45 Of course, such are the concerns of many, repeated in various forms.
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