into the true nature of human life and its ultimate goal. He evaluated the major secular ideologies of India, focusing on anthropology, and tried to reconceive the secular meaning of Christ. In the end, he affirms the reality of human beings as created in the image of God, but fallen creatures, of 'the Crucified and Risen Jesus Christ as the true man and the source of renewal of human nature and through it of all things'.38 In his later studies also, Christ was his central concern and he was willing to use the phrase 'Risking Christ for Christ's sake' as the title of one of his last books.39
Samartha, after his work in India in various capacities, became known in ecumenical circles when he became the founder-director of the subunit on 'dialogue with people of other faiths' of the WCC in 1971, and through several publications. That he started thinking in the same line of Devanandan and Thomas is evident in the titles of his early works.40 Later on he was warning against a kind of Jesus-cult on the one hand and Christo-monism on the other and emphasized God as the centre and the absolute, whose oneness with Jesus was not ontological but relational, sustained and testified to by the eternal Spirit. With reference to the old debate about a christology from above and christology from below, Samartha presents two contrasting pictures. 'In its attempts to land on the religiously plural terrain of Asia,' he says, 'a helicopter christology makes such a lot of missiological noise and kicks up so much of theological dust that people around are prevented from hearing the voice and seeing the vision of the descending divinity. A bullock-cart christology, on the other hand, has its wheels always in touch with the unpaved roads of Asia, for without that continuing friction with the ground the cart cannot move at all.'41 It was this friction that kept Samartha on the ground and helped him look with fresh eyes at a number of theological themes. For example, with an awareness of the multi-scriptural context, his was the quest for a new hermeneutics in Asia, seeing the Bible as a book of dialogue, which has to be read along with other religious scriptures. Furthermore, he suggested the Kingdom of God should be seen in essence as the reign of a Servant-Lord and the identity of the church is primarily a
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