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A Fresh Look at the Issues of Conversion and Baptism in Relation to Mission

by J. Jayakiran Sebastian

The Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian is a Presbyter of the Church of South India and Associate Professor in the Department of Theology and Ethics at the United Theological College, Bangalore, India. This article appeared as "Issues of Conversion and Baptism in Relation to Mission," in P. Victor Premasagar, ed., New Horizons in Christian Mission: A Theological Exploration, Gurukul Summer Institute 1999 (Chennai: Gurukul, 2000), pp. 375 – 393. Used by permission of the author.


Introduction - "The Messiness of Real Life":

"At the end of one cycle of time, they say, we experience kenosis, an emptying. Things lose meaning, they erode. ... The decay of time at the end of a cycle, leads to all manner of poisonous, degrading, defiling effects. A cleansing is required. ... Plerosis, the filling of time with new beginnings, is characterised by a time of superabundant power, of wild, fruitful excess. Alas, however, such shapely theories are never quite up to the task of accounting for the messiness of real life."

We have gathered together at a time when real life is indeed very messy. The rhetoric regarding conversion on the part of the Hindu fundamentalist organisations is becoming shriller, harsher, and crueller. Mr. Mohan Joshi, central secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, demanding a ban on conversion and the withdrawal of special rights granted to religious minorities through a constitutional amendment, accused "fundamentalist religious organisations" of promoting disharmony and spreading separatism. He also termed conversion an "international conspiracy" which involved anti-national activity and asserted that this posed a major threat to the unity and sovereignty of the country. He claimed that conversion was facilitated through allurement, fraud and other illegal means, and involved the misuse of foreign funds from Western and Gulf countries.

While recognising that in such an analysis, which targets both Christians and Muslims, we do not have the points for any kind of debate but rather are confronted with a diatribe, nevertheless, I believe that in such a forum as the Gurukul Summer Institute, where an honest spirit of inquiry prevails, and where there is a commitment to a rigorous process of theological exploration, we need to address some of the issues raised.

Lest we claim that we can take refuge in the concept of secularism enshrined in the Constitution of India, we must also recognise that secularism, especially as practised in the Indian context, seems to be more of a constitutional provision rather than a living reality in the life and actions of many of our political leaders. In an official advertisement, the Bangalore city corporation (Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) proudly invites everybody to the Inauguration Ceremony of the "Longest elevated flyover in the country," on 23rd April, 1999, by the Chief Minister, Sri J. H. Patel, in the presence of a host of political dignitaries and chief guests, and in "the holy presence of His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji, Adichunchanagiri Maha Samstanam Mutt." Perhaps one ought not to question the presence of religious leaders at official government functions. However, one cannot help but wonder at the privileging of the religious leaders of particular groups or sub-groups at such important functions, where the public are invited to participate at the inauguration of a project for the public, for which public money has been spent. How messy can real life get?

• • • • •

A Range of Responses without Sufficient Interaction?

Messiness can lead to revulsion. Messiness can also lead to a desire to take a fresh look at various issues and themes that characterise real life.

The Indian churches and theological institutions have read the signs of the times and have provided several fora for an exchange of views on these and related themes. Indeed, there has been a flurry of activity on the mission front judging by the number of recent consultations and publications that deal with various aspects of the mission question. Hence we are, on the one hand, confronted with an abundance of material, rich in analysis and content from a variety of perspectives that can offer to the Indian church sensitive viewpoints and creative directions for the understanding and practice of mission in India today, and, on the other, still confronted with the reality that, in so far as the mission question is concerned, an agreed upon standpoint, either in theological or practical terms continues to be elusive. One reason is that there is, by and large, a shocking neglect of, and even indifference toward, what is being said by different persons in various contexts, and a lack of interaction with what has been discussed before, even within the Indian context. Sustained efforts like that of Stanley Samartha to examine the question regarding the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in interaction with his interlocutors seem to be few and far between. Very often one gets the idea that various conversations are going on simultaneously, where certain snippets are overheard and taken to be representative. It is something like interpreting current culture while having the television on blaring out a rap number on M TV, while a devotional song by M. S. Subbalakshmi plays on the tape recorder, and while the radio is tuned to the 9 o'clock news!

Interaction with various voices:

What makes life messy? Is it simply a matter of too much being said by too many too often? Is it a matter of too much being done by too many well-meaning persons too quickly? Let us move on to consider a range of opinions expressed by various writers in the recent past. My task will be to problematize some of the topics and subjects in order to provide the space for a meaningful and sustained interchange.

- The question of what one understands by evangelism:

Writing on a broader understanding of evangelisation, Thomas Pulloppillil says:

... in our evangelisation activity, we do not limit ourselves to individuals. Evangelising society and culture is the ultimate aim of the missionary activity of the Church. Persons are intermediaries in the process of evangelising society and culture. Evangelising a culture means detecting, criticising and even denouncing the aspects of a culture that contradict the gospel message and devalue the dignity of the human being.

In like manner, a "definition" of evangelisation is offered by Venceslaus Lawrence who writes: "Evangelisation is giving human dignity to the socially marginalized and the so called refuse of the society."

The question that remains before us is that regarding the standpoint and situatedness of the one who is engaged in "evangelisation activity." How are the criteria developed which are to be used to detect, criticise and denounce? How can one understand the concept of justice in evaluating the dignity of the human being without falling into the trap of meaningless rhetoric and empty sloganeering? How does one actualise the sentiments endorsed in a statement that "Our mission is primarily to help people discover their God-given dignity as persons, to help free them from greed, lust, hatred and fear so that their innate love-ability, the gift of grace, can be actualized and thus societies of love, freedom and justice be built up." One cannot ignore the comment made at the annual meeting of the (almost exclusively Roman Catholic) Indian Theological Association in May 1996, which focused on the issue of the identity of the church in India, where the Final Statement said that "[t]he church in India must situate her identity in the context of 97% of the Indian population seeking their salvation outside the church without any reference to it." If we are called upon to situate our identity in such a soteriological reality, then what would this mean for the conception of evangelisation?

At the same time one must be careful in using non-New Testament terminology in talking about what evangelization is supposed to achieve. One such concept which is rather loosely brandished about is that regarding "establishing" God's kingdom. For example, Monica Melanchthon writes that the "Church is ... called to work with all of her energy, whether through evangelization, dialogue, prayer or praxis, to heal the wounds and divisions. The goal of such an endeavour is to establish the reign of God." Is it? Can the church "establish" God's reign? Is evangelization a process which leads to the "establishment" of something?

- The question regarding what conversion is supposed to achieve:

Another issue highlighted is that regarding conversion of a person and the formation of a new faith community. F. Hrangkhuma argues that

Conversion is not religious conversion in the sense of leaving the old socio-religious group in favour of one of the Christian denominational churches, basically initiated through baptism. Conversion is personal turning to God, but this is only one part of conversion, although the most important one. ...

The second goal of mission is to organize 'the converts' into a new community to be a worshipping group and to be a sign and witness to the Kingdom of God on earth. (...)

... The failure to indigenize has been largely due to the fact that the new churches have been organized by the missionaries who most often transplanted their own denominational structures, resulting in the new church's full dependency on the missionaries - almost in everything. To indigenize such churches is very difficult. So, right from the beginning, the new communities of the converts should belong to themselves completely.

This analysis seems to offer a rather romanticised picture of the aim and motives and post-conversion orientation of those missionaries responsible for the conversion in the first place. Similarly, the question of the inter- and intra-relationship between those who proclaimed and those who received the proclamation has not been analysed adequately. How does one deal with the question of faith-dependency? What about growth into maturity?

K. Rajendran writes that what one needs to do is to find some balance between mass and individual conversion and argues that "Society can be built with a mass turning to Christ. In one sense it is easier to disciple the mass rather than one individual, and the subsequent discipling of individuals could be significant in bringing the nation to Christ." One needs to question the motives of those who are the agents of "discipling." What are the characteristics of a discipled community and on what basis are these characteristics precipitated? Who gives whom the right to build such a society? On what basis is such a society built, of whom or what is it composed and who are the decision-makers in such a set-up?

K. P. Aleaz, in a fine article, which, among other things, examines the question of conversion and the law, makes a clear distinction between conversion and proselytising, with conversion analysed in terms of a personal and inward experience. While proselytising may contribute to fulfilling the dreams and desires of those motivated by raw statistics, must we not look at conversion from a different angle, opposed to notions of success and failure? It one seriously believes that it is "God who gives the growth" then how is it that we have been bogged down in proselytization centred analysis and stock-taking?

The late David Bosch, firmly attacking an otherworldly and ahistorical understanding of salvation, writes

Conversion is ... not the joining of a community in order to procure "eternal salvation"; it is rather, a change in alliance in which Christ is accepted as Lord and centre of one's life.

What is needed is a deeper and more sensitive analysis of why a "change in alliance" has taken place. What does such a change mean in terms of alliances previously held? What happens to alliances which occupied the centre? Should we use a circle imagery uncritically or is the imagery of an ellipse, with two foci, heuristically more helpful?

In an article analysing the issue of identity I wrote:

Any talk about identity has also to take into account the reality that the identity issue is not something which is value neutral. On the one hand there is the talk about a larger cross-cultural transnational identity. On the other there is the attempt to define a micro identity. One ought to note that the term "Christian" conceals more than it reveals. At the same time, one must recognise that the term "Indian" is a political construct. This understanding serves as an admonition against any form of an easy romanticised quest for the "original" which underlies the present form of existence.

- The question regarding the authority of the Bible:

At this point one must not overlook the intra-Christian debate and polemics. Attacking theocentrically oriented theologians like Stanley J. Samartha, Ashish Chrispal says that such thinking "moves away from the centrality of Christ and the triune God," and that Samartha "fails to recognise that the kind of pluralism he and other pluralists propose can make the religions a matter of indifference or can take a form of pious scepticism or people may renounce all religious choices, since they can live equally without them" and goes on to emphasise that

The dogmatic contextualisation that is true to both the Gospel and the context of people begins with the basic commitment to the 'Authority of the Bible', and accepts the supra-cultural factor of the Good News, i.e., transformation to Jesus Christ and the acceptance by faith of His Lordship over the cosmos and history. Nevertheless, it takes seriously the developments in critical Bible studies, the new insights gained from the social sciences of cultural anthropology and sociology, the impact of technology and political theory in rapid cultural change and the issues raised by cross-cultural communication on a global scale.

One can justifiably ask about the nature of a "basic commitment" to the authority of the Bible. Where does one really begin? How is this perspective to be reconciled with another eloquent voice which argues that

Biblical perspectives call for an inclusive perspective in relation to people of other faiths in all mission and evangelistic programmes. They also emphasize the need for urgent action in solidarity with the poor and oppressed people in our land. ... A fresh study and interpretation of the Bible would evoke larger horizons in our understanding of Mission and Evangelism.

Before moving on to a "fresh study and interpretation" should we not draw lessons from, and be prepared to be admonished by, various older methods of Biblical readings and follow-up mission methodologies, which had such a great impact on our land? If we are prepared to read the Bible in a pluralistic context are we prepared, in this effort to explore "the truth proposed by others," that "Christians have to recognize that they may have something to learn and that they may have to be corrected." Or, how does our commitment to the authority of the Bible, which recognises that "exclusive texts abound in the New Testament," square with the recognition that

What is central to the pluralistic reading of the New Testament is the gospel itself. It is an affirmation of the unconditional love of God towards all people, irrespective of who they are. Jesus and the message of the gospel were not against other religions, but against false religion as evidenced by insincerity and hypocrisy in relation to one's God and one's neighbour.

In another article I argued that

In attempting to listen to the speaking Bible today, it is obvious that one does not enter into, or engage in, this process from some kind of detached, value-free, ungrounded vantage point. If one is rooted in a particular context, committed to specific options, engaged in definite forms of action, and sensitive to historical injustice and contemporary dilemmas, and, at the same time, alive to the possibility that the Bible continues to speak, then one has to recognise one's situatedness in the long histories and traditions of Biblical interpretation.

In such a context, in coming to terms with our responsibility for Biblical interpretation we need to recognise that

Our hermeneutical arena was littered with exotic symbols and Western hermeneutical figures who had little time for our aesthetic assumptions. Some of them did not have the remotest understanding of any of the Asian cultures and, worse, betrayed their Eurocentrism in their exegetical judgements.

- The question regarding baptism and church membership:

With regard to baptism and the church, a pertinent question comes from Leelamma Athyal who asks: "When the church gets more people to join its membership through baptism, it rejoices. But should it? Is it because the Church's membership has increased? Or, because some people have become the disciples of Jesus." We need to ask whether after almost two thousand years of existence the church has recognised its orientation in terms of the Kingdom. If we pray, along with the writer of the Didache: "... let your church be gathered from the four corners of the earth into your kingdom," then how do we understand the sacrament of baptism in relation to the church and in relation to the kingdom? If the church is understood as "an agent to implement the mission of God," then what is the role of those who claim to be members of the church through baptism? If clergy and laity are called upon to remember that they "are in the church not for our own sake but for the mission to which God has called us," then does baptism bring with it the mission imperative? If mission is primarily understood in terms of the mission of God, then what is the link between this understanding of mission and the understanding of baptism as an entry into the institution called the church? What about the different ways in which baptism is understood within the Indian churches themselves, and the theological and practical consequences of such varied understandings? Joseph Mattam writes:

Baptism understood as the expression and celebration of one's conversion to Christ, of one's acceptance of Christ and his ways, of one's attitudinal changes to form a more inclusive community with the one goal of a fuller humanity is still meaningful. Baptism understood as the celebration of a new vision of society, of a new pattern of relationship with people, God and the cosmos is still desirable. When we welcome people to baptism, in the context of the poor and dalits in India, it is a call to a counter culture (not a separate Christian culture) which will empower the poor and will help them change their self-image and transform their world view into a new cooperative pattern. It is in view of this mission that baptism becomes meaningful, not in terms of the salvation of few individuals.

At this point some jogging of our ecumenical memory is called for. In November 1971, the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society organized a Consultation on the theme Meaning of Conversion and Baptism in the Cultural Context of India. The papers and findings coming from this Consultation, along with correspondence that it generated, were then published. The writer of the Editorial commented:

If Baptism is to be retained in Indian Christianity, the churches that retain it should be constrained to find in it (or for it ) a meaning that is strongly supportive of Christian life and faith. Otherwise its liability to the Gospel in India can hardly justify its continued practice.

In November 1982, an ecumenical conference on the theme, Baptism and Conversion in the Context of Mission in India, was organized by the National Council of Churches in India. This conference followed a major study project initiated by the National Council of Churches in India to stimulate reflection on this theme in the current Indian context. In the Introduction, Godwin R. Singh wrote:

One of the major questions that loomed large in the discussions and deliberations of the Conference was that the Christian baptism has often been presented as a total repudiation of one's socio-cultural heritage and accepting a name, a style of life alien to one's own. This sort of idea and practice of baptism has kept many from accepting baptism. For many, baptism, particularly as presented in our churches, does not seem to be essential for the faith, response and commitment to Christ. In the light of the cultural and social demands that baptism has wrongly demanded from many, it may be important to ask the question whether the rite of baptism could be the necessary condition for the entry into the fellowship of the Church.

These two major theological contributions, one from almost thirty years ago, and the other from almost twenty years ago, indicate that concerned theologians have been wrestling with the issues of baptism conversion, and mission, without loosing track of what had happened in the past, while at the same time trying to discern what was happening in their immediate context. Have the issues raised been listened to, responded to, and taken up? At present do we have a cacophony of voices or is there an attempt at a meaningful and productive conversation?

One cannot overlook the pointed and provocative remark made by M. M. Thomas in one of his last published articles that "the question of giving to the unbaptised Christ-bhakts in other religious communities, a sense of full belonging to the spiritual fellowship of the church including participation in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper needs exploration." How do we respond to this concern, which attempts to stir up already troubled waters?

 

- The question regarding mission theories and the role of the West:

One wishes that writers like Geevarghese Mar Osthathios could have pushed their initial suspicions to some kind of conclusion that could have offered fresh perceptions of mission theory and praxis. Osthathios who noted that there is "a world of difference between Eastern Churches and the Western Churches as regards historical criticism and the limitation it imposes on our basic dogmas like the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity," and goes on to contend that such differences have become "almost unbridgeable," nevertheless claims that "Both East and West will agree that the aim of mission is to make everyone do the will of God." It is precisely in trying to discern as to how the "will of God" has been understood by different churches - those in countries who claimed some kind of divine right not only to colonize, but also to theologise - that we ought to locate the problematization of "differences." Paulos Mar Gregorios, in assessing the values of the European Enlightenment and searching for new foundations, characterises the nature of the European Enlightenment as "this unique phenomenon that broke out in Europe in the eighteenth century and has managed to shape and misshape the entire world in two centuries." (emphasis mine).

The tension between dominant older paradigms and the increasingly impatient voices of those who had been marginalised for generations were experienced, and listened to, at the eleventh ecumenical conference on world mission and evangelism, which took place in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil in late 1996. In analysing the achievements of the conference Christopher Duraisingh wrote:

Salvador ... marks a shift in mission thinking and practice from colonial to post-colonial and from Eurocentric to polycentric. It dramatically portrays as never before that churches around the world have reached a critical point in the movement from being more or less homogenous in faith, worship and life to a situation of theological and liturgical heterogeneity, rooted in a profound commitment to express Christian faith and witness in terms of particular local cultural idioms. This is accompanied by a refusal to allow distinct local formulations of the good news in Christ to be reduced or conformed to a single paradigmatic perspective shaped elsewhere.

Given this reality, then how effective have we been in bringing to the understanding of the issues of baptism, conversion, and mission a distinctive "local cultural idiom"? Are we engaged in a process of consolidation of theological gains made, or will our thinking remain candles in the wind, subject to the twists and turns of capricious winds blowing from various directions, and sometimes artificially created by "fans" run by the motor of vested interests motivated by a selfish global and economic agenda?

Conclusion - Messing with life's mess:

This exercise has been intended to situate and problematize various issues in relation to baptism, conversion, and mission in India today. I am aware that the word "fresh" has been used in the title of this presentation. For freshness to emerge, one has to be ready to mess with life's mess. Avoiding superficiality which skims the surface without dirtying oneself, a fresh look at these questions demands of us a faith commitment to the source of renewal, to that lonely and betrayed person, whose own baptism in the river Jordan, was a symbol of his commitment to being a part of messy human existence.

 

NOTES:

2 Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet (London: Jonathan Cape, 1999), p. 113.

3 See the essay by Sumit Sarkar, "Hindutva and the Question of Conversions," in K. N. Panikkar, ed. The Concerned Indian's Guide to Communalism (New Delhi: Viking, 1999), pp. 73 - 106.

4 "Strip religious minorities of special rights: VHP Leader," The Times of India, Bangalore, April 12, 1999, p. 7.

5 Deccan Herald, Bangalore (Vol. 52, No. 111), April 22, 1999, p. 16.

6 Among these are

- Joseph Mattam and Sebastian Kim, eds., Dimensions of Mission in India, FOIM III (Bombay: St. Pauls, 1995)

- Sunand Sumitra and F. Hranghkuma, eds., Doing Mission in Context (Bangalore: Theological Book Trust for Centre for Mission Studies, UBS, Pune, 1995)

- Joseph Mattam and Sebastian Kim, eds., Mission and Conversion: A Reappraisal FOIM IV (Mumbai: St. Pauls, 1996)

- Joseph Mattam and Sebastian Kim, eds., Mission Trends Today: Historical and Theological Perspectives FOIM V (Mumbai: St. Pauls, 1997)

- Abraham P. Athyal and Dorothy Yoder Nyce, eds., Mission Today: Challenges and Concerns (Chennai: Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute, 1998)

- Somen Das, ed., Mission and Evangelism (Delhi: ISPCK, 1998)

- Jey J. Kanagaraj, ed., Mission and Missions: Essays in Honour of I. Ben Wati (Pune: Union Biblical Seminary, 1998)

- Francis Fernandez and Jose Varickasseril, eds., Mission: A Service of Love - Essays in Honour of George Kottuppallil, S.B.D. (Shillong: Vendrame Institute Publications, 1998)

- Joseph Mattam and Krickwin C. Marak, eds., Blossoms from the East: Contribution of the Indian Church to World Mission FOIM VI (Mumbai: St. Pauls, 1999).

The report of an international consultation held at the United Theological College, Bangalore, in September 1998 is found in

- Lalsangkima Pachuau, "An International Consultation on Mission and Ecumenics: Mission Should be Life-Centred," People's Reporter, 11, No. 21 (November 1 - 15, 1998), p. 5.

- The report of the "International Conference on Mission and Unity," organised by the National Council of Churches in India and the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College, Chennai, between February 27th and March 1st, 1999, is found in International Review of Mission, Vol. LXXXVIII, Nos. 348/349 (January/April 1999), pp. 136 - 140.

7 See the chapter, "Uniqueness: A Noun in Search of Adjectives?," in Stanley J. Samartha, Between Two Cultures: Ecumenical Ministry in a Pluralist World (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1996), pp. 146 - 166. Other examples of interaction include: J. Roasario Narchison, "Mission in the Context of Religious Fundamentalism: A Few Questions from Asia," in Mattam and Kim, eds., Dimensions of Mission in India, pp. 35 - 50; Jacob Kavunkal, "Elements of an Indian Christology," in Mattam and Marak, eds., Blossoms from the East, pp. 90 - 111; K. P. Aleaz, "A Theology of Religions for a Viable Theology of Mission," in Das, ed., Mission and Evangelism, pp. 72 - 100.

8 Thomas Pulloppillil, "The Mission of the Church and Theologising in India," in Fernandez and Varickasseril, eds., Mission: A Service of Love, p. 69.

9 Venceslaus Lawrence, "Mission in the Bible," in Das, ed., Mission and Evangelism, p. 34.

10 J. Mattam, "A Theology of Grace," in Mattam and Marak, eds., Blossoms From the East, p. 83.

11 "Final Statement," 11.b, in Kurien Kunnumpuram, Errol D'Lima and Jacob Parappally, eds., The Church in India in Search of a New Identity (Bangalore: N.B.C.L.C., 1997), p. 391.

12 Monica Melanchthon, "Mission in a Multi-Faith Context," in Athyal and Nyce, eds., Mission Today, p. 131.

13 F. Hrangkhuma, "Mission in Context," in Kanagaraj, ed., Mission and Missions, pp. 125 - 127.

14 In Which Way Forward Indian Missions? A Critique of Twenty-Five Years 1972 - 1997 (Bangalore: SAIACS Press, 1998), p. 131.

15 K. P. Aleaz, "Conversion: Some Indian Christian Reflections," National Council of Churches Review, Vol. CXV, No. 1 (January 1995), pp. 28 - 42.

16 David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1991), p. 488.

17 J. Jayakiran Sebastian, "Pressure on the Hyphen: Aspects of the Search for Identity Today in Indian-Christian Theology," in Religion and Society, Vol. 44, No. 4 (December 1997), p. 36.

18 Ashish Chrispal, "Contextualisation," in Sumitra and Hranghkuma, eds., Doing Mission in Context, p. 12. The earlier quotations are on pp. 10 - 11.

19 V. Premasagar, "Mission and Evangelism from a Biblical Perspective," in Das, ed., Mission and Evangelism, p. 10.

20 Paul F. Knitter, "Jesus and the Other Names: Christian Mission and Global Responsibility (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996), p. 139.

21 S. Wesley Ariarajah, "Reading the Bible in a Pluralistic Context," in The Ecumenical Review, Vol. 51, No. 1 (January 1999), p. 10.

22 J. Jayakiran Sebastian, "Listening to the Speaking Bible: Interpretingthe Use of the Bible in a Letter of Cyprian of Carthage," in Daniel Jones Muthunayagom, ed., The Bible Speaks Today: Essays in Honour of Gnana Robinson (Delhi: ISPCK, 2000), p. 81.

23 R. S. Sugirtharajah, Asian Biblical Hermeneutics and Postcolonialism: Contesting the Interpretations (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p. 128.

24 Leelamma Athyal, "Church: An Obstacle to God's Mission? A Theological Appraisal of P. Chenchiah's Thoughts on Church and Mission," in Athyal and Nyce, eds., Mission Today, p. 55.

25 Didache, 7.9.4b, translated in Understandings of the Church, trans. and ed., E. Glenn Hinson (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), p. 22.

26 David Udayakumar, "Church-in-Mission: Facing Contemporary Challenges," in Athyal and Nyce, eds., Mission Today, p. 24.

27 J. Patmury, "Laity and Mission," in Mattam and Kim, eds., Mission Trends Today, p. 150.

28 See J. Jayakiran Sebastian, "Infant versus Believers' Baptism: Search for an Ecumenical Understanding," in Jeevadhara, Vol. XXIX, No. 172 (July 1999), pp. 298 - 312.

29 Joseph Mattam, "Indian Attempts Towards a Solution to the Problems of Conversion," in Mattam and Kim, eds., Mission and Conversion, pp. 125 - 126.

30 Religion and Society, Vol. XIX, No. 1, March 1972. The contents include: Christopher Duraisingh, "Some dominant motifs in the New Testament doctrine of Baptism" (pp. 5 - 17); T. V. Philip, "The meaning of Baptism: A historical survey" (pp. 18 - 28); Ivan Extross, 'Theology of Conversion and Baptism in the Indian Context' (pp. 29 - 36); D. A. Thangasamy, 'Views of some Christian thinkers in India on Conversion and Baptism' (pp. 37 - 50); J. R. Chandran, "Baptism - A Scandal or a Challenge?" (pp. 51 - 58); Richard W. Taylor, "On acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ without shifting tents" (pp. 59 - 68); M. M. Thomas, Lesslie Newbigin and Alfred C. Krass, "Baptism, the Church and Koinonia" (pp. 69 - 90); The Biennial Consultation - 1971 (pp. 91 - 97). The theme of this issue is the same as that of the Consultation.

31 Ibid., p. 4.

32 Godwin R. Singh, ed., A Call to Discipleship: Baptism and Conversion (Delhi: Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1985). The contents include Thomas Mar Athanasius, "Baptism and Conversion in the context of Mission in India" (pp. 9 - 15); United Theological College Group, "The Concept of Baptism in the Judeo-Christian Tradition" (pp. 16 - 63); Jolly Thomas, "Baptism and Discipleship" (pp. 64 - 75); M. J. Joseph and K. J. Pothen, "Baptism as kerygmatic response to Christ" (pp. 76 - 83); G. R. Singh, "Baptism in the Episcopal and Non-Episcopal Liturgies in the Indian Churches" (pp. 85 - 111); G. Rajamani and C. Lawrence, "Baptism and Conversion with special reference to socio-cultural dimensions" (pp. 112 - 136); Anto Karlkaran, "Mission, Conversion, Baptism: Their inter-relation" (pp. 137 - 166); Samuel Rayan, "Baptism and Conversion: The Lima Text in the Indian context" (pp. 167 - 187); Report and Findings (pp. 188 - 199).

33 Ibid., p. 2. Also see J. Jayakiran Sebastian, "Baptism and the Unity of the Church in India Today," in Michael Root and Risto Saarinen, eds., Baptism and the Unity of the Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998), pp. 196 - 207.

34 See the struggle epitomised in the question "What about Conversions?" in Knitter, Jesus and he Other Names, op. cit., pp. 121 - 124. Knitter wrestles with the question regarding conversions being not to the church but rather to the Kingdom, and the implications of the necessity of the community called the church.

35 M. M. Thomas, "The Church - The Fellowship of the Baptised and the Unbaptised?," in Prasanna Kumari, ed., Liberating Witness: Dr. K. Rajaratnam's Platinum Birthday Anniversary Commemoration, Vol. 1 (Madras: Gurukul, 1995), p. 13.

36 Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, "Mission and the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ," in Mattam and Kim, eds., Dimensions of Mission in India, p. 81. The earlier quotations are on p. 67.

37 Paulos Mar Gregorios, A Light too Bright: The Enlightenment Today (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992), p. 29.

38 Christopher Duraisingh, "Salvador: A Signpost of the New in Mission," in Christopher Duraisingh, ed., Called to One Hope: The Gospel in Diverse Cultures (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998), p. 194.

 


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