The Church’s Mission and Post-Modern Humanism

by M. M. Thomas

Dr. M.M. Thomas was one of the formost Christian leaders of the nineteenth century.  He was Moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and Governor of Nagaland. An ecumenical theologian of repute, he wrote more than sixty books on Theology and Mission, including 24 theological commentaries on the books of the bible in Malayalam (the official language of the Indian state of Kerela).

This book was jointly published by Christava Sahhya Samhhi (OSS), Tiruvalla, Kerela, and The Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (ISPOK), Post Box 1585, Kashmere Gate, Delhi – 110 006, in 1996. Price Rs. 60. Used by permission of the publisher. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) This collection of 21 papers by the great ecumenical theologian deals with the search for a new ideology in the face of the break-up of Socialism, the crisis of Secularism, and the growth of religious fundamentalism. Dr. Thomas proposes a new ideology of struggle for both social and ecological justice — a spiritual framework for a post modern holistic humanism based on an understanding of Christ as the Suffering Servant.


  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Common Life in the Religiously Pluralistic India If each Faith keeps its ethics of law dynamic within the framework of and in tension with its own transcendent vision of perfection, the different religious and secular Faiths can have a fruitful dialogue on the nature of human alienation which makes love impossible and for updating our various approaches to personal and public law with greater realism with insights from each other.
  • Chapter 2: Religious Fundamentalism And Indian Secularism – the Present Crisis There is a present crisis of Indian Secularism and its relation to religious fundamentalism. Freedom of propagation and conversion involves not only matters of religion, but also of culture and political ideas. Any restriction at this point will affect the fundamental rights of the human person in general.
  • Chapter 3: Meanings of Being a Secular State: A Critical Evaluation Open Secularism and Renascent Religion are allies and need to reinforce each other in public life to redeem the new human values of freedom, equality and justice and enhance the quality of national fraternity in a situation of religious and ideological pluralism.
  • Chapter 4: A Christian Anthropological Approach To Globalisation Issues of ecological justice, and justice to the weaker sections of society and specifically development of social institutions cannot be taken up by the economy directed only by the market-profit mechanism in which the social objectives of the peoples are destroyed for the sake of economic growth.
  • Chapter 5:. Technology, Culture and Religion Two challenges seem to loom large in the modern world including India which is in the process of modernization; one, of humanizing the technological revolution to serve the poor and protect the ecological basis of life; and the other, of building a secular state and common civil society with openness to religious insights in a situation of religious pluralism.
  • Chapter 6: Primal Vision And Modernization A critique both the primal and modern visions of human being and society in the light of each other and in the light of the theological vision of God’s purpose for the future of humankind.
  • Chapter 7: Gospel to the Tribal People It is quite clear to all historians of modern India that the story of the spiritual and socio-political awakening of the adivasees or indigenous people anywhere in India can be understood only by taking into account the large role played by western Christian Missions and indigenous churches in transforming their lives.
  • Chapter 8: Gospel And Secular Culture The dynamics of modern “secular culture” have their roots in a concept of humanism derived from the Christian gospel but that because of the failure of the churches to respond positively to the values that emerged in Christian culture as implication of Christian humanism, they were sought to be realized in human history under the dynamic of “secularist ideologies of humanism” in opposition to the Christian faith.
  • Chapter 9: Higher Education in Kerala The difference between education understood only as training in technical skills within the ideology of the economic growth and education for promoting a technical society within the framework of a culture of “scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”, is indeed great. Education that gives training in technical skills and does not help the trainees to examine and discern the false ends which may be hidden in the engineering and managing technology that they use, is not service to humanity.
  • Chapter 10: The Power That Sustains Us The power that sustains us is the fellowship of other people, who are with us in this fellowship of struggle for the building of a new society.
  • Chapter 11:<b> </b>Search For a New Ideology of Struggle For Social Justice With Eco- Justice We need a science and technology reinterpreted within a new framework which takes the organic and spiritual dimensions of reality seriously along with the mechanical. It is only then that technological development will promote eco-justice, preserve human personhood and peoplehood. It is an alternative technology that we are seeking.
  • Chapter 12: Towards an Alternative Paradigm The basic central elements in the making of the counter-culture and the germ of the future society are the forces released by the self-awakening and the struggle for self-identity and justice of the traditionally oppressed peoples of India. If the church is to take the Jesus-tradition seriously and become Jesus-communities, its mission should be to build religiously pluralistic communities for concerted action for a better world in the common hope of the Kingdom of God to come.
  • Chapter 13: The Emerging Political Scenario: the People’s Search For an Alternative It is quite unrealistic to build our hope on the expectation that market economy is moving to any inevitable doom or that we can count on the permanence of the democratic polity in India continuing to permit agitation of peoples’ movements against the present pattern of development. Capitalism has shown its resilience before; and if India’s ruling class feels seriously threatened by peoples’ movements there is real possibility of democratic freedoms being restricted.
  • Chapter 14: The Christian Contribution to an Indian Philosophy of Being and Becoming Human It is in relation to the ensuing dialogue about a genuine Indian Humanism that does justice to the mechanical, organic and spiritual dimensions of humanness and social history, that a Christian contribution to Indian philosophy acquires importance.
  • Chapter 15: Inter-Religious Conversion 1. The individual's right to profess, practice and propagate religion; 2. Should religious conversion be depoliticised or outlawed? 3. Some Christian theological reasons for promoting a non-communal expression of the Christian faith and fellowship.
  • Chapter 16: Issues In Evangelistic Mission In The Present Indian Context 1. What is the Evangel, the gospel?  2. The missionary movement proclaimed the gospel to people of other religions and cultures.  3. The evangelistic witness cannot be isolated from the total life of the church.
  • Chapter 17: Emerging Concepts Of Mission in Asia The Christian is called not to convert but to witness.  The Church’s prophetic mission is to humanize the mechanisms of our corporate life.
  • Chapter 18: Mission Of The Church In The Pluralistic Context of India Though it has existed in India for centuries, pluralism is also a modern reality.  It is our common historical responsibility to build a genuinely human community, bringing peoples of all religions and cultures together within the framework of pluralism.  What is the gospel for such a pluralistic situation as ours, where the common search is for the path of humanization?
  • Chapter 19: Re-Articulation Of Christian Identity in Higher Education The Christian college should have some place in its structure where Jesus and his human-ness can be presented in the Scriptural context with its cultural implications, to those who wish to learn about him.
  • Chapter 20: The Quest for a Human Community in a Religiously Pluralist World The question of providing spiritual fellowship to those committed to Christ in different religious communities is a peculiarly Indian ecclesiological problem which has been with us for many decades and needs to be faced squarely. If the church expects the Hindu family’s toleration of any member converted to Christian faith, the church and Christian families also have to justify theologically and sociologically inter-religious marriages within their circle and deal pastorally with the persons involved.
  • Chapter 21: The Church – The Fellowship of the Baptised and the Unbaptised Christ, not Christianity or Western culture, has been the slogan of many leaders of the Neo-Hindu movements in the 19th century, even as Christian Missions insisted on the three as one package.