Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a Postmodern Hindu.
By Vishal Mangalwadi.
Carlisle: OM/Patternoster, 1998.
Review by Dr Augustine Pagolu

This book is a result of a series of responses by Mangalwadi to a well known citizen, Arun shourie, a household name in India through his ‘editorials’ to one of the most popular Indian newspapers, Indian Express. Through his widely publicized book, Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas (New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1994), Arun Shourie made a scathing attack on Christian missions in India. His basic thesis was that missionary movement in India was a conspiracy of colonialism to reinforce the British military triumph by subverting the Indian heart and mind. By extension, this means that the present missionary activity and the growth of the church with a massive funding from the West is to make India culturally, if not politically, subservient to the Western domination. This idea also fuels the already simmering popular notion that Indian Christians in general are non-patriotic and non-nationalistic like the Muslims whose Holy Place being elsewhere in the Middle East. Indirectly, this supplies excellent ammunition to the Hindu fundamentalists who have already begun reconverting Christians back into Hinduism. This also justifies their frequent attacks on Christian workers and churches all over India, especially during the rule of the previous majority Hindu Party.

Arun Shourie is one of the best-known commentators on current and political affairs. He had a doctorate in Economics from the University of Syracuse, USA, he worked as an economist with the World Bank, and has served as a consultant to the Planning Commission of India. He has won many national awards for his contribution to the society, including the International Editor of the Year Award. Recently he became a cabinet minister in the Hindu majority led previous government. So what he says and writes carries enormous weight and people implicitly believe his statements. Therefore, Mangalwadi’s response to Arun Shourie is very important for the sake of truth and for Christians in India. Mangalwadi being an author, social reformer, and political activist himself demolishes the myths of Shourie’s unfounded fears about Christian missions and nationalism. Mangalwadi’s concern is much deeper:

He says, ‘My interest is not merely historical. My concern is with India’s future, and I believe that the spiritual and intellectual force which started India’s regeneration 200 years ago (i.e. the beginning of modern missions), and substantially succeeded, can once again re-arrest India’s rapid degeneration into her pre-modern past.’ With painstaking documentation Mangalwadi argues that the Colonial rulers were actually against missionaries and mission work, because they feared that any missionary activity would seriously undermine British interests which was primarily to do with power and finances. In fact the missionary interest in India was born among a small group of Evangelicals who had to fight against selfish interests of the Colonial rule. They believed that only the Gospel can bless India. To this end the Evangelicals of Clapham Sect had to fight in the British Parliament to gain permission for missionaries to enter India. He shows convincingly that the Gospel entrance into India was indeed a ‘conspiracy’ not to destroy culture but to introduce Truth, not to destroy harmony but to bring real peace to the disparate feudal kingdom of India, thus contributing to India becoming the world’s largest democracy. He also warns of the dangers facing the world as Eastern Hinduism and Western Postmodernism coalesce in a spineless and ultimately ruinous relativism.

This last point is suggested in the sub-title of the book. Because this has become the trend among the modern intellectuals, like Arun Shourie himself, who no longer believe in logical consistency which is a necessary requirement of intellectual integrity. Pre-moderns were superstitious, while moderns questioned everything and asked for reason behind everything. But the postmoderns want to pick and choose the religion they want and the way they want it. It’s like ‘eating curry with pizza! It’s completely a new ball game! This would allow them to choose what they like and to reject what they don’t, and your are not required to give reasons. Thus Arun Shourie’s attack has serious implications not just for Indian Christians but for all Christians everywhere. The book is amazingly rich in Christian thought and action.

Chapel Notes

Chapel on 7 Feb 2007

Last week’s chapel speaker was Dr Augustine Pagolu who focused his meditation on one the infancy stories of Jesus from Luke 2: 21-38. The highlight of the meditation was that God makes no discrimination in regard to revealing the nature of Jesus’ Messianic mission at the ceremony of his presentation in the Temple while he was still a month old baby to unknown characters like Simeon and Anna while this was completely unnoticed by the priests who officiated the ceremony.

Dr Ng Peh Cheng and Daniel Lau (Grad.DipCS student) will collaborate the chapel service next week. The focus is Mission.

News Bits 

1. New Admissions. Grad. Dip CS

  • Govindaram is an active lay leader at the Adam Road Presbyterian Church. He serves as a Christian Education Teacher in the Boys' Brigade. He has taught at the Singapore Polytechnic and he is a graduate of Charles Sturt University, Australia and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.
  • Dr Yap Heng Kai holds degrees from Preston University, US (PhD in Business Adminstration), Monash University (MA in Counselling), Leicester University, UK (MSc) and University of Malaya, Malaysia (BA). He is active in ministering to youth through sports.

2. BGST Library will be closed this Saturday, Feb 17, as it is Chinese New Year Eve.

3. Change of Commencement Date. Better Speech for Leadership & Ministry (AT231) by Rev Ng Seng Chuan will commence on Feb 28 instead of Feb 21. Time and venue as usual

We wish you all a very Happy Lunar New Year!

 A Blessed Birthday to…

Ms Josephine Pang 19/2

Mr Kessler Soh 20/2

Ms Stella Sim 21/2

Ms Christine Tey 21/2

Mr Leow Theng Huat 21/2

Mr Lim Teck Hong 21/2

Mr Lim Ching Hock 22/2

Ms Rosy Tan 22/2

Mr Simon Wong 22/2

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