Monday, January 20, 2014

The Radical Christian Says No To Caste And Clan

The Lord Jesus Christ is the truth; these verses say so, “So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father’s only son), full of grace and truth…For while the Law was given by Moses, love and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14-17, PHILLIPS, Emphasis Mine). 

Because Christ is truth, HE lived the truth. Because Christ is truth, the radical Christian should live the truth. This is Christlikeness, and this is the truth.

Living in the truth demands living against lies. Christ opposed lies through HIS words and deeds. Christ did not tolerate business in the temple; HE threw the businessmen out. Christ did not tolerate the Pharisees, Scribes and Teachers of the Law; HE condemned them. Christ lived the truth by confronting and condemning evil.

One such evil / lie is in ‘groupism’ that manifests through undesirable and unjustifiable caste and clan hierarchies.

The Evil of Casteism
Any social system that glorifies some and ruins others is evil. Caste system deems some as superior, others as average and yet others as despicable.

At some point in time Christians embraced Casteism. As a result, there is the unwritten but highly prevalent upper and lower caste Christians!  This inequality is offensive to God and man.

God did not create people as unequals - superior and inferior. God created mankind as equals; the only distinction HE built into mankind is the gender - male and female.

If you walk into some churches in India, you will observe casteism in its glorious evil splendor. People belonging to a specific caste will occupy all-powerful positions. To be politically correct, they may donate meaningless or subordinate roles to other castes. In some instances, they are so full of themselves that they totally disregard people of other castes.

Casteism manifests defiantly and differently as well. This is a matrimonial advertisement by a Christian in “The Hindu,” dated 20-Jan-2014: 

“CSI NADAR 26/174 B.E., MBA (IIM, Ahmedabad) working in MNC seeks suitable employed B.E./M.E. Nadar girl, aged below 24 years…THE HINDU,Madurai-625020. (Published on Jan 19, 2014)”

‘CSI’ refers to Church of South India, ‘Nadar’ is a caste, and ‘IIM’ is Indian Institute of Management – a premier academic institution in India. Here is a well educated Christian boy and his parents desiring only a girl from the same caste. Why?

I do not see any valid reason for this demand. The only reason I see is that the parents and the boy have not understood the Bible. Hence this caste cruelty will proceed for generations in this household until they see the light of Christ’s gospel in their life.

Is inequality correct? It’s not even correct from an irreligious vantage point. Is inequality biblically correct? No! The Bible does not support evil practices that destroy man’s inherent worth.

The Bible urges everyone to serve each other. The Bible encourages us to descend into greatness; never to ascend to greatness (Luke 18: 14).

Casteism is a lie. People are not born superior or inferior. All men and women are made in the image of God.

There is another form of casteism in churches.

I was once visiting a very small church. During communion, the pastor announced that only those who have been baptized by that church can partake in the Lord’s table. Since I was the only non-member of that church in attendance that day, I was sure that the pastor’s announcement was intended at me.

For the sake of peace during that worship service I considered it unwise to violate pastor’s mandate. Respecting the church’s policy, I didn’t partake in the Lord’s table. However, I did not agree with the Pastor’s mandate. It was absurd. The bible does not make those demands on communion.

Christians should not be a part of caste based groups be it in church, social media, public or private. Christians cannot subscribe to casteism in any form or size.

The Evil of Clannishness

Inequality manifests in other ways as well. Consider clannishness, and more specifically language based clannishness.

There is nothing wrong in a church that worships God in a specific language. Of course, churches worshipping in a specific language will attract people speaking that language. This is acceptable. There is nothing wrong in gravitating towards our friends and neighbors speaking the same language.

But some Christians are so caught up into language based clannishness that we go to the extent of disrespecting or antagonizing Christians speaking other languages. Clannishness raises its ugly hood when we focus and support only those speaking our language to the point of disregarding or eliminating the ‘others’ from our group(s).

A Church of South India diocese that I shall leave unnamed has its Bishop-elect waiting to assume his office since a good number of pastors are protesting his election. Why? The Bishop-elect originally belongs to a neighboring state (speaking a different language)!

What’s wrong if a pastor (from a neighboring state) gets elected as a bishop of a diocese (of another state) that he has been serving? Why should the local pastors protest this man’s election? Should the bishop be elected on the basis of his language / state or because of his anointing (cf. Acts 6: 3)?

There should not be any language based clannishness in the Church of Jesus Christ. There cannot be conflicts between language groups in the Church. This is an abomination.

Isn’t this an evil instance of clannishness politics? Would Christ affirm clannishness? No! 

To conclude, Christ came for all men, not just the Jews or for a specific people group. HE came to save all men.  

When we overtly or covertly subscribe to casteism or clannishness of any form, we are not living a Christlike life. To be radical as the Lord is to love all our neighbors equally - without partiality - just as we love ourselves and just as Christ loved us.  Amen. 


Philip George Ittyerah said...

Excellent. My additional comments are, that, any group of people in communion with each other requires a hierarchy to interact without confusion. So a Christian community has to have Leaders or Management group, Members, other than the Leaders as above who are also members, but other divisions are frivolous and should be ignored. The very division of Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox etc. is anathema and reeks of casteism, but cannot be wished away due to strong antipathy towards the nitty gritty of the practice of faith. There is no absolute right or wrong, only individual viewpoint. e.g. Protestants feel that the Roman Catholics are idol worshippers even though it is the statues of Christ and Mary and countless other saints that they worship. But both worship the One True God, Son & Holy Spirit as One being one within the other or Trinity. Yes. God made Adam and Eve with His own Hands and in His own image. We are all the children of that Patriarch and hence equal. No one greater and no one less than his or her fellow human being. But human society has divided itself over the ages into separate definite groups developing affinity to their own over and above their group! Division is part of human life and spirit.

Raj Richard said...

Bro. Philip: You are right in saying that there should be unity in diversity.
Unfortunately, there is enmity in diversity today. Just as God loved humans first, we ought to love others first, so there can be unity in diversity.
Thanks much for your thoughts.

Enigma said...

Looking at your name I can see you are a christian convert. What is your view on mass conversions conducted by christian missionaries in rural areas? These Jesus salesmen have been a menace these days. They even enter hospitals , try to read gospels before poor ignorant patients and convert them. Do you think Jesus if he ever existed would support such activities? Some of the pastors I have seen have the practice of preaching bible by ridiculing other religions. If Jesus told to love all and treat everyone equally why is this discrimination and hatred towards other belief systems? There is something seriously wrong with christian's mentality. Muslims are much better in this case as they are not into conversions by deceit and sops.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Enigma,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Technically, every Christian is a convert because no one is born a Christian. Every one is called to accept the Lord Jesus consciously.

I was born in a Christian household, my parents are Christians. So from this perspective, I did not convert from another religion into Christianity.

I do not agree to conversion by coercion, no one can tempt a non-Christian to be a Christian because of some material benefits. A Christian becomes one because he loves the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and who promises us an everlasting life in heaven, if we believe in Christ.

Having said this, the Bible also says that we should take care of the physical needs of others around us. James 2 says, "14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?" So Christians ought to help those around them, even go into hospitals and pray for the sick.

Ridiculing other religions does not help much. At the same time, there is nothing invalid to assert the truth of Christianity in comparison with other religions.

Christianity, as any other religion, is exclusivistic. Christianity excludes all other religions, just as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and even Baha'ism. Every religion is an exclusive religion. All religions do not speak the same message.

It's incorrect to say that Islam does not evangelize. Islam evangelizes much. I have been approached by Muslims, trying to convert me into Islam. The notable Islamic evangelists are Dr. Shabbir Ally, Zakir Naik to name a few. Please read this as well...

I hope I have answered you, in case you need more clarity, please feel free to contact me through email or facebook. You can use the contact page on this website.

Warm Regards,

Enigma said...

Hi Sir,

First of all thank you very much for your candid reply to my rather terse comment.

You said "Ridiculing other religions does not help much. At the same time, there is nothing invalid to assert the truth of Christianity in comparison with other religions. "

Yes. I oppose ridiculing other religions with the intentation of spreading chritianity or any other religion. As you said there is nothing invalid to assert the truth of Christianity in comparison with other religions. But unfortunately this comparision is presented by pastors in such a way that knowing Jesus is the ultimate truth and you are destined to suffer in hell unless you do not accept truth in gospels. I am saying this with my personal experience with many pastors in my area whose only job is to trap poor hindus in rural villages and instill hatred towards their own religion so that ultimately they convert to christianity. Pastors get good funding from abroad and christian NGOs. Although these funds are utilized to help the poor and the needy, I can see the ulterior motive is to evangelize the whole community. Converting people to chirstianity by promising material benefits or by showing fake miracles is wrong and should not be encouraged by missionaries. This practice has been actively going on in India and all over the world. Christian groups come to India with tourist visa but as soon as they arrive they indulge in mass conversions which is illegal.

You can check below link for example.

What is your view on such activities? Why do christians want to convert people? What benefit do they get from God by mass conversion through deceit?

Raj Richard said...

Dear Enigma,

Thank you for your response.

If I know of a good news, then I ought to share with others. Famous atheist magician Penn Jillette once said that he does not respect those Christians who do not evangelize. Christianity is good news, so there is nothing wrong in telling our friends about the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that HE offers.

However, I am sorry to hear that pastors in your area use questionable tactics to lure people into Christianity.

I also believe that miracles do happen even today. But I am also aware that quite a few Christians fake miracles. Another sad occurrence in Christendom.

Reg. conversion by deceit, I do not want to judge these people who use deceit to convert although I believe that discipleship is more needed in Christianity than mere conversion. In other words, there is no point in converting people and then letting them go and live the life they want to live. Alternately, after conversion, there ought to be continuous discipleship for these young believers to grow in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Trust am making sense here.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. God bless.