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This study examines an indigenous phenomenon of the Hindu devotees of Jesus Christ and their response to the gospel through an empirical case study conducted in Varanasi, India. It analyzes their religious beliefs and social belonging and addresses the ensuing questions from a historical, theological, and missiological perspective. The data reveals that the respondents profess faith in Jesus Christ; however, most remain unbaptized and insist on their Hindu identity. Hence, a heuristic model for a contextualized baptism as Guru-diksha is proposed. The emergent church among Hindu devotees should be considered, from the perspective of world Christianity, as a disparate form of belonging while remaining within one’s community of birth. The insistence on a visible church and a distinct community of Christ’s followers is contested because the devotees should construct their contextual ecclesiology, since it is an indigenous discovery of the Christian faith. Thus, the “Christian” label for the adherents is dispensable while retaining their socio-ethnic Hindu identity. Christian mission should discontinue extraction and assimilation; instead, missional praxis should be within the given sociocultural structures, recognizing their idiosyncrasies as legitimate in God’s eyes and in need of transformation, like any human culture.
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– Darrel Whiteman, Global Development
“Hindu followers of Christ have constructed a perfectible post-colonial alternative to believing and belonging. With historical and cultural precedents, such a missiological construction may offend normative western Christianities imported into India without violating biblical and historical emanations of local Christianities. While the resulting Hindu ecclesiology may not fit inherited standards, it accounts for local personal and communal experiences of Christ and honors Christ’s trans-local family building within the socio-cultural and spiritual frameworks pertinent to Hindu identity. What a treat from Dr. Vinod John!”
Dr. Sègbégnon Mathieu Gnonhossou,
Seattle Pacific University