Understanding Hindu-Christian Relations: The World Council of Churches’ Approach

Melanie Barbato is a post-doc researcher at the University of Münster

There are two tricky subjects in Hindu-Christian relations: Christian missionary efforts are a red flag for many Hindus, and anti-Christian violence by Hindus is recognized as one of India’s main issues of freedom of religion and belief. These two issues are connected, with accusations of proselytization typically being the background for acts of anti-Christian violence.

The Roots of Hindu Criticism towards Christianity 

It is important to understand this critical Hindu perspective on Christianity. Hindus object to Christian missions for various reasons. Foremost is that the Indian traditions do not share the Western concept of religion as an individualized faith. From the Hindu perspective, a person is born into a cosmic order that includes both religious and social duties. Hindu identity can be considered more like a family relationship one is born into—one neither opts-in nor out. Hindus tend to be tolerant towards people who also hold additional non-Hindu beliefs or participate in activities outside their Hindu culture, with dual belonging being a normal part of Indian culture. Converts to Christianity, however, are often asked by their missionary contacts to leave their old religious identity behind, and this is seen by many Hindus as a direct act of aggression against their religion and traditional way of life.


Continue Reading Understanding Hindu-Christian Relations: The World Council of Churches’ Approach

Inspiring Service: Encouraging Conversation and Friendship between Christian Traditions

Andrew Teal is Chaplain, Fellow and Lecturer in Theology at Pembroke College

This post by Andrew Teal was first published by Sacristy Press. The UK edition of Inspiring Service was published by Sacristy Press in November 2020.

In November 2018 the work of over a year came to fruition in Oxford when a distinguished panel of global religious leaders, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Professor Frances Young, and Lord David Alton, under the direction of the chaplain of Pembroke College, Oxford, the Revd Dr Andrew Teal, shared their thoughts on how Christian faith goes hand-in-hand with Christian service. The International Center for Law and Religion Studies cooperated with several Oxford institutions to support the event, including Pembroke College, the Oxford Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, and the Centre for Theology and Modern European Thought (Paul Kerry, ICLRS Associate Director). 

During 2018, events conspired to raise our awareness that many students who had hoped to engage with transformational projects aimed at the public good when they graduated were instead feeling hemmed-in into careers which paid well—to see-off student loans and debts accumulated at university. In conversation, there was also a recognition that though the musical lives of Oxford and Cambridge especially meant that college chapels, to a large degree, were somewhat inoculated from the widespread experience of diminishing numbers, impact and resources in many churches, there was sometimes a restriction to beautiful music rather than a more profound engagement with the life of faith. There were puzzlements voiced that there didn’t seem to be a direct connection between the quest for aesthetic excellence and plugging into the resources of belief.


Continue Reading Inspiring Service: Encouraging Conversation and Friendship between Christian Traditions