The Rise of Indian-Initiated Churches
Studies in World Christianity
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2022-07-15
263 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: August 2022
If there is one question that haunts Indian Christians, it is this: "What does it mean to be Indian and Christian?" This matter of identity presents a unique challenge, especially today, in the face of a Hindu nationalist challenge insisting that to be truly Indian, one must be Hindu. Christianity Remade, however, offers a unique path forward by studying the rise and character of Indian-initiated churches (IICs), Christian movements founded by Indians to address Indian issues, needs, and opportunities.
IIC is not a common term in Indian church life or theology today. Only a few scholars have focused on Christian movements arising in India. Based on firsthand experience from research conducted through the Mylapore Institute for Indigenous Studies, Paul Joshua's groundbreaking work presents a truly striking discovery: IICs represent a pivotal, re-formative phase in the nearly twenty-century history of Indian Christianity. They result from critiques of the inherited structures and outlook of mission-founded Christianity. They respond to the deep needs of people on the lower rungs of Indian society, and they fashion their spiritual answers and modes of being from deeply Indian religious materials. Thus, they engage in a creative combination of Indian popular piety and the gospel of Jesus Christ as found in an Indian reading of the Bible.
Joshua engages specific IIC movements to draw out singular contextual ingredients: the rise of Indian nationalism, the generative power of Christian revivalism, the movement for national independence, the bhakti tradition of popular Hindu devotional practice, the challenge of Hindu spiritual power, and the dynamism of contemporary urban culture. From these ingredients, and drawing on insights from postcolonial studies, Joshua reveals how a "subaltern" sensibility and vision from the margins of Indian society challenged both the colonial overlords and the mission-church hierarchs to create a Christianity made in India.
1 The Origins of Indian-Initiated Churches
2 Revivals and the Reframing of Indian Christianity
3 The Indian Pentecostal Church of God and The Independence Movement
4 The Bakht Singh Assemblies and the Independence Movement
5 Bhakti Devotion and the Rise of the India Bible Mission
6 Yesu Darbar: Spiritual Power and Popular Hinduism
7 New Life Fellowship: Re-forming the Church in Urban India
Conclusion: Christianity Made in India
While the study of African Christianity has productively centered African Initiated/Instituted Churches for decades, the term, and the orientation it implies, have never gained purchase among scholars of India. In this ethnographically inclined subaltern and postcolonial history, Joshua inventively adapts the phrase, provocatively reorienting the study of Indian Christianity around Indian Initiated/Instituted Churches (IICs). Focusing on IICs, including some that scholars might not initially think of as such, Joshua persuasively argues that they represented (and continue to represent) resistance to colonialism in both its political and theological varieties. In the admirable tradition of Andrew Walls and Lamin Sanneh, Joshua utilizes his entire biography—evangelical Christian, mission theorist, theologian, academic ethnographer and historian trained in the best European universities—to produce a rich and stimulating work on Indian Christianity.~Chad M. Bauman, Professor of Religion, Butler University
In a context where Christians and Christianity in India have been accused for centuries as being part of an ‘Eastward Extension of Western Christianity,’ this book will be a huge challenge and will stand as a proof that Christianity is authentically Eastern and not Western in its origin. Joshua unambiguously proves that India is not merely a ‘geographical location’ for Indian Christians but is the ‘Key Location of their spirit.’ I recommend the book to everyone who wants to confirm their identity as ‘Indian Christians.’~V. V. Thomas, Chairperson, History of Christianity, United Theological College, Bangalore
Paul Joshua insisted that ‘Christianity is Indian’ as much as it is European, American, African, and so on. Rather than treating Indian Christianity as an extension or copy of churches in the West or focusing on the mission work of contextualizing a faith from elsewhere on Indian soil, this volume deals with the reception of Christianity by Indians in ways that address Indian realities. This story is a gift to world Christianity and further evidence of the way that Christianity is being reinvented or ‘remade’ in our time in the Majority World. Joel Carpenter has done an excellent job of making accessible to Western scholarship this foundational work on Indian Initiated Churches.~Kirsteen Kim, Paul E. Pierson Professor of World Christianity, Fuller Theological Seminary