Critical Podium Dewanand Christianity
Missionary handbook on how to convert educated Hindus
to Evangelism by H.L. Richards
Sacrificer H.L. Richards
Sacrifice code wfor0199
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Missionary handbook on how to convert educated Hindus
Personal Evangelism Among Educated Hindus
by H.L. Richards
>From Mission Frontier
Friendship evangelism is usually easy to initiate with Hindus. Most
Hindus esteem religion in general and are free and open to speak
about it. A sincere, nonjudgemental interest in all aspects of
Indian Life will provide a good basis for friendship. Personal
interaction with Hindus will lead to a more certain grasp of the
essence of Hinduism than reading many books.
A consistently Christ-like life is the most important factor in
sharing the gospel with Hindus. The suggestions that follow should
help to break down misunderstandings, of which there are far too
many, and help to build a positive witness for Christ. Yet learning
and applying these points can never substitute for a transparent life
and joy in discipleship to Jesus Christ.
1. Criticize or condemn Hinduism. There is much that is good and
much that is bad in the practice of both Christianity and Hinduism.
Pointing out the worst aspects of Hinduism is hardly the way to win
friends or show love. It is to the credit of Hindus that they rarely
retaliate against Christians by pointing out all our shameful
practices and failures. Criticizing Hinduism can make us feel we
have won an argument; it will not win Hindus to Jesus Christ.
2. Do not argue or debate on points where we must disagree with our
Hindu friends. Most Hindus sit lightly to their theology or
philosophy. God is above our definitions and debates, and the man of
God should stand above human disagreements. Often points are raised
to deflect a conversation from Christ and his compelling demands; keep
a focus on
him and avoid debate.
3. Never allow a suggestion that separation from family and/or
culture is necessary in becoming a disciple of Christ. To insist or
even subtly encourage a Hindu to leave his home and way of life to
join the "Christian" way of life in terms of diet and culture,
is a denial of biblical teaching. (See 1 Cor. 7:17-24.)
4. Avoid all that even hints at triumphalism and pride. We are not
the greatest people with the greatest religion, but some Hindus are
taught that we think of ourselves in this way. We do not have all
knowledge of all truth; in fact we know very little (1 Cor 8:1,2).
We do not desire all India to become "Christian." (Think of
that means to a Hindu--India like America or Europe!) But we do desire
all India to
find peace and joy and true spirituality. Be careful in using
testimonies of Hindus who have found Christ, since triumphalism is
often communicated and offends Hindus. Testimonies must be given
with evident humility, and with love and esteem for Hinduism.
5. Do not speak quickly on hell, or on the fact that Jesus is the
only way for salvation. Hindus hear these things as triumphalism and
are offended unnecessarily. Speak of hell only with tears of
compassion. Point to Jesus so that it is obvious he is the only way,
but leave the Hindu to see and conclude this for himself, rather
than trying to force it on him.
6. Never hurry. Any pushing for a decision or conversion will do
great harm. God must work, and the Holy Spirit should be given
freedom to move at his own pace. Even after a profession of Christ
is made, do not force quick changes regarding pictures of gods,
charms, etc. Be patient and let a person come to full conviction in is
own mind before taking action.
7. Do not force Christian ideas into passages of Hindu scripture. We
must be scrupulously honest in interpreting the scriptures of all
religions, and must diligently study the larger context of all
quotations. There are abundant points of contact between Christian
and Hindu scriptures on broad thematic issues; claiming references
to Christ where none exist only hurts our credibility.
8. There must be no sectarian Christian appeal. Denominationalism is
deadly, and pushing small doctrines will stunt growth and offend
9. There must be no pretense or pretending. The suggestions
made here must be honestly applied and fully embraced
from the heart. To take these ideas merely as a strategy in
evangelism, but ignore them in the rest of our life
and thinking, would be a sin against God and would lead to
1. Work into your life the traditional Hindu (and biblical) values
of simplicity, renunciation, spirituality, and humility, against
which there is no law. A life reflecting the reality of "a still
quiet soul" (Psalm 131) will never be despised by Hindus.
2. Empathize with Hindus. Appreciate all that is good,
and be truly sad about error and sin (as sad as you are
about error and sin in Christianity). Learn to think as the
Hindu thinks, and feel as he feels.
3. Know Hinduism, and each individual Hindu. It will
take some study to get a broad grasp of Hinduism, and
patient listening will be required to understand where in the
spectrum each Hindu stands. Both philosophical and
devotional Hinduism should be studied with the aim of
understanding what appeals to the Hindu heart. Those
who move seriously into Christian work among Hindus need
to become more knowledgeable in Hinduism than Hindus
themselves are. Some study of the Sanskrit language
will prove invaluable.
Remember the biblical pattern from Acts 17 of
introducing truth to the Hindu from his own tradition, and only
secondarily from the Bible. For example, the biblical
teaching on sin is repulsive to many modern Hindus,
but their own scriptures give an abundance of similar
testimony. Bridge from Hindu scripture to the Bible
4.,Be quick to acknowledge failure. Defending wrong
practices in the church and Western Christianity only
indicates we are more concerned for our religion than
we are for truth.
5. Center on Christ. He only can win the hearts of
total loyalty to himself. In your life and speech so center
on him that all see in your life that God alone is worth
living for. Hinduism is often called
"God-intoxicated," and the Hindu who lives at all in this frame
mind is put off by Christian emphases on so many details to the
neglect of the "one thing that is needed" (Lk. 10:42).
6. Be quick to acknowledge mystery and lack of full
understanding. The greatest of thinkers know almost
nothing about God, and the Hindu appreciates those who have a
deep sense of the mystery of God and life. Don't pretend
you understand and can explain John 1:18, 1Timothy 1:17;
6:16, etc., but point a Hindu to these profound truths and
to our need to bow before God and his word.
7. Share your testimony, describing your personal
experience of lostness and God's gracious forgiveness
and peace. Don't claim to know God in his majesty and
fullness, but share what you know in your life and experience.
This is the supreme approach in presenting Christ to the
Hindu, but care must be taken that our sharing is
appropriate. To shout on a street corner, or share at every seeming
opportunity is offensive. What God does in our lives
is holy and private, only to be shared in intimacy to
those who will respect the things of God and his work in our
8. Lead in prayer and worship together with your Hindu
friend. Hinduism has a grand tradition of deep
spirituality, and so it is only by deeply spiritual
means that we can expect to bring Hindus to the feet of
Jesus Christ. Worship in spirit and truth and communion with
God in prayer will open our Hindu friends to the riches of
the spirituality available to the followers of Christ.
This is the atmosphere most conducive to the Holy Spirit's
work of bringing Hindus into discipleship to Jesus.
A Hindu who professes faith in Christ must be helped
as far as possible to work out the meaning of that commitment
in his own cultural context. Often a new follower of
Christ is ready to adopt any and every practice of Western
Christians, and needs to be taught what is essential
and what is secondary in Christian life and worship. For
example, it can be shown that the Eastern practice of
removing shoes in a place of worship has strong
biblical precedence despite the fact that shoes are worn in
A new believer should be warned against making an
abrupt announcement to his or her family, since that inflicts
great pain and inevitable produces deep
Ideally, a Hindu will share each step of the
pilgrimage to Christ with his or her family, so that there is no
surprise at the end. An early stage of the communication, to be
reaffirmed continually, would be the honest esteem for
Indian/Hindu traditions in general that the disciple
of Christ can and does maintain.
Approaching Hindus on these lines does not result in
quick conversions and impressive statistics. But a hearing
will be gained from some who have refused to listen to
traditional Christian approaches. And new disciples of
Christ can be taught to deal more sensitively with
their contexts, allowing them to maintain an ongoing witness
to their family and society. As the leaven of the gospel
is allowed to work in Hindu minds and society, a harvest
is sure to follow in God's own time.
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