Saturday, July 14, 2007

Theological and Philosophical Attacks on Christianity

Here is part 6 of Augurlion's article piblished in Mission Dei, a Journal of Mission and Evangelism of Myanmar Institute of Theology. The information presented here may not be fresh, nevertheless, I feel that what he points out are critical to the western missionary enterprise. Because of these criticisms, Asian missionaries can do missions in places that otherwise is impossible for the western missionaries to do. Read this article:

Most Christians, especially the conservatives, claim that Christian truth is unique and universal. But in the eyes of the non-Christians it is unreasonable and limited. From the Hindu perspective, Commitment to Christ represents only a particular way of devotion to the Reality. Hinduism is not an institution that bases on a specific dogma, but it is a polytheistic religion that allows various ways of approach to the Reality. The Hindus believe that "God has looks like tritheism." Islam also criticizes Christianity for not having a set of moral or Divine Law like Shari'a. Seyyed Hossein Nasr asserts: "Christianity is seen by the Muslims as a religion devoid of exotericism which then substitutes a message of an essentially esoteric, there by creating disequilibrium in human society."

Colonialism and Christian missionary attitudes have influenced the non-Christian views or assessment of Christianity. Both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant missionary movements were viewed as identical or related to Colonialism. Along with their colonial expansion, Spain and Portugal were given the responsibility to extend the Roman Catholic domain. Though the Protestant missionary movements that arose by the end of the eighteenth century could not be grouped together with colonialism, it resembled colonialism in one way or another. Along with Christianization, the Protestant missions introduced modernism and imposed Western culture that threatened the non-Western people of loosing their cultural and national identities. According to Andrew F. Walls, the mission awakening in the nineteenth century in Britain based on the belief of British people that they were the "chosen people." They believed that modernism and social progress in Britain were God's blessings. Therefore, they felt that they were responsible to evangelize the heathens and impose modernism and Christianity, which is their imperial religion.

The mission movement during the colonial era was basea on the concept of the expansion of the Christendom. Thus, Christianity was reviled and rejected by the non-Christians in Asia, whose adhered to Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Confucianism, and whose countries were subject to the colonial rule. Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), a Sinhalese Buddhist reformer, argues:
Semitic religions have neither psychology nor a scientific background. Judaism was an exclusive religion intended only for the Hebrews. It is a materialistic monotheism with Jehovah as the architect of a limited world. Christianity is a political camouflage. Its three aspects are politics, trade, and imperial expansion. Its weapons are the Bible, barrels of whisky, and bullets.
Christianity, therefore, was seen as the European tool for the expansion of Western hegemony over the colonized countries. Some Hindu critique showed their reverence to Jesus but strongly criticized the Christians and the missionaries for perverting Christianity and the teaching of Jesus. Keshub Chunder Sen, a famous Hindu leader, delivered a lecture in Calcutta in 1866 and stated:

I regard every European settler in India as a missionary of Christ, and I have a right to demand that he should always remember and act up to his high responsibility. But, alas! owing to the reckless conduct of a number of pseudo-Christians, Christianity has failed to produce any wholesome moral influence on my countrymen. Yea, their muscular Christianity has led many a native to identify the religion of Jesus with the power and privilege of inflicting blows and kicks with impunity... I must therefore protest against denationalization which is so general among native converts to Christianity. With the religion of their heathens forefathers, they generally abandon the manners and customs of their country, and with Christianity they embrace the usages of Europeans; even in dress and diet they assume as affected air of outlandishness, which estranges them from their own countrymen.
There were also Islamic antagonism to Christianity which was influenced by the stigma of the Muslims' experience of Western colonialism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The rise of Islam fundamentalism in 1950s was an attempt to re-assert Islamic identity against Western hegemony and Christianity. This anti-Christian movement based on the prejudice that Christianity has influenced the Western culture which "is self-evidently politically and militarily expansionist, morally corrupted, and religiously decadent." All these reactions certify that the Christian missionary movement or Christianization in history was seen only an expansion the Christendom and Western hegemony by the non-Christians in Asia. Christianization and modernization were only the factors that perverted the local cultures in the colonial countries. The rise of nationalism was a protest against Western hegemony that came along with Modernism and Christianity.

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