India - (Asia)

Información sobre India

New Delhi
3287365 kilómetros cuadrados
Hindu 80%, Muslim 14%, Christian 2.4%, Sikh 2%, Buddhist 0.7%, Jains 0.5%, other 0.4%
Cristianos (%)
Protestantes (%)
Reformados (%)

According to a widely held tradition Christianity came to India through the apostle Thomas. In any case, the Christian faith reached India at a very early time, facilitated by the maritime trade which existed between India and the Mediterranean region. RCath missionaries began to work in India in the context of the Portuguese colonial enterprise. They were followed by the Angl in the context of British domination of India.
The Prot witness began in 1706 at Tranquebar with the arrival of two German Luth missionaries Batholomäus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Plutschen. They came as a result of the pietist revival movement in Northern Europe. The Tranquebar mission engaged in the translation and printing of the Bible and, after 1719, started to attack the caste system. The English Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) worked closely with the Luth mission.
In the early 19th century several newly formed mission societies established themselves in the country. In 1800, the Baptist Missionary Society initiated work in Serampore. The Bapt were active in many fields — translation of the Bible in several Indian languages, printing Bibles, books, and newspapers, protesting against infant sacrifices and the burning alive of Hindu widows. They were the first to introduce theological education; the theology department of Serampore College was opened in 1820. Other British mission societies followed — the London Missionary Society, Church Missionary Society, and Wesleyan Methodist Society. After the removal of restrictions on non-British societies in 1833 they were joined by continental European societies. The first among them were the Basel Mission, which started work in South Kanara on the West Coast in 1834, and the Luth Leipzig Mission, which became active in Tranquebar and Tamilnadu in 1841. In 1813 the ABCFM began work in Bombay, in 1831 it extended its activities to Ahmednagar, and in 1841 it started its Madura Mission in South India. Several other American mission societies set foot on Indian soil - American Presb in Punjab (1834) and Uttar Pradesh (1838), American Bapt in Andhra Pradesh and Assam (1836), American Luth in Northern Circars and Andhra Pradesh (1842). All these missions contributed to the spread of education for women and had considerable influence through schools and colleges.
After 1870, almost all Christian missions experienced a rapid growth in membership. The converts came from outcast groups which opted in large numbers for Christianity in order to move out of the caste system which denied them human dignity. They came from tribal or indigenous groups such as the Orans, Munda, and Kolha in Chota Nagpur, from aboriginal people such as the Santals in Bengal and Bihar, the Gonds and Bhils in Central India, and the Konds and Panis in Orissa, the Garo, Naga, Khasi-Jaintia, Lushai, and others in Assam, the Nadars in Tirunavelly and Kanyakumari, the Adi-Dravidas and Chakkaliyana in Tamilnadui, the Adi-Andhras (such as the Malas and Madigas) in Andhra Pradesh, the Adi-Karnataks (such as the Holeyas, Pulayas, Kuravas, and Ezhavas) in Kerala, the Mongs and Mahars in Maharastra, the Mazabi Sihks, Chamars, and Chuhras in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The result of these conversion movements was that, today, Assam and northeast India rank with Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Andhra Pradesh as the regions where the Christian population of the country is chiefly concentrated. Mass conversion became possible because Christianity was seen as fighting against social evils and for the rights of the downtrodden.
As missionaries witnessed to the Gospel in a multireligious context they increasingly felt the need for cooperation. Interdenominational missionary conferences started as early as 1855. The series of decennial conferences which began in 1872 contributed to the convening of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910. YMCA, YWCA, the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM), and the Student Christian Movement (SCM) played a significant role in promoting collaboration among Christians. Church Union became a central theme of Indian Christianity in the latter 19th century.
Ref Churches were particularly active in this respect. The Presbyterian Churches in South India united in 1901, thus bringing together the American Arcot Mission and the two Scottish Presb Missions (Church of Scotland and Free Church of Scotland). In 1904 this church united with several Presb churches in North India to form the Presbyterian Church of India. The Madras Arcot group indicated that it would prefer an interdenominational union in the South if this should become possible. In 1905, the Congreg of the LMS and the American Madura Mission in Tamilnadu established a loose federation. In 1908, the first interdenominational union took place, bringing together Presb and Congreg in the South and in the Jaffna District (which is today part of Sri Lanka). In 1919, the Basel Mission joined the union. Finally, on September 27, 1947, after years of negotiations, the Church of South India (CSI) was inaugurated, bringing together all major traditions of the Reformation. A parallel movement took place in North India, leading in 1924 to the formation of the United Church of North India, again a union of Presb and Congreg. Union negotiations of a wider scope started in 1929 and lasted till 1965; in 1970 the Church of North India (CNI) was inaugurated in Nagpur. The CSI and CNI have declared communion with the Mar Thoma Church and have established the CSI-CNI–Mar Thoma Joint Council.
The Lutheran Churches are united under the umbrella of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI). Pentecostalism began to spread in the first decade of the century, and the charismatic movement entered the scene after World War II.
As a small minority the churches in India have to struggle with the issue of identity. How can they maintain their Christian identity and profile? How can they serve the wider society without being overwhelmed and conquered by the religious majority of the country? What significance does conversion have in a pluralistic society? The churches represent parts of the population which, at least in the past, were exploited and oppressed. How can they today continue to be a church of the poor and bear a witness of solidarity with them? What role are they prepared to give to women? How can the churches overcome barriers of language, region, caste, and tribal community and develop a sense of the universality of the church?





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