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Ecumenical Church and Religious Conversion

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In this article, Lalsangkima Pachuau responds to contemporary accusations in India that Christian missionaries are forcing conversions, and thereby turning Indians away from their culture. While the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to "propagate" religion, and therefore to accept the movement from one religion (e.g. Hinduism) to another (e.g. Christianity), what is important to understand that "conversion" is not primarily a call to move from one religion to another--much less to abandon one's culture--but is a movement away from self and the "world" toward God. Conversion understood as "changing religions" is much more the product of seventeenth and eighteenth century evangelicalism than it is a true understanding of the Bible. Mission is always about conversion, and entails the invitation to enter the Christian community; such invitation, however, should always be distinguished from a proselytism that only focuses on a change of religious allegiance.

Affiliations: 1: United Theological College, Bangalore, India


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