This brief article explores a Vision of Christianity in the world with a special reference to India. Christianity needs to refocus on propagating the pristine teachings of Christ, and not the doctrines and dogmas later developed over the years as tradition in the Church. While tradition can be immensely helpful, only the Gospels remain normative. Once persons learn the true and unadulterated teachings of Christ, they will live those teachings in the light of their conscience. Those who need guidance can be given further explanation or clarification. What is needed then are centers of guidance and retreats wherein thorough training in meditations and Christ’s teachings takes place. The whole present Church structure with its archaic training institutions need to be thoroughly overhauled in keeping with the discerned signs of the times to meet contemporary needs. Administrative centers, if required, need to have only a minimum juridical framework. Only those institutions such as hospitals, schools or colleges that can be maintained with the help of the communities in which they are need to continue. No institution needs to be tax-exempt. Clerical and hierarchical positions steeped in autocracy, with pompous ceremonial outfits, intended to exercise power and control, need to go. Advances in sciences, especially in medical fields, legal rights and trends, and space explorations, need to be evaluated in the context of the Kingdom of God. Christ from Chrestos in Greek meaning the Anointed (abhishikta) came to preach the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom of God is within each one of us (Luke 17: 21). Before establishing this Kingdom – a Kingdom of truth and justice, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, as well as mercy and compassion – repentance and a transformative change of heart (metanoia) are required. Any progress and development need to take into account the minimum needs of the poor and the down-trodden.
The program and mission of Christ, and the criteria for success are very clearly expressed in the New Testament of the Bible. As his mission Christ read a passage from the Old Testament as applying to him: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4: 18-19). St. Paul, the spokesman of Christ’s ministry clearly wrote: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, … and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, … be reconciled to God” (2nd Corinthians: 5: 17-21). The ideal way of carrying out the teachings of Christ is in a radical socialist or communist setting or structure as described in the Acts of the Apostles: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need (2: 44-45 & 4: 32). The last judgment (Matthew 25: 31-46) indicates the criteria of success of the ministry: feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick, and visiting those in prison. Christ in no uncertain terms also reminds us that when we do anything to the least of the human family we do it to him.
In the Indian context, Christ (Abhishikta) is the Logos (Word: Aadi Shabda) from the beginning of the world as mentioned in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. We can put the program of Christ in terms of the Vedanta (Hindu Scriptures). A human comes from anandam (bliss), is conceived in the sacred union of a committed man and a woman involving anandam that ends in climax (rati), and comes out into this world from the womb as an individual with a primal scream that is an indication of the child leaving the ideal climate of the womb. This human going from perfection to perfection has individuality, personality, totality, and reality. A person is unique, has many masks (persona), is part of a community (the universe), and reality. Nobody knows about reality for sure. We have only images or shadows of reality. We have our own ideas of God, conscience, and our own belief system. When we say Brahma Satyam, Jagat Mithya (God is the truth, the world is an illusion), we mean we are in this world but do not belong to this world in that this world is not real. We develop viveka (discernment or wisdom) and viragya, (detachment), shat-sampad (the six virtues: sama = calmness or control of mind, dama = control of the senses, uparati = renunciation of worldly activities, titiksha = endurance of opposite circumstances, sradda = faith, and samadhana = concentration of the mind), leading to mumukhshutva (liberation). The Christians believe that one dies and goes to heaven or a center of purification (purgatory) till beatific vision with God. The Hindus and Buddhists believe that one dies and is reborn until mumukshutva or nirvana (liberation). In the final analysis, all religions believe in some kind of heaven or liberation as the final end of humans. So it is of great importance that all spiritual leaders of good will to think of some ecumenical fellowship wherein all religions together have a minimum program of creative cooperation.
In the Gospel of John, Christ as Logos comes into the world, and denotes a descending theology. In the Nirvana Shatkam, Shankaracharya depicts us in beautiful Advaida (non-duality) terms as Chidananda Rupah (Blissful Consciousness). This denotes an ascending theology. Here God is the ocean, and we are the waves in the ocean. Waves are inseparable from the ocean. Pope Francis, for instance, considers himself to be a sinner as he stated to a recent reporter; I consider myself to be a privileged and graced child of God. Nonetheless, here we stand as equals in the stage of the Pilgrim Church embracing the whole world while proclaiming the Good News (Gospel and Vendanta) to anyone who is disposed to hear.