Resourcing and Developing Christian Apologetics in South Asia: Exploring sustainable resourcing of indigenous and emerging Asian mission movements and the potential for partnerships.

Author: Asif Mall is a Christian apologist and an evangelist from Pakistan, working in the UK.

Abstract:

Exploring sustainable resourcing of indigenous and emerging
Asian mission movements and the potential for partnerships

Why is Christian Apologetics Necessary in South Asia?
Apologetics & Polemics is deeply ingrained in the very psyche, tradition and culture of South Asians in general, particularly amongst those who adhere to the religion of Islam. As a South Asian from Pakistan, I can say that we South Asians have the Athenian syndrome, which is to discuss new ideas about everything, especially about faith issues. The dynamics of these discussions change and vary, depending upon whether the discussion is in relation to inclusive religions like Hinduism & Buddhism or some exclusive religions like Judaism, Christianity & Islam. The way Christian apologetics is used in relation to Hinduism would be quite different from when it is applied during dialogue with Islam; though primarily the underlying Biblical principle would stay the same.
The inclusive nature of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism means they don‟t seem to have the same wavelength of polemics against Christianity as Islam. A Hindu has not much problem in accepting Jesus as God, as it is a matter of adding Jesus to the 160 million Hindu gods; they might even tell you that you can be a Hindu and a Christian at the same time. For a Buddhist, there is no dichotomy in being a Christian and a Buddhist at the same time; because Buddha is a stage of enlightenment and they are happy to accept Jesus as one of their Buddhas. Because of their inclusive nature these religions are not as evangelistic as Christianity & Islam, and definitely not as polemical towards Christianity as Islam.
Both Christianity and Islam are very exclusive faiths, with very little if at all any grey areas. You are either in or you are out!! If you profess to be a Christian or a Muslim, then you can‟t be something else at the same time. Gnostics tried syncretising Christianity with pantheism, but they failed; similar efforts for syncretising Islam were made by the Mughal emperor, Jalal-ul-Din Akbar, but they weren‟t successful either. Today we read about Gnosticism and Akbar‟s Deen-e-Elahi only in history books, as neither of them has any known followers. Both Christianity & Islam claim to have the ultimate truth, which makes them inherently evangelistic in nature, as they both feel that it is their duty to propagate and defend their God given truth. This kind of exclusivity combined with a divine evangelistic mandate often brings the both religions into confrontation all over the world and South Asia is no exception in this matter. During the last couple of hundred years, South Asia has seen many Muslim polemicists, who have mainly targeted Christianity in their effort to try to make Islam win by default. It is not surprising at all that most of the Christian apologetics in South Asia have also been focussed mainly on answering the Muslim objections to Christianity. For this reason, as we discuss about Christian apologetics in South Asia, the main thrust of our focus in this paper will stay on Christian Muslim apologetics.

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