Monday, March 19, 2012

There is a terrific piece by Francis Clooney, S.J. on interfaith dialogue at America Magazine dealing with how he is understood in the Hindu world by some interpreters and what his task in interfaith relations is (or ought to be?) in his mind and the minds of others. Here is how he has been described by one commentator:

You may not know, however, that I am also, with some regularity, pilloried in the conservative Hindu blogosphere, by journalists concerned about Christian aggression against Hindus.
I have been described as a famed evangelist or, considering how positive my writings about Hinduism often seem to be, as a tricky Jesuit wolf in sheep’s clothing, covertly dedicated to the conversion of Hindus by the strategy of saying nice things about them. Consider for example a January 2012 post by Mr. Sandhya Jain. It sums me up in a brief statement: “Of course, [Clooney’s] priority is the conversion of pagan Hindus to Catholicism. To this end, he has steeped himself in the process of inculturation and drawn many intellectual Hindus into his interfaith orbit.” But read the whole item yourself.

Clooney does not dismiss this issue outright, though he rejects the categorizations given of him, and says:

While I think such comments are inaccurate, and wide of the mark, they do raise for me an inelegant question: After 40 years of studying Hinduism, learning from wise Hindu teachers, becoming friends with many a Hindu in India and the West – do I intend to convert Hindus? Mr Jain and others like him are good to raise the question: If you are a Christian and never preach the Gospel, what kind of Christian are you? So what have I done with the Christian imperative to evangelize?
He then goes on to consider the question of evangelization in the context of John 3 and John 3:16 particularly. I think he offers a compelling reading of John 3:16 in his own work and scholarship, and for Christians in general, so make certain to read the whole piece here.

John W. Martens

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