The Rev Dr Johnson Thomaskutty, my friend at Serampore College, India, has asked me to publicise a significant new book on Chrtistian mission in India, which I am happy to do.
Serampore Mission: Perspectives in Contexts
Edited by Johnson Thomaskutty
The Serampore College—one of the historical institutions in India, founded by the initiatives of William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward in 1818—celebrated its bicentenary year in 2018. The Serampore College as a well established educational institution reached its current status by crossing several historical milestones and achieving national and international acclamations such as the Royal Charter of Incorporation (1827) and the confirmation of the Charter by the Bengal Government Act IV (1918).
In the current book, the biblical, historical, hermeneutical, theological, missional, ministerial, and contextual disciplines of the Serampore Mission movement are integrally analyzed from multiple perspectives. The contemporary outlook and significance of the movement are investigated in closer relationship with faith, scripture, and theology. As the nation of India advances as a global community, the book attempts to revisit and re-interpret the basic principles and strategies of the Serampore Mission from multiple vantage points.
Through the consultation, we ultimately attempted to revisit the Serampore Mission from a holistic perspective and to develop ideas for contemporary application. The Biblical and hermeneutical, linguistic and translational, theological and ethical, historical and ecumenical, dialogical and religious, ecological and contextual, and missional and ministerial aspects of the movement were examined with a key focus on their significance in today’s life-situation. It was also an attempt to fill the gap between the contexts of the Serampore Mission in its own Sitz im Leben and the contemporary realities of the twenty-first century CE with the help of hypothetical brainstorming and critical investigations.
The missionary movement in Serampore and in the extended Indian sub-continent under the leadership of William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward and the establishment of the Serampore College were key initiatives in the history of Christianity in India. The unique contributions of Hannah Marshman as a woman, who endeavored hard in the movement, enable us to think beyond the traditional boundaries of the “Trio” to the wider level of the “Quartet.” The mission’s contributions to the academic world, ecclesiastical contexts, and the society as a whole need to be acknowledged with high esteem and at the same time re-evaluated in order to derive new meanings for the twenty-first century missionary, ministerial, and academic exercises.
This book is an attempt to answer some of the significant questions such as: First, how do we understand the Christian identity in the contemporary socio-political and multi-religious context of India? Second, how can the missional and ministerial tasks of the church be integrated with the combined efforts of missiologists, biblical scholars, educators, historians, religious scholars and theologians? Third, what are the challenges we confront in India today to consider the missional, ministerial, and hermeneutical aspects with greater priority? Fourth, how significant is the Serampore Mission in the contemporary Indian context? How does it continue to influence the academic world, the Church, and the general public? And fifth, how do the contributions of the Serampore missionaries continue to influence Christian communities in their witness, mission, and evangelism? As we flip through the pages of the book, the above stated questions shall enable us to fathom the realities with a contemporary outlook.
The title Serampore Mission: Perspectives in Contexts requires some explanation. The usage “Serampore Mission” is an overarching expression to understand the contributions of the missionaries as biblical expositors, theologians of their own times, vernacular linguists and translators, educators with deep impression, ministerial and missional experts, botanists, liberators, social transformers, founders and administrators, editors and publishers, and the like. The virtue of versatility and multifaceted missional and ministerial strategies of the missionaries are explored here with vigor for further reflection and action. The usage of the term “Perspectives” enables the readers to fathom deep into how scholars from multiple vantage points deliberated their views concerning the contributions of the Serampore missionaries. Moreover, the authors of the essays are experts in different fields of studies and they reflect their views about the Serampore Mission with profundity and brilliance.
As the Serampore missionaries perceived the reality of God, human struggles, and the cosmic order from a transformative and liberative point of view, it is our task to conceptualize and systematize their contributions with a holistic outlook and a paradigmatic perception. In that way, we can transform our present struggles and future hopes based on the past axioms of the missionaries. The term “Contexts” is used with a broader spectrum of understanding in order to reconstruct the views from multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-denominational, and multi-lingual contexts of the nation. The authors here represent diverse contexts and with multiple perspectives to invigorate the mission and ministry of the Serampore missionaries.
Johnson Thomaskutty, ed., Serampore Mission: Perspective in Contexts. ISPCK, 2019. ISBN-10: 9388945069. ISBN-13: 978-9388945066. Pbk. pp.338.