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Ecumenism in Praxis

A Historical Critique of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church


Joseph Daniel

The Malankara Mar Thoma Church’s ecumenical outlook – marked by twin facets of openness and autonomy – has been the underlying ethos guiding its history, helping it to establish a unique identity. The book retells the church’s ecumenical history dating back to its founding in 52 CE. This study throws ample light on the period between the significant changes of 1889 and the present times. It deals with questions such as: How did the church start practising an ecumenical outlook even before the word ecumenism was coined? Could this have resulted from the church’s interaction with Indian culture that upholds unity in diversity?
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Chapter XIV


Quest for The ‘Kingdom’

The next important stage in the ecumenical praxis of the Mar Thoma Church, simultaneously with its “conciliar” model of ecumenical engagements with the CSI and CNI, was its response to the “Kingdom of God” mission paradigm that emerged in the ecumenical movement. Ecumenical programmes also emerged after the post-World War II period, for the social, political and economic reconstruction of the world.765 The Mar Thoma Church responded to it by adopting a “Kingdom-of-God-centred mission thought”766 in its mission praxis during the second half of the twentieth century.

The new paradigm significantly shaped the church’s self-understanding of mission and this enabled the church to confirm “that the goal of mission is to be that of witnessing the Kingdom of God, rather than implementing the agenda of the church”.767 The socio-economic context of post-Independent India appeared to the Mar Thoma Church as a fertile soil to plant its “Kingdom-of-God-centred” mission programmes by way of social services initially and later through establishing a Development Department. This was “to strive for a community of communities, where injustice and poverty no longer exists”.768 Here’s an insight into the response of the Mar Thoma Church to the “kingdom-centred” ecumenical programmes – “responsible society”, “just, participatory and sustainable society” and “justice, peace and the integrity of creation”. ← 241 | 242 →

Implementation of such programmes in India would potentially be of considerable pedagogical and practical benefits to support my view of the Mar Thoma Church being open...

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