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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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It is an honor to write a foreword to this illuminating study on the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church (Mar Thoma Church). I have been privileged to advise the author, Joseph Daniel, during his stay at Berne until the completion of his competent and most impressive doctoral disputation in February 2014. As a doctoral student at the Theological Faculty of the University of Berne, he was exceptional in various respects. Far from limiting himself to academic study, he embodied the topic of his research in a holistic manner and practiced in a convincing way what he was writing about. As a missionary minded person, Joseph Daniel established and pastored a congregation of the Mar Thoma Church in Switzerland. At the same time, he also participated regularly at the worships of the Old Catholic Church in Berne. As an Indian abroad, he became a friend and partner in dialogue to foreigners from India representing diverse religious backgrounds. As a fellow student he shared his expertise of Indian Christianity and was appreciated as a spiritual friend accompanying students with his prayers. As an ecumenist he joined ecumenical conferences in Switzerland and abroad. All in all Joseph Daniel has left his mark in Berne as a living witness and transmitter of the Christian faith academically and practically, locally and internationally.

The book highlights the almost two millennia of Christian presence in India from an ecumenical and missional angle. That double perspective is exceptional compared with the current state of...

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