Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nagaland Baptists

Nagaland house, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This is a house in Dimapur, which is the "commercial" capital of Nagaland, primarily because it is in the lower lying land and the train station is located here. In many ways it is very much like a typical "border" town where there is a mix of both Nagas and Indians.

I do not actually know too much about Nagaland, although I should, but in the context of the country banning The Da Vinci Code, both book and film, this week, I have been having a little look at 'the most baptist country in the world'. Apparently over 90% are baptists.

A hundred years ago, the Nagas were 'fierce' headhunters , illiterate and hostile, according to the very kind American missionaries, foremost among them being Dr Edward W. Clark. By some accounts, "the fruit of these early missionary efforts has been wonderful indeed: Naga tribal people wholeheartedly embraced the Gospel, evangelized their own people, and established churches and schools. Naga Baptists are extremely active in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ through the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), sending hundreds of their own missionaries and evangelists to work in other parts of India and in nearby countries." Dr Clark obviously did such good work, that one of his successors, Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern (US) Baptist Theological Seminary cheekily suggests that he has an idea that he and his wife sit close to Jesus in Heaven's throne room!

All good stuff, if you think it right that westerners should go round converting other people from their beliefs. But now there is a threat, worse even than the Da Vinci Code and that is that the Nagas are being “swamped by the encroaching typhoon of theological liberalism among American Baptists.”

“What an incredibly sad ending to one of the greatest mission societies in history. How easily the same thing could happen to us. It may not be good news to some, but I returned more the opponent of anything other than orthodoxy than I have ever been in my life.”, said Mr Patterson from the Southwestern Baptists, who lso makes the point that "the Naga people are vulnerable to charismatic teachings". Well, who'd have thought?

“Imbibed from some television preachers in the West", he said that Southern Baptists should pray that the Nagas are not too heavily influenced by such elements".

“Because they are so vital to reaching the unsaved population for thousands of miles around them, they must remain pure in doctrine and practice, and we must pray that India will not restrict them.”

Some ideas for prayers are as follows:

1. Please pray specifically for the end of fighting among the Nagas
and for them to show the whole world that, because of Christ in their lives, they live in peace.

2. Please pray for an end to the human rights violations as a result of the occupation of Nagaland by India.

Heaven forbid then that the Nagas become exposed to liberal Christian thought through the inflitration from these people! That the Nagas may in fact develop their own ideas about their religion. That would never do. Fire and brimstone, that's what they need.

In the meantime, I wish the Nagas well in their search for peace amongst themselves and with their neighbours.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather, Rev. Bengt Anderson, was one of the missionaries to the Naga people. He and my grandmother were in Nagaland from 1926 to the 1950's. I have their journals, many photos and even archival footage and I am amazed by their story. It's a shame that the Naga people are vulnerable to charismatic evangelists...they know so little about the rest of the world. Pray that they remain pure and pray for an end to the civil war that still rages between India and the Naga people.

09 November, 2006 09:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an Architect from Nagaland and I stumbled upon your blog by chance. You are correct in mentioning that Nagas are vulnerable to charismatic teachings. Less than a century back, Nagas were headhunters- not all tribes though..and now we are a part of a developing nation. What is disturbing here is that the transition had been too abrupt for my people to comprehend. The advent of Christianity was in a way harmful too. the Traditional Artworks and motifs - centuries old- were collected and burnt as the missionaries dictated that these were symbols of paganism. Nagas don't have scripts so our histories were recorded in graphical woodcarvings, human hair, skulls; all had histories recorded on them. I have nothing against the missionaries since they were motivated and charged with their own beliefs and convictions...i am just narrating an unfortunate incident. We Nagas, are still at a crossroad. Christian Ideas sometimes bordering on fanaticism continue to create division. The traditional values were diluted and lost in the transition.
But then, all is not lost. We are slowly picking up the pieces, tracing the past and reconciling with one another. The Naga society has become more conscious and more tolerant. We are still excited about Missionaries with Fundamental Ideology but we are learning not to catch every banana that they throw.
We thank you for your concern and if you want, I can send you some photos of Nagaland and its people. You also can try a youtube search on Nagaland Hornbill Festival

11 February, 2008 07:49  

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