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Holistic Spiritual Conflict in the Context of Folk Hinduism

المؤلف: Cody C. Lorance
التاريخ: 04.11.2010
Category: معتقدات العالم, الجماعات البشرية التي لم تصلها الرسالة, Social Justice

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Good News for the Folk Hindu

          A critical task for missionaries is to discover in a given culture exactly where sin has taken hold of the society and the souls of its members.  It is precisely at this point—where the Gospel may be understood by its hearers as good news—that the message of Jesus Christ must be vigorously proclaimed. For the innumerable folk Hindus in India and throughout the ever-growing Hindu diaspora, that point is where the Gospel offers deliverance from the fear of a capricious and chaotic spirit-world through the powerful and triumphant blood of the risen Christ. 

     In this study I will be examining humanity’s interaction with the spirit-world as it is commonly understood among folk Hindus.  In so doing, I will specifically explore one of the most common forms of spiritual affliction in folk Hinduism, the phenomenon of pēy possession.  I will then suggest how Christian missionaries should attempt to make sense of these types of spiritual afflictions.  In a final section, I will present a model for mission advance that relies on holistic spiritual conflict as a primary method for making disciples of Jesus Christ in a folk Hindu context.  

The Phenomenology of Spiritual Affliction among Folk Hindus

      The fact of Hindu polytheism is one that is well-known.  Ranging from the high, pan-Hindu deities such as Siva and Vishnu to those more culturally-specific such as Murugan among the Tamilians and Swaminarayan among the Gujaratis, the Hindu gods populate thousands of temples and millions of shrines throughout the world.  Analogous to this pantheon, however, there exists an equally crowded world of local deities, demons, malevolent spirits, and ghosts.  It is for most folk Hindus an imminent spirit-world relevant to the day-to-day issues of life and impacting the whole of society.  Charles Hoole has explained that the common Hindu understands the world as riddled with spirits, “a world full of chaos and terror” (1997, p. 67).  Wayne McClintock characterized the spirit world of folk Hindus as consisting of a “vast army of demons and ghosts” (1990, p. 40).  By this McClintock meant only that there were an innumerable amount of such spirit-beings.  However, the metaphor is a useful one for other reasons as well. 

     Like the members of an army, the spirit-beings of folk Hinduism can be said to have differing ranks and jurisdictions with corresponding powers and authorities.  This hierarchy is detectable in the various ways folk Hindus deal with each type of spirit-being.  For example, at the bottom of this authority structure are the numerous ghosts of those humans who suffered inauspicious deaths such as by murder, accident, execution, or suicide.  Known as pēys[i], these spirits can be captured and controlled by shamans who use them to perform supernatural feats and to send various kinds of afflictions upon others (MacPhail, 2002, 148).  More powerful local deities are often channeled by mediums in order to drive away pēys in a sort of power encounter.  These same gods, however, are powerless against such roaming deities as the Seven Sisters who are thought to “stalk the countryside decimating the population” by inflicting disease and disaster (Hiebert, 1983, p. 95).  The only recourse against such powerful and capricious goddesses is to placate them through sacrificial offerings, ceremonial worship, and the construction of shrines and temples.  Reigning atop this spiritual hierarchy are the high gods of Hindu orthodoxy who are sought out for protection from a wide range of evils.  In the attached diagram (diagram 1.pdf), I have attempted to briefly present the structure of the spirit-world of folk Hinduism. 

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كلمات مفتاحية: spiritual warfare, spiritual conflict, Hinduism, folk religion, contextualization

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رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني christopherhaymes (1)
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Along with Mojoe I am in applause over this writing.  I always think back to a doctor and his/her method of diagnosis.  For deep and extreme illnesses, there must be intense and intricate care given in order for that person to be made well.  I just don’t see this as a consistent plan from churches in taking part in the gospel message of making people whole-healed under the power of Christ of the infectious sin that has caused so much pain, loss, and in the end will cause destruction.  It seems that for too long the ailments that plague society have been swept under the bus in the guise of membership and programs.  We have to be willing to get down and dirty with those affected by specific sin and lies.  Like the doctor, we have to really be present with people in order to better promote not only Christ, but His healing and wholeness.


24.04.2011
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رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Cody_Lorance (13)   
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@ christopherhaymes:

Thanks for reading and commenting.  I would ammend what you’ve said about the need to "get down and dirty" slightly.  It is essential that we realize that we already are all "down and dirty" -- totally depraved, that is.  Blessings!


29.04.2011
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رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Mojoe (7)
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Cody,  Bravo!  I am writing a paper about this same issue in the Southern US using the same paradigm.  It sounds strange to think that this same idea occurrs in our society but the thoughts are universal.  We deal a lot with Santeria and variants.  The practitioners are actually members of local Christian churches who carry traditions of familial demonology and methods of protection and placation.  Although very difficult to explain to local pastors, it is affecting individuals and ministries en mass and still flying below the radar.

There are needs, not only for liberation, but for personal paradigm changes and healing from their past which often gets overlooked.  The message by the majority of ministries (in my humble opinion) is of salvation and church attendance, and then all problems are generically solved.  This just isn’t the case.  There are many issues which need very specific plans for success.

Thanks for a great post!


06.11.2010
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رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Cody_Lorance (13)   
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@ Mojoe:

Great Mojoe, I’m glad it was helpful in some ways to you.  Thank you for your comments.  Paul Hiebert would be a good person for you to read if you haven’t already.  What he says about "split-level" Christianity and the "excluded middle" might be very helpful to your context.


Blessings!


16.11.2010

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PhContributeBy Cody Lorance  
 
الموقع: Carol Stream
الدولة: الولايات المتحدة

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