Religion - Christianity



(Extempore Speech)

(Inaugural Address)

Chairman Sir, Dr. Raman, Professor Afonso, distinguished scholars and friends.

In the first place I would like congratulate Professor Chattopadhyayaji for having conceived a huge programme of research where history of science, philosophy and culture in Indian civilisation is being studied both in wideness and in its depth. India has been rightly regarded as a laboratory, a laboratory where problems of the world can be crystallised at one point so that microscopically each aspect of the problem can be studied in depth to arrive at a kind of synthetical solution. One of the important problems of the world is the presence of number of religions and this presence of variety of religions is a stimulation even a challenge to all the religious fields of world.

Why should there come about a number of religions? People speak of historical reasons but also at a deeper level, the founders of religions have been declared to be those who have discovered the truth and propounded the truth and given truth for mankind and our normal idea is that the truth is something singular and this where the problem arises for philosophers of religions. If truth is singular then those who claim to have discovered the truth should all agree on what has been discovered but this is not the case. Therefore, for philosophers of religions there is a step to be taken and that step is to be dealt with all the concern not in the spirit of polemics. It is much easier to be inimical but the spirit of inquiry, the spirit of largeness, in which the problem is discussed with all kinds of commitment of harmony and this is what I think has happened in India in particular where so many religions co-exists, all the world religions are congregated in India in a very powerful manner.

In regard to Christianity, there are three important items which need to be looked into in depth. First, there is the immortal life of Christ, the immortal work of Christ, and immortal words of Christ. The personality of Christ as Christians believe it is a divine personality. It is God himself who has come on the earth as son of God but a son of God who is one with the Father and he has come on the earth to give a message and not only to give a message but to represent divine action in the history of the earth so that mankind may be uplifted and may be shown the path of salvation. His life is the life of tremendous love. It is a state of consciousness which symbolised in that final act of Christ where he washes the feet of his disciples. This is his spirit. He has not come here to command but to serve and he is prepared to do any kind of sacrifice even to give his blood for the sake that the truth is established. In fact this is the question which has remained in the world what is truth and the charge against him was  is it truth that he is the king and he answer was that he has spoken the truth and for that reason he had to give his body and he was crucified. The crucifixion of Christ, according to me, is one of the most momentous events in the world history. It has been force of humanisation of humanity. Humanity which is normally barbaric, primitive in the words of Hobbs, selfish, and brutish and short. This humanity is humanised by this one act of crucifixion. This I think is the sum and substance very briefly of what I think is the divine significance of Jesus Christ.



And then there is the question of immortal words of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount and various messages that he has given to those who followed him, those whom he served, those for whom he performed miracles so as to declare he had come to give a message of salvation to the people of the earth and three important messages we can derive from his immortal words are first, love thy neighbours as thyself, one of the most difficult things in the world as Bernard Shaw said only thing that is difficult is that you cannot love your neighbour. You can love everybody else and yet it is this.

The second is, that in utter humility, utter meekness, in a state of being an utter child that you can enter into heaven. This message of utter humility. And the third is, be thou as perfect as thy father in heaven is perfect, this message of perfectibility of man, the perfectibility in the image of God. I think that these are three great messages should be underlined while studying Christianity. But this is one of aspect of the study.

The second aspect is the philosophy of Christianity, theology of Christianity naturally it is an interpretation of Christ, his life and his works and his words, -- one of the most difficult things in terms of philosophy. Philosophy utilise the intellect as the instrument of search for the truth and as judgement of the truth, finds it very difficult to sustain the basic propositions of Christ. The mystery of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and their interrelationship, how intricate is to understand this mystery and that is why in Christianity we have a tremendous discussion of revelation and reason and the conflict between the two and the necessity to declare the limitations of reasons so that there is an acceptance of revelation. Right or wrong it is a different question and it requires a great philosophical debate but it is a question which has got to be addressed not only by theologians of Christianity but all. It is a philosophical question in itself and no philosopher can avoid this question.

The second important question the relationship between God and Man, God and Earth, the question of freedom given to Man and the idea of freedom in Christianity and freedom as the source of the possibility of the rise of evil and reconciliation of God, Man and Evil and the dilemma that is faced by Christianity if God is omnipotent we could have avoided evil or destroyed evil not even allowed the rise of evil. But if he is good and able to do it, he is not omnipotent, he may be good but not omnipotent, the dilemma of omnipotence and goodness and the conflict between the two is one the very important questions for Christian theology. And according to me for all philosophy of religions and for philosophy of culture of itself, this great question freedom and its relationship with evil and the possibility of alienation of evil from this world. The entire philosophy of sin, the sin of man, the idea of original sin of man.



Finally there is a question of the history of Christianity; Christianity as an institution; Christianity as an authority contained in the Bible; Christianity as epitomised in the Pope and Christianity in the authority of the entire Church. This is a very important issue — the organisational religion. And then there is the question of the spread of Christianity and the method of spread of Christianity and the idea of conversion in Christianity and the various issues which lie at the root. If truth is known, it must be given to the people, how can it be hidden and if it is to be given, it is to be given by all possible means so that truth is spread. This is the basic philosophy underline the whole idea of spread of Christianity.

And then the coming of Christianity in India and the story of this encounter with Hinduism and with other religions which have developed in India and the problems are confronted today in the contemporary India and need for everyone to understand the truth of Christianity, the truth of Hinduism, the truth of Islam, truth of Zoroastrianism, the truth of Jainism and the truth of Buddhism and others, Judaism also.

I am very happy that Professor Afonso has in his programme dwelt into many of these problems and it is a very stimulating programme and I think these problems will be dealt with due concern and in considerable depth. One day is nothing for discussing these very important problems and I am sure that we shall at least enter into these problems to certain extent. We are full of expectations and I feel that this is a very good starting point for a new dialogue on this very important issue.


Back to Content