20 March, 2008

Churches in India Divided over Federal Vision

Remunda, India - For over 10 years pastor Isia Cinjam has led a small flock of Christian believers in the little Indian village of Remunda. He became a believer almost 20 years ago when he encountered Australian missionaries in his home city of New Delhi. After working in the church there for several years he felt a strong calling to take the gospel to some of the unreached peoples in his country. So moved to the small, remote village of Remunda in India's east, not far from the coastline of the Indian Ocean. For about 5 years he lived among the people, every day sharing with them the good news of the gospel.

"One by one God opened hearts," Cinjam told TBNN. "I labored for so long with no results and then suddenly one day people began to show up at my house asking me about the gospel, asking me about Jesus. People wanted to become Christians!"

Almost overnight Cinjam's church began to grow until he had 30 converts regularly coming to services and being discipled. For the last 10 years he has seen members come and go, but a steady flow of new converts has kept him encouraged. But recently, a controversy has arisen within his church that now threatens to divide his small congregation.

"A new pastor named Aakash Chatura moved to Remunda about two years ago to start a work here," said Cinjam. "At first, I had no problem with this. There are many many lost people here who need the gospel, and I cannot do all of the work myself. I tried to work with him, and at first our relationship was good, but then I began to notice some of my people leaving our congregation and going to work with this other man. Soon they began to tell me strange things about baptism and communion."

It was not long before Cinjam became acquainted with a doctrinal system he had never heard of before known as the "Federal Vision." Cinjam is now concerned because the new teachings threaten to divide his church and the Christian believers in the village.

"We don't get anything productive done anymore it seems" said Cinjam. "Every time we get together for Bible study an argument starts about paedo-communion or the efficacy of the sacraments. Just the other day two of our brothers Narendra and Parmeet spent two hours arguing about the inner-trinitarian covenant and the visible and invisible church. When it was all over Narendra was accusing Parmeet of being a sacerdotalist! It really got ugly."

For now Cinjam does not know what he is going to do exactly.

"I'm trying to maintain peace amongst my people and keep my small church together, but it's getting harder and harder. Pastor Chatura keeps giving my people all of these strange books, and the latest is some book by a guy named N.T Wright about Paul. I just pray for wisdom in these matter."

9 comments:

mhgood said...

Oh, too true! My parents are missionaries in India (they teach at a Bible college in Hyderabad) and they see this sort of thing all the time. Some are focused on just winning souls and starting "basic" churches. Then others come along and muddy up the waters by introducing "deep" doctrine and confusing theology to the people. I mean, why focus on crazy paradoxes like the doctrine of the Trinity, which may confuse the people, when you can just focus on Jesus and His love for mankind? Much simpler.

Tom said...

I can't tell if this was meant to be specific to the FV issue, or more generally appropriate to all confessionally sophisticated theologies.

We could just as easily imagine Narendra and Parmeet arguing endlessly over whether Parmeet’s infant son should be baptized or not.

Veritas Valebit said...

mhgood,

Of course we should teach people doctrine (especially the fundamentals such as the Trinity, penal substitution, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone), but people aren't always ready for certain doctrines right away. And, of course, our ultimate goal should be to lead people to Christ, not to convince them of certain deep and controversial doctrines.

Richard Boyce said...

Don't you guys get it? If it's not a simple doctrine found easily on the surface of a single verse, than it's probably not doctrine, but rather man's system of theology.


Take Calvinism, for example. If you can't find me one verse that says that Jesus DIDN'T die for the non-elect, than I'll be a Calvinist. Until then, I'll continue letting Scripture like John 3:16 speak for itself.

And the trinity? Um, I don't recall seeing that word, either.


:-)

mhgood said...

I think the main gist of the post, and my subesquent satirical comment, is that there should be a balance. Yes, souls should be won, and yes, doctrine should be preached, but one or the other shouldn't be done exclusively, to the detriment to the other. Right?

Team Tominthebox News Network said...

mhgood,

I agree with you completely. This post was not about remaining ignorant of doctrine, but about Federal Vision theology which I'm not a fan of. I'm all for doing good theology, but I do tend to get annoyed with the hair-splitting theological naval gazing that goes on while the lost are perishing.

-Tom

Jim Pemberton said...

Richard,

I'm not picking on you, but I have a larger point here with regards to the post. Using your logic, you should not be an anti-Calvinist either because John 3:16 hermeneutically doesn't support either one. That's not the purpose or the import of that passage in context. The answer to disunity through theological discourse is grace. If you're not gracious, you're not teaching it. The problem is that so many people, tired of the rhetoric, allow their theological consideration to devolve into anti-intellectualism. Thus, there is a need for Christian intellectuals who know how to use grace in humility to encourage Christians to greater understanding of the riches of God's grace.

Richard Boyce said...

Jim, to know me is to love me. My John 3:16 comment was a spoof. That said, there is great insight in yours. Grace truly is lacking in Christian circles, mine included.



Tom, I'm curious: "the lost are perishing."

This comment is distinctly non-Reformed. Was that intentional...?

Darrin said...

Tom, does FV have a foothold in the PCA? A former member of that denomination first told me about it. I still haven't figured out exactly what it is, but I think that may be one of its goals!

Richard, not to speak for Tom, but I think his statement is not necessarily non-Reformed, though you'd more likely here it from such. God saves whom He will, but we are to be obediently about the means of evangelism. The comment can result in conviction of our negligence, without the panic that often accompanies Arminian evangelistic preaching.