A Bold and Creative Engagement in Hindu-Christian Dialogue
Godfrey Kesari’s book The Atonement Creating Unions: An Exploration in Inter-Religious Theology is a breath of fresh air for those intending to engage in a Hindu–Christian dialogue.
Kesari, based on personal experience in India and the UK, grapples with the concept of liberation as salvation within Hindu theology, and creatively engages with the Christian doctrine of atonement.
The book introduces Ramanuja, the popular 11th-century guru and his Visistadvaitic (qualified non-dualism) Hindu conception of liberation as salvation. It also presents an analysis of various models and theories on atonement from Western and Indian Christian theologians.
Though the author gives some weight to the penal substitutionary model and the representation model, he argues that all models of atonement are addressed to specific historical and geographical contexts.
Not surprisingly, the many atonement models fail to create any interreligious theology engagement. Kesari reconstructs the theology of atonement by proposing a Christian atonement model of four-fold unions that aligns with Ramanuja’s thought.
This bold attempt offers fresh insights to the theme of interreligious theology for Indian Christianity. It challenges us to make a serious effort to develop comparative doctrinal perspectives. Further, Kesari’s work can guide similar efforts, particularly with other Bhakti movements in India.
Dr Prasad D R J Phillips currently serves OCPRL as the Distance Learning Coordinator and Tutor with research interests in World Christianity, Missiology and Practical Theology.
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