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Text and Context in Dialogue

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H-Scale for Hindu Contextualization

by H.L. Richard with additional comments by Mark Johnson

The seven-point scale below defines contextualization of gospel and church in the Hindu world. Where are you on the scale, and where should you be?

The H-scale is developed from the C-scale, a similar scale used for Islamic contexts. The C-scale focuses on Christ-centered communities in the Islamic world and how Muslims in Christ choose to relate to various types of churches.[1] In contrast, this H-scale mainly endeavors to define degrees of contextualization in the Hindu world.[2]

The central issues in Hindu contexts do not relate to culture, but to community. Thus even when H3 believers seek to integrate Hindu practices into biblical faith and life, true contextualization is lacking because they reject their birth community in favor of the "Christian" community. H4 believers, although little concerned with contextualization, are true to the most fundamental aspect of Hindu contexts because they recognize that remaining integrated with their birth community is essential.

As the definitions indicate, contextualized expressions of discipleship to Christ in Hindu contexts have not yet been deeply developed. This presentation is thus more an effort to define and encourage such efforts than to outline existing situations.


  1. This can be studied in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, second edition, pages 658-659.
  2. For an analysis of churches in the Hindu world, see the outline of nine types of churches in India presented by Donald McGavran in Ethnic Realities and the Church. Most of those nine types are clearly H1 and H2 on the scale.

H. L. Richard is part of the Rethinking Forum ( an association of scholars and activists focused on contextual biblical witness among Hindus.

The original version of this article first appeared in Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 40(3), July 2004, pp. 316-20 and is reproduced with kind permission.


Traditional Christians separate themselves from everything "Hindu"


Traditional Christians renounce Hinduism but still accept some non-religious Hindu cultural practices


Hindu Christians renounce Hindu religion for Christianity, but adapt Hindu religious and cultural practices


Hindu disciples of Christ do not develop contextual expressions of discipleship


Hindu disciples of Christ seek to develop contextual expressions of discipleship


Hindu disciples of Christ recognized as such by other Hindus but remain unassociated with other disciples of Christ


Hindu disciples of Christ keep faith completely private
bhakti. bhakti, nom. devotion, love, loyalty