Text and Context in Dialogue

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Points of Contact

In seeking to communicate the glorious message of the Lord Jesus Christ it is vital that we search diligently for points of contact with those to whom we speak. Paul did just this when he preached to the philosophers on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34):

Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. (v.22-23)

Paul realised that if he were to proclaim the news clearly he would have to start with the language and customs of his hearers. So he sat in the market place and engaged his hosts in spiritual conversation (v.18). He learned from them so that he could quote from their literature (v.28). He was not afraid to wander around their idols and look at their ritual objects carefully. He worked hard to understand the people. And having understood, he was equipped to present the timeless gospel in a timely way. He chose a point of contact - an altar as it happens - and, starting from there presented the claims of Christ to his hearers. In this issue of Voice of Bhakti we attempt to follow in the great apostle's footsteps. Here is the menu: As an appetiser we begin with an excerpt from Professor Dhanjibhai Fakirbhai's great work, the Sri Khrist Gita. Then, with Lalitpur's important chariot festival almost upon us, for your main course we look at the meaning of the festival and at lessons we can learn from it for witness. A poem by Narayan Vaman Tilak follows and for desert we offer a choice of reviews of two significant books on Hinduism.

This is the last issue of Voice of Bhakti. But this is not the last word on devotion to Christ in the Hindu tradition. We recognise that much more needs to be done to learn both from our text, the Word of God, and from our context. And, having learned, to work that into our lives and witness. Our hope is that the articles and reviews that have been published in the pages of this journal over the last four years will continue to spark an interest in the careful work of witness from within the Hindu community.

bhakti. bhakti, nom. devotion, love, loyalty