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Rev. Philip Kumar
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Christianity is India's third-largest religion according to the census of 2011, with approximately 27.8 million followers, constituting 2.3
percent of India's population. Old legends say that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle, who visited Muziris in
Tamilakam in AD 52. There is a general scholarly consensus that Christianity was definitely established in India by the 6th century AD
including some communities who used Syriac liturgically, and it is possible that the religion's existence there extends to as far back as
the purported time of St.Thomas's arrival.
Christians are found all across India and in all walks of life, with major populations in parts of South India, the Konkan Coast, and
Northeast India. Indian Christians have contributed significantly to and are well represented in various spheres of national life. They
include former and current chief ministers, governors and chief election commissioners. Indian Christians have the highest ratio of
women to men among the various religious communities in India.
Christianity in India has different denominations. The state of Kerala is home to the Saint Thomas Christian community, an ancient
body of Christians,who are now divided into several different churches and traditions. They are Eastern Syrian Saint Thomas
Christian churches: the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church.The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church,
Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the Malabar Independent
Syrian Church are West Syrian Saint Thomas Christian Churches. Since the 19th century Protestant churches have also been
present; major denominations include the Church of South India (CSI), St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India, the Church of
North India (CNI), the Presbyterian Church of India, Baptists, Lutherans, Traditional Anglicans and other evangelical groups.
The Christian Church runs thousands of educational institutions and hospitals which have contributed significantly to the
development of the nation.
Roman Catholicism was first introduced to India by Portuguese, Italian and Irish Jesuits in the 16th century. Most Christian schools,
hospitals, primary care centres originated through the Roman Catholic missions brought by the trade of these countries. Evangelical
Protestantism was later spread to India by the efforts of British, American, German, Scottish missionaries to preach the gospel of Jesus
Christ among Indians. These Protestant missions were also responsible for introducing English education in India for the first time and
were also accountable in the first early translations of the Holy Bible in various Indian languages (including Hindi and Urdu, Tamil,
Malayalam, Telugu and others).
Even though Christians are a significant minority, they form a major religious group in three states of India - Meghalaya, Mizoram, and
Nagaland. Other states with historic Christian population include Goa and Kerala, where the number and percentage of Christians has
fallen drastically. Christianity is widespread across India and is present in all states with major populations in South India.
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We believe that the Apostle Thomas visited in A.D. 52 to baptize Indian
Thomas the Apostle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Attributes The Twin, placing his finger in the side of Christ, spear (means of martyrdom),
square (his profession, a builder)
Patronage India, Saint Thomas Christians, Sri Lanka
Thomas the Apostle (called Didymus which means "the twin" or Mar Thoma in Syriac) was one
of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is informally called
doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus' resurrection when first told (in the Gospel of John
account only), followed later by his confession of faith, "My Lord and my God", on seeing Jesus'
Tradition claims he travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, travelling as far
as Tamilakam which are the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in present-day India. According
to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor
in the state of Kerala, India) in AD 52 and baptized several people, founding what today are
known as Saint Thomas Christians or MarThoma Nazranis. After his death, the reputed relics
of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and
later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona,
Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle. He is often regarded
as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thoma remains quite popular among Saint Thomas
Christians of India.
Mission in India
Main articles: Saint Thomas Christians, Christianity in India, and Christianity in Kerala
The tomb of Saint Thomas the Apostle in Mylapore, India
Thomas is traditionally believed to have sailed to India in AD 52 to spread the Christian faith,
and is believed to have landed at the port of Muziris, (modern-day North Paravur and
Kodungalloor in modern-day Kerala state) where there was a Jewish community at the time.
The port was destroyed in 1341 by a massive flood that realigned the coasts. He is believed
by the St Thomas Christian tradition to have established Ezharappallikal or Seven and Half
Churches in Kerala. These churches are at Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottakkavu (Paravur),
Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kollam and Thiruvithamcode (half church).
It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His
grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the
One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became
the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in
India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness,
and that in the land of India.
—Hymns of Saint Ephrem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).
Eusebius of Caesarea quotes Origen (died mid-3rd century) as having stated that Thomas was the apostle to the Parthians,
but Thomas is better known as the missionary to India through the Acts of Thomas, perhaps written as late as c. 200. In Edessa,
where his remains were venerated, the poet Saint Ephrem (died 373) wrote a hymn in which the Devil cries,
... Into what land shall I fly from the just?
I stirred up Death the Apostles to slay, that by their death I might escape their blows.
But harder still am I now stricken: the Apostle I slew in India has overtaken me in Edessa; here and there he is all himself.
There went I, and there was he: here and there to my grief I find him.
—quoted in Medlycott 1905, ch. ii.
St. Ephrem, a doctor of Syriac Christianity, writes in the forty-second of his "Carmina Nisibina" that the Apostle was put to death
in India, and that his remains were subsequently buried in Edessa, brought there by an unnamed merchant.
A Syrian ecclesiastical calendar of an early date confirms the above and gives the merchant a name. The entry reads: "3 July,
St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in 'India'. His body is in Urhai (Edessa) having been brought there by the merchant
Khabin. A great festival."
A long public tradition in Edessa honoring Thomas as the "Apostle of India" resulted in several surviving hymns, that are attributed
to Ephrem, copied in codices of the 8th and 9th centuries. References in the hymns preserve the tradition that Thomas' bones were
brought from India to Edessa by a merchant, and that the relics worked miracles both in India and Edessa. A pontiff assigned his
feast day and a king and a queen erected his shrine. The Thomas traditions became embodied in Syriac liturgy, thus they were
universally credited by the Christian community there. There is a legend that Thomas had met the biblical Magi on his way to India.
According to Eusebius' record, Thomas and Bartholomew were assigned to Parthia and India. The Didascalia (dating from
the end of the 3rd century) states, “India and all countries condering it, even to the farthest seas... received the apostolic ordinances
from Judas Thomas, who was a guide and ruler in the church which he built.” Moreover, there is a wealth of confirmatory information
in the Syriac writings, liturgical books, and calendars of the Church of the East, not to mention the writings of the Fathers, the
calendars, the sacramentaries, and the martyrologies of the Roman, Greek and Ethiopian churches.
An early 3rd-century Syriac work known as the Acts of Thomas connects the apostle's Indian ministry with two kings, one in the
north and the other in the south. According to one of the legends in the Acts, Thomas was at first reluctant to accept this mission,
but the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and said,
“Fear not, Thomas. Go away to India and proclaim the Word, for my grace shall be with you.” But the Apostle still demurred, so
the Lord overruled the stubborn disciple by ordering circumstances so compelling that he was forced to accompany an 'Indian'
merchant, Abbanes, as a slave to his native place in northwest 'India', where he found himself in the service of the Indo-Parthian
king, Gondophares. According to the Acts of Thomas, the apostle's ministry resulted in many conversions throughout the kingdom,
including the king and his brother.
Remains of some of his buildings, influenced by Greek architecture, indicate that he was a great builder. According to the legend,
Thomas was a skilled carpenter and was bidden to build a palace for the king. However, the Apostle decided to teach the king a
lesson by devoting the royal grant to acts of charity and thereby laying up treasure for the heavenly abode. Although little is known
of the immediate growth of the church, Bar-Daisan (154–223) reports that in his time there were Christian tribes in India which
claimed to have been converted by Thomas and to have books and relics to prove it. But at least by the year of the establishment
of the Second Persian Empire (226), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India (Afghanistan and Baluchistan),
with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity.
It is most significant that, aside from a small remnant of the Church of the East in Kurdistan, the only other church to maintain a
distinctive identity is the Saint Thomas Christian congregations along the Kerala in southwest India. According to the most ancient
tradition of this church, Thomas evangelized this area and then crossed to the Coromandel Coast of southeast India, where, after
carrying out a second mission, he died at Chennai. Throughout the period under review, the church in India was under the
jurisdiction of Edessa, which was then under the Mesopotamian patriarchate at Seleucia-Ctesiphon and later at Baghdad and Mosul.
Historian Vincent A. Smith says, “It must be admitted that a personal visit of the Apostle Thomas to South India was easily feasible
in the traditional belief that he came by way of Socotra, where an ancient Christian settlement undoubtedly existed. I am now satisfied
that the Christian church of South India is extremely ancient...”.
Thomas is believed to have left northwest India when invasion threatened and traveled by vessel to the Malabar Coast, possibly v
isiting southeast Arabia and Socotra en route, and landing at the former flourishing port of Muziris (modern-day North Paravur and
Kodungalloor) (c. 51–52 AD) in the company of a Jewish merchant Abbanes (Hebban). From there he is said to have preached
the gospel throughout the Malabar coast. The various churches he founded were located mainly on the Periyar River and its
tributaries and along the coast, where there were Jewish colonies.In accordance with apostolic custom, Thomas ordained teachers
and leaders or elders, who were reported to be the earliest ministry of the Malabar Church.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism
(initially known as the Revivalist Movement)
is a renewal movement within Protestant
Christianity that places special emphasis on
a direct personal experience of God through
the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term
Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the
Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks.
For Christians, this event commemorates
the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the
followers of Jesus Christ, as described in
the second chapter of the Book of Acts.
Like other forms of evangelical Protestantism, Eric Michel Ministry adheres to the inerrancy of scripture and the necessity of
accepting Christ as personal Lord and Savior. It is distinguished by belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit that enables a Christian
to live a Spirit-filled and empowered life. This empowerment includes the use of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and divine
healing, two other defining characteristics of Eric Michel Ministry. Because of our commitment to biblical authority, spiritual gifts,
and the miraculous, We tend to see our movement as reflecting the same kind of spiritual power and teachings that were found
in the Apostolic Age of the early church. For this reason, we also use the term Apostolic or Full Gospel to describe our movement.
Congreso Nacional Juvenil de las Asambleas de Dios efectuado el 15 de Julio de 2010
en Cancún, México. Author Rayttc
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