Re-Cast(e)ing Conversion, Re-visiting Dialogue: Indian Attempts at an Interfaith Theology of Wholeness


  • Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar World Council of Churches



dialogue, Christianity, Hinduism, caste, conversion, liberation


In India the Christian commitment to interfaith engagement produces a paradox. On the one hand dialogue between Christianity and other religions, especially Hinduism in this context, is seen as an advance in redressing an earlier unjust position of assumed religious exclusivity, triumphalism and superiority on the part of an evangelical missionary Christianity. Dialogue presumes mutuality of recognition, respect and religious value, including freedom from coercion and freedom of personal choice. However, on the other hand, in the Indian context, the caste system presents intractable problems which, in being identified with Hinduism and thus, in the context of dialogue, to be recognised and respected as a religious value on the part of the Christian dialogue partner, then results in the Christian colluding with a manifest injustice with respect to Dalit and Adivasi (tribal) peoples for whom the caste system is oppressive and restrictive. Can Christian values of justice, liberation and ‘fullness of life’ be upheld in the context of interfaith dialogue in India, especially in relation to the religious conversion of the Dalits and Adivasis, who choose conversion as a means of escape from the caste system? This article seeks to address this and related questions.

Author Biography

Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, World Council of Churches

Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar is Programme Executive for Interreligious Dialogue with the World Council of Churches, Geneva. He also served as Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics at the United Theological College, Bangalore (2008–2012) and as an Anglican Priest in the Diocese of London (2005–2008). His publications include Dalit Theology and Dalit Liberation: Problems, Paradigms and Possibilities (Ashgate, 2010), Asian Theology on the Way: Christianity Culture and Context (ed., SPCK, 2012) and Foundations for Mission (co-ed. with Emma Wild-Wood, Regnum, 2012).



How to Cite

Rajkumar, P. J. R. (2013). Re-Cast(e)ing Conversion, Re-visiting Dialogue: Indian Attempts at an Interfaith Theology of Wholeness. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 26(2), 157–171.