1. Our reflection began with a historical survey of the trends in theologizing found in the Individual Churches in India. These Churches were the result of historical encounters between the Gospel and the cultural contexts of various peoples in our country, and they witness to the process of the Christian message incarnating itself in different forms.
We noted three major trajectories in Indian theology: (1) the Spiritual-contemplative approach, represented by the Indian Christian Ashram movement; (2) the Intellectual-theological approach in which Christian scholars entered into dialogue with the philosophical and religious traditions of India, and (3) the Socio-political approach which began from the common problems and struggles of people. This approach became the locus for theologizing and creating a new society, and inspired new patterns of formation, e.g., the regional theologates.
2. The Apostolic Church of St. Thomas Christians witnessed to the Christian faith and, at the same time, preserved the socio-cultural customs and practices of their ancestors. However, their easy accommodation to the Hindu caste system prevented them from identifying with the struggles of the oppressed and marginalized and exercising a prophetic ministry. Yet, their harmonious and peaceful relationship with the members of other religions is to be commended. The St. Thomas Christians offer testimony to a Christianity that does not have to be Latin to be authentic and admits to pluralism in its manifestations. They also developed an ecclesiology that gave the palliyogam (assembly) of the people full legislative, administrative and judicial powers in conducting the temporal affairs of the Church.
3. The colonial period saw Roberto De Nobili taking up new initiatives. He began by studying Indian languages (Tamil and Sanskrit) and adopting Hindu cu toms and practices. He presented himself as a sanyasi and explored the wisdom of India by studying seriously its scriptures and philosophies. He entered into discourse and debate with local Brahmins and made serious attempts to interpret and reformulate Christianity in terms of Indian categories and thought patterns. Thomas Stevens composed Kristapurana in Marathi; Beschi wrote. Thempavani in Tamil and Amos Padiri composed Puthenpana in Malayalam. Along with missionaries like Da Costa, Beschi attempted to enter into the religio-cultural realm of the non-Brahmins, especially the poor and the outcastes.
4. The Indian Renaissance of the 19th and 20th centuries and the spirit of nationalism gave new impetus to Indian theology. Several Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Keshub Chandra Sen were inspired by Christian ideals and contributed to social reform movements in the Indian society and to the rediscovery of India's cultural, religious and spiritual heritage. Keshub Chandra Sen felt he could combine India's spirit of devotion and prayer with the 'practical righteousness' of the west.
5. The struggles for political independence and the spirit of nationalism made an impact on Indian Churches and their way of theologizing. Leading Christian thinkers of this period, such as S. K. Dutra, K. T. Paul, Bishop V. S. Azariah, and others felt that the Christ of western culture had awakened the Christ of Indian culture. Swaraj itself was seen by them as a freedom movement bringing a new identity to the Churches in India.
6. The pioneering work in Indian theology was initiated mainly by Protestant Christians. Outstanding theologians among them such as K.M. Banerjee affirmed the view that there was continuity between Hinduism and Christianity, not opposition or conflict. In the first half of the 20th century. Bishop A.J. Appasamy developed Christian theology along the lines of the Bhakti tradition of personal devotion. Vengal Chakkarai and P. Chenchaiah outlined a Christocentric theology for the renewal of the Church and the nation. These pioneers adopted an exclusivist methodology through which they hoped to find Christ and the Spirit present in India's religious traditions and scriptures, and thus experience the continuity of salvation history.
7. Among the Catholics, Brahmabandhab Upadhyaya was a nationalist as well as a pioneer in Indian theology. He worked to bring about an Indian Church that would possess an indigenous liturgy and theology. He advocated interpreting the Christian faith in terms of Vedanta. He applied the term sat-chit-ananda to the Trinity and referred to Jesus as the Oriental Christ. Another pioneer was Sunder Singh, a mystic, who insisted on the precedence of 'heart' over 'head'. Many years later, the theological work of these pioneers was taken up and developed in diverse ways by Indian theologians like Pierre Johanns and D.S. Amalorpavadoss.
8. Christian Ashrams became a great resource for living one's life in a holistic way and for theologizing in India. Many like Monchanin, Abhishiktananda, Bede Griffiths and Sara Grant who founded or directed such ashrams contributed substantially to the development of Indian theology and Indian ways of worship. Today, Christian Ashrams have become important venues for promoting interreligious dialogue and fostering inner dialogue within oneself and external dialogue with others, especially those of other faith persuasions.
9. Many Indian theologians saw a link between the Gospel and the social and religious movements of the country. They involved themselves in the struggles of the people and identified themselves with the poor and the marginalized. Through their efforts, the Gospel was seen as relevant to the country and the actual lives of people. Paul D. Devanandan and M. M. Thomas continued this line of thinking and linked Christ and salvation to humanization and modem secularity. Mention must be made of Sebastian Kappen and George Soares-Prabhu-among others-who tried to articulate an Indian theology of liberation and advocated the use of social analysis and involvement in liberation struggles to eliminate the root causes of oppression and poverty. In our own time, some have tried to evolve a Tribal theology by reflecting on tribal culture (Land, Water and Forest) in the light of the Christian faith.
10. Dalit Christian theology came into its own when Dalit Christians, with the help of theologians like Arvind P. Nirrnal, began to discover their own history and their 'little traditions,' and articulated a Dalit theology of liberation in their own language and categories. In addition, women theologians have suggested correctives to theologies that tend to be one- sided and suffer from a bias that is patriarchal.
11. Theologians in India have applied themselves to the specific task of developing a theology of religions so that religions can coexist-and live in harmony with each other. The theology of inculturation is another area where pioneers like Fr. Proksch and Fr. Zeitler led the way to a genuine encounter between the Gospel and Indian reality resulting in a new understanding of both. Significant contributions towards an Indian hermeneutical theology have emerged, and new theological expressions in art forms like dramas, songs and paintings are also currently emerging in the theological universe of India.
12. The unique roles played and the significant contributions made by Indian Theological Journals such as Bible Bhasyham, Indian Theological Studies, Jeevadhara, Jnanadeepa, Journal of Dharma, Sevartham, Third Millennium, Vaiharai and Vidyajyoti, are to be commended. They have provided a forum for theologizing in India with freedom and creativity. The National, Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) at Bangalore, established after Second Vatican Council, initiated a process of renewal in Christian life and inculturated forms of theologizing. Along with NBCLC, the North Indian Theological Forum and the Tamil Regional Theological Forum offer meeting points for Christians from all parts of India. At regular intervals colloquia between bishops and theologians take place which promote mutual understanding and an ongoing commitment to developing an Indian theology.
13. The Indian Theological Association started in 1976 with the inspiration and initiative of Constantine Manalel has been offering a platform for theologians to develop an Indian way of theologizing. For more than a quarter of a century ITA has been responsive to the challenges of theologizing in the Indian context. Some of the main themes that were repeatedly discussed and reflected upon by Indian theologians were poverty, discrimination on the basis of caste and gender, problems of Dalits, Tribals and other subaltern groups, globalization, ecological crises, plurality of religions, communalism, Hindutva, search for an Indian Church and theology, dialogue, inculturation, women's place and role in society and in the Church, lay people's role in the Church and the method of theologizing in India.
14. The complex situation in India challenges its theologians to commit themselves to liberating action as well as envision the shape of a Church that is relevant to the context. The outcome of their efforts will be a theology that is responsive to God's action in the culture and history of our people. These theologians are convinced that theological education must be interdisciplinary making use of the contribution of the social sciences in analyzing the context of theologizing. The statements of the ITA bear witness to the concerted effort of the theologians to make their faith more alive, dynamic and challenging by encountering their context while remaining creatively faithful to the living tradition of the Church and its mission.