“Now is the time for the great harvest, because a new window of opportunity has opened. So please open your hearts and wallets.”
This was James Vanglan writing in 1876, a missionary in India for 19 years. For 18 centuries, expectations of the coming “great harvest” of souls in India has been expected. There live millions of Hindus waiting, evangelists have said, to hear the gospel and be converted.
These evangelists expected success. And, why not. Christianity had spread across several continents and left them majority Christian. With enough money collected in the pews India would be saved.
What has happened during those 18 centuries of money and effort? Nothing. The needle has never moved. In fact, Christianity is right now losing ground to Hinduism in India and, statistically, worldwide. Perhaps this experience with Hinduism is a lesson from which Christianity could learn something. I’ll give my own list of what the Hindu experience should teach:
1.) The Jesus/Jew story in the Bible is not compelling to millions of people. To such people either the far-fetched story does not appeal, or, there is another far-fetched story they like better.
2.) There has to be something people are dissatisfied with in their current circumstances that compels them to shop for a different or any religion. Christianity spread because people were dissatisfied with their circumstances. Hindus are not dissatisfied.
The lessons of Christianity not competing well with Hinduism may have applications in the U.S. and Europe where it is slipping. A faith needs to offer something people need.
[A link discussing this topic can be found in comments.]