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Ethnic Church Meets MegachurchIndian American Christianity in Motion$
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Prema A. Kurien

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479804757

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479804757.001.0001

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Syrian Christian Encounters with Colonial Missionaries and Indian Nationalism

Syrian Christian Encounters with Colonial Missionaries and Indian Nationalism

Chapter:
(p.27) 1 Syrian Christian Encounters with Colonial Missionaries and Indian Nationalism
Source:
Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch
Author(s):

Prema A. Kurien

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479804757.003.0002

This chapter presents the complex history of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian denomination, which is essential to understanding many of the contemporary features of the church. Early Syrian Christians in Kerala considered themselves to be “Hindu in culture, Christian in religion, and Oriental in worship.” The chapter draws on archival and secondary research to examine how Syrian Christians were viewed and treated very differently by Portuguese Catholic and British Protestant missionaries during the colonial period and how their self-understanding, practices, and communities were fundamentally transformed by these encounters. It discusses the factors that led the leaders of the church to initiate a reformation of the liturgy and practices of the church and break away from Syrian Orthodox leadership and control to form a separate and autonomous Indian denomination in 1889. It also examines the influence of Indian nationalism and the Indian independence struggle on the church.

Keywords:   Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian denomination, Syrian Christians in Kerala, Portuguese Catholic missionaries, British Protestant missionaries, autonomous Indian denomination, colonial period, reformation of liturgy, Indian nationalism, archival research

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