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India's Maoists: Preaching a flawed gospel?
Vishal's principal conclusion that Maoism is a Judeo -Christian or rather a christian heresy might leave a lot of people squirming , given the present near total isolation of the Maoist cadre in main stream society.
THE OTHER day, I had the opportunity of attending a lecture by the well known thinker Vishal Mangalwadi in Delhi. He was speaking on the subject of Maoism and analyzing the subject from a Christian world view. He had some interesting conclusions and certainly provocative ones. Whether they will be accepted in part or in full by most people remains to be seen, but nevertheless his conclusions offer food for thought.
Vishal's principal conclusion that Maoism is a Judeo -Christian or rather a christian heresy might leave a lot of people squirming , given the present near total isolation of the Maoist cadre in main stream society and given the tendency of the religious establishment to stay as close to the political establishment as possible.
Vishal begins by saying that Maoism's ideological roots lie in Classical Marxism and the roots of Marxism lie in the Judeo – Christian vision of the world, this world is one where there is a place under the sun for the poor and the marginalized and where social equity prevails.
According to Vishal, where Maoism ( Marxism) goes off the track of classical christian thinking is one area. In mainstream christian thinking, this state of society is to be attained when Christ comes again and transforms earth as we know it and when on earth :His will begins to done on earth as it is in Heaven”.
However , Marx and his successors have believed that the Kingdom and its values of an egalitarian, exploitation free society can be realized in the hear and now through the over throw of the current , existing society through a revolution.
This link is explored further by the statement, that Jesus never espoused the over throw of the establishment through violent means, there were many in Jesus' own inner circles who did believe in this way – the apostles who had a zealot background like for instance Judas Iscariot ; Jesus has very little words of condemnation to say about the zealots compared to the very strong words used against the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Why is then Maoism flourishing?
Vishal's answer may leave us very uncomfortable. He says that there is an audience out there that wants to hear and respond to the real and complete message of the gospel and also also wants to see a community of people who live out his teachings.
But this they don't see. What they do see is that there are people who claim to be carrying the message of Jesus but on closer scrutiny – it is found that these people are concerned only with certain aspects of the message of Jesus – the concern solely with souls and salvation to the exclusion of almost
every thing else.

There is also a lot of talk about image bearers of Christ lacking in society today and people finding vestiges of that in the lives of Maoists. That a class of people known for their violence, extortion and ruthlessness might in any way be image bearers of Christ might make us hot under the collar .

But according to Vishal – in the choices some of the Maoist leadership make regarding their lives – disregarding material comforts, their education and in some cases their erudition; and choosing to identify with the landless, the displaced and the marginalized tribals, they make better image bearers
of Christ in terms of who He would have sided with than the typical Christian who sides with the establishment and the status quo which often means those that side with greedy and exploitative industry and capitalist systems that displace and acquire land and forests with total disregard for
those affected by these sorts of policies and choices.

This people might do by conscious, deliberate choice or because of simple apathy and indifference.
So is Maoism indeed a flawed gospel that is really a christian heresy? Is it that it is flourishing because in its flawed form as preached and propagated in India's jungles today – and may be in our towns and cities tomorrow, people see better image bearers of Christ than in those who claim to preach the authentic gospel but whose claims look and sound hollow because their words and talk doesn't match up ? That is a very disturbing thought indeed.
The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one's own tradition with reverence for different traditions.
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