Master of Arts
Huron University College
The main reason for Christian growth in India was not individual conversions but rather Christian mass movements (CMMs). Since the late 1700s, a series of independent CMMs among non-Christians and a mass reformation movement within the Suriani community have occurred in the southern end of India. These MMs culminated in a mass emancipation movement against caste-imposed segregation of Dalits in the late 1800s, an event of national significance. In the early 1900s, Pentecostalism evolved from these CMMs and transformed the religious landscape of Christianity in South India and later in India as a whole. The Thoma Christians were the early catalysts for the expansion of new-generation Christianity in India. The Christian population in India, researched and compiled by non-governmental expertise, tallied its growth from a mere 1.15% (of 238.3 million) in 1901 to over 5.8% (of 1.38 billion) in 2020.
Summary for Lay Audience
Christian mass movements (CMMs) in modern times, characterized by large numbers of conversions or reformations, are central to understanding the growth of Christianity in India. This research focuses on CMMs in deep south of India, including regions of Cochin/ Travancore Kingdom and Tinnevelly dating back to 1700s and onwards, following the inquisition and subsequent schism in Suriani Church. The thesis elaborates on three kinds of mass moments (MMs): mass movements from other faiths to Christianity; mass reformation and revival movements within Christianity; and mass liberation movement. Several mass movements have occurred since the advent of the British Raj. The thesis explains the mass reformation and revival movements among Suriani Christians; the works of evangelical itinerant preachers, independent missionaries, and mission societies in South India; and how they helped to facilitate mass conversions among non-Christians. To get a better understanding of these conversions, I have detailed four CMMs of significance among the non-Christian communities. Influenced by CMMs, a parallel MM of emancipation of national magnitude emerged among the distressed population and slave castes. The movement became an effective tool to voice opposition to the socially imposed caste system and to fight for their emancipation. Ultimately, it succeeded in compelling the government to enact legislation against segregation and abolish slavery in India under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (Sec. 359–374) of 1861. Following a series of revival movements, CMMs culminated into Pentecostalism. The research explicates how Pentecostal like moment, influenced by the pietism and holiness movement, emerged in South India decades before the global expansion of modern Pentecostalism. The thesis is an attempt to answer the impact and the outcome of CMMs in the deep south of India, and how they re-shaped Christian communities and churches in India as a whole.
Joseph Mathew, Philip, "Christian Mass Movements in South India and Some of The Critical Factors that Changed the Face of Christianity in India" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8948.
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