Today was a subject close to my heart since I ‘might’ be doing my dissertation on a Theology of religion/s. Dr. Ravi Tiwari is the Registrar of Serampore. He is also a sanskrit scholar, adept in the vedas and has a somewhat insider approach since his father was from a high-caste Hindu background.

This class however was not a methodology class… ie, we didn’t focus on any methodology issues. Instead, it was a like an advanced religion lecture, which was also interesting.

Dr. Tiwari tends to have a postive view of religion, believing that it is culture/society that has corrupted/misused the high values of religion. Instead, we need to return to the high-ideals of religion to change/reform society.

(*It’s strange that I used to believe in a position similar to this only three years ago (at Woodstock), of course I believed that within the Christian faith. However now I’m pretty clear that there is no abstract higher ideal devoid of cultural condioning, as well as community of interpreters. God’s revelation, I believe, comes to us through culture, and God’s word is active in the processes of humanity, not in our escape from the processes of culture/world.*)

Dr. Tiwari is critical of the UTC/Dharmaram versions of indegenous worship, saying that it is a shame to replicate the symbols of Hinduism. It is an insult to Christianity and Hinduism. What we have here, he says, is the Hinduisation of Chrsitianity. Instead, understanding that the Hindu symbols developed/were created through time, we can be creative in our worship

He is also extremely critical of Christians who perpetuate caste by stating their caste in college admissions, marriage etc.

Also, Dr. Tiwari prioritises ethics, saying that Christian ethics is the singlemost important contribution Christianity makes for the world.

Interestingly, he believes that “evangelical theologians are right” by stating that “theology must be biblical.” Of course, he doesn’t deleneate how we are to distinguish what is biblical and what is not (instead he blames theologians for bringing confusion into Christianity).

All in all, the lecture was stimulate, sometimes by negative, and sometimes by positive example. He seemed to be a genuine thinker, honest in his approach, and scholarly and well-studied. I found that I could respect him as a person, and wouldn’t mind if he was teaching at SAIACS at some time.

Now, could that ever happen?