Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg; ajnana

In the early eighteenth century, the Lutheran missionary
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg composed a pamphlet entitled Abominable Heathen-
ism, which contained a clear formulation of the reasons behind the need for con-

Originally written in Tamil, this pamphlet was distributed in Tamil Nadu
in order to convince local Hindus that their lives were rooted in error. Using the
Sanskrit word “a-jnana” (“ignorance”) to convey the idea of sin or error, Ziegenbalg told the Hindus the following: “We have come to you to save you from a-
jnana...Make a study of the Christian precepts and accept them in faith, and so
become the people of God.” In the eight chapters of the pamphlet, Ziegenbalg
told the heathens how the Gospel would save them from their ignorance:
(1) What is a-jnana? – It is idol-worship and moral perversion according to Rom.
1: 21-32. (2) How a-jnana spread in this world. – It did so because of the devil’s
deceit and men’s guilt and not because of God. (3) There is much a-jnana in the
whole of Tamilnadu. (4) How detestable a-jnana is. – Because by a-jnana soul and
body will be perverted and punished. (5) How God is helping those in a-jnana
to be saved. – Jesus Christ took upon himself the burden of a-jnana and delivers
from a-jnana saving soul and body. (6) What the things are which those who wish
to be saved from a-jnana have to do. – Answer: Scripture reading, realisation and
confession of sin, faith in Jesus Christ, asking for baptism with renunciation of
a-jnana and acceptance of the triune God, living in the communion of the Word
of God and the Lord’s Supper, living a life of witness and suffering and a life of
love and justice. (7) The trials and tribulations which those who give up a-jnana
and enter the Church experience in the world for the sake of righteousness. (8)
The benefits promised to those who give up a-jnana, accept the true religion and
stand in the Christian faith unshaken. (excerpt in Grafe 1972, 59)

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