Resources that edify, equip, and empower disciples of Jesus to make disciples of Jesus.
Cart (0)

Christian Barriers to Jesus (Revised Edition)

Show Table of ContentsHide Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Figures and Tables  






1 | The Barrier of Cultural Separatism  

2 | The Barrier of “Christian”  

3 | The Barrier of Church  

Interlude: Three Foundational Barriers  

4 | The Barrier of “evangelism,” “Gospel,” and “Preaching” 

5 | The Barrier of Conversion 

6 | The Barrier of Baptism  

7 | The Barrier of Worship  

8 | The Barrier of Financial Dependency  

9 | The Barrier of Benevolence  

10 | Final Observations  



Christian Barriers to Jesus (Revised Edition)
Conversations and Questions from the Indian Context
J. Paul Pennington

A Call to Follow Jesus When He Challenges Our Traditions 

There are many challenges to adequately representing Jesus to the Majority World, and often Western Christian traditions create unnecessary hindrances to people accepting His truth. This book grew out of many interviews with Indian Jesus-followers—both Christians and Yesu bhaktas—who identified painful stumbling blocks to receiving and sharing the gospel.

While Hindus often have a high view of Jesus, they struggle with the conventions, practices, and labels around "church." Christian Barriers to Jesus uniquely challenges readers to examine nine barrier-producing Christian traditions, exploring: 

  • The assumptions Christians may hold about the value, origin, or necessity of their customs
  • The concerns Hindus commonly raise about traditions that confuse, offend, or alienate them
  • Teachings from Jesus in Scripture that often question the same ideas or practices

Pennington suggests that by not asking deep enough questions about what is essential for following Jesus and what is a non-essential human invention, the church is unnecessarily alienating millions of people from Him. As a body, it is time to honestly address these concerns, developing new patterns of discipleship that reveal Jesus’s heart for breaking down barriers instead of creating them. The analysis presented in this book will empower readers to critically examine their personally cherished traditions and the purity of the gospel they present, with insights that are relevant in all contexts.


  • While Christian Barriers to Jesus is clearly rooted in the Hindu context of India, it speaks of principles with much broader applicability. The ideas presented in the book deeply resonated with me based on my decades of living and working in China, engaged both with mainstream secular culture and Muslim ethnic minority communities. Now living back in the US, I see how similar issues are at play in diverse settings here. The beauty of the book is actually more than just an articulation of principles though; its greatest strength is in expanding the range of questions we are willing to ask as we try to follow Jesus and better experience together his offer of abundant life.

    Charly Pine,  Inspired Leadership Initiative Fellow, University of Notre Dame


    The prayashchitta (atoning, reconciling offering) done by Paul Pennington  will put the healing balm on the wounds of every Hindu Yesu bhakta and will encourage them to press forward, without minding what others say or think about them, to live with their birthright, to be a Hindu and a bhakta of the Nara-Hari Bhagavan Muktinath (the Man-God, the Blessed One, Jesus).
    Dayanand Bharati Yesu Bhakta in India
  • The religious world of the Hindu and its labyrinth of unreached peoples has long presented the Christian movement with inscrutable barriers. But any radical incarnational witness to reduce these barriers will be sure to threaten the more conventional church life in India. Paul Pennington has chosen to journey alongside these churches and dialogue with them on their Christian responsibility for these barriers. The biblically reasoned curricula that has emerged, so long overdue, promises to free the log jam of misunderstanding surrounding incarnational witness among Hindus today.
    Brad Gill Editor, International Journal of Frontier Missiology (IJFM)
  • Christian Barriers . . . is a path-breaking work which examines systematically the obvious, and the more subtle, factors that keep most Indian people from becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. It is an honest inventory of the legacy that Christendom has bequeathed on the Hindu people, and it carefully documents why they reject the claims of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. At a time when many Christians and mission agencies in India are being forced to discover (and re-discover) their true raison d’etre, Paul Pennington invites scholars and practitioners to get back to the original fact of Jesus. Making this shift will not be painless, but it is essential if Hindus are to hear—and see—the Good News, without the elaborate (and unnecessary) socio-religio-cultural stumbling blocks that have been unwittingly erected by Christians down the ages. Thank you, Paul Pennington, for calling us to return to our eternal, original foundations.
    Peter Ignatius President, Lakeview Bible College & Seminary, Chennai, India
  • This is a paradigm-altering study. Standard paradigms of Christianity and church are part of the core problems addressed in this analysis of Christian barriers to Jesus. It hurts to break from long-accepted patterns of thought and practice, but this is part of the pruning that produces more fruit (John 15:1–10) and of the discipline that is painful for a season (Heb 12:11). Pennington is always a faithful physician seeking to heal and restore, even when he deals with painful realities.
    H. L. Richard Researcher and Author, Following Jesus in the Hindu Context and Hinduism
  • Dr. Paul Pennington has done the global Christian community a great service by writing Christian Barriers to Jesus. Dr. Pennington points out an essential and clarifying truth, and he does so beginning with the title. Christians have erected barriers between the peoples of the earth and Jesus. Dr. Pennington has situated his book in the Hindu context. His experiences interviewing Indian people led him to further explore the reasons why Hindus and Christians know that traditional Christian assumptions stifle the growth of the gospel within Hindu communities in India and around the world. Throughout the book, Dr. Pennington points them out and then explains why they have become barriers. The greatest strength of the book is the grace and humility with which he deals with the problems and the solutions.
    Timothy Shultz Teacher and Author, Making Disciples among Hindus

Additional Details

  • Pages: 284
  • Publisher: William Carey Publishing
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publish Year: 2022
  • ISBN: 9781645083818
  • Vendor: William Carey Publishing