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Cultural Gaps

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Table of Contents


Map
Foreword by Art McPhee
Acknowledgments
Introduction by H. L. Richard
Foreword to the First Edition by Henry Haigh
1. The Beginning of Understanding and Conviction
2. Experiences in Contextual Evangelism
3. Reflecting on Failure
4. Learning
5. Dialog with Brāhmans
6. Final Years of Brokenness
Afterword by H. L. Richard
Appendix 1: Reviews of the First Edition of This Book
Appendix 2: Benjamin Robinson’s Engagement and Marriage
Appendix 3: The Missionary Lifestyle Debate in The Harvest Field
References Cited
Index

$7.99
Cultural Gaps
Benjamin Robinson’s Experience with Hindu Traditions
H. L. Richard (editor)

Focus on unreached people groups and the emergence of a global church have not yet eliminated massive gaps in the spread of the gospel. Differences between Hindu and Christian traditions account for the uneven reception of the gospel of Christ among Hindu peoples. Contextualization, best practices, and movements to Christ are central discussion points in response.

In Cultural Gaps, H. L. Richard brings Benjamin Robinson, a forgotten nineteenth-century pioneer missionary, back into this conversation by reviving his memoir, In the Brahmans’ Holy Land, with a new foreword, extensive footnotes, and a new introduction. Robinson’s experiences in south India in the 1880s remain relevant, particularly his attempts at authentic interreligious encounter and his struggle to adequately integrate into the Hindu context. Robinson did not stop at language acquisition, cultural study, or personal relationships, but felt called to adapt his lifestyle further, trusting in God’s help. Although his engagement with Hindus was cut short by health problems, he had a deep humility, an unflagging commitment to learn, and an exemplary sense of inadequacy for a high calling.

Robinson’s honesty regarding personal struggles with the perplexity of understanding Hindus relates immediately with current realities. His memoir raises important questions about faithful service and trusting God for an outcome that may still be yet to come. The path forward for better cross-cultural engagement is clearly present in the life and thought of this significant pioneer.

Endorsements

  • In the last two centuries, probably a million missionary years have been spent bringing the good news of the fathomless riches of Christ to Hindus in the great land of India. But whole libraries have been filled trying to answer the question, “Why has so little resulted from this magnificent effort?” Now, at last, this book is back in print. Happily, a new generation of readers will meet this most amazing, disturbing, admirable missionary of a hundred years ago, Benjamin Robinson. Robinson aspired to live as close as possible to the Hindu ideal of a godly man, that he might win some. Most of the missionaries thought Robinson had gone too far; H. L. Richard, in the introduction, suggests that Robinson did not go far enough. Or, rather, Robinson “did not have enough time to properly develop, in the field now called contextual theology,” his radical model through which the kingdom, the power, and the glory of God might be expressed in vast India. At last, this book is back in print. Christians in every cross-cultural context will gain greatly from it.
    H. L. Richard has done a great service in placing Benjamin Robinson’s treasure in my hands to review. I warn the reader that a serious and sympathetic reading of Robinson himself (and of Richard’s comments along the way) will be a spiritually disruptive experience and may not feel like a “service” as much as a stab to the heart. In the late nineteenth-century Robinson landed in what he referred to as his new God-given land, full of expectation, and in many ways, a man of his times. But something happened that resulted in Robinson later being able to commend a man who referred to himself as a “Wesleyan Hindu.” The story of that journey is not a story of contextualization as much as it is a story of a spiritual journey. Some may guess that this journey is from evangelical Christianity to some sort of pluralism, but in fact it is a spiritual journey into a deeper life in and for Christ. The journey was, to put it lightly, challenging: physically, spiritually, relationally, psychologically, and emotionally. His journey is not for everyone, and some readers may recoil. But for others, myself included, Robinson, in H. L Richard’s explanatory presentation, invites us to join him, or better, to join Jesus on the path. In Robinson’s own words, this is an invitation to discover, “The Lord’s own method, life touching life to divine issues, began to grow plain; I was impelled to try to follow Him in that.”

    Bob Blincoepresident, US Frontiers


  • H. L. Richard has done a great service in placing Benjamin Robinson’s treasure in my hands to review. I warn the reader that a serious and sympathetic reading of Robinson himself (and of Richard’s comments along the way) will be a spiritually disruptive experience and may not feel like a “service” as much as a stab to the heart. In the late nineteenth-century Robinson landed in what he referred to as his new God-given land, full of expectation, and in many ways, a man of his times. But something happened that resulted in Robinson later being able to commend a man who referred to himself as a “Wesleyan Hindu.” The story of that journey is not a story of contextualization as much as it is a story of a spiritual journey. Some may guess that this journey is from evangelical Christianity to some sort of pluralism, but in fact it is a spiritual journey into a deeper life in and for Christ. The journey was, to put it lightly, challenging: physically, spiritually, relationally, psychologically, and emotionally. His journey is not for everyone, and some readers may recoil. But for others, myself included, Robinson, in H. L Richard’s explanatory presentation, invites us to join him, or better, to join Jesus on the path. In Robinson’s own words, this is an invitation to discover, “The Lord’s own method, life touching life to divine issues, began to grow plain; I was impelled to try to follow Him in that.”
    Kevin Higginspresident, William Carey International University
  • This is a story that could be made into a movie. The final conclusion of this riveting saga is: The only meaningful way to reach Hindus is within their culture, specifically within their bhakti tradition. The only communicator they will respectfully listen to is one of Christ-like character.
    Herbert E. Hoeferauthor of Churchless Christianity
  • Intercultural adventurers often remain hidden in obscurity across the historical landscape of divine-human interaction. The Israeli slave girl in Naaman the Syrian’s household (2 Kgs 5:3) and those scattered disciples in Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11:19–20) are among such figures tantalizingly mentioned in the Bible. Benjamin Robinson ventured from modern Britain into Indian Hindu communities, leaving behind an instructive legacy of intercultural witness, brokenness, and self-discovery. As part of his own adventure within Hindu realities, H. L. Richard has cast fresh light on Robinson’s creative missionary witness and experimental interaction with the divine. All who similarly follow and serve Christ can learn much here.
    J. Nelson Jenningsmission pastor, consultant, and international liaison, Onnuri Community Church, Seoul, South Korea
  • When I first heard my friend H. L. Richard use this small book to present the life and work of Benjamin Robinson, I heard a voice in my mind say, “He understands.” Robinson understood several things that have characterized my life as a witness to the resurrection of Christ while living among Hindu communities. He understood them much better than I do because he risked experiencing them in a manner and at a level of intensity that far surpasses mine. He understood the polite rejection, isolated loneliness, and temptations to bitterness associated with his passionate life being reduced to little more than a cautionary tale. But he also discovered that the missions mainstream didn’t even know all of the questions, let alone the answers, about the gospel thriving, or failing to thrive, among Hindu communities and within Hindu people. This did not console Robinson; it simply added a greater urgency to his faithfully attempting to do the impossible. It also increased the pain of what seemed to be his inability to fully complete his task. I am drawn to this moving story because I have taken one tiny sip of the cup Robinson drank. I deeply respect him.
    Timothy Shultzauthor of Disciple Making among Hindus
  • Cultural Gaps is a unique and stimulating account of one man’s honest and courageous struggle to understand and engage men and women of another faith tradition. Benjamin Robinson’s quest to understand Indians and their religious ways, his humility, and his service unto death offer modern Christian witnesses vital insights and cautions. More than a century after his death, Robinson still speaks and challenges us.
    Michael W. StroopeM. C. Shook Chair of Missions, George W. Truett Theological Seminary

Additional Details

  • Pages: 126
  • Publisher: William Carey Publishing
  • Binding: paperback
  • Publish Year: 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-64508-188-3
  • Vendor: William Carey Publishing