Christian Barriers to Jesus

Conversations and Questions from the Indian Context
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Hindus often have a high view of Jesus, but they struggle with traditions and customs around Christianity and church. Christian Barriers to Jesus uniquely challenges readers to examine nine barrier-producing Christian traditions from three perspectives:
• Concerns Hindus commonly raise about the traditions
• Assumptions Christians may hold about the traditions
• Teachings of Jesus and Scripture that often question the Christian traditions that confuse, offend, and alienate Hindus from Jesus.
This book suggests that we are not asking deep enough questions about what is essential for following Jesus and what is non-essential human invention. If we truly care about Jesus, we must honestly address where those non-essential traditions unnecessarily alienate millions of people from him.

  • ISBN: 9780878085453
  • Pages: 304
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: William Carey Library


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.

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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 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 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.

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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.

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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). Always Pennington is a faithful physician seeking to heal and restore, even when he deals with painful realities.

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This book is a commentary on Living Water and Indian Bowl. 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 birth right, to be a Hindu and a bhakta of the Nara-Hari Bhagavan Muktinath (the Man-God, the Blessed One, Jesus).

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This is an outstanding work, and I am happy and honored for the privilege of reading it . . . I feel like this needs to be read by thousands of Christians across the United States, just so we can be more aware of the cultural and traditional aspects to which we so easily become blinded . . . I pray the book will have a wide readership and that the Lord will indeed use it to bring down some of those barriers, most certainly in India and perhaps elsewhere as well.

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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

Customer Reviews


Expat in India

If you are interested in scriptural out-of-the-box thinking about following Jesus, you need to read this!  Carefully researched and with a deep love for the Indian people, Dr. Pennington raises important questions about assumptions we make in the Indian context which is everywhere as Indians are everywhere. 
    I hope this book sparks conversations about how God’s people can be better used by God to increase his kingdom after 2,000 years of waiting especially in India. Many of these “Barriers” could disarm the opponents (who should also read this) to Christianity here in India.  Perhaps, then, there would be no fear in giving my actual name in this review.

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