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This thesis examines in what ways and to what extent Nepali Christians retain or change their way of living after they become Christians. This is achieved through a case study approach focusing on four selected congregations. These cases examine the life of the Christians from conversion through socio-religious negotiations of boundaries to cross-religious relationships and friendships. These cases are also a lens for identifying whether or not Nepali Christians connect in a logical way with the local culture through an inculturation process. The research methodology draws on primary source data from fieldwork and recorded interviews. The qualitative data are analysed using Grounded Theory Analysis which at the same time serves as a constant comparison data validation in examining internal and interrelated consistency of interviews. Secondary source data encompass literature ranging from the disciplines of anthropology and theology to Nepalese history.

 

The conclusions reveal that, when practising their belief among traditional religious people, Christians demonstrate spiritual insight about traditional religious life. These insights provide opportunities for Christians to play key roles in local Nepalese life. Negotiation of both social and religious boundaries has proved to be challenging to most Christians particularly within their own exclusive domains. Christians have however made attempts to address any potential conflicts across the religious divide. The most significant contributions of this research are: i) to demonstrate how Christians proactively negotiate socio-religious boundaries; ii) in doing so to provide information about Christians’ attitude to traditional Nepalis and to other Christians, and iii) to provide evidence for and about Christian individual sovereignty during decision-making processes. These are new insights about Nepalese Christianity and the process of inculturation.

 

Abstract of my Thesis:

GORKHA EVANGELICAL CHURCH

 

Title of the Thesis:

 

Culture and Christianity Negotiated in Hindu Society

A Case Study of a Church in Central and Western Nepal

 

Preliminary Thoughts for Research

One question to be addressed here is whether it is valid or possible to dive into a culture expecting that the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of the One Living God who is the Creator of the world - a quite new message to many cultures can be told without repercussions in territories like India, Bali, Cambodia, Africa or any other place?

 

My time in a national Faith Based Organization (hereafter FBO) in Nepal and later through my own developed FBO (Himalayan Bible Ministries) gave me insights into the Nepali church. I was impressed by the church for many reasons. Although a great number of churches claimed membership of different denominations like the Pentecostals, Nepal Christian Fellowship (NCF), Assemblies of God (AG), Conservative, Agape etc. or by being independent which are all expected to be different, - visiting an arbitrarily chosen church only one thought arose: This church is Nepali. Literally speaking there is little difference between a Conservative church and the Pentecostals although they should be different; and the same is true for an NCF or an AG church.

 

The church in Nepal has become Nepali, which has fascinated me since I came to Nepal for the first time in 1988. Is this just an expression of a mish-mash of denominational (mis)understanding or has the Nepali culture seriously underpinned any construct of a church in making it Nepali? And if so, how did they do it?

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