America magazine has placed an excerpt from an article Mr. Jindal wrote in 1993, on his conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. Perspectives of an Indian convert. It's simple, straightforward, and powerful. [Hat tip to Amy.]
And, as a convert from Hinduism myself, there is much I can identify with.
My investigation of Christianity might have remained at this theoretical level had it not been for a short black-and-white film. Though its depiction of the crucifixion was harsher than that of many similar movies, something about this film hit me very hard. For the first time, I actually imagined what it meant for the Son of God to be humiliated and even killed for my sake. Although the movie did not convince me that anything was true, it did force me to wonder if Christians were right. I realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the Son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation. (Emphasis added)As some of y'all know, my first encounter with the Lord was an encounter with Christ crucified, and this overwhelming sense that "this man died for me," on Good Friday in 1991.
My family's response was very different from his, much more supportive, though they're as bewildered as ever. I'm truly grateful for this, since so many of my Indian friends have remarked just, well, how remarkable this is.
The title of Governor-elect Jindal's essay gets to the heart of a very important question: "Does Ecumenism make evangelism irrelevant?" There are so many places and voices in the church, in the US, in India (and elsewhere too), which would effectively say that dialogue has replaced proclamation. Mission consists in the witness of a holy life, of social development, work for human liberation and justice and so on. However there would be great discomfort in actually proclaiming Christ and inviting people to become His disciples and join His body, the Church. And while we recognize and respect "all that is good and true" in the world's religions, and respect the freedom of conscience of all, and, through dialogue, learn about different ways of understanding the divine, I don't think any of this means that we ignore the command we have from the Lord Himself, the Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations.
The sense of urgency for the missions has definitely been dulled. How to resurrect it, without going back to an atmosphere of spiritual pride, and condemning everyone else to hell, well that's another question. Governor-elect Jindal again.
The motivation behind my conversion, however, was my belief in one, objectively true faith. If Christianity is merely one of many equally valid religions, then the sacrifices I made, including the loss of my family's peace, were senseless. I was comfortable in my Hindu faith and enjoyed an active prayer life; I only gradually felt a void and stubbornly resisted God's call from within the church. It was Truth and Love that finally forced me to accept Christ as Lord. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way and the truth and the life: No one comes to the Father except through me'" (In. 14:6). Christ's redemptive sacrifice proved that God loved me and was lifting me up to Him.