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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chp 149. Mizoram: The Denominations.

Related Reading:
Life in a Christian Majority State: The Truth.
Life in a Christian Majority State: The Denominations.
Life in a Christian Majority State: The Church.

People here in India look at Christianity as one religion. Stuff like, “Oh he’s a Christian”, “Our professor is a Christian” etc. And when it comes to denominations, some people do know/notice the differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants etc. Because in India we Christians behave as a single entity. Many of us go to Churches that we do not belong to and that does not bother us, after all, we (usually) treat them all to be the same.

I met my new friend Jason over the blogosphere, and when I asked him (casually) about his denomination, he mentioned that he was “denomination-less” and that he believes in all Christian practices. That is the answer many Christians here in India would give today.

I have taken part or browsed through enough Christianity discussion forums on the Net to know that things aren’t like that outside India. Take for example this thread, one of the many such discussion forums. On those forums, one can easily summarize the discussions as:

  • My Church is real and yours is fake.
  • My Bible is thicker than your Bible.
  • My Jesus loves me more than your Jesus loves you.
  • My Christian God performs more miracles than your Christian God.
  • I’m a Christian while you’re just a Bible & Jesus believing non-Christian.

And the list goes on.

I always used to think such incidents never happen in India because we Christians are a minority (2.3% as stated in my previous post), and we all know how important it is to stick together. But then, taking the instance of Mizoram, it is a Christian majority State with various denominations, yet there has never been any incident of such “denomination-bashing” as seen in other Christian dominated Nations. Wars have even been fought on the grounds of different Christian beliefs.

In Mizoram, according to the Statistic Handbook earlier published here [Statistics of Mizoram], the break-down of the main Christian denominations [2005-06] are as follows:

DenominationNo. of local Church/ Corps/ParishTotal members# Percentage
Presbyterian Church of India109351137066%
Mizoram Baptist Church41012058515.6%
UPC (Mizoram)358426935.5%
Salvation Army*207*500056.5%
7th Day Adventist173168582.1%
Roman Catholic17178642.3%

* Denotes the year 2004-2005.
# Rough percentage because I calculated the percentage of the (2005-06) figure based on the 2001 official population report. Since they are all relative anyway, I figured the variation from the actual percentage won’t be that much.

Pastor Greg Albrecht of Plain Truth Ministries mentioned in the Q&A section:
There is no one true church that is incorporated under human leadership. The body of Christ is made up of many parts. That does not mean that all those who call themselves a Christian church are in fact just that. If you care to know more you may click on “Ask Greg” – then under Churches and Denominations where we answer similar questions about the historic and orthodox teaching of the body of Christ – what the basic, fundamental, and core teachings of a Christian church are, and what they are not.

Ironically, one of the core teachings is that the body of Christ is universal, that it is not solely represented in any one human organization. Therefore, any church that claims that it and it alone is the one and only true church has disqualified itself from being part of the body of Christ. Such a church is in fact attacking the body of Christ and calling it less than what it is.
Sure, feel free to disagree. Just remember that any “denomination-bashing” comments will not be published here.

My friend T has an interesting take on why there has never been any sectarian clash among Christians in Mizoram. She said it’s solely because of the YMA (Young Mizo Association) to which each and every Mizo is a member of. It is an NGO which cuts across all denominations and binds everyone together. Now that is certainly a penny for our thoughts.

My theory on the other hand, is that people have intrinsically realized that there is no point in fighting over which ritual to perform, which dress code to follow, which sacrament to take etc. when in fact, it all leads back to the same end result. Another Mizo friend P, a theological student from Bangalore, had his own concept though. He claimed that there are no sectarian clashes in Mizoram purely because there are not many differences between the two largest groups, the Presbyterians and the Baptists (the main difference being “infant baptism”).

Click here [Religion Fact] for some of the other main differences between the major Christian denominations of today, based on facts, beliefs, practices etc.

There are over 9000 Christian Denominations in the World today. To catch a glimpse of how many denominations are present, you can visit World Christian Database. I have taken the data from there and represented it at MS Excel sheet. India ranks second in the World when it comes to the number of different denominations present!

On the lighter side, you can actually select which religion/sect/denomination you want to belong to by answering a simple questionnaire at this fantastic website given below:
Religion Selecter:
“With just 20 questions, our goal is to provide a fun and informative activity to explore world religions and belief systems. We've included a sampling of more than two dozen world religions, belief systems, or belief categories.”
So, just as there are many Christian denominations in the rest of India, like RC, Jacobite, Church of South India, El Shaddai, Adventist, Syrian Orthodox etc, there are also various denominations in Mizoram. The characteristic of each denomination will be updated later here, so do keep watching this space.

With that, I leave you all with a small joke I found at John Mark Ministries. You gotta appreciate the guy who came up with this joke

How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Depends.

Charismatic: Only one. Hands already in the air.

Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go off and on at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Episcopalians: Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old bulb was.

Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light bulb is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb or tulip bulb. A church-wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring a bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Nazarene: Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review the church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish: What's a light bulb?


Almostunreal said...

this reminds me of the time I used to go to a 7th Day. they are very influential...during vacation, I stopped taking pork, and preached to my family that Saturday is the day we are to attend the service, not sunday etc etc

Mizohican said...

How did you end up going to a 7th Day? You went along with your friends?

Outside Mizoram, I've been to nearly every Church possible. Catholics, Pentecostal (which is not similar to the UPC in Mizoram when it comes to faith in the Trinity), CSI, Baptist etc. But within Mizoram, I've only been to Presbyterian Churches. Have you ever gone to a non-Mizo Service of a Presbyterian Church? lolz, trust me, thats also a very different feeling. My aunt conducts the non-Mizo fellowship here in Chaltlang South, so I would go there sometimes... Its very... different. :)

Pixie said...

Again, I sound repeatative, but very informative!
I just passed on a award to you - so, please do go ahead and pick it up from my blog! :-)

Mizohican said...

Pixieeee. Thank you so much for the Schmooze Award. Now I will spend my whole day grinning from ear to ear :)

This is my second Schmooze award, but never-the-less, its as deep and meaningful as the first one. Thank you once again dear Pixie.

Hmelthatea David said...

I thlalak hi ka en ngun poh leh ka duh zual. Ka star reuh tlat :) tunge ni reng2 a

Mizohican said...

e keimah! sala! :)

Hmelthatea David said...

A nilo a nilo. eh! chuti hmeichhia mi niha, lol. ka duh reuh ltk. a tong thei reuh ngawt ang...


Kima, tunhma chuan denomination politics kha nasa thin a lawm...Tin, Zoram tualchhuak Kohhran lam hi i sawi tel vak lova, an chanchin hi interesting phian hlawm a sin. James Dokhuma khan ZOram tualto Kohhran tih lehkhabu a ziak a. Tah khan kimchang khawp mai.

Hng indegenous churches te nen chuan, Mizoramah Kohhran 70 aia tam an ding tawh..Mak ve tak chu ni? kan hmel a tarlang tel khawp mai..!!

Philo said...

Im there among the Episcopalians but, hic, what's a light bulb in the first place? Denominations are constructive as long as they facilitate the range of human subjectivities in relation to understanding one's triadic god-world-human relation. They overstep this prerogative if they assume to exhaust all other possibilities for that triadic self understanding. Ergo, it's saddening that even in a small geographical unit like Mizoram, denominational lines get so set-in-stone and become instances for othering.

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