Today’s question is J.Sai Deepak says that Christianity was responsible for colonialism. Is this true?
“Christian theology proved an irresistible handmaiden to the prolonged plunder of colonised lands”
J Sai Deepak is an Indian attorney who recently wrote a book entitled India that is Bharat. In this book he discussed a lot about colonialism and Christianity. He wrote that Christian theology aided and abetted colonialism. Let us see the worth of this argument.
Christianity promotes an ascetic view of life. One day a rich man meets Jesus. You can read that story in Matthew chapter 16. This richman asks Jesus, ‘Jesus, how can I get eternal life?’. Jesus says to him, ‘follow the commandments of God’. The rich man says, ‘I do follow the commandments’. Then Jesus gives him bombshell advice. Go, give all your riches to the poor. The rich man was not happy to hear that advice and he leaves in bitterness and disappointment.
If you really follow the commandments of God, you should not be amassing wealth in this world. That is the gist of Christian gospel. Jesus did not even own a home of his own. His apostles lived a very simple life and taught living with contentment when basic necessities of life are met. St.Paul wrote in one of his letter,
1 Timothy 6:6-12 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
That’s Christian theology: Godliness with contentment. We brought nothing into the world and we take nothing out of it. So, if you have food and clothing, be satisfied. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
At the heart of colonialism is greed. At the heart of colonialism is discontentment. At the heart of colonialism is the love of money. East India Company wanted to invade India to make more money. India was and is full of natural resources and Human Resources. ‘Let us go to India, make use of its natural resources and human resources and make lot of money’. That was their mission. They were not interested in promoting Christianity.
If you look at today’s India, observe the activities of India’s richest men. They go to a place, displace the poor, occupy that land, take over the minerals or oil or natural gas in that region, start an industry, export the produce and make a lot of money. That is neo-colonialism. Even though it does not hurt us, it hurts those Adivasis or indigenous Indians a lot. Adivasi literally means ‘original inhabitants’. We see them being forcefully removed from the regions which were taken over by the rich businessmen. ‘Let us displace these people, take over their land and use it for our profit’. These Indian businessmen are Hindus by faith, but they were not interested in promoting Hinduism. We see many sanyasis in the Himalayas, who leave everything in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. The businessman is not interested in the ascetic aspects of Hinduism. He may visit a Hindu temple and offer big donations to the gods, but his main focus in life is to become rich.
In the Bible, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, the men and women of God were not interested in becoming rich. The prophets lived a very simple life. John the Baptist was wearing clothing made of camel’s hair and was eating only honey and wild locusts. That is to say that he was living a very basic life depending on the natural resources in the wilderness. He was not at all interested in becoming rich. His mission was only to preach the kingdom of God.
Today’s richest men like Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates were born in namesake Christian homes, they even observe Christmas but they were not following any teachings of Jesus Christ from the New Testament. The Britishers from the East India Company were no different.
If Jeff Bezos meets Jesus, our blessed Savior would tell him the same words, ‘Go, give all your riches to the poor and follow me. Give all your billions to the poor and follow me.’ Colonialists whether they were British or French or German or Belgian or Spanish or Portuguese, they were not giving to the poor. They were plundering the poor. It’s true that they used God’s name many times. This is for ‘Glory, Gold and God’. Glory, Gold and God. ‘We want to make a great name for ourselves. We want to amass gold and wealth. And we want to please God’. But, ‘Glory, Gold and God’ is not biblical. God wants us to glorify Him not to glorify ourselves. God wants us to give what we have to others, not steal what they have. God does not want us to do things our way but in his way.
So, J.Sai Deepak saying “Christian theology proved an irresistible handmaiden to the prolonged plunder of colonised lands” is not true. Christian theology has never been a handmaiden to the prolonged plunder of colonised lands. In fact, Christian theology when followed to the letter provides a great obstacle to plunderers and plutocrats of our world.