Christian Gurus – Part 2 – An Empirical Enquiry

We continue with the book “Christian Gurus: A Study of the Life and Work of Christian Charismatic Leaders in South India written by Dr. Werner Hoerschelmann which I introduced in part 1. To study the phenomenon of “Christian Gurus” the author undertook an empirical study on such leaders. As the author often spent time in Tamil Nadu, it became the most convenient area to carry out the necessary field studies. The author felt that the greatest number of “self sufficient Christian groups” were found in Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Tanjore, Madurai, Coimbatore and the metropolitan area of Madras (Chennai). To keep it  manageable, the author concentrated on one urban area (Madras) and one rural area (Tirunelveli & Kanyakumari). He selected “Christian groups outside and independent of the Church, led by individuals who claimed exclusive authority in matters of doctrine and community life.” Discussions and observations took place via visits to group meetings, interviews with group leaders, interviews with members of the groups and interviews with outside informants (if available). 4 “Christian Gurus” from earlier years, 8 from the urban area and 8 from the rural area were selected. The list of 20 potential “Christian Gurus” researched is given below. Details will not being provided except for the section on Joshua Daniel which will appear in part 3 of this series. Although many of us have been influenced by Joshua Daniel of Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship, there are other Christians who have been influenced by leaders of other groups. This list is published with the hope that it may be of use to people from other Christian groups. Just because a leader or church appears in this list, please do not assume anything. Buy the book and check them out for yourself. I am interested in studying other Christian groups if possible and if there is a need. So do respond with your comments.

An empirical enquiry into the phenomenon of the “Christian guru

Historical examples

  1. Muttukutti – an incarnation of Vishnu inspired by Christianity
  2. Arumainayagam – Christian rabbi from Nazareth
  3. Justus Joseph – God’s viceregent for 5 ½ years
  4. Yohanan – demagogue among poor

Examples drawn from an urban area

  1. Chellam Asan – the witchcraft dealer
  2. Sundaram – the patriarch
  3. Sara Navaroji – the celestial singer
  4. Joshua Daniel – second generation revivalist preacher
  5. Joel Joseph – Lutheran Pentecostal
  6. Manuel Fernando – lord of the dark-skinned slaves, slave of the whites, revivalist – made in U.S.A
  7. Augustine N. Peters – D. D. (U.S.A) and Director Director
  8. Papa Sankar – Christian Pythia from Tamil Nadu

Examples from a rural area

  1. Sadhu Jesudhosan – the merry sanyasi
  2. Sadhu Devanesan – the demagogue
  3. Sathyah – crusader against the Church
  4. John – spiritual speculator
  5. Paulaseer Lawrie – preacher, miracle healer, Son of Man, Son of God, Son of David
  6. Harris – prophet for “Jesus only”
  7. Gnanasagamony – the sage
  8. Rachel Devadasan – “minor” prophetess


Filed under Book review, Church

2 responses to “Christian Gurus – Part 2 – An Empirical Enquiry

  1. GE/Amian Amahar

    Many thanks for your efforts. I am looking forward to part 3.

    I have asked elsewhere for a translation into English of a lengthy response in one of the Indian languages to another of your articles. I apologise for my ignorance, especially as these matters largely concern Indian brethren. Many thanks to those who have taken the trouble to write in English – English people are not the best at learning other languages (Americans are even worse, but this isn’t a competition in laziness or arrogance!).

    • In my opinion, the author mainly gives empirical information. He doesn’t seem to come down harshly on “Christian Gurus” but rather seems to leave it open ended. Just a forewarning to you and others, lest you have an anticlimax.

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