THE CHURCH AND RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN THE PLURALISTIC CONTEXT
We are living in a context with a diversity of cultural, religious and social trends and the religious and cultural plurality is quite evident. Pluralism is the law of reality and life. But the term pluralism has come to be widely used in connection with the theologies of religion/s in the last two decades. It is a special challenge to the world religions. Pluralism primarily refers to the quality or state of being plural. In the philosophical sense it refers to the theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle, or that reality consist of two or more independent elements In the cultural sociology and ethnology, pluralism may refer to a fragmentary of culture into set of subcultures demarcated by ethnic, linguistic, religious or other boundaries. The religious pluralism could be understood as the co-existences and values in a context.  According to Leslie Newbegin, ‘Religious pluralism is the belief that the difference between the religious and not a matter or truth and falsehood but of different perceptions of truth’ Religious pluralism is a part of the larger plurality of roes of peoples and cultures of social structures, economic systems and political patterns, of languages and symbols, all of which are past of the human heritage. It is the homage, which the finite mind pays to the inexhaustibility of the infinite. In this situation, the presentation of the uniqueness of Christ in our ministry is not an easy attempt. Hence the question of how can we communicate the uniqueness of Christ in the pluralistic society.
Fundamentalism in the real sense largely limited to the history of American Protestantism, illuminates the study of the problem of science and religion with regard to cosmology. "Fundamentalism" is a subspecies of evangelicalism. The term originated in America in 1920 and refers to evangelicals who consider it a chief Christian duty to combat uncompromisingly "modernist" theology and certain secularizing cultural trends. Organized militancy is the feature that most clearly distinguishes fundamentalists from other evangelicals. Fundamentalism is primarily an American phenomenon, although it has British and British Empire counterparts, is paralleled by some militant groups in other traditions, and has been exported worldwide through missions. It is the colonialism which gave its root in the Indian soil for the Christian fundamentalism and its counter part in the oriental religious traditions. Fundamentalism was a mood of militancy as much as a set of doctrines and institutions opposition to modernist theology and to some of the relativistic cultural changes that modernism embraced. This militancy provided the basis for a wider anti-modernist coalition that emerged as a distinct movement in America during the 1920s and spread all around the world with different faces like Islamic, Hindu fundamentalism comes under the banner of religious fundamentalism or cultural militancy.
In this paper the attempt is made to understand the fact of religious pluralism, fundamentalism, Issues related to church and pluralism and fundamentalism, religious communalism and the problem of identity crisis, the politicization of religions, religious freedom and the question of conversion, the attitude towards religious pluralism, the models which opens the religious and cultural encounter or dialogue, the binary opposite like political witness and the witness of the church in the pluralistic context etc.
1. The fact of religious pluralism and the historical encounter between religions
The fact of religious pluralism is integrally linked up with the plurality of the other facts of human heritage. Religious plurality is an issue arising out our existential life situation. It is not only a fact but also a legitimate phenomenon of human history, which has resulted in a renewed interest and challenge perspectives in analyzing and understanding religions in our times. Pluralism derives from the awareness of the irreducibility of various systems of thought that seek to understand reality, the radical non-necessary of reducing the whole of reality to a single concern of intelligibility and the nature of human knowledge which is neither total nor absolute, which has to be aware of radical relativity of its consumptions and starting points.
Since ancient time the religions lived in isolation or in indifference and hostility. It was colonialization, which shed light and brought out knowledge concerning other cultures and religions in the radical sense. Western technological development resulting in industrialization and secularization paved the ways for nations to closer into a single current of world history. When conquest gives away there emerges the realization of mutual tolerance, sincere communication. This brings about self-reflection, re-evaluation and new comparisons. Very often cultures are supported by religions and therefore when we speak of religious pluralism, in many a case we may have to speak of cultural pluralism as well.
2. Issues in Religious pluralism
The growing awareness of religious pluralism poses a great dilemma for religious people of simple as well as for the scholars. The following are some of the major issues related to pluralism.
a. Question of Truth in religions: This is one of the most significant theological problems to be examined in any study on religious pluralism. The word for truth in Sanskrit is satya that is derived from sat means being or reality. Most religions accept revelation as the infallible way of knowing satya and claim that theirs is the revealed satya. This shows that revelation revealed in the scripture is a matter of faith and therefore the satya of them is to be verified by some other means. The pragmatic theory of truth holds that truth is that which produces good results; but even a false belief may some times produce beneficial results. Revelation, scripture, reason non of them can serve as the criterion of truth singularly but they may be helpful in understanding and assessing truth, but it is to be tested and verified by others.
b. Religious communalism and the problem of identity crisis: Religion provides people with a focal point of identity and social solidarity. Identity formation based on religion leads to communication. Religion as a belief system/ideology needs not necessarily lead to communalism, but religion the basis of identity formation usually ends in it. The clash of interest among the religions and commercial parties causes much tension and violence disturbing the harmony and peace. Moreover the religions, which claim the monopoly of truth, try to proselytize people of other faiths, questioning their identity, which leads to religious intolerance and hostility that in turn threaten the harmony and peace of society. Religious rivalry and fanaticism creates ill-will among different communities which leads to the communalism. Thus religious pluralism raises the question of personal choice.
c. The politicization of religions: The problems raised by religious pluralism have socio-political implications as well. Many of the religions in India are becoming politically more organized. Each religious communities wants to safeguard its own interests even at the coast of other communities and in what attempt tries to hold power so that it may be over dominated by other religious communities. This results in politicization of religions. The clash of interests among the religious communal parties causes much tension and violence, creations law and order problems.
d. The religious freedom and the question of conversion: In a country with a plurality of religions the question of religious freedom is of utmost important. If the state fails to give equal treatment to all religious, conflict is in avoidable. The Indian constitution adapted a secular policy in the Government of the state and its nature is not anti-religious, but equal treatment to all religions.  Indian constitution gives as a constitutional right to everyone the right to profess, practice and propagate any religion of his choice subject to public order, morality and health.
3. The attitudes towards religious pluralism
It is important to have a methodology look at the issue of religious pluralism, as communal harmony is essential today. As a response there are several approaches and models involves in the issue of religious pluralism.
a) Exclusivism: This attitude has a certain elements of heroism in it. The exclusivists consider their religion to be true. For them there is no value in other religious traditions, so they never respect the faith of others. It carries with it the obvious danger of intolerance, hybrids and contempt for others. It further bears the intrinsic weakness of assuming an almost purely logical conception of truth and the uncritical attitude of an epistemological naivel. Exclucivist are intolerant or they have truth claims. Usually they never respect the faith of others. Karl Barth condemned other religions as unbelief and demonic. He was not able to see any light or revelation in nor-Christians religions. Hendrik karaemer believed that Christianity has no relation with other religious traditions. The exclusivists are alleged to be using proof texts to make their exclusive claims.
b) The inclusivistic: approaches religions sympathetically. It tolerates and respects other religious traditions. The inclusivist sees his/her God and the basic dynamic of salvation to him/her operative in all religions and even in non-religious ideologies. The inclusivistic attitude will tend to reinterpret things in such a way as to make them not only palatable but also assailable. This attitude has a certain quality of magnanimity and greatness in it. It does not make any fanatic or exclusive claims, tolerates and respects other religious traditions. One can follow her/his own path and do not need to condemn the other.
c) Interpenetration: Raimundo Pannikkar explains that his approach is mutually accepting and complementing. Pannikkar proposed this basis mutual fecundation of religions. As a positive aspect this attitude has broadmindedness, tolerance and mutual confidence that it inspire. This approach is mutually accepting and complementing. It can contribute to a mutual enrichment with in a synthesis.
d) Parallelism: Pannikkar expounds that all religions move on with their claims, perfections and imperfections. Be a better Christian, better Marxist, better Hindu. This attitude presents very positive advantages, it is tolerant, respect the others and does not judge them. All religions, with their claims, perfections and imperfections, are running parallel to meet in the ultimate, end of human pilgrimage. Pannikkar gives a mild warnings that there is no need to interfere with them, not to covert or to borrow from them, but to deepen our own respective traditions so that they may meet at the end.
e). Pluralism: Parallelism and pluralism are closely related. Pluralism holds variety of experiences. Each one should accept, respect, and tolerate the other. Pluralism is the law of reality and life. Religiously and culturally pluralist is quite evident in the Indian soil. Leslie Newbign, Religious pluralism could be understood as the co-existences and values in a context. The fact of religious pluralism is integrally linked up with the plurality of the other facts of human heritage. Religious plurality is an issue arising out of our existential life situation. It is not only a fact but also a legitimate phenomenon of human history. Which has resulted in a renewed interest and change perspectives in analyzing and understanding religion in our times. Pluralism derives from the awareness of the irreducibility of various systems of thought that seek to understand reality, the radical non-necessity of reducing the whole of reality to a single concern of intelligibility and the nature of human knowledge which is neither total non absolute, which has to be aware of radical relativity of its consumptions and starting points. 
The pluralistic approach accepts that all religions are different ways towards salvation. All religions are considered on an equal footing with regard to their validity and legitimacy in providing salvation. The pluralist paradigm accommodates a plurality of religious and divine revelations. Pluralism accepts that every religious experience is necessarily a relative experience. Each religion mediates relation to absolute in its own particular and unique way. 
f). Pluralistic inclusivism: In this approach both inclusivism and pluralism undergoes a change from their precious meanings. It makes pluralism inclusive and inclusivism pluralistic. This approach affirms that one’s own faith can be theologically and spiritually enriched by the contributions of the other faiths, which comes about through the process of dialogue. This approach advocates a dynamic interaction between religions leading to relational convergence of religions and mutual transformation.
4. The approach or the attitude towards religious pluralism
There are different approaches developed to meet the challenges of religious pluralism. Human life is not possible with out dialogue. We will take up the approaches for dialogue. In the Christo-centric approach traditionally, theology is Christ-centered. It is observed that the approach towards people of other faith should not be christo-centric. Historic Jesus is a hindrance for meaningful dialogue. What is emphasized more is cosmic Christ or unbound Christ or unknown Christ. There are other centers than Christ. In the theo-centric approach the Scholars like Jihn Hick Cantwell smith and Samartha support this approach. John Kick as a Copernican revolution refers it. God is behind any name. Jewish scholar shalom Ben Chorin Says the faith of Jesus united us, but faith in Jesus divides us. In the Pneumato-centric approach the term Pneuma or atma is fixed at the center in the ideological process. V. F. Vineeth, says Christian religion is a religion of the spirit. Here the shift is taking place from the accent from the historical Christ to the abiding spirit of the same Christ. The assumption is that Holy Spirit works with in all religious traditions. In the Ecclesio-Centric Approach the Ecclesia means gathering of the people with a specific purpose. If we have ecumenical focus it is possible. In the Soterio-Centric approach all religious traditions have got a concept of salvation. For Paul Knitter the soterio-centric approach is a viable method to have more co-operation and understanding among religions. Dialogue of life is described as the daily practice of brotherhood/ sisterhood, helpfulness, openheartedness and hospitality, and joint commitment to what ever leads to unity, love, truth, justice and peace. Living out a dialogue of life in Asia and elsewhere has produced a new set of inquiries in to the meaning of mission and dialogue. In the dialogue of salvation, Christians and others are called to collaborate with the Spirit of the Risen Lord, who is universally present and active in the kingdom of God. Nirmal calls for a constant dialogue between Christianity and other religious faith and ideologies. He understands dialogue in terms of common task such as eradication of poverty, creation of just social structures, and participation in certain common action. The theology of dialogue begins with an awareness of the dignity of human person. Dialogue begins when people meet each other. Dialogue depends upon mutual understanding and mutual respect. Dialogue makes it possible to share in service to the community. Dialogue becomes the medium of authentic witness.  In the pluralistic context like India, dialogue is the means to present ourselves is a peaceful and understandable way. Dialogue enriches and it enhances the human relationship because it is the symbol of mutuality and a language of love.
5. The models which opens the religious and cultural encounter or dialogue
The root metaphors are only way to present the problematic of the religious encounters and instruments for expressing different views. They are
a). The Geographical models or the way to the mountain peak:- Human beings are still pilgrims towards the summit of life and religion is to be a way which claims to lead to the submit. Ultimately we do not even know what shapes this summit has, but it has many means. There are, in fact many ways, like the different ways to the mountain peak, claiming to lead to the submit. Only when we have reaches there, we will have ultimate realization.
b). The physical models or the rainbow:- The different religious traditions of mankind are almost like infinite number of colors that appears once the divine or simply white light or reality falls on the prism of human experience. It differs into innumerable traditions, doctrines and religions. Through any particular color, viz. religions are can reach the source of the white light. It affirmes that reality is one through it appears as different.
C). The geometric model or the topological invariant:- In and through space and also due to the influence of time, a primordial and original form takes on an almost indefinite number of possible transformations through the twisting of men, the stretching by history, the bending by natural forces and so on. Religion appear different and mutually irreconcilable until or unless a topological invariant is found. This invariant does not need to be single one for all religions. Religions, which may appear at first sight very different form each other, may find their connections once the topological transformation is discovered, that permit connecting the two traditions under consideration. A literal use of topological model would assume not only that al religions are transformations of a primordial experience, intuitions or datum but also that each religious traditions is a dimension of the other.
d). The anthropological model languages:- This model considers each religion as a language. Any religion is complete as any language is also capable of expressions everything that it feels the need to express. Any religion is open to growth and evolution as any language is like the language, religions influence each other and borrow from one another without losing their identity.
e). The Copernican revolution theory:- Copernicus replaced the Ptolemaic cosmology by placing sun rather than the earth at the center of universe. John Hick used this metaphor and argued that ‘to the realization that it is God who is at the center, an that al the religions of mankind, serve and revolve around him.
6. Churches response towards religious fundamentalism
The followers of any religion identify certain of its articles of faith as non-negotiable and as much fundamental to that particular faith in all times and places. Any religion trying to find out their original or essential message, there is no harm to it, but if the adamant and arrogant attitude is developed to other religions it bring disharmony in society. A wrong understanding of God is one of the causes of fundamentalism. There are economic and political reasons behind communalism, which is the outcome of fundamentalism. Communalism riots take place mainly in urban areas using religion with false motives and selfish interest is a common crisis in the Indian context. Fundamentalism also has political expression. Fundamentalists reduced the religions to fascism. Another feature of Hindutva ideal claims the identity and unity of Hindus. In the latest map of the world many would mark India as an arena of outburst of communalistic violence affecting our society, politics and religions. It has become a frightening experience and a formidable threat to our great human values of peaceful and brotherly co-existence either in our own small circle of society or in the larger area of a nation.
Evaluation and Conclusion
Today’s Indian pluralist context is at a loss due to the forces of disintegration such as religious fundamentalism, communalism, parochialism and criminalization of politics and fascist-communal ideologies. The priorities and interests of various group identities disturb the secular fabric of our country. Politicized religion and communalized politics destroy the ethos and morality of civilized society. Regionalism and ethno-cultural or religious identities jeopardize the secular and democratic values. Majority and minority communalism equally creates social unrest, separatism and violence between religious communities. Diverse ethnic-caste-cultural-religious identities are indeed manipulated to legitimize social-economic and political interests. The church that is ‘known’ to be the community of liberation is not different from that of religious communal groups that stand for their own hidden motives. Church in present Indian context is not able to come out of the so-called ‘communal identity’ due to the attempts to establish and safe guard its own interests and privileges instead of standing for the people who are politically powerless and socially voiceless in establishing their rights and privileges. I think it is better to bring at this context Dietrich Bohhoeffer and Paulose Mar Paulose view about the church and its mission.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer understands the Church as a reality in the world. He says, “Church is no ideal Church but a reality in the world, a bit of the world reality. Christ is present in the Church.” “The Church…remains the Church of the baptized, and therefore a communion of sinners. Renunciation of its claims to ‘purity’ leads the Church back to its solidarity with this sinful world. It has as its place not only with the poor but also with the rich; not only with the pious, but also with the Godless.” “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others.”
Paulose Mar Paulose understands the vocation of the Church in relation to the struggles for justice and the necessity of political witness in pluralistic society. “The church is not only a useable tool but a powerful and important tool in God’s revolutionary strategy.” Mar Paulose observed, that the church could become a powerful tool in God’s revolutionary strategy only if it is ready to participate in the suffering of God in the world. The suffering of God in this world is evident in the contemporary struggles of the people for justice. He opposed religious fundamentalism, and affirmed religious plurality as a divine gift. He upheld the universal humanhood and liberative values of different religions.  Mar Paulose believed that the Church has a significant role to create and protect the secular society in our pluralistic context. By highlighting, the Church’s role in secular society, Mar Paulose emphasized a society that is not controlled by any religion and exhorted the Church to participate with other religious and secular movements to create a just society.
 Kees w. Bolle, “cosmology”, Mircea Eliade (ed) Encyclopedia of Religion, An Overview, Vol.4, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987) p.104-105 CDROM. Taking biblical statements about the cosmos literally, fundamentalists build up a "supernaturalism" that does not replace naturalism so much as it is superimposed on it, while the religious character of religious accounts is obscured in the process. In 1981-1982, a group of fundamentalists known as "creationists"
 The term evangelicalism usually refers to a largely Protestant movement that emphasizes (1) the Bible as authoritative and reliable; (2) eternal salvation as possible only by regeneration (being "born again"), involving personal trust in Christ and in his atoning work; and (3) a spiritually transformed life marked by moral conduct, personal devotion such as Bible reading and prayer, and zeal for evangelism and missions. George M. Marsden, “Evangelical and Fundamental Christianity”, Vol.5, Encyclopedia of Religion, p.191.
 B.J.P associated with R.S.S, a militant Hindu organization, Muslim language with Islam, Akalidal with Sikhism etc. Targeting the minority vote and dividing the majority vote in the election campaigns are perfect examples of this scenario in Indian politics.
 In the context of the nation-state, religion is quite easily politicized. The overlapping factor at work is the human-divine relations to consecrate and is thereby tied up with personal identities in the family, village, and nation. The private religious acts and beliefs provide some with a margin of independent identity and action, a buffer against the politicization of private life.
 The word ‘propagate’ means that every person has the right to discriminate or spread from person to person and place to place their religion he professes. This certainly involves conversion. Conversion is a matter of free choice based on personal conviction denying a persons right of conversion when wants it, and compelling him/her for it against his/her will and conviction of the freedom of conscience. Through the freedom of religious act, passed by the government of M.P (1968) Orissa (11968-1978) and Arunacheal Pradesh (1978) prohibits conversion from one religious faith to any other faith by use of force or inducement or by fraudulent means’. But these Act are explicitly directed against the works of the Christians and Muslims Practice and norms which violate human dignity and public morality should not be permitted in the name of religious freedom.
 Sathish Kummar, “The Theory of AnekantaVada in Jainism: Its Paradigmatic Significance to Christian Approaches in Religious Plural Context”, Unpublished thesis (MTh Thesis, Senate of Serampore College, 2000) 68.
 Sathish Kummar, “The Theory of AnekantaVada in Jainism: Its Paradigmatic Significance to Christian Approaches in Religious Plural Context”, Unpublished thesis (MTh Thesis, Senate of Serampore College, 2000), 41.
 John Naduvathussery, “Mission in India in the Context of Communalism and Fundamentalism” in Thomas Iaykara (ed.), Missiology For Third Millennium A Contextualised Mission Theology, Banglore: Dharmaram Publication, 1997, 158.
 He identified six important points that the Church in India has to take seriously in its approach to secular society. Firstly, in order to defeat communalism and to encourage secularism, the Church should become united for the cause of the weak and the voiceless over against its interests in the name of minority rights. Secondly, the Church’s control and domination in the society should be reduced. The Church can encourage society spiritually and morally through individuals only when it consciously keeps away from the centre of power. Thirdly Christian ecumenism should not be a hindrance to the unity of the entire human community. It means Churches should respond to the common issues of society. Fourthly, the Church must encourage and support the secular ideologies that are directed to the welfare of human community. Fifthly, Churches should co-operate with Social Action Groups that are working for socio-economic and political justice. Finally, the Church should resist the governments that foster communalism, and must understand the minority rights in the light of human rights. Here the matter is, whether the church is willing to stand along with human society.