A forum to unite Marthomites to discuss issues and debate on why the Mar Thoma Syrian Church needs to wake up and reform!

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Who is a Marthomite?

Yes! A simple question, I plead of you to ask yourself ?

For a Church which boasts of 2000 years of history - it might have been a very easy question to answer. But ask the average marthomite youth and you will find conflicting answers.

Is it because there is nothing called a marthomite identity? What can the Mar Thoma Church claim other than its so called link to St. Thomas - not to forget which is also claimed by every other Christian faction in Kerala (Syrian Christians) .

There was a time when the Mar Thoma Church had great leaders, who made an impact on society and took the Word of God to the outside world. There were leaders which inspired the society at large and dictated how the community lived. Marthomites became synonymous with honest hardworking people.

This community rose in social hierarchy, educated their women, entered positions of power for their honesty, led reforms, and became shining examples to a larger society which was to learn and respect this tiny yet foresighted minority. The marthomites went to foreign shores as teachers, civil servants, agriculturists, nurses and several 'service based professions'.

Today with more than 65% of marthomites settled outside Kerala, there is a clash of the generations. For the new generations who have been born and raised outside Kerala, the obstinate and unaccommodating stance of the Church in addressing several issues is beyond understanding.

The Church maintains it is a Kerala and Malayalam based church. Yet a rising number of young members do fall under this bracket and are neither affiliated to Kerala or speak the native language of the church - Malayalam. Then again in a feeble attempt, over the last few years a priest was assigned for the youths outside kerala - as a Outside Kerala Youth League Secretary. This however is limited to working in Bangalore and inside India. The Middle East or other Europe or Northern American parishes are thought of nothing more than money banks to fill the coffers of the Kerala Institutions and the Church.

The real issue here is that the Church or its leadership do not have a clear vision on what the future of the community is. There is no official stance of the Church on homosexuality, genetic cloning, war in Iraq, political situation in India (anything outside Kerala will be welcome), acceptance of other churches and faiths.

There is a general feeling that the Church is a train running in full speed without a driver. There is danger of derailing if there is no serious attempt to do something and turn the tide of this downslide.

More in the next post....... Comments welcome!


Chris said...

I dont believe and I dont agree with everything that the Mar Thoma church teaches - but I pay the annual membership fees, so am I a Mar Thomite. Im not sure myself.
However I do feel its time for the bishops to make it mandatory that the services be held in English in every place outside Kerala (yes, even among mallus!). Holding onto tradition (language is now a tradition, I dont know when that happened, but it is) when it doesnt help in the growth of the church is ridiculous. I left the church a few years back because it had nothing to offer me -
1 I didnt understand what was going on (not least because I didnt understand Malayalam). If they are so insistent on being traditional I suggest they go back to holding the service in Greek (because Malayalam is greek for the younger generation and it will be closer to what the New Testament Church practised!). If the priests cant be bothered to learn and hold the service in English, dont expect the younger congregation to learn and attend the service in malayalam.
2 I have never heard the Gospel being preached (I was not saved in the Mar Thoma church).
3 I have never enjoyed worship (I didnt even know there were songs other than hymns and choruses till I left the church).
4 The Sunday School left me full (I had had enough) of, not hungry for - the Word of God. I didnt learn the Word, I learnt stories from it and noone ever told me how it related to Christ. I speak this not as an ignorant irresponsible fellow who never listened in Sunday School - I speak this as someone who won almost all the 1st or 2nd prizes for every Memory verse competition and Sunday school exam there ever was in one of the biggest Mar Thoma churches -the Kuwait Mar Thoma Church.
5 Apologetics (like Explanations of Alleged Discrepancies in the Bible), Doctrines (lke Salvation, Baptism) and Traditions (I mean the necessity of the Smoke and the uniform of the priests and the bishops) were never explained.
6 I left the church a few years back because it had nothing to offer me. I have returned to the church now because it has nothing to offer anyone and I wanted to help out.

After having read this, Im sure a lot of you will think me to be a pompous fellow, but what I have written is the truth. The youth want to learn the Word of God. The youth want to understand the service. The youth want to participate. The youth have left our church because the church offers nothing. Under the guidance of Rev Philip Simon, the Manipal Bethel Home church has grown by leaps and bounds in attracting the youth in just a matter of months. I hope that the other achens ask him how he did it and at least try and replicate it, if not find a formula of their own. God bless you all and I hope this site makes a difference for the future of the youth (I am not 50 myself!).

Judy said...

I agree. What exactly is the so called tradition. Something that somebody already believe in. Malayalam was not the actual language used in sermons, it was Syriac. Then why did Abraham Malpan change that into malayalam. Didn't he break the tradition. Reformation should be a continuous process. It is correct whenever it leads to improvement irrespective of the person who initiates it.
I have attended English services at Phila churches. I found the services a mockery. The verses are recited in a very boring way and non one understands what is going on.
So we need change. Change should start from the top.

mtc monk said...

Hey Judy,

Well I agree change should be continuous. The MTC was a church which served as a role model and example to the other Kerala churches of how the church can change and still be relevant.

Now how ever I agree - change is unwanted and it is compared to heresy . Anyways welcome to the blog and i hope to hear more from you!