Ask Charles Joseph (September 9-13, 2019)

Hello, friends! (@Interested_In_Ask_RZIM)
We are once again privileged to have Charles Joseph from the RZIM India team back with us this week! He was on the forum a couple of weeks ago, and he returns to us to answer our questions about faith and life. So if you missed out then, be sure to take the opportunity to engage with him this week. :blush:

Charles Joseph’s RZIM bio
Charles Premkumar Joseph is an alumnus of the renowned Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore. With a post professional masters in cardio-pulmonary physical therapy, he served as both a lecturer and Lead Clinical Therapist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In over a decade of clinical practice, he distinguished himself as an expert in soft tissue pain management and haemophilia rehabilitation. He has publications in peer-reviewed medical journals and his clientele included heads of Indian States, prominent members of the society, and the poorest of the poor. Charles also holds a master in psychology.

Answering the call to rehabilitate the soul and not just the body, he made a major career shift in 2010 and joined the RZIM team fulltime and serves as an itinerant speaker and writer. He is also the Editor of Engage , RZIM India’s online apologetics quarterly. He has also helped in co-editing the book Life and Teachings of Maha Satguru Yeshu published by the Bible Society of India. Charles has spoken in various settings in India and abroad and has enjoyed his engagements with college students and corporates alike on a variety of topics. He enjoys public and private Q&A sessions and delights in discussing faith one-on-one with both seekers and skeptics.

His areas of interest include the uniqueness of Christ, comparative religion, contemporary issues, holistic health, and conversational apologetics. He makes his home in Mumbai with his wife, Priscilla, and daughter Mishaelle.

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Dear Bro Charles,

Hope you are doing well. It has been some time since we last met in Vizag. Looking forward to meet you once again in Vizag in near future.

Since, I am very active on social media defending my faith in Christ and Christianity in general from both atheists and apologists from other religions, I come across some notorious (especially Hindu) instant internet atheist in disguise. One of the points they raise, often sarcastically, is about my name - Krishnam Raju that refers to a Hindu deity.

They ask; How can a Christian have a Hindu name after Lord Krishna? (This is the most common question that many Christians might have been facing who have Hindu names i.e. Hindu deity names )

My standard reply is as follow;

You are right, my name is Krishnam Raju but I or my name don’t relate to Lord Krishna in any way as you assume because my name is an amalgamation of my parents names. My first name comes from my father’s name - Krishna and my last name comes from my mother’s name - Rajamma. When I was a toddler, my parents took me to an elderly person who they respected. He was well versed with astrology and mythology. So, this elderly person brought together my parents names - Krishna and Rajamma and came up with Krishnam Raju.

(I am working on a blog post about being a Christian with a Hindu name in which I talk about this in detail.)

Also, I use my name as a testimony to show that I have accepted Christ as a saviour even though I was born and brought up in a Hindu family. I kind of brag about it.

Of course, I have a Christian name - Christopher, that I got after I took baptism more than a decade ago.

What do you think about my approach and could you think of few more approaches that might help me further in Indian context?

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Hello Charles Joseph,
I am a nursing student and chaplain trying to pioneer a closer pairing of medical training and practice with discipleship and evangelism. To date, my projects include “Teach Us Grace” which is an eldercare model using the Lord’s prayer as a conversation template, “Qavah” which is a tensile strength workout program centered around someone publically reading God’s word aloud, and “Reflections” which attempts to describe the symmetries between our body and soul through studying anatomical metaphors found in Scripture.
I share all that because of your interest in holistic health and to make these 3 related questions more understandable:

  1. How have you seen medical training and practice rightly paired with discipleship and evangelism?
  2. What are some of the most detrimental theological dangers for Christians practicing holistic health?
  3. Considering the global spread of programs like CrossFit, Yoga, etc. should Christian missionaries try developing our own health “export” in order to reach more people?
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Dear Krishnam!

Look forward to meeting again, soon.

Your question is a unique one, indeed. And your response sure, is unique :wink:
Our names, at least in the eastern culture, becomes part of our identity and communicates much more than a ‘tag’. It could communicate our faith allegiance, one’s caste, status in society, trade, etc., and is quite revealing!

The fact that you, own up to your name, and don’t feel the need to escape it, could/should speak a lot to an Indian-Hindu. It reiterates that you value your culture and respect its traditions and are not, instantly ‘westernized’ like some Hindus accuse us (Indian Christians) of. Bravo!

‘Krishna’ etymologically means ‘all-attractive’. It sure denotes a specific ‘Hindu’ avatar and many Hindus name their children in allegiance to this Hindu god. But it could be a name that one bears for the sheer meaning that it conveys. Who can deny us that!

The unique thing about Hindus or Muslims who retain their names that denote their faith roots, is such an amazing conversation starter for sharing Jesus Christ.

Besides, even though in the east our names become our identity and much more, we need to understand that our true identity is not in our names, vocation, or standing in society - but, to whom we truly - belong to.

So continue sporting your lovely ‘all attractive’ conversation starter name. And keep sharing how our identities are truly realized in pledging allegiance to the name above all names - Jesus :wink:

Blessings!

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Wow Saba!

What you are doing already is brilliant. So heartening to see how you are integrating healthcare and Spirituality.

The New Age movement gained a lot of traction and continues to do so even today, marrying healthcare and spirituality. India. Sri Lanka and other Far East Asian countries are ‘tourist hubs’/‘pilgrim centres’ for seekers of “New spirituality”.

Christian Theology/Spirituality is robust in its emphasis on Spirit/Soul and Body. However, the influence of Hellenistic thinking in the past, about the ‘inherent’ material evil, the emphasis on the body was underplayed. There is gladly a resurgence of the importance of integrating ‘Spirit-Psyche-Somata’.

However, a caution here would be, not to swing the pendulum to the other extreme, either out of a compulsion to out do ‘New spirituality’ or redeem the long lost emphasis of ‘holistic’ Christian health.

Mark 12:30 is a classic Scripture, that emphasises total, well-rounded, holistic discipleship. Loving the LORD, with all of our faculties/entire being - Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength.

The idea that man is a highly complex hybrid of Spirit and/or Soul and Body, the ‘crowning glory’ of God’s creation, is an essential truth and an integral part of the Biblical worldview that needs to be taught and emphasised.

Christian holistic healthcare programs and regimens ought to always strive to keep ‘the main things, the main things’ and resist the temptation to put the cart before the horse.

As a Christian worker/missionary, I don’t think we should feel compelled to necessarily come up with our own health “exports” to redeem ‘holistic health’ for Christ.

Hello! I have been curious to something which is very mystery about Christ youth life. In gospel we dint see where did Christ spend his youth life, it just appear after probably 30 years. And there is an many eastern religion like, Buddhist, Hindu claim that Christ was live in India, Tibet learning an Eastern religion. How can we answer about this youth life of Christ, where did He do and where He live?

Hi Chuimatai!

Thanks for your question.

Interfaith dialogues in India, centered around the Person of Jesus Christ, often times go this way, don’t they?

Buddhists claim that during his youth Jesus came to India and learned from Bodhisattvas. The Muslims also have a narrative that ‘Jesus lived in India’ (popularized by Kirsten Holger’s book by the same name) etc.

Firstly, the Bible is silent on Jesus’ growing years. And a good thumb rule of ‘interpretation’ is to be silent on matters that God chose to be silent about. For if we did, speak on such matters we would only be speculating. We source truth about Jesus from the Bible and here we don’t have any data to help us.

But that reply may not helpful to a friend from another faith. To such, we could ask where they source their data from and how they know it to be true.

Oftentimes, there is no substantial response that they can give us at this point.

Hope this helps.

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