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Charismata and compassion : Dhinakaran, Charismatic healing and Pastoral Pentecostalism in South India : a practical theological assessment

By Christopher Guru Gnanakan


This dissertation is a theological assessment of the Jesus Calls divine healing movement as it developed in South India. It analyses the thought of the founder D. G. S.\ud Dhinakaran, India's pre-eminent healing evangelist and explores its potential and adequacy as a pastoral theology. It draws out Dhinakaran's healing theology and model for ministry that has significantly contributed to Indian mission and attained international recognition. Until now, this movement has received no critical analysis.\ud The author, a native of South India, as an observer-participant, takes up this task.\ud \ud The emergence and impact of the modem Pentecostal movement and the `full gospel' with healing as its flagship is discussed. The study highlights lesser-known precursors\ud and theological roots that give Indian Pentecostalism its distinct identity from the 1906 Azusa Street Revival, USA. It reveals how Charismatic Christianity flourishes due to\ud its bhakti spirituality, guru leadership, apostolic charismata and practical compassion. The thesis maintains that the dialectic of Pentecostal power and pastoral care is an effective mission strategy and proceeds to demonstrate this in Dhinakaran's ministry.\ud \ud The research method progressed from a description of Dhinakaran's healing praxis via theological analysis to a critical assessment. It shows some major influences and the\ud appeal of his prayer movement and argues that the key to its success lies in its highly pragmatic, culturally adaptive and syncretic nature. Three doctrinal concepts that are embodied in Dhinakaran's model are presented: compassion, the wounded healer and healing evangelism, which correlate within a theological apparatus to make\ud interpretative sense of his praxis resulting in what is termed `Pastoral Pentecostalism'.\ud \ud The hybridity in Dhinakaran's `miracle healing' is explored within two wider contextual interfaces: the traditional Hindu culture with the shamanic manthiravadi and an imported but adapted version of American faith healing. Here, an easternwestern synthesis is shown to contribute at once to a viable indigenous ministry and to global trends in Charismatic Christianity, allowing each to inform and shape the other. Dhinakaran's distinct prosperity message is located within the Guru movement and assessed against the American health-wealth gospel for pastoral integrity. The thesis advocates a Pastoral Pentecostalism that holds charismata and compassion in creative tension and re-presents Dhinakaran as a significant charismatic healing evangelist

Publisher: School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Year: 2006
OAI identifier:

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