India, Its Biblical Past and Future: Any Witness?

By COGwriter

India has long been one of the world's largest countries. In the past several decades, its economic impact has began to grow, hence increasing its influence around the world. Furthermore, when other ethnically Indian countries (like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) are included, those with Indian ancestory make up around 1/4 of the world's population.

Does the Bible give any mention of those who are Indian or what might affect many of the Indians in the future? Does Indian history in any way support the early Biblical narratives? Was there ever any Church of God influence in India itself? Is there now?

This series of articles will attempt to provide some answers to these questions.

Shared Heritage

The Bible teaches that all peoples descended from Adam and Eve:

And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).

This would include those now considered to be Indian, as well as all other groups and races of humans.

Furthermore, all humans are descendants of Noah as he and his family were the only humans to survive the great flood:

7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood...
13 On the very same day Noah and Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark...
23... Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive...
9:18 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan.
19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated (Genesis 7:7,13,23;9:18-19).

Some of the early genealogy of the various peoples is mentioned in the Bible:

6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth (Genesis 10:6-8).

The Hebrew word for Ethiopia is Cush, not actually the nation of Ethiopia. The eastern branch of which has been identified with India. The Hebrew word for Libya is Put and its eastern branch, like Cush, also has been identified with India:

Ham and his wife...One of their sons was named Cush (Gen. 10:6) which means "black" in Hebrew and is often translated into English as "Ethiopia" because the Greeks first called the children of Cush "Ethiopians." But not all Cushites live in the modern nation of Ethiopia.

Cush first settled around ancient Babylon (Gen. 10:8-10). From Babylon, Cush spread far and wide. Most of the black children of Cush migrated across central Arabia and around its southern coast to East Africa. The Egyptians called East Africa south of Syene, "Kosh." The Chaldeans and the Assyrians called it "Kushu" ("Cush" and "Ethiopia," International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).

Cush also had sons who went east into Asia rather than into Africa. Herodotus wrote:

The Ethiopians from the sun-rise . . . were marshalled with the Indians, and did not at all differ from [them] in appearance but only in their language, and their hair. For the eastern Ethiopians are straight-haired; but those of (Africa) have hair more curly than that of any other people. These Ethiopians from Asia were accounted (almost the same as the Indians [of India]) (Polymnia, Section 20).

The brown people of southern India and Ceylon are also descendants of Cush. Historians call them Dravidians; the ancients called them Sibae (Smith's Classical Dictionary). Their Bible name was Seba (Gen. 10:7). Josephus recognized an eastern and a western Cush--one in Asia, the other in Africa (Antiquities, Book 1, VI, 2). Herodotus calls them "Asiatic Ethiopians" (Thalia, Section 94). "Ethiopia" in Ezekiel 38:5 should be translated "Cush." It refers primarily to the Asiatic Cush, which is India today.

In India the highest castes were not only called Brahmins, but also Rajputs. "Rajput" means "king or chief of Put" (Raja," Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.). "Phut" or "Put" means a "warrior" in Hebrew. The Rajputs are the most noted warriors in India...Of the four sons of Ham, only Cush bears a name that means "black." Just as some of the sons of Cush are brown, so some of the children of Phut are black. The Indians of central and northern India vary from light to dark brown. (Personal Correspondence Department. Letter L270, L270-688. Worldwide Church of God)

The Bible specifically teaches that all peoples, including those now considered to be Indian, were together and of the same language until after the tower of Babel:

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech...

And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1,6-9).

Thus, until God confused human language and scattered people abroad, all humans were together and spoke the same language. They then dispersed around the world and settled in various places.

By the name "India" (from the Hebrew word transliterated as Hoduw, apparently related to the term "Hindu"), India is mentioned twice in the Bible in the Book of Esther:

Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia) (Esther 1:1).

So the king's scribes were called at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and it was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the princes of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all, to every province in its own script, to every people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language (Esther 8:9).

Hence there are several biblical connections with the peoples of Indian ancestry.

Possible Clues in as To Original Christian Influence

It is believed that Christianity came to India in the first century.

Jesus named twelve men to be apostles and commissioned them to take the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19-20). One of those was Bartholomew, and another was Thomas who was called "the twin" (John 20:24).

In the early third century, Hippolytus wrote about Bartholomew and Thomas:

Bartholomew, again, preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward, and was buried in Allanum, a town of the great Armenia...

And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spears at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there (Hippolytus. On The Twelve Apostles).

This may be the earliest reference to any form of Christianity coming to India. Thus, apparently at least two of the original apostles made it to India.

The 4th century historian Eusbius wrote:

Pantænus was one of these, and is said to have gone to India. It is reported that among persons there who knew of Christ, he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had anticipated his own arrival. For Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them, and left with them the writing of Matthew in the Hebrew language, which they had preserved till that time (Eusebius. The History of the Church History, Book V, Chapter X, Verse 3.  Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert.  Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 105).

Probably because they were Christians who held more in common with the true Christians in Asia Minor, Pantænus left and returned to Alexandria as he was NOT a Judaeo-Christian (Ibid, verse 4).

And that seems to be the view of a modern Catholic scholar, who also apparently believes that the type of Christianity to first make it to India was that of the Judaeo-Christians:

At the end of the 2nd century the Alexandrine Pantanaenus went to India to preach the Gospel. The inhabitants already had the Hebrew text of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which they received from St. Bartholomew (HE 5,10,3). Recapitualting these short notices on the Judaeo-Christians...

(Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision.  Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p.29).

Judaeo-Christians kept the Sabbath, observed the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, did not eat pork, etc. (Ibid, pp. 13-14,34).

One legend, that was written down in the late 1800s, but has been questioned, concerns Thomas:

The Rabban Song, which has been passed down orally by generations of Indian Christians, recounts Thomas' career in India in some detail. It states that the apostle arrived in India in late A.D. 49, stayed briefly then went to China. This generally agrees with Indian traditions. Such a trip would have occurred shortly after Thomas's arrival in South India. Farquhar and Garitte believe that it is unlikely that Thomas actually went to China proper--certainly not Peking--within the short space of perhaps a year alotted by the Indian narratives. They believe that he did evangelize in what are now Burma and Malaysia for a short time before returning to South India. According to the Rabban Song, between A.D. 52 and 59 Thomas founded seven churches and baptized one king...In A.D. 69, Thomas settled permanently in Mylapore...According to most Indian traditions, Thomas died of stab wounds on July 3, A.D. 72. The Braham priests of Mylapore feared that Christianity would eclipse Hinduism (Ruffin C.B. The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary. Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (IN), 1997, pp. 132-134).

"St. Thomas Christians" are claimed to be an ancient body of professing Christians on the east and west coasts of India. They claim spiritual descent from the Apostle Thomas and also claim various versions of the Ramban Pattu (Rabban Song). While none that I am aware of still keep the same faith that the Apostle Thomas kept, as they eventually accepted Roman dominance, it is probable that the Apostle Thomas was there and that there have been Christians in India since the times of the apostles (it should also be noted that there is, however, a congregation in the South-east coastal region of India in the area of Bhimavaram that does practice true Christianity--it is just that they do not refer to themselves as "St. Thomas Christians."

Some have claimed that Thomas built the first Christian church building there, though that is denied by others (Grey LE. No early church buildings because God called early Christians to build church communities (Part 002), September 8, 2009. http://www.examiner.com/article/no-early-church-buildings-because-god-called-early-christians-to-build-church-communities-part-002).

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions this about the "St. Thomas Christians":

St. Thomas Christians An ancient body of Christians on the east and west coasts of India, claiming spiritual descent from the Apostle St. Thomas...

Theophilus (surnamed the Indian) -- an Arian, sent by Emperor Constantius (about 354) on a mission to Arabia Felix and Abyssinia -- is one of the earliest, if not the first, who draws our attention to them...The people referred to were the Christians known as a body who had their liturgy in the Syriac language and inhabited the west coast of India, i.e. Malabar...

Gregory of Tours (Glor. Mart.), before 590, reports that Theodore, a pilgrim who had gone to Gaul, told him that in that part of India where the corpus (bones) of Thomas the Apostle had first rested (Mylapur on the east or the Coromandel Coast of India) there stood a monastery and a church of striking dimensions and elaboratedly adorned, adding: "After a long interval of time these remains had been removed thence to the city of Edessa." The location of the first tomb of the Apostle in India is proof both of his martyrdom and of its Apostolate in India. The evidence of Theodore is that of an eyewitness who had visited both tombs -- the first in India, while the second was at Edessa. The primitive Christians, therefore, found on both coasts, east and west, witness to and locate the tomb at Mylapur, "St. Thomas", a little to the south of Madras; no other place in India lays any claim to possess the tomb, nor does any other country. On these facts is based their claim to be known as St. Thomas Christians...

There is one incident of the long period of isolation of the St. Thomas Christians from the rest of the Christian world which they are never tired of relating, and it is one of considerable importance to them for the civil status it conferred and secured to them in the country. This is the narrative of the arrival of a Syrian merchant on their shores, a certain Mar Thoma Cana -- the Portuguese have named him Cananeo and styled him an Armenian, which he was not. He arrived by ship on the coast and entered the port of Cranganore. The King of Malabar, Cheruman Perumal, was in the vicinity, and receiving information of his arrival sent for him and admitted him to his presence...

It was only after the conversion of Sulaka in 1552 that the Chaldeans in part returned to the unity of faith. The truth is that the Malabar Church remained from A.D. 496 up till then in heresy....

During the centuries that these Christians were isolated from the rest of Christendom, their sole intercourse was limited to Mesopotamia...But from the close of the thirteenth century Western travellers, chiefly missionaries sent out by the popes, sent to the West occasional news of their existence (Medlycott, A.E. Transcribed by Mary and Joseph P. Thomas. St. Thomas Christians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Whether or not Thomas Cana was completely Syrian or part Armenian, the religion that his followers embraced was not one that allowed them to accept the authority of the Roman Church. Thomas Cana is believed to have died around 346 A.D. But eventually (after 1552) the bulk of the "St. Thomas Christians" accepted Roman authority--hence would no longer have some of the characteristics of the early Christian church.

A once eminent church historian, Michael Geddes, wrote of some in Malabar who claimed to come from Armenia:

"The three great doctrines of popery, the pope's supremacy, transubstantiation, the adoration of images, were never believed nor practiced at any time in this ancient apostolical church. . . . I think one may venture to say that before the time of the late Reformation, there was no church that we know of, no, not that of the the Vaudois, . . . that had so few errors in doctrine as the church of Malabar." He adds concerning those churches "where never within the bounds of the Roman Empire," "it is in those churches that we are to meet with the least of the leaven of popery." (Preface to: Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Diamper. Cited in Andrews J.N. History of the Sabbath and the First Day of the Week. 3rd edition, 1887. Reprint Teach Services, Brushton (NY), 1997, p. 430).

J.W. Massie further describes them:

"The creed with which these representatives of an ancient line of Christians cherished was not in conformity with papal decrees, and has with difficulty been squared with the thirty-nine articles of the Anglican episcopacy. Separated from the western world for a thousand years, they were naturally ignorant of many novelties introduced by the councils and decrees of the Lateran; and their conformity with the faith and practice of the first ages, laid them open to the unpardonable guilt of heresy and schism as estimated by the church of Rome. 'We are Christians and not idolators,' was their expressive reply when required to do homage to the image of the Virgin Mary. . . . La Croze states them at fifteen hundred churches, and as many towns and villages. They refused to recognize the pope, and declared they have never heard of him; they asserted the purity and primitive truth of their faith since they came, and their bishops had for thirteen hundred years been sent from the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians." (Continental India, vol. 2, pp. 116,117. Cited in Andrews J.N. History of the Sabbath and the First Day of the Week. 3rd edition, 1887. Reprint Teach Services, Brushton (NY), 1997, p. 430).

J.N. Andrews wrote:

The Sabbatarian character of these Christians is hinted by Mr. Yeates. He says that Saturday "amongst them in a festival day, agreeable to the ancient practice of the church."

"The ancient practice of the church," as we have seen, was to hallow the seventh day in memory of the Creator's rest. This practice has been suppressed wherever the great apostasy has had power to do it. But the Christians of the East Indies, like those of Abyssinia, have lived sufficiently remote from Rome to be preserved in some degree from its blasting influence. The same fact is further hinted by the same writer in the following language:

"The inquisition was set up at Goa in the Indies, at the instance of Francis Xaverius [a famous Romish saint] who signified by letters to Pope John lll., Nov. 10, 1545, `That the JEWISH WICKEDNESS spread every day more and more in the parts of the East Indies subject to the kingdom of Portugal, and therefore he earnestly besought the said king, that to cure so great an evil he would take care to send the office of the inquisition into those countries."

"The Jewish wickedness" was doubtless the observance of Saturday as "a festival day agreeable to the ancient practice of the church" of which this author has just spoken. The history of the past, as we have seen, shows the hatred of the papal church toward the Sabbath. And the struggle of that church to suppress the Sabbath in Abyssinia, and to subject that people to the pope which at this very point of time was just commencing, shows that the Jesuits would not willingly tolerate Sabbatic observance in the East Indies, even though united with the observance of Sunday also (Andrews J.N. History of the Sabbath and the First Day of the Week. 3rd edition, 1887. Reprint Teach Services, Brushton (NY), 1997, pp. 430-431).

Notice that Christians who kept the Sabbath in India were condemned, not as Christians, but as Jews:

The Judges of the Holy Office might readily ascertain the truth or falsehood of the charge of Judaism, would they take the trouble to investigate the matter without prejudice; and to consider, that of an hundred persons condemned to be burnt as Jews, there are scarcely four who profess that faith at their death; the rest exclaiming and protesting to their last gasp, that they are Christians, and have been so during their whole lives; that they worship our Saviour...(Dellon, Charles and Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy.  I. Wilson and B. (Benjamin) Crosby, editors. Dellon's account of the Inquisition at Goa: translated from the French. Joseph Simmons, 1812.  Original from the Complutense University of Madrid.  Digitized Jan 12, 2009, p. 64)

And this happened in other areas of the Inquisition, too, like Spain.

In the early 1800s, a Church of England clergyman named C. Buchanan reported more about various beliefs and history of those who professed Christ outside of Rome in India:

The Syrian Christians inhabit the interior of Travancore and Malabar, in the South of India, and have been settled there from the early ages of Christianity. The first notices of this ancient people, in recent times, are to be found in the Portuguese histories. When Vasco de Gama arrived at Cochin, on the coast of Malabar, in the year 1503, he saw the sceptre of the Chris? tian King; for the Syrian Christians had formerly regal power in Malay-Ala. The name or title of their last King was Beliarte; and he dying without issue, the dominion devolved on the King of Cochin and Diamper.

When the Portuguese arrived, they were agreeably surprised to find upwards of a hundred Christian Churches on the coast of Malabar. But when they became acquainted with the purity and simplicity of their worship, they were offended. "These Churches," said the Portuguese, "belong to the Pope."—" Who is the Pope ?" said the natives, "we never heard of him." The European priests were yet more alarmed, when they found that these Hindoo Christians maintained the order and discipline of a regular Church under Episcopal Jurisdiction: and that for 1300 years past, they had enjoyed a succession of Bishops appointed by the Patriarch of Antioch. " We," said they, "are of the true faith, whatever you from the West may be; for we come from the place where the followers of Christ were first called 'Christians.' "

When the power of the Portuguese became sufficient for their purpose, they invaded these tranquil Churches, seized some of the Clergy, and devoted them, to the death of heretics. Then the inhabitants heard for the first time that there was a place called the Inquisition; and that its fires had been lately lighted at Goa, near their own land. But the Portuguese, finding that the people were resolute in defending their ancient faith, began to try more conciliatory measures. They seized the Syrian Bishop, Mar Joseph, and sent him prisoner to Lisbon, and then convened a Synod at one of the Syrian Churches called Diamper, near Cochin, at which the Romish Archbishop Menezes presided. At this compulsory Synod, 150 of the Syrian Clergy appeared. They were accused of the following practices and opinions, "That they had married wives; that they owned but two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper; that they neither invoked Saints, nor worshipped images, nor believed in Purgatory: and that they had no other orders or names of dignity in the Church, than Priest and Deacon." These tenets they were called on to abjure, or to suffer suspension from all Church benefices. It was also decreed that all the Syrian books on Ecclesiastical subjects, that could be found, should be burned; " in order," said the Inquisitors, "that no pretended apostolical monuments may remain." (Buchanon C. Christian researches in Asia, 10th edition. T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1814. Original from the New York Public Library. Digitized Jul 21, 2006, pp. 106-109)

Hence, those in India claimed "apostolic succession" and had nothing to do with Roman pontiffs until they were persecuted.

C. Buchanan also reported:

"The history of the Armenian church is very interesting. Of all the Christians in Central Asia, they have preserved themselves most free from Mahometan and papal corruptions. The pope assailed them for a time with great violence, but with little effect. The churches in lesser Armenia indeed consented to an union, which did not long continue; but those in Persian Armenia maintained their independence; and they retain their ancient Scriptures, doctrines, and worship, to this day. `It is marvelous,' says an intelligent traveler who was much among them, `how the Armenian Christians have preserved their faith, equally against the vexatious oppression of the Mahometans, their sovereigns, and against the persuasions of the Romish church which for more than two centuries has endeavored, by missionaries, priests and monks, to attach them to her communion. It is impossible to describe the artifices and expenses of the court of Rome to effect this object, but all in vain.'

"The Bible was translated into the Armenian language in the fifth century, under very auspicious circumstances, the history of which has come down to us. It has been allowed by competent judges of the language, to be a most faithful translation. La Cruze calls it the `Queen of Versions.' This Bible has ever remained in the possession of the Armenian people; and many illustrious instances of genuine and enlightened piety occur in their history. . . .

"The Armenians in Hindoostan are our own subjects. They acknowledge our government in India, as they do that of the Sophi in Persia; and they are entitled to our regard. They have preserved the Bible in its purity; and their doctrines are, as far as the author knows, the doctrines of the Bible. Besides, they maintain the solemn observance of Christian worship throughout our empire, ON THE SEVENTH DAY, and they have as many spires pointing to heaven among the Hindoos as we ourselves. Are such a people then entitled to no acknowledgment on our part, as fellow Christians? Are they forever to be ranked by us with Jews, Mahometans, and Hindoos?" (Buchanon C. Christian researches in Asia, 10th edition. T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1814. Original from the New York Public Library. Digitized Jul 21, 2006, pp. 260-261).

Hence, this group originally kept the seventh day Sabbath, but apparently by the time Buchanan found out about them, they adopted some non-Church of God practices like spires.

This sadly, has been the case with the Church of God throughout history--eventually many who become associated with it adopt non-COG practices. This happened relatively early as even the Apostles Peter (e.g. Simon Magus) and John (see Doctrines of Antichrist) had this occur. Also, there were relatively soon apostasies in Alexandria and Rome in the first and second centuries respectively (please see the article on Apostolic Succession).

More on Church history can be found on the History of Early Christianity page.

Comments Concerning the 20th Century

Related to the Church of God, Seventh Day (CG7) in the 1920s and 1930s, India was reached:

1922: Activity Expands...Some 150 letters were sent to prospective ministers in foreign fields...western and eastern India, South America, and other places...These were Sabbath-keeping ministers...Elder A. Jacobs reported from India...

By 1923, the "Big Push" was going at full gallop...Arrangements were being made to print Church of God literature in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, and Chinese, as well as two languages in India...In 1923...There were two missionaries established in India, A. Jacobs and D. Israel.

1933...Church of God elders...V. Amos, India..N.P. Daniel, India...V.J. Benjamin, India {,} B. Israel, South India...V.J. Joseph, India (Nickels R.C. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. 1988, pp. 98-100,106,147-150)

The elders listed in 1933 were selected to be part of a temporary group called "The Seventy," which was drawn by a lottery of sorts--as those selected were a slightly less than 1/2 of the CG7 eldership at the time, there were likely more ministers in India by 1933 than these listed.

In 1933, God used Herbert W. Armstrong (who was then a minister associated with the Church of God, Seventh Day) to raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. After being on the radio for a while, Herbert Armstrong called the group he led the Radio Church of God and then in the 1960s the name was changed to Worldwide Church of God (WCG).

In the later portion of the 20th century, those in the old WCG had many contacts with those in India. WCG had many congregations throughout India. I met WCG ministers from India and Sri Lanka back then.

Perhaps it should be mentioned here that Indian peoples are not limited to the current nation of India alone. In addition to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are predominantly composed of Indian peoples. I have met an Indian ministers in various COG groups in locations such as Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Having traveled to many lands, I have come across significant Indian populations in South Africa, Fiji, Malaysia, and parts of the Caribbean. It is also believed that many of the peoples of Bhutan, Nepal, and Myan Mar (Burma) have ancestry at least partially related to the Indian peoples. People in all of those lands either have been to Continuing Church of God's official www.ccog.org and/or the COGwriter websites.

And some are in various Churches of God--including some with limited CCOG connection.

During the 20th century, the founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, had many contacts with the leadership in India. He personally met India's prime minister and also met many other officials from India. In 1956 he reported:

We were on the three superpower bands of Radio Ceylon. From this we received considerable mail from far-off Burma, Malaya and Singapore. Also from India, Ceylon, and portions of eastern Africa (Armstrong HW. As quoted in Chapter 62 of The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume II).

So in the 1950's the true gospel was being broadcast across many areas of Indian populations.

Through his personal contacts, Herbert W. Armstrong attempted to get out the message of the coming kingdom of God to as much of the leadership in India as possible. Here is a report in Chapter 77 of the second volume of his autobiography which mentioned some of his trips to Indian countries:

In Ceylon I had a ... meeting with the Prime Minister, in the living room of her official residence, Friday afternoon. Last night (Saturday night) my daughter and I ... were guests at dinner at "Queen's House," residence of the Governor General. It is really a palace -- quite huge for a private residence. It was built over 400 years ago by the Dutch, when they were in control of Ceylon, before it came into British hands. Ceylon is now independent, but a member of the British Commonwealth. The Governor General is appointed by Queen Elizabeth of England.

We had been invited to Ceylon by the Prime Minister, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, through the Ceylon High Commissioner (same level as Ambassador) to India, at New Delhi. The High Commissioner accompanied us on our plane to Colombo. I will give you a report of the meeting with the Prime Minister in the Personal article in the May Plain Truth. I just thought in this more personal and confidential letter to our inner family of Co-Workers you might enjoy some of the more personal highlights.

At the dinner at "Queen's House" last night besides our party, were the Governor General and his wife, his Chief Aide and wife, and the High Commissioner of Ceylon from New Delhi.

This morning, we brought the High Commissioner with us as far as Bombay, where he caught a commercial flight back to New Delhi. We have had to make the one fuel stop between Bombay and Israel, at Teheran. While we were on the ground at Bombay, one of our Indian Co-Workers who is a mechanic with Indian Airlines, recognized our plane, and came aboard for a few minutes' visit. I have met him two or three times before. His daughter graduated from Ambassador College, English campus, and until her marriage was also a faculty member.

Earlier, at New Delhi, I had another visit with President V.V. Giri, and also a meeting with our U.S. Ambassador Keating. He is the former Senator from New York. I am sorry that there have recently been more or less strained relations between the Governments of India and the United States. For that reason protocol made it inadvisable for me to see Mrs. Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, when I had had a talk with our American Ambassador on the same visit.

However, at New Delhi we were entertained twice at the home of the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Singh -- and there we met two or three maharajahs...

One of the most helpful people in our worldwide work has been Dr. Negendra Singh of New Delhi. He is a recent appointee as judge of the World Court at The Hague -- a position of great worldwide power and importance, due to the fact that the nations have feared to defy a decision made by this World Court. The court's sole power is its moral power -- but that has proved very great. Prior to his high appointment, Dr. Singh was Executive Secretary to President V.V. Giri of India. He has been a guest speaker before Ambassador College students and faculty at all three campuses.

On Thursday night, March 8, Dr. and Mrs. Singh were our dinner guests at our hotel. On Friday, March 9, was a luncheon in my honor at Dr. Singh's residence. Two distinguished guests present were His Excellency Abdul Hakim Tabibi, the Ambassador from Afghanistan, and the Ambassador from Ethiopia, Getachew Mekasha...

At Dr. Singh's residence I met the younger son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This young man was trained as an engineer in India and trained on the job in the Rolls-Royce factory in England. He is presently embarking on a private enterprise to produce an all-India automobile of the Volkswagen type. His name is Sanjay Gandhi. He extended an invitation to our party to dine at the Prime Minister's home on our trip in May.

Dr. Singh also invited us to visit the World Court at The Hague on our May trip.

At 10 a.m. March 11, we were again airborne for Jakarta, on the island of Java, in Indonesia. It was a six-hour forty-minute flight nonstop -- lasting virtually all day...

December 24, 1976...

I think over, in my mind, about many I have known, some closely and intimately -- now gone!...There was President Rahman of Bangladesh...There have been others, affectionate friends of mine, whose terms of office have expired, such as V.V. Giri, ex-President of India...

(Armstrong HW. Co-Worker letter dated March 26, 1972 and events of June 1972 and December 1976 as quoted in Chapters 77 and 80 of The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume II).

In Sri Lanka, various Church of God groups have members that meet for Sabbath services in Colombo (I have personally attended church services on the Sabbath in Colombo Sri Lanka--though it was many years ago and more recently we in the Continuing Church of God have been contacted by one or more from there).

Herbert W. Armstrong made other trips to Sri Lanka.

Jayewardene

Herbert W. Armstrong meeting with then Sri Lanka President Jayewardene

Herbert W. Armstrong made other trips to India and met with various leaders there:

HWA in India

In 1984 Herbert Armstrong went to Nepal:

King Birendra

Herbert W. Armstrong meeting with then King Birendra

In addition to congregations in Myanmar, South Africa, the Caribbean, and Sri Lanka, the Church of God also has had members in India. Since the death of Herbert Armstrong in 1986, the Laodicean era of the Church of God has dominated.

The remaining Philadelphia portion of the Church of God has been in a transition since. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, some evangelists that Herbert Armstrong ordained apostasized, some became heretical, while others tried to be faithful, yet all who had seemed to have been part of that era ultimately compromised in various ways.

The 21st Century and the Continuing Church of God

On December 28, 2012, because of improper actions by one or more evangelists, it was necessary for the Continuing Church of God (CCCOG) to form as a separate legal entity. Within days of making placing the www.ccog.org website online, it began to get visitors from India. On February 26, 2013, CCOG was contacted by a Sabbath and Holy Day observing pastor in India who wanted to work with CCOG to better get the gospel out to the people of India. The following week, CCOG began to send regular email updates to India. On May 13, 2013, the Continuing Church of God was able to secure the URL www.ccog.in as part of its plans to reach India.

On July 13, 2013 an agreement to send our Bible News Prophecy magazines to India was made; with the first ones mailed on July 19, 2013.

Also on July 13, 2013, the CCOG received a request to produce a magazine in the Telugu language for use in India. This request was agreed to on July 14, 2103. Additionally, on July 14, 2013 steps were taken to finalize the initial home page of the www.ccog.in URL which had been reserved to use as soon as it could be specifically utilized. During that week, the new India website, www.ccog.in went live. Over time, it is hope to have more information specific to India, such as congregational locations and information in one or more languages other than English (we are looking into Telugu and possibly Hindi and, even though it is not strictly Indian, possibly also Jingpho which is spoken in Kachiland). The is one item up in Hindi, a translation of the book, The Mystery of the Ages.

Currently, many Indians who wish to learn more about the plan of God and God's truth now have access to it on the internet. In 2013 alone, tens of thousands of articles at the www.cogwriter.com and www.ccog.org websites have been accessed by people in India (according to AW stats), thousands of articles have also been accessed by people in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, & Bhutan, plus printed literature has been sent to India.

These are great steps, but additional, and hopefully more direct, witness will be made to the Indian people in the future. The plans that CCOG has to lead the final phase of the work will help accomplish that.

What God's plan for humanity, including those in India, is also discussed in the articles Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis and Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants.

Catholic, Hindu, and Islamic Prophetic Comments

Biblical and Catholic prophecies suggest that most in India will end up supporting a European power that they should not support. For details, please see the article India and the Beast of Revelation 13 and Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?

Catholics have a plan for India, and it is not a good one.

Cardinal La Roque (c. 18th century): A regeneration of Faith will appear in Asia (Culleton, R. Gerald.  The Prophets and Our Times. Nihil Obstat: L. Arvin.  Imprimatur: Philip G. Scher, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno, November 15, 1941.  Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 193)

Elizabeth Canori-Mora (died 1825):...Such is the glorious triumph reserved for the Catholic Church; she shall be praised, honored and esteemed by all men. All men shall become Catholics, and shall acknowledge the Pope as Vicar of Jesus Christ." (Connor, Edward. Prophecy for Today. Imprimatur + A.J. Willinger, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno; Reprint: Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, p.24)

Pope Leo XIII (1893): The Orient, courageously and successfully explored by the Portuguese, is coveted by many today for its lucrative trade. We, however, have a more noble purpose in mind...To take care, therefore, of the preservation and propagation of the Catholic religion among the Hindus, a Hindu clergy has to be formed that could administer the sacraments and govern the Christian people properly, no matter how menacing the times...Be sure that the role of Christianity in such remote regions becomes well known. Make your people understand that something must be done for the Hindus (Leo XIII. AD EXTREMAS ON SEMINARIES FOR NATIVE CLERGY. Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on June 24, 1893. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_24061893_ad-extremas_en.html viewed 07/19/09).

Zenit reported the following in an interview with a Hindu leader:

October 29, 2015

With Nostra Aetate, the Roman Catholic Church has set an example and other religions should likewise open their doors.

This was the sentiment of Hindu Swami Chidananda Saraswati, as he praised the spirit of Nostra Aetate, and the leadership, warmth and humility of Pope Francis. Nostra Aetate was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on Oct. 28, 1965, and on Wednesday, Pope Francis held an “interreligious general audience” to mark the anniversary. As the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Church’s relation to Non-Christian religions, the document condemned anti-semitism in all its forms and signified an opening or widening of relations with other religions.

In this interview with ZENIT, Saraswati, founder and trustee of the Fowai Forum, speaks on the landmark document’s impact and how the conference held on it this week at Rome’s Gregorian University will have a lasting impact. …

ZENIT: How do you feel the conference held at the Gregorian has had an effect and how do you believe it has brought attention to Nostra Aetate?

Saraswati: This conference has been a beautiful experience. It has been a great privilege to have taken part in it. Three days commemorating the 50-year anniversary of Nostra Aetate. Nostra Aetate is a wonderful document. Its spirit is great, inviting all religions, in fact, to become friends. Of course, it primarily opens the doors of the Catholic religion to other religions, to have dialogue with non-Christian religions, but if you see the spirit of it and slightly elaborate on the content of it, it is like an ideal, exemplary document for any religion to operate primarily in the same way. By declaring Nostra Aetate, the Roman Catholic Church has definitely set an example. People, other religions, should also open their doors.  …

ZENIT: Do you see this interreligious dialogue with helping combat violence?

Saraswati: I think if we work together we can also work on this terrorist problem too and change their hearts.  All they need is a little bit of relocation. I think they are jobless and that is why they are doing all these things. http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/interview-hindu-leader-catholic-church-sets-example-other-religions-should-follow

Of course, Hindus are not the only ones the Church of Rome is reaching out to:

October 28, 2015

“We are brothers,” Pope Francis affirmed while reflecting today on the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions. …

In the Pope’s address, he expressed that the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration was “an expression of the Church’s esteem for the followers of other religious traditions, and her openness to dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship.”

In this regard, he stressed, we have seen much progress over the past 50 years. In a special way, he noted, we give thanks to God for the significant advances made in relations between Christians and Jews, and between Christians and Muslims. http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/at-general-audience-pope-gives-thanks-for-significant-advances-in-relations-with-jews-muslims

The interfaith movement is going forward with the Vatican its chief cheerleader.

Will most of the over 1 billion Hindus (most of whom who live in India) accept, for a time, the final Beast power who is aligned with the final Antichrist?  Will  most of the over 1.6 billion Muslims temporarily go along with this?

Bible prophecy strongly suggests yes.

The Vatican's basic plan is to compromise with the Hindus and push them towards statues claimed to be Mary, the Mother of Jesus:

Jaffa, Israel, Aug 2, 2013 / 04:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Preparations for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary this September are already underway in the Holy Land, particularly among Indian migrant workers.

“Mother Mary is revered with great devotion by the Indian community as a mother and a spiritual figure of maternal protection,” said Friar Jayaseellan Pitchaimuthu OFM, head of the Indian Chaplaincy in Holy Land.

She is acknowledged as the “protector and patroness” of the Indian Chaplaincy in Holy Land because she is a “model” for the migrants, he told CNA. He noted that the Holy Family took refuge in Egypt for safety and settled for livelihood in Nazareth, and that Jesus carried out his apostolic mission in Judea, Galilee and Jerusalem.

Many Indian Catholic migrant workers “seek grace and invoke (Mary’s) motherly protection,” he said…

The friar explained that the Marian feast day is particularly important in the Indian context because of its relation to other faiths.

Members of other religions, including Hindus and Muslims, “regard Marian devotions in esteem,” he said.

Thousands of devotees – both Catholics and non-Catholics – flock every week to the Marian apparition site at Velankanni, near Chennai in South India, and other shines that have recorded various miracles, he said.

In this way, the friar explained, “Marian devotion also leads to a platform for inter-religious dialogue.” (Gonzales AA. Indian migrants in Holy Land prepare for Marian feast. CNA, August 2, 2013. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/indian-migrants-in-holy-land-prepare-for-marian-feast)

There basically is an ecumenical Catholic plan that expects to use ‘Mary’ to reach those of Indian heritage. But this is a false gospel (cf. Galatians 1:6-7).  the Church of Rome has long had plans and beliefs that they would get more Indians to be part of their church and have believed that utilizing versions of statues claimed to be Mary would help them.  Notice the following confirmation of several of those points from my book Fatima Shock! (note: Fulton Sheen was a very famous Catholic archbishop, see Fulton Sheen, ‘Mary,’ and the End Times):

Archbishop Sheen essentially thought that the appearance in Fatima was to also ultimately result in Muslims (and possibly Hindus) accepting his faith. Notice that he also wrote:

Our missionaries report the most extraordinary reaction of these peoples as the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried through the East. At the edge of Nepal, three hundred Catholics were joined by three thousand Hindus and Moslems, as four elephants carried the statue to the little church for Rosary and Benediction…The final evidence of the relationship of the village of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception that the Moslems in Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima… 

Missionaries in the future will, more and more…be successful in the measure they preach Our Lady of Fatima….

Archbishop Sheen also wrote:

At Patna, the Brahman Hindu governor of the province visited the church and prayed before the statue of Our Lady. In one tiny village of Kesra Mec, more than twenty-four thousand people came to see the statue.

But, that is not an isolated incident. Notice the following account of a group of Hindus who visited Cova da Iria in 2004:

Hindus…were allowed to conduct a pagan prayer chant at the altar in the sanctuary of the Little Chapel of the Apparitions…on May 5, 2004…a national television station in Portugal broadcast that a group of Hindus from Lisbon was allowed to commandeer the Shrine for a pagan prayer chant, with the Hindu “priest” standing at the Catholic altar invoking false gods in the causes of peace, while the Hindu congregation in the Little Chapel responded with a chant. This is a desecration…since Sacred Scripture teaches “the gods of the Gentiles are devils” (Psalm 95:5)

This Hindu ceremony, as expected, upset some Catholics.  (Note that Psalm 95:5 in the DRB is Psalm 96:5 in the NJB/NKJV which use the word “idols” instead of “devils.”)

Eastern Signs and Faiths

While “Mary” is known throughout the Middle East and West, she is less known, though revered by some like a goddess, in Eastern religions:

Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other pilgrims regularly worship at famous Roman Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal…Many venerate her like one of their own goddesses.

…those in various Eastern faiths can be intrigued by the feminine, and may be highly impacted by public alleged Marian apparition(s) in the future.   But, no Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Hindu, Protestant, Mormon, Catholic, or anyone else should. (Thiel B. Fatima Shock! Nazarene Books, 2012)

Jesus’ mother Mary is not to be venerated like pagan goddesses, but often is.

What about Pakistan?

As an Islamic nation, and since some of the descendants of Phut are shown as part of a failed confederation involving Egypt in Ezekiel 30:1-9 and this appears to be an Islamic confederation, it is likely that Pakistan, to a degree, may support the King of the South in Daniel 11:40--though probably not too closely. That will be a mistake. Pakistan may actually directly or indirectly temporarily support the final King of the South to the point that it may even provide some nuclear support (see Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons, Saudi Arabia, and the King of the South). Yet, since the "European beast," who is also the final King of the North will defeat the King of the South, Pakistan will likely suppress its ties to Islam around that time--at least for a while.

Also, notice that the Bible teaches:

3b And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast...7b And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:3-4,7-8).

However this worship of the coming beast power will not last--thus various ones of Indian backgrounds will sadly be part of this. 

Yet, according to the Bible, those from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka will likely rebel (Revelation 9 & 16).  Even some Catholic writings support that:

Countess Francesca de Brilliante (20th Century). "I see yellow warriors and red warriors marching against Europe. Europe will be completely covered with a yellow fog that will kill the cattle in the fields. Those nations that rebelled against the law of Christ will perish by fire. Europe will then be too large for them who survive (Dupont, Yves. Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1973, p. 78).

Nostradamus (16th century): Meanwhile the great Asiatic Empire will spread across the sea and continents to destroy the Christian world (Culleton, p. 168).

It seems likely that to fulfill Daniel 11:44 and Revelation 16:12, that those of Indian heritage will actually cooperate militarily against the future European Beast power. And they will do this apparently by supporting a coming confederation biblically known as the "kings of the east" (Revelation 16:12).

More on how those of Indian ancestry while be affected according to prophecy is also discussed in the article, Asia in Prophecy.

Russia and China (who has some hesitation) has been working to get India and Pakistan to have a greater role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with them (http://rt.com/politics/russia-sco-pakistan-india-lavrov-076/). SCO is "a China backed security forum was set up in Shanghai in 2001. Its members included Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan" (http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/china-welcomes-proposed-accession-of-india-in-sco/1002465.html). India itself has decided to push for a greater role in SCO itself:

NEW DELHI: India will pitch for a greater role in the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and an expanded partnership with it in stabilising Afghanistan when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna goes to Beijing to participate in the grouping's 12th summit June 6-7. (India to pitch for larger role at SCO summit. India Times, May 27, 2012.  http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-05-27/news/31868432_1_sco-shanghai-cooperation-organisation-observer-status)

While it may not get full SCO membership when the group meets in June, India wants to join in exercises of massive air and ground offensives aimed at going after the militants.

Sources point out that this will be the first time India will be involved in bloc war games...Russia has been a major proponent of India’s active membership in the SCO. (India cozies up to Russia, China. WND, May 26, 2012.  http://www.wnd.com/2012/05/india-cozies-up-to-russia-china/)

So, India is planning to participate more militarily with Russia and China--this is consistent with Bible prophecy (Revelation 9:13-18, 16:12-16; Daniel 11:44; Jeremiah 50:41-43). Notice a prophecy from Jeremiah:

50:41 "Behold, a people shall come from the north,
And a great nation and many kings
Shall be raised up from the ends of the earth.
42 They shall hold the bow and the lance;
They are cruel and shall not show mercy.
Their voice shall roar like the sea;
They shall ride on horses,
Set in array, like a man for the battle,
Against you, O daughter of Babylon.

43 "The king of Babylon has heard the report about them,
And his hands grow feeble;
Anguish has taken hold of him,
Pangs as of a woman in childbirth..."(Jeremiah 50:41-43).

The people from the north are apparently Russian (see also Russia: Its Origins and Prophesied Future), but notice that it has an army with "many kings" from "the ends of the earth." India is the southern end of part of Asia. The "king of Babylon" above is the European King of the North who will be invaded (Daniel 11:44).

India, like China, is producing more males than females (Sahni D.  India Census Reflects a Grim Reality for Girls. March 31, 2011.  http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/03/31/india-census-reflects-a-grim-reality-for-girls/), and this may be another part of the reason that it might be part of the 200,000,000 man army that the Book of Revelation warns about (Revelation 9:13-18). If so, many millions will die.

However, war is not the ultimate destiny for Indians. Deification is. And although they will have to be converted to Christianity and accept Jesus (Acts 4:10-12), nearly all Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, and others of Indian heritage (or any other ethnicity) will do so.

The ultimate destiny for all of those of Indian heritage will be to be called into the kingdom of God. For details, please see Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

Conclusion

God has had a witness to the Indian peoples throughout history. The Continuing Church of God still reaches it today and has taken specific steps to try to better do so (such as the website www.ccog.in).

The nation of India has taken various steps that align with what seems to be foretold about it in Bible prophecy. There are also Hindu prophecies, related to one called the Bhagwan Kalki, that may encourage those in India to take future steps that the Bible warns against (see the article India and the Beast of Revelation 13 and/or watch a related YouTube video Will People in India Worship the Beast of Revelation 13?).

God has much more in mind for the Indian peoples, and some of this (including some recent news items involving India) is discussed in the prophetic articles India and the Beast of Revelation 13 and Asia in Prophecy.

And, after the second resurrection, which could be considered as a type of reincarnation (cf. Ezekiel 37, see also Universal Offer of Salvation) God intends to offer salvation to all of them that have not previously had a real opportunity for salvation. This includes not only those of Indian heritage, but any other minorities that live among them as well.

The ultimate destiny for nearly all of Indian heritage (as well as others) is to be deified in the Kingdom of God.

Articles of possibly related interest may include:

Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differ from mainstream Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a COG background.
What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? What is your ultimate destiny? What does the Bible teach? Is deification only a weird or cultic idea? Are you to rule the universe? Here is a link to the video sermon What is Your Destiny?
Is God's Existence Logical? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God's Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what 'pseudo-scientists' refuse to acknowledge.
Where Did God Come From? Any ideas? And how has God been able to exist?
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know?
India and the Beast of Revelation 13 Do biblical, Catholic, and even Hindu prophecies suggest that many in India will follow, for a while, the Beast and False Prophet/Antichrist?
Asia in Prophecy What is Ahead for Asia? Who are the "Kings of the East"? What will happen to nearly all the Chinese, Russians, Indians, and others of Asia? China in prophecy, where? Who has the 200,000,000 man army related to Armageddon?

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Thiel B., Ph.D. India, Its Biblical Past and Future: Any Witness? www.cogwriter,com/india.htm (c) 2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2016 0907