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Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.

Rooting Christianity in Islamic Java: The historical procession

the long view of 1300 years of competition in the arena of History…Very large areas of the world, notably in North Africa and the Near East, have swung from Christian allegiance to Moslem, and there has been no comparable swing the other way…
So it is not surprising that even modem writers acquainted with the most recent developments, still repeat the cliche “Once a Moslem, always a Moslem,” and that loyal Christians sometimes grow faint-hearted and discouraged.
John Elder, Iran, 1946
And, when you are trying to estimate the cost of victory to the Moslem convert, remember he has to renounce Islam, the religion which taught him all he knows of the worship of God, to give up the Prophet through whom he has learnt about God, and in the place of this to accept another faith which also claims to be exclusive, and a Saviour who claims to be the only way to God. The hardness of this choice is not easy for you to understand, you, who have always followed Jesus only. If only there could be some compromise! If only he could walk with one hand in the hand of Mohammed, and the other hand in Christ’s!

There are certainly 500 Christians in Persia who are converts from Islam or of Islamic stock. There are large numbers of converts from Islam in Abyssinia and in Java and Sumatra. (p160)
the cost of breaking with the fellowship and brotherhood of Islam. Few English Christians, and not all missionaries, give full value to the attracting, holding, binding, force of that brotherhood. The Moslem has a vivid sense of it. Religion, in its ideal at any rate, means to him something which meets his need from childhood to the grave.
(at this time the missionaries started to call people as Indonesians, because the missionaries were quite sympathetic with the Indonesian nationalist movement)
Dutch imposition of the union of state and religion:
The East Indian Company was liquidated very shortly before the Napoleonic Wars, but the State did not take actual control of affairs in the East until after the Treaty of Vienna and the elevation of the Prince of Orange as King of the Netherlands. One of the ideals of William I was the union of all his Protestant subjects in one church, after the model of the Unirtc Kirchc in Prussia. His efforts to achieve this end failed in the Netherlands but were successful in the colonies.
A royal decree of 1820 declared that all Protestant churches in the East Indies would henceforth be united under a common administration and the Minister of Colonies was charged with the task of drafting a plan of organization for the Indian Church, subject to the approval of the Crown.
the actual union of all the Protestant churches was not consummated until 1854, when the Lutheran Church at Batavia was united with the Reformed Church. As compensation for the loss of their church identity the Lutherans received assurance that one of the ministers at Batavia would always be a Lutheran. The regulations of 1840 provided that all Protestants in the Indies would be regarded as members of the Indian Church. Until 1927 this was the only Protestant church recognized by the government All other church bodies received recognition only as ethical associations.
The population of the East Indies is overwhelmingly Moslem, yet the East Indian Government grants no direct subsidies to the Moslem worship. …Not only is it unfair to the natives, over ninety-seven per cent. of whom are non-Christian, but it is also unfair to the independent Protestant churches which have been established in the Indies in the last decades. Nor is it beneficial to the Indian Church, for its church life does not rest on a solid basis and little influence goes out from it. The whole organization is artificially controlled and kept alive from above. The local church bodies manifest very little vitality, though this lethargic condition may in part be ascribed to the East Indian social structure. The majority of the members are Eurasians, who are accustomed to look to the European officials for leadership in matters ecclesiastical as well as governmental, while the European members who furnish the leadership are mostly government officials, and because of frequent transferral, are more or less transient. (p137)
A complete and sudden cutting off of the government subsidy would undoubtedly be the death sentence for many of the native churches and even some of those in which Europeans predominate. It is not that East Indian society is unable or unwilling to support the church, for the large number of vigorous Gereformeerde Kerhen in the East Indies, which have never received government support, prove the contrary. Loss of the subsidy would in the end re-invigorate the Indian Church.
Missionaries have complained that neutrality took on an aspect of cool, reserved and sometimes even hostile indifference.* The government long hesitated to permit mission work in Java and it even impounded the first translation of the New Testament into Javanese in order to prevent its distribution. The government apparently held the view that it had an obligation to protect Islam
against foreign influences.(p140)
The frequently unhappy relations between missionaries and local officials are not to be solely ascribed to an excessive spirit of neutrality on the part of the officials.
Officials are not in a position to make an equally intensive study of a people since they seldom remain long enough in a post and do not come in as close contact with the people. The missionary thus acquires a far greater authority with the people than does the official, though the latter is clothed with governmental authority. This situation sometimes leads to clashes between missionary
and official.
Until 1928 the government kept the Roman Catholics and Protestants, and even the different Protestant sects, apart by assigning them separate fields. The rule was repealed in 1928 and now all of the East Indies is equally open to all missions.
Until 1890 the mission schools were excluded from all government subsidy and there was much harmful competition between government and mission schools. In this year the original provision that subsidized schools could give no religious instruction was repealed. However, under a law passed in 1915, schools receiving subsidies under it must leave attendance upon classes in religious
education optional with the parents of the child. With the aid of the government subsidies the mission schools have greatly increased in number since 1895.
Twenty per cent. of the pupils in the East Indies now are in private schools, and though this includes children attending neutral and Moslem schools, the great majority of these pupils are found in mission schools.
At the present time many outstanding Javanese political leaders send their children to the Christian mission schools in preference to the government schools. One reason for this is that mission schools have acquired the reputation of being better than the government schools.
Mission school teachers are much more permanent; they often stay in one school as long as twenty years. Government teachers, on the other hand, are constantly on the lookout for a transfer to a better place, hoping ultimately to land in a city with a large European population. Another reason for the popularity of the mission schools with the native leaders is just the fact that they give religious instruction. The Indonesians are deeply religious.
While the number of converts in Java is small, especially in view of the years of missionary work there, it is nevertheless the most successful Christian missionary work among Mohammedans to be found anywhere in the world. The Javanese Christians number about 50,000.
Many now regard the missionary as the friend of the nationalist movement, even to the point of giving it active encouragement. Missionaries are now being attacked because of the allegation that they are making common cause with the nationalist movement. It may be a case of the missionaries leaning over backward for the purpose of gaining the good will of the people among whom they work and of warding off all suspicion of being the tool of the western capitalist nations. But it must not be forgotten that Christian missions involve the largest possible identification of the missionary with the people among whom he has come to live, and that he must necessarily be interested in their development. He cannot then very well be expected to do otherwise than rejoice at the social, economic and political development of his adopted people.
Professor Kraemer has dealt with this problem in his new booklet Islam as a Religious and Missiomt-y Problem. In this publication he presents a popular synopsis with a solid background of the conundrum of Islam, and also explains other sides of the question. In my opinion, the institution of the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca has largely contributed to the general penetration and standardization of the essential features of Islam as described above.
There was little understanding of the importance of Mecca and the Hadjj for
the Dutch East Indies amongst the colonial authorities until Dr. Snouck Hurgronje made his unequalled and extremely fruitful journey to this “Holy Land,” which he carried out brilliantly after having devoted all his expert knowledge to the most careful preparations for his venture. (p51-52)
Dr. Snouck Hurgronje discovered the significance of the Dutch Djawa colony at Mecca (the word “D jawa” is used in a Hedjazi sense here and includes the whole archipelago of the Dutch East Indies. All Muslims from Java are called Djawi). He perceived that the difficulties in Atjeh could fully be undepstood and dealt with in this centre, he saw the quiet atmosphere which enabled people to look at the Islamic opposition to Western authority in a detached way, and appreciated the possibility of an open-minded exchange of views on the matter for both sides.
There is also a good reason why women and children participate in such large numbers. This is not so in other Islamic countries, with the exception, perhaps, of some African tribes. First of all, this large number of women, which is usually half the number of men, is due to the favourable position of women as such in the Dutch East Indies. In the old Islamic countries the women do not enjoy that important position in the family as well as in social life. In our colonies the women have already for years taken their share in matters of religion, such as meetings, associations, and. religious ed.ucation. In Sumatra, and especially in the Minangkabau district, the associations of women and the religious classes for girls even set the fashion in native social life. Although this is not such a prominent feature in Java, the influence of the women is increasing there also, and this influence is usually of a conservative religious nature. Secondly, a widespread popular belief encourages participation of women-wz., that it is considered a blessing to give birth to a child in the Holy Town or in the district of the Hadjj (Arafat and Mina). So where pregnancy would otherwise make women renounce the journey, it actually is an incentive to participate. (p57)
The change of Gov. policy and care for the pilgrims:
Other Governments of Islamic countries try to frustrate
the pilgrimage in order to prevent the continuous flow of
money to the Hedjaz (Soviet Republic, Turkey) or for political
or religious considerations (Iran, Iraq). Our Government,
on the other hand, has always entirely carried
through the principle of religious freedom, also as regards
the Mecca pilgrimage. Difficulties which used to exist in the
old days have been removed and have even been replaced by
the conception that our Government should be responsible
for the well-being of our pilgrims so long as they are still
travelling under the Dutch flag and have not yet entered the
Holy Land. In this connection I would refer to the Pilgrim
Act of 1922 and to the Kamaran Treaty of 1926. The medical
attendance which is offered mainly free of charge by the
Consulate’s doctor and his staff is even a feature of the
Dutch Government’s assistance within the boundaries of
Bin Sa‘oud’s realm.
Volume 36, Issue 4
As one considers the world of Islam, one land where he finds a really strong and numerous church emerging from that religion is the Island of Java. (p337)
Of the seventy million inhabitants of the Dutch East Indies, no less than nine-tenths are Moslem, so there are about sixty-three million Moslems in these islands. About two-thirds of the total population of the islands are found in Java, and here the people are almost solidly Moslem, so that nearly all the indigenous Christians are converts from Islam.
The Meccan pilgrimage became increasingly the goal of the pious Moslem and for many years the East Indies were the largest contributors to the annual Hajj, Sometimes a village would raise a fund by subscription to send one of their number, the merit of his pilgrimage being considered as belonging to all. As
early as 1858, 3,862 pilgrims left these islands, the highest number being reached in 1926-7 when there were 52,412. Economic depression cut down the number thereafter,
In recent years Javanese Islam has felt the influence of various
reform movements, which may merely be mentioned in passing.
Those include the Modernist movement from Egypt, a movement
to purge Islam of mysticism, reverence for saints and relics, etc.,
and to adapt it to modem science and technology by returning to
the pristine Koran. There has come the Mohammediyah Society,
patterned after Christian missions and working for the spread of
education, the care of the poor and sick, and a deeper and purer
faith and life, and the Ahmadiyah movement from India causing
bitter controversy and division. (p338)
As the Dutch Republic regarded the promotion of Christianity
as one of its duties, from the very beginning the East Indies Church
was part of the activities of the East India Company. Converts to
Christianity were recognized as citizens and given preferential
treatment, conversion being recognized as a sort of naturalization
process entitling the convert to many privileges of the rulers.
In the beginning of the nineteenth century the Dutch Government
took over from the East India Company and has tended to be
more neutral in religious matters. The tax and other restrictions on
pilgrimage were abolished as far back as 1852, and a policy of strict
neutrality adopted. However, administrative control of the East
Indian Church continued until 1935, when a separation of church
and state was brought about as a result of growing opposition by
both Moslems and Christians, and in conformity with protests and
actions by the’volksraad. The subsidies the government had been
giving to the churches were to be decreased gradually and abolished
by the end of ten years, or in 1944. The war, of course, interrupted
this program. So while the Moslems are reported as being in general
satisfied with the government policy, still its attitude provides a
far more favorable situation for the Moslem convert than exists in
any land with a Moslem government. And the guarantee by the
Netherlands government of the civil and property rights of all
individuals means that converts do not run the risk of the loss of
property or inheritance rights as they do in many other lands.
The chief missionary agency has been the Mission of the Reformed
Churches, a highly conservative Calvinistic organization, which has
shared the territory with the Salatiga Mission. Their work has made
little impression on the educated classes, but by 1923 there were
5,000 converts from the lower classes. In 1931 an autonomous church
of Central Java was formed with 13,000 converts and in 1942 their
numbers were reported as being 16,000.
However, it is in East Java where the Javanese population is
the least strict in its allegiance to Islam, and where their religion is
more superficial, that Christianity has made the deepest. impression.
Here the Netherlands missionary society has been the chief force
for several generations. By 1911 there were nearly i2,ooo converts
from Islam, a number which had practically doubled by 1931 when
the Independent Church of East Java was formed. This church was
ruled by a Synod of thirty representatives of whom but three were
Europeans. The latest figures indicate that the church now has over
30,000 members, all converts from Islam. The steady growth of the
Protestant church in Java is indicated by the following figures, the
totals being for all three of its areas, the west, central and east. In
1873, a total of 5,000; 1906, 18,000; 1915, 24,000; 1932, 32,000; and
1942, 5o,ooo.’While we have no comparable figures for the Roman
Catholics, their total for 1942 is given as about 27,000.


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This entry was posted on January 16, 2011 by in 【The Holy Spirit Council】.
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