Ecclesial Identities in a Multi-Faith Context: Jesus Truth-Gatherings (Yeshu Satsangs) among Hindus and Sikhs in Northwest India

By Darren Todd Duerksen

An ethnographic and pastoral study of ecclesial structures formed by followers of Christ’s teachings in India, while retaining their Hindu and Sikh heritages.

ISBN: 9780718894061


When Hindus and Sikhs become followers of Christ, what happens next? Should they join Christian churches that often look and feel very unfamiliar to them? Or to what degree can or should they remain a part of their Hindu/ Sikh communities and practices? Uncomfortable with the answers that were provided to them by Christian leaders in northwest India, six followers of Christ began Yeshu satsangs that sought to follow Christ and the teachings of the Bible while remaining connected to their Hindu and/or Sikh communities.

Ecclesial Identities in a Multi-Faith Context contextualises the practices and identities of these leaders and their gatherings, situating these in the religious history of the region and the personal histories of the leaders themselves. Whereas some Christians worry that the Yeshu satsangs and related “insider movements” are syncretising their beliefs and are not properly identifiable as “churches”, Darren Todd Duerksen analyses the Yeshu satsang‘s narratives and practices to find vibrant expressions of local church that are grappling with questions and tensions of social and religious identity. In addition to his ethnographic approach, Duerksen also uses recent sociological and anthropological theory in identity formation and critical realism, as well as discussions of biblical ecclesiology from the Book of Acts. This study will be a helpful resource for those interested in global Christianity, the practices and identities of churches in religiously plural environments, and the creative ways in which Christ-followers can engage people of other faiths.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 314

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Darren Todd Duerksen is Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Fresno Pacific University.


List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Maps
Foreword by William A. Dyrness


Part I: Foundations of the Study
1. Precedent Literature: Early Pioneers and Present Scholars of Contemporary Yeshu Satsangs
2. Social Theory Framework: An Emergentist Theory of Identity Formation
3. Ethnographic Methodology
4. An Introduction to Yeshu Satsangs and Their Context

Part II: The Formation and Markers of Ecclesial Identities of Yeshu Satsangs
5. Structural Emergent Properties Of Hindu/Sikh Practices
6. Inscribing New Cultural Emergent Properties on Hindu and Sikh Practices
7. Resisting and Reshaping Christian Practices
8. Ecclesial Identity Markers of the Yeshu Satsangs
9. The Emergence of the Yeshu Satsang‘s Ecclesial Identities

Part III: A Critical Correlation of Yeshu Satsang and Biblical Ecclesial Identities
10. Ecclesial Identity Emergence in the Book of Acts
11. Conclusion and Recommendations

Appendix A: Delimiting Region Versus Religion
Appendix B: Summary of Yeshu Satsangis and Leaders
Appendix C: Leadership Questionnaire
Appendix D: Satsangi Questionnaire
Appendix E: Summary of Yeshu Satsang Leaders by Community
Appendix F: The Use of Bhajans by Yeshu Satsangs



Endorsements and Reviews

Duerksen has taken the risk of listening carefully to believers who most evangelicals would dismiss as heretical, of seeking to understand theologically the ways in which these believers have negotiated the tensions between their cultural heritage and the gospel, and then of embracing their ecclesial solutions to this tension as part of the historical process of God’s building His church. Each of the narratives analysed by Duerksen illustrates how crises in the lives and beliefs of both Hindus and Sikhs led to the adoption of a new course of faith and practice, a commitment to Christ.
Sherwood Lingenfelter, author of Leading Cross-Culturally

Duerksen is an able sociologist and (Anabaptist) theologian. His study is unique in bringing these two disciplines together to analyse a growing movement not only present in India, but in many parts of the world: churchless Christianity. There can be no doubt that this study provides hugely interesting materials and analysis that contribute to missiology, ecclesiology and interfaith understanding.
Gavin D’Costa, in Theology, March-April 2017

Duerksen provides descriptive, detailed case studies that continually remind the reader that the beliefs and practices being explored in his work are those of three-dimensional, diverse individuals within several distinct communities.
Nadya Pohran, in Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, Vol 29, 2016