Misinterpreted Theological Studies in Naga Society

Dr. Lemwang Chuhwanglim

Researcher, Mon Town

 

Not every Naga knows the meaning of ‘theology’. Theology simply means “the process of seeking normative answers to questions of truth/ meaning, goodness/practice, evil, suffering, redemption, and beauty in specific contexts.”(Lynch.2005). Another simple terms is, ‘theos’ means ‘God’ and ‘ology’ refers to ‘logo’ meaning ‘word’ in Greek. Thus, theology literally means ‘the study of God’ (Michael Patton. 2005). Similarly, common people understand the study of theology is to learn more about God in theological institutions, colleges and universities. With this understanding of theological studies, every weak and sick human being hopes that each broken life can be transformed or rebuild through searching God. There is no error in attaining such understanding among the Nagas that studying the word of God is one of the processes of finding remedies to heal the broken life.

 

However, there is a problem in choosing a person to send for theological studies among the Nagas. Common understanding of theological studies among the Nagas is the offering of one of the many children in the family. If theological studies are based on this understanding, in practice, most of the Naga families stand paradox to the teaching of the Bible. The Bible which for Christians believed to be the Holy Book of the Word of God clearly portrays the true meaning of offering. Genesis 4: 4 “And Abel brought the best, the choicest parts of the FIRSTBORN of his flock and of their fat portions. Genesis 8:20 “Then Noah built alter to the Lord and took some of every CLEAN animal and some of every CLEAN bird. Exodus 23: 19 “For the three annual festivals, Moses tells the people, “The BEST of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” In addition, Deuteronomy 16:17 “They shall not appear before the Lord empty handed. Every man shall give as he is ABLE.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. “

 

The preceding texts have two significant acts of those who give offering to God. First, it refers to the offering of the first and the best of anything from where and what a person takes for offering. The first and the best refer to the purest and wholehearted expression to God with no greed and reservation. It signifies that every first and good thing should be given to God and the remaining is kept for own. Second significant indication is the giving of the only one though it may be the best in the family or the only hope of the family. The Old Testament theology of fearing and loving God is narrated in the book of Genesis where Abraham sacrifices his only and the best son as the sign of true love and faith in God (Moberly. 2005).

 

Forgetting the theology of giving, faith and love, the offering/giving of many Nagas to God is misleading in the context of sending people for theological studies. Indeed, not all good people who are sent for theological studies bear good fruit. Similarly, not all drug addicts and alcoholics who are sent for theological studies bear bad fruit. However, many Naga parents believe that sending drug addicts, dropouts and alcoholics for theological studies would transform them and become reborn in Christ. In this act, the theology of offering the best and the first, to God remains invisible. It paradoxically appears that for the love and fears of God, they give the worst and spoiled ones. Will God transform the spoiled ones as He accepts it as the best offering of those families? If God transforms them, it may be done in favor of the lost ones, not in favor of those who send them for theological studies.

 

The relevance of offering the spoiled ones to God in the field of theological studies is widely known. People often generalize that theological institutions are full of drug addicts/alcoholics; in response, there are moments when these students prove the authenticity of the people’s statement, in act of indulging in drug and alcohol throughout theological studies. This emerges negative image of theological institutions and its studies. This repercussion indicates the misinterpretation of theological studies by many Nagas, moreover, they have failed to identify the difference between rehabilitation centre and theological institutions.

 

Theological institution is a place to train students based on their conviction to study about divinity, academic and non-academic disciplines to further train and remind the lay people as well as among the theological graduates. In addition, it becomes a place for parents to offer their best child to God. It symbolizes the act of spiritualized aim of the parents that out of many, one is given to God through theological studies. Eventually, the theological graduates engage in church ministry and other Christian religious activities. In such aim of offering and sacrifice, the agenda of purity emerges as the fundamental goal of the people. How pure is the child who is sent for theological studies? Pure in this context is a figure of speech which symbolizes the good child. It is the expression of human passion and feelings to God divinely who would not reject what He deserves to receive from the people.

 

In such misinterpretation of theological studies among many Nagas, it is perhaps the responsibilities of the intellectual Nagas in general to impart the true knowledge of theological studies to produce more intellectual theological graduates in academic and non-academic disciplines. Similarly to identify a suitable place to rehabilitate the young people who indulge in drug and other intoxication. This initiative will broadly enhance the people to identify right place for right people to earn a suitable life transforming education.