Converting to Christianity in Nepal

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Converting to Christianity in Nepal – A Qualitative Study of What It Means for a Hindu-Nepalese to Convert to Christianity in the Context of Social Meaning and Legal Conditions in Nepal.

This is the thesis that I wrote for my Bachelor of Theology at Örebro School of Theology.

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What does it mean for a Nepalese Hindu to convert to Christianity? By using the method of Grounded Theory this qualitative interview study attempts to answer this question by generating a descriptive theory. The material of this thesis has been collected during a Minor Field Study in October to December 2011 by interviewing Nepalese Christians who all have converted from Hinduism to Christianity. By using a phenomenological and narrative analysis my theory is that there is a sequence of steps within the conversion process that Nepalese Hindus go through when converting to Christianity, a pattern I call “Nepali Ordo Salutis”. This study identifies these steps as Stability, Crisis, Encounter, Solution, Conflict and Restored Stability. In the first step; Stability, Hinduism seems to provide a sense of religious stability before the crisis. In the second step; Crisis, the convert receives some kind of crisis, usually a sickness, and he or she is seeking a way to dissolve this problem. In the third step; Encounter, the convert now in some way encounters Christianity, which provides a different way to dissolve the crisis. In the fourth step; Solution, the convert’s life-story is changed through a narrative turning point, the convert is now somehow experiencing a miracle; if they were sick they got healed and if they were depressed they received peace. When their crisis now is solved in a Christian context instead of a Hindu, they now make their decision to convert from Hinduism to Christianity. In the fifth step; Conflict, the convert now has solved the crisis but may in a worst case scenario gain two new, the first being an Informal Conflict with the family and the second a Formal Conflict with the Nepalese state. In the last and final sixth step; Restored Stability, the convert have resisted all attempts from his family or the Nepalese state to bring him back to Hinduism, and there now arises a state of restored stability in my informant’s life-stories. By using a narrative analysis I have found that the personal experience of God is the most important turning point in the life-story of my informant’s. Before this personal experience the informants have been seeking help from God and after this experience they do not go back to Hinduism. I have also found that according to Greimas actantmodel healing is given a central significance in the informant’s retrospective conversion story.

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