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Memoirs of Dr. Johnson C. Philip

Systematic Theology: The Birth of a Classic 004

SampsonD'Cruz

Pic: Sampson D’Cruz (Now In Full-time Ministry) Who Joined The Project As A Scribe

As soon as Vadavana’s Magazine announced that we were going to write and publish a Systematic Theology, there was a big commotion in the Kerala Christian community. Kerala is a small stake in India, but has the largest concentration of Christians anywhere in India. The course of church and evangelism all over  India is decided mostly by Kerala Christians. As a result, there are many protocols in the Kerala Christian community which everyone is supposed to follow. We had dared to break the protocol.

  • Teachers usually do not join hands with their students to write books. I had broken this protocol and there was opposition from all over against what I had done.
  • The publisher I chose was the second reason for the strong opposition.  Most of the people in the assemblies did not like him and did not approve his activities.

I started receiving phone calls and also personal visits from people who advised me that I should not lend my name to a book where two of my students also were going to be writers. They said that it was shameful and embarrassing for a senior to be writing with his juniors. They also insisted that it is senior brothers in the assemblies who ought to be writing such a book. When I told them that we are open to senior brothers joining us as writers they said that the senior brethren were not in a position to discipline themselves to write such a book. But they said that many of the senior brothers were willing to give their “names” as writers if I wanted to add their names as fellow writers. 

I very clearly told all of these brothers that only those who actually write the book will have their names as writers. I also told them that it is very unethical for a brother to crave to see his name as writer of a certain textbook without actually contributing to it. Many of them insisted that this is the way things ought to be done and that I would regret it if I did not include the names of at least some senior brothers as our fellow writers. I told all of them that names would be added to the book as writers only if people write for the book. I also kept reminding them that since this was going to be a massive writing project we were always open to more writers joining us as fellow writers.

Within about a month it became clear to me that many people craved to get their names onto our book as a fellow-writers mainly for name and fame but that they were neither competent to write nor willing to do anything for the book. The younger brothers who were writing with me also faced much pressure from the senior brothers but they were not intimidated because I was the team leader. They referred all such brothers to me.

As far as the publisher was concerned, I told everyone that I had given the first offer to GLS which at that time was considered an Assembly publishing house. They had rejected the project. Thus I had already given an opportunity to an unaccepted publishing house to publish this book if they were interested. However they were not even remotely interested in publishing a book on Systematic Theology by Indian writers. The second publisher, on the other hand, had enthusiastically accepted the project and therefore I was not going to dishonour my commitment to him.

Writers_Helpers

Pic: Sibi NJ (Second From Left) and Vinod CD (Second From Right) Who Joined As Scribes

I asked my young companions to keep writing without worrying about any of these things. They were totally committed to the project and kept on working on it. Soon new problems came up. Writing a book of this size in a non-English-language was not an easy task and we had definitely taken a very large bite and the question was whether they would be able to chew and shallow it in the coming days. The next few days were full of many kinds of challenges.

The first difficulty that all of us faced was how to manage such a massive project without affecting the study of Saneesh and Shibu. It became obvious that thousands of hours were needed to rewrite what they wrote in their first draft. The first draft would be full of correction and annotation and corrected copies needed to be written before they could be shown to the consultants. This was mostly a mechanical, and not creative work, and we realised that us writers should not be spending about time on this task. The question was, who shall do it. We started praying for it and soon the Lord himself solve our problem. Three students who have been watching all this work approached the one-day and said that they are convinced about the utility and success of this project and that they would like to join as helpers. All three of them said that they were not gifted to write books but that they could do scribal walk to help speed up the project. That was our answer.

The three students where Samson D’Cruz, Sibi NJ, and Vinod CD. Along with their BTh studies they would eventually find time to rewrite each manuscript two to three times before it was submitted to the consultants. Notes scribbled on these manuscripts would then be incorporated into the final manuscript that they produced after that. The project would never have moved at normal pace were it not for Sibi, Vinod, and Sampson.

 

 

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