Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Review: "Wisdom of the Sadhu"
Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh is a collection of Singh’s writings culled from his seven books. Singh was born into a Sikh family in 1899, had a mystical conversion to Christianity in 1905, and disappeared – never to be heard from again in 1929.
While Singh’s parents were opposed to his conversion, they were pleased that he spent his life as a sadhu – a peripatetic monk. His wonderings took him all over the globe where he taught Christianity through parable and discussion. Although he studied theology, he was not what Westerners would think of as a theologian – more along the lines of a guru.
His use of Indian sadhu style to live and teach the teachings of Christ is fascinating to read – and it reminds the reader that the Western way is not the only way to present Christianity. On the other hand, while he talks of Yeshu the Master – His teachings – there is scant in this work about a presentation of the Gospel.
The Gospel is, as Paul concisely puts it: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, ESV).
Other concerns – which may be fleshed out in the full versions of his books – are his description of the Trinity being like the sun – the sun itself, light, and heat – which loses the Oneness of the Deity, and his repeated description of being received into Heaven as a spirit-being – the goal being the loss of the physical body.
Paul explains, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23, ESV). In the end, we received our bodies back – glorified.
It is a fascinating work and I would recommend it to the extent that a Westerner like me should be aware that the Gospel may be proclaimed in many ways – even ways that seem strange to my ears. Yet, I am concerned about some of his theology – especially the lack – at least in this book – of a clear presentation of the Gospel.
[This review appears on my blog and at Amazon.com. I received a copy of this book free from Handlebar Publishing and Plough Publishing House in exchange for the review.] #WISDOMOFTHESADHU