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CHAPTER 3

K.N. DANIEL CASE: DEFINING REFORMATION

3.1. Introduction After the establishment of the Mar Thoma Church, the Reformation was interpreted in different ways. The two notions of the reformed identity of the Church were debated and latter it led to a court case between Metropolitan and K.N. Daniel. The debates within the Church, K.N.Daniel Case and the judgments of the Honourable Courts are decisive in the attempt of defining the identity of the Mar Thoma Church.

3.2. History of the debate The ideological difference of the Radical Reformists and traditionalists got widened during the period of Yuhanon Mar Thoma. After the Episcopal election in 1937, they formed two groups with the names Pathyopadesa Samithy and Sathaya Viswasa Samithy. Their arguments and the official responses of the church were very decisive documents in the K. N. Daniel case. 3.2.1. Pathyopadesa Samithy The radical Reformists in the Church argued that Abraham Malpan had only started a movement of reform and it was the duty of later generations to carry on. The leader of this movement was Mr. K. N. Daniel who was a remarkable character in the Mar Thoma Church. He criticized the Church as not sufficiently evangelical and the Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Thoma as one who is leading the Church to Jacobite faith.

36 So he began a pamphleteering campaign, and also organized a party in the Church called Pathyopadesa Samithy.1 He published a book Thaksa Sasthra Velichathil Naveekaranam in 1938. In this book his arguments for the revision of the thaksa are very clear, which as follows: 1) There are seventy three variant orders based on St. James Liturgy. So the Church can change the thaksa in accordance with their reformed faith.2 2) The primitive form of the liturgy contained only the remembrance of the saints. The prayer to the Saints was formed only after the 12th century.3 3) There were no words that justified the mediatory priesthood. The primitive blessings were not in the form of to you but in the form of with us.4 4) Sanctifying the elements and doctrine of transubstantiation were later additions in the liturgy only after the 5th century. Thanksgiving and praising the God for the bread and wine was the first form of the words of institution.5 5) The earliest form of the epiclesis was not to come upon the bread or wine but to the congregation.6 6) Word of institution which is used now is not Biblical. In Bible, the given body and blood is for the memory of Jesus, not for the remission of sin.7 7) There was no common practice of using incense in any kind of specific manner or blessing the censor in the liturgies.8
1

Juhanon Mar Thoma, Christianity in India and a Brief History of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church 1952 (Madras: K. M. Cherian, 1968), 40. 2 K. N. Daniel, Thaksa Sasthra Velichathil Naveekaranam (Tiruvalla: Author, 1938), 27. 3 Ibid., 122, 124. 4 Ibid., 141-144. 5 Ibid., 182-185. 6 Ibid., 232. 7 Ibid., 245. 8 Ibid., 250-259.

37 8) The doctrine of Redemption by Holy Baptism, the Prayer for the invocation of Holy Spirit into water and the exorcism from the water which was prevalent in the Jacobite baptism rite were criticized.9 9) Above mentioned revisions of the Thaksa is actually a turning back to the Jacobite Thaksa of Moosa Ber Keepa of 10th century and of Dionysios Ber Sleebi of 12th century with an exemption of the prayers for the dead.10 10) The Church cannot accept any kind of traditions which is against the Apostolic traditions and teachings in the Bible. We can add on to the traditions which have no objection to the Biblical facts.11 11) There is no need of a prayer for the bread and wine in the Holy Qurbana.12 K. N. Daniel and the Samithy claimed that they alone were loyal to the Reformation and appealed everyone to join them. They did not accept the committee Thaksa published by Titus II in 1942. Rev. P. John Varghese was the President of this movement.13

3.2.2. Sathya Viswasa Samithy To face the activities of the Pathyopadesa Samithy, some other members of the Mar Thoma Church organized themselves to prevent innocent people from being misled. This new organization was known as Sathya Viswasa Samithy.14 Mr. K. K. Kuruvilla and Prof. C. P. Mathew were the prominent leaders of this Samithy.15 They
9

Ibid., 261-278. Ibid., 279. 11 Ibid., 280. 12 Ibid., 284. 13 N. M. Mathew, op. cit., 250. 14 Ibid., 41. 15 N. M. Mathew, op. cit., 250-251.
10

38 had very intimate friendship with Yuhanon Mar Thoma from his high school education. For them, the decision of Alochana Sabha in 1927 and revised Thaksa published in 1942 did not need any kind of revision again. Prof. C. P. Mathew published a book Thaksa Niroopanam in 1946 against the argument for the revision of Thaksa. C. P. Mathew raised counter arguments against the fourteen resolutions of K. N. Daniel for changing Thaksa.16

3.2.3. Official Responses The debates between the Pathyopadesha Samithy and the Sathya Viswasa Samithy created doubts among the laity and clergy mainly about a definite opinion of the Church. To bring unity between the divided groups and to brief on the matter to the members of the Church the Metropolitan, the Episcopal Synod, the Sabha council and the Prathinidhi Mandalam took immediate steps.

3.2.3.1. Synod Thaksa (1954) Mr. Daniel and his group argued that the Thaksa published in 1942 by Titus IInd Metropolitan did not follow the reformation principles and they wanted a revised Thaksa to be published. In order to meet this need a 14 member committee called the Prayer Book Revision Committee was formed during the period of Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan and they presented revised Thaksa in 1952 after the six years of study. This Thaksa was accepted with some amendments by the Episcopal Synod and it was published in 1954. This is known as the Synod Thaksa.17

16 17

C. P. Mathew, Thaksa Niroopanam 1946 (New Delhi: Dharma Jyoti Vidya Peeth, 2008), 11-16. Thaksa Committee Report cited in Mar Thoma Sabhayude Viswasacharangal Sambandichu Chila Supradhana Rekhakal (Tiruvalla: Sabha Tharaka Editorial Board, n.d.), 18-23.

39 The main changes brought in this thaksa are.18 (1) Approved the alternative forms of epiclesis. One form is to sanctify the bread and wine to be the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The alternative form which was added is to sanctify the bread and wine to be the communion of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Synod Thaksa permitted the freedom to alter the statement for the forgiveness of our debts and remission of our sins is given to you in the last declaration of the priest before serving the Qurbana to the congregation, by using appropriate words like rememberance etc.

3.2.3.2. Joint Circular 195319 K. N. Daniel and Pathyopadesa Samithy argued that Mar Thoma Church had lost its reformed identity. At the same time Sathya Viswasa Samithy expressed their anxiety about the Eastern Episcopal identity of the Mar Thoma Church. So Metropolitan, Yuhanon Mar Thoma called a meeting of thirty members representing both groups and prepared an agreed statement. On the basis of this statement, Yuhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan and Mathews Mar Athanasius jointly published a circular in 1953. This circular re-affirmed the reformation principles suggested by the Committee of 1927 and the Prayer Book Revision Committee report of 1953. It underlined the Episcopal nature, representative priesthood of the Church and the practices of using symbols, signs, eastern style of vestments etc. This circular allowed exemptions to some Churches from these common practices. It denied the doctrines of
18

P. M. Thomas, ed. Mar Thoma Sabha Directory (Tiruvalla: Mar Thoma Publication Board, 1999), 63. 19 Yuhanon Mar Thoma and Mathews Mar Athanasios, Samyuktha Kalpana, 21 March, 1953, cited in C. E. Abraham, ed. Mar Thoma Syrian Church Directory (Tiruvalla: Managing Board, 1969), 81-85.

40 transubstantiation, con-substantiation, localization and any kind of magical effects of sacraments. Generally this circular recognized the diversity of faith and practices within the Church.

3.2.3.3. Statement of the Sabha Council (1955) Mandalam appointed a Special Committee for studying the fourteen resolutions20 of K. N. Daniel for the Thaksa revision. But the Committee could not submit a report unanimously. Before submitting these two reports in the Mandalam, Sabha Council presented a statement at the Mandalam in 1955. It explained the meanings of infant baptism, dominical feasts, remembering the departed in worship etc.21 It helped to distinguish the faith of the Mar Thoma Church from the Jacobites.

3.2.3.4. Nava Vatsara Sandesam 1958 Following the report of the majority of the special committee which suggested that revising the Thaksa was disapproved by the Mandalam in 1955, K. N. Daniel propagated that the Mar Thoma Church has been misguided away from the Gospel and the Bible. In this context, with the permission of Sabha Council, Yuhanon Mar Thoma circulated a New Year message (Nava Vatsara Sandesam) in 1958, December 29. Along with reminding the decisions of Thaksa Revision Committee of 1927 and Joint Circular, it affirmed the salvation through the grace and faith, authority of the Bible for all theological subjects and the missionary nature of the Church.22 3.3. K. N. Daniel Case
20

Sabha Secretary, Statement of the Sabha Council, 7th May 1955, cited in Mar Thoma Sabhayude Viswasacharangal Sambandichu Chila Supradhana Rekhakal, op. cit., 34-36. 21 His fourteen resolutions and responses were cited in C. P. Mathew, op. cit., 29-44. 22 Yuhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Nava Vatsara Sandesam, Circular No. 126, 29th December 1958, cited in Ibid., 29-32.

41 After the rejection of the Special Committee Report in the Mandalam of 1955, Mr.K.N. Daniel moved a petition in the District Court praying for an injection order against Yuhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan who was charged with professing not the Mar Thoma faith but the Jacobite faith. This suit was instituted in 1955 and was terminated by the judgment of the Supreme Court of India on January 7, 1965. This civil case between Yuhanon Mar Thoma and K. N. Daniel is known as K. N. Daniel Case. It has led to findings by courts on doctrinal questions of vital significance in relation to the faith of the Mar Thoma Church.

3.3.1. Plaint of K. N. Daniel23 In this plaint for dethroning Yuhanon Mar Thoma from the position of Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church, K. N. Daniel argued that the faith of Yuhanon Mar Thoma was not of the Mar Thoma Church. For that purpose, he raised a few doctrinal issues.

3.3.1.1. Interpreting the Reformed Identity K. N. Daniel stated that his understanding about the faith of the Mar Thoma Church differed from the Jacobite faith in the 6th paragraph of the plaint.

Eucharist

23

Ninan Daniel, Easow Yohannan etc. Plaint in the District Court of Kottyam, O.S.No.116 of 1955, 29th July 1955, cited in K. T. Thomas and T. N. Koshy (Very Rev.), Faith on Trial (Ernakulam: Mar Themotheus Memorial Printing and Publishing House Ltd., 1965), 1-11.

42 The Jacobites believe that the bread and wine in the Eucharist are the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But the Reformists (Marthomites) believe that the bread and wine are merely the symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Jacobites believe that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, but the Reformists do not believe so.

Practices The Jacobites believe that prayers to the saints is necessary, but the Reformists do not believe so. The Jacobites believe that prayers for the dead are necessary, but the Reformists believe that they are opposed to the Bible.

Scripture The Jacobites believe that it is not only the Bible alone that should be treated as the basis of the faith and teachings of the Church, but also the traditions, creed and patristic writings should be considered as the basis. The Reformists on the other hand believed that it is only the Bible consisting of the sixty six books that should be the basis of all theological (ecclesiastical) subjects. In the 7th paragraph of the plaint, he continued that Abraham Malpan who was the first leader of the Reformists party, the above said doctrines came to be accepted by them and became a separate Church with the name Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

3.3.1.2. Response to the Synod Thaksa

43 He argued that the Synod Thaksa of 1954 expressed the Jacobite faith of the Yuhanon Metropolitan. The Bible verse I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever shown on page xvii is believed by the Jacobites to be in respect of the Bread administered in the Eucharist. But the Marthomites believe that this verse does not relate to it. Yuhanon Metropolitan gave the direction in the said liturgy to use this verse at the Administration of the Eucharist.

3.3.2. Defense of Yuhanon Mar Thoma As first defendant in this case, the written statement24 of the Metropolitan and his latter explanations expressed the faith and practices of the Mar Thoma Church, because, it was the official position of the Church about its faith and meaning of reformation. It pointed out all the possible areas relevant to this suit and the decisive factors in the identity of the Mar Thoma Church.

3.3.2.1. Apostolic Origin and Autonomy Metropolitan confronted the statement of K. N. Daniel concerning the origin of the Church as a result of the division due to the reformation movement by Abraham Malpan. Metropolitan corrected it in the 8th paragraph of the statement that this Church is believed to be the old Malankara Church established by Saint Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World. This was quoted from the preamble of the constitution. Paragraph 12 stated its original autonomy before the arrival of Portuguese and its retrieved freedom through the reformation.
24

In this section, the word statement is cited to refer theWritten statement of Defendant 1 in the district court of Kottayam, O.S. No. 116 of 1955 cited in Ibid., 12-25.

44

3.3.2.2. Reformation Means Paragraph 12 and 13 stated that the Reformation of Abraham Malpan and Geevarghese Malpan was an attempt to restore the Church to its original purity, by casting away the prevailing erroneous teachings and corrupt practices, which had crept in by its association with other Churches of Rome and Antioch. The Reformists party shook off the Antiochan yoke and brought the Church into freedom. According to the statement, Mar Thoma Church does not accept any other reform as having been described by the Alochana Sabha of 1927. This resolution consists of ten reforms affected in Thaksa and three alterations effected in rituals.25 The sixth paragraph of the Trial court Judgement cleared that Abraham Malpan decided to remain in the old tradition of the Syrian Church and bring out reforms in the Syrian Church in the light of the new emphasis and vision he had received.26

3.3.2.3. Democratic and Episcopal Administration Even though it was not a debated issue in this case, Metropolitan stated about the administration of the Mar Thoma Church. Paragraph 6, 8, 11 and 12 declared that the Church administrated in accordance with a written constitution. The Assembly called the Pradhinithi Mandalam is the final authority for taking decisions in respect of all matters, spiritual and temporal. Metropolitan is the President of this Assembly. Again he stated that the Church is hierarchical in its nature and the Metropolitan is the supreme ecclesiastical head.

25 26

Refer Appendix. Judgement of the Trial Court dated 04.10.58 in the subordinate judges court of Kottayam cited in K. T. Thomas and T. N. Koshy, op. cit., 41.

45 3.3.2.4. Eastern Missionary Church In the 18th paragraph of the statement, Metropolitan occasionally pointed out that the Mar Thoma Church is a part of Eastern Churches. He stated in the Supreme Court that the Church is Eastern in its traditions and forms of worship. 27 Based on the statement given by the second defendant Rev. C. V. John, the Trial Court Judgement states that the Mar Thoma Church, the eastern one is Catholic in doctrine and Evangelical in Mission. The only codification of faith which the Eastern Church has effected is the Nicene Creed.28

3.3.2.5. Bible and Tradition in the Church By confronting the Bible alone concept of K. N. Daniel, Metropolitan stated Mar Thoma Church does not believe that the Bible is the sole basis for all ecclesiastical subjects. The Church has accepted the Bible, and Nicene creed, the several offices for the celebration of the different sacraments and rituals too as the bases for ecclesiastical subject.29 In the statement before the Supreme Court, he explained that the Holy Bible is the touchstone on which the doctrines of the Mar Thoma Church are tested.30 Metropolitan interpreted the constitutional statement The Bible is the basis for or authoritative document concerning all Vaidika (Theological) matters in accordance with the pledge which everyone who is to become a priest has to take. There it is said that the Holy Bible contains all the doctrines which are essential for salvation of mankind.

27

Statement of the case before the civil appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme Court special leave on 23 of 1963 cited in Ibid., 141. 28 Judgement of the Trial Court cited Ibid., 42-43. 29 See the 17th paragraph of the written statement of the Metropolitan, in Ibid., 16-17. 30 Statement of the case cited in Ibid., 149.

46 3.3.2.6. Diversity in Biblical Interpretations As a response to the problem raised by K. N. Daniel in the interpretation of the text St. John, chapter 6, Yuhanon Mar Thoma said in 20 th paragraph of the statement that The Mar Thoma Church has not given any official interpretation to them. There are two views among theologians as to whether the discourse in that chapter relates to the Holy Eucharist or not. This gives a hint that there have not been any official interpretations on the Biblical text for the Church. It provides the freedom to the readers to read the text in many ways.

3.3.2.7. Salvation According to the statement of the Metropolitan submitted in Supreme Court, paragraph 34, the position of the Church regarding salvation is Salvation through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the free gift of God. Through faith, we appropriate this salvation through grace. It is the Holy Bible consisting of the sixty six books alone that our Church has accepted as the basis for all the teachings concerning this salvation.31 3.3.2.8. Eucharist It was the central issue of the debate. Metropolitan confronted the radical protestant position, specifically Zwinglian understanding of Eucharist which was argued by K. N. Daniel. Metropolitan recorded the faith of the Church in the written statement submitted before the district court, paragraph 18.

1. It stated that, Mar Thoma Church does not believe that the Bread and Wine in the Holy Eucharist are mere symbols of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It
31

Ibid., 150.

47 is permissible for the members of the Church to believe, either that while they are symbols, the Body and Blood of Christ become present in the company of the worshippers through the media of Bread and Wine, in a manner incomprehensible to human senses and beyond the reach of analytical tests, or that they do not so become present. His explanation quoted in the Judgment of the Trial Court that according to the faith of the liturgy of the Mar Thoma Church it is more reasonable to believe that there is a spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharistic elements.32 2. The Judgment of the Trial Court quoted the Metropolitans explanation that What the Mar Thoma Church believed is that the Bread and Wine used in the Holy Communion are effective signs of grace. Sacrament is the method by which inward grace is attained through outward means.33 3. The written statement submitted before the district court, Metropolitan stated that In the Holy Communion, Christ is given himself to his believers and they partake of Him. But we repudiate the doctrines of transubstantiation and localization. Again he explained before the Trial Court that Beyond that, it is a difficult question to assess the nature of relationship that exists between Jesus Christ and the Bread and Wine and an answer to this question is unnecessary for a believer to receive Christ.34 4. It defined the different meanings of the Holy Communion as a reminder of Christs redemptive action, a sacrificial feast, incorporation of believers in Christ, a thank offering of the Church etc. paragraph 16 states it is a living

32 33

Judgment of the Trial Court, cited in Ibid., 44. Ibid., 45. 34 Ibid., 46.

48 sacrifice, the sacrifice of grace, peace and thanksgiving. But it is not believed to be a sacrifice attended with shedding of blood.

3.3.2.9. Liturgy of the Church While considering the overall facts in this case, Church is not liable to any kind of school of thought or liturgies. The Mandalam and the Episcopal Synod in accordance with the constitution can construct the liturgies and permit them to be practiced in the parishes. The 24th paragraph of the written statement before the district court said that The Episcopal Synod has an inherent power, to accord freedom to permit the use of liturgical forms. In relation with the Thaksa published in 1954, he explained in the same paragraph that It had been published by the Episcopal Synod, under the constitution, the power vests solely in the Mandalam to decide whether, in whole or part, it is opposed to the faith and teachings of the Church.

3.3.2.10. Rituals The paragraph 15 of the statement explained the relativity of Church practices in relation with the present context and the teachings of the Bible. Not only the Bible but also the practicability should be taken seriously, while rejecting or accepting a ritual. It is very clear in the statement, The Mar Thoma Church does not believe that invocation of saints is opposed to the Bible, but the Church does not enjoin the practice of invocation of saints. Mar Thoma Church does not believe that prayers for the dead are contrary to the Bible.

49 It pointed out that these ten practices stopped by the Church were not based on Bible but was based on practical life. It proved that for the Church, Bible is not a blue-print of rituals and practices.

3.3.2.11. Ecumenical Nature Based on the constitution, Metropolitan stated in paragraph 8, that the Church is a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Paragraph 27 explained this statement as The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church is a part of the Church universal and is bound like any other true and faithful Christians, to work for the unity of the Church, which is the body of Jesus Christ, by the establishment of co-operation and union amongst the Churches. That being so, the Mar Thoma Church is a member of the World Council of Churches and the present Metropolitan has been elected as one of its presidents. We wish that the Churches should unite on the basis of the fundamental doctrines. The goal of the Church ought to be that an Indian Church should evolve on the basis of the fundamental Christian doctrines accepting the fundamental prized by the Mar Thoma Church. When that wish materializes there will be no need for the Mar Thoma Syrian Church to exist as a separate entity. But we do not wish that the Mar Thoma Church should merge in any other Church. It was the period of starting ecumenical relations and discussion with other Churches and Yuhanon Mar Thoma was a pioneer in the way of ecumenical relations of the Church.

3.3.3. Judgments35
35

The full script of the judgements were cited by K. T. Thomas & T. N. Koshy, Ibid., 26-95, 177-185.

50 Followed by the plaints and appeals of Mr. K. N. Daniel, the judgments were announced by the Trial Court in 1958, High Court in 1961 and Supreme Court in 1965. Even though, the 47th paragraph of the judgment of the High Court elucidated the judicial limitations, the above mentioned judgments helped to legalize some factors. 1. It legalized the Synod Thaksa of 1954 along with the Committee Thaksa of 1942. 2. By approving the Synod Thaksa, it allowed alternative forms of epiclesis, words of institution, declaration about the purpose of Eucharist etc. 3. It approved the authority of the Episcopal Synod and Prathinidhi Mandalam in accordance with the written constitution for all spiritual and ecclesiastical matters. 4. It authorized the reformation principles settled in Alochana Sabha of 1926. 5. All the courts dismissed the suits filed by K. N. Daniel and approved the official position as appropriate to the faith and constitution of the Mar Thoma Church. High Court judged that the motive of the appellant was his animosity to the Metropolitan.

3.4. Attitude of the Mar Thoma Church to the Case and Schism The Sabha Council of the Mar Thoma Church published a booklet entitled Facts about a Schism in 1962 as a replay to the booklet It happened in the Mar Thoma Church distributed in the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches at New Delhi in 1961. In this booklet Sabha Council approved the matters which were included in the written statement of the Metropolitan submitted in the court. It

51 declared that there were no theological factors in the case and schism.36 This document expressed the attitude of the Mar Thoma Church towards the St. Thomas Evangelical Church that, The type of Episcopacy they have chosen and their violent language against the Metropolitan, impose serious limitations on the degree of cooperation possible with them.37

3.5. Conclusion Mar Thoma Church struggled for determining its identity in between the proeastern and pro-protestant notions within the Church. There were two notions of interpretations about Reformation that happened in the Malankara Church. K. N. Daniels position was very near to Radical Protestants especially to Zwingly and he argued for the complete revision of the liturgy. On the other side, the leadership of K. K. Kuruvilla and C. P. Mathew were against the revision of the liturgy. Yuhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the great ecumenist and the supreme head of the Mar Thoma Church equipped the Church to maintain its diversity in non-fundamental doctrines and its hybrid nature, by publishing revised Thaksa of 1954 and the Episcopal Circulars. The suits filed against the Metropolitan helped the Church to settle and to legalize its unique hybrid and flexible nature.

36 37

A. Cheriyan, Facts about a Schism (Tiruvalla: Sabha Council, 1962), 2. Ibid., 27.