An Apostle of humanity
Friday, May 15, 2015 03:43 hrs IST
Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan
Dr M.M. Thomas
portrait of M.M.Thomas is taken from the Ceiling of the
Saint Gregory of Nyasa Episcopal Church in San Franscisco,
California, United States of America from the Dancing of
Twelve years in the making, it is a 3,000 square foot icon
wrapping around the entire church rotunda, showing ninety
larger-than life saints; four animals; stars, moons, suns
and a twelve-foot dancing
(1916–1997) A layman from the Mar
Kerala, Madhathilparampil Mammen Thomas was a pioneering
ecumenical leader, one time chair of the Central Committee
of the World Coucil of Churches ,
and director of the Institute for the Study of Religion
and Society in Bangalore. In 1990, he became the governor
of Nagaland. M. M. did the unprecedented thing of retiring
to his local village, where he lived among the people and
began a biblical commentary in the local language. He died
traveling third class on a train from Madras.
Dr M.M. Thomas was renowned thinker who formulated different and unique ideas in
Theology. He was staunch spokesman of Ecumenical movement and a good humanitarian.
Dr. Thomas started his association with the church by becoming the ﬁrst General Secretary of
Yuvajana Sakhyam in the early 1930s. The foundation of his vision was social commitment
based on spirituality which attracted the youth towards him.
When the college campus in the 1940s was inﬂuenced by politics and independence
movements, Dr. Thomas was able to carve out a different set of ideas which was noticed. He
was born on May 15, 1916 in Madthilparapil, Kozhencherry to M.M. Mammen and
Dr, M. M. Thomas always believed that the Church should work for the upliftment of the
downtrodden, those suffering from pain and exploitation. Through his works and words, Dr
Thomas reminded that the Christian church should work independently and responsibly for
justice in political and social spheres beyond the pull of any religion.
His books - The acknowledged Christ of the Indian Renaissance, the secular ideologies of
India and Secular meaning of Chirst, Bhagavat Gita - Oru Christiya Aswadanam - helped
create foundation of Indian Theology.
The church was greatly inﬂuenced by Dr. Thomas's writing to give land to the destitute.
Devanandachari was an independent preacher in West Travancore who had many followers.
But after his death, his followers were scattered in many places. Dr. M.M. Thomas who was
studying in University College, Thiruvananthapuram at that time and Dr K.K. George met
these people who were without a leader and worked for their spiritual growth. The Mar
Thoma church was inspired by this and Mission Fields of Mar Thoma Church was formed in
West Travancore which later led to the establishments of many parishes.
Dr. Thomas thought ahead of his times and his spiritual thinking was modern. The post
colonial philosophies which were prevalent in the 19th century in Europe and in third world
countries was based on modern concept of humanity. This later transformed into liberation
theology, black theology, dalit theology and feminist thinking . Dr Thomas played a big role in
the new vision becoming the testimony of Indian churches. Dr. Thomas always followed the
new philosophy of Mar Thoma Church which has a history of protesting against the
Portuguese aggression and cultural invasion by foreign forces. It was this conviction that put
Yuhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Advocate T.K. Thomas and T.M. Varghese in good stead
while protesting against the demand for creation of independent Travancore and against
enforcement of emergency.
Dr. Thomas‘ constructive criticism and his strong opinions about the church went a long way
in presenting the knowledge of discretion for the Christian churches in India.. Dr. Thomas
formulated certain usages like Open Church and Secular Koinonia which later became
popular. He had written about the chances of Open Church in the book on Abraham Malpan.
Dr. Thomas was Mar Thoma Church‘s gift to world Ecumenical movement. It was a great
recognition to his personality that he was chosen as moderator of Nairobi assembly. His
teaching, thoughts and vision are an inspiration not only for Mar Thoma Church but also for
the World Christian Council.
Though applied for ordination in the Mar Thoma Churh, it didn't materalise. Even then he
was able to able to achieve what many others could only dream of. His contribution towards
Mar Thoma Church's Ecumenical movements is priceless and will always be remembered.
His wife Penamma, his sister Sosamma and her husband A.K. Thampi inspired Dr. M.M.
Thomas in his work.
Dr. T.V. Philip, Dr. T.K. Thomas were also inﬂuenced by Dr. M.M. Thomas. The teachings,
ideas and thoughts of Dr. Thomas, who died on December 3, 1996 should be discussed in the
society. Through these discussions, it is right way to pay tribute to a great thinker on his birth