Sunday, December 17, 2006

Theological experiment in Asia

Missionaries often complain of seemingly open hostility of the dominant religion to Christianity. But as I observe, Christians, missionaries in particular are often more hostile to other religions. We are taught to "curse" and rebuke their temples, activities and festivals. We pray that God would destroy these elements and consider them as the work of the enemies. Here are some of my thoughts: Isn't it that we are more hostile to them than them to us? Can we tell our Jesus' stories to them when they are telling us theirs we are secretly condemning them? Can we share to them the Bible when the truth is we consider their holy writ as harmful to our physical and spiritual life? I found this essay from C.S. Song very helpful entitled Christian Theology: Towards an Asian Reconstruction this calls us to really look at our theological attitudes toward religions.

What this age of ours has taught us is that we must, and we can, practice our own faith and reflect about it in the spirit of charity and respect towards people of other faiths, knowing that each and every religion, including our own, carries records that make us both proud and shameful. We are aware, much more deeply now that never before, that for the survival of our Mother earth mercilessly plundered by us human beings, for the peace of the world torn with division and bigotry, for love and justice to prevail in human community, and for worship of God to bring shalom to ourselves and to the community around us, we must learn to be repentant, each one of us acknowledging we have fallen short of God's glory, But repentance alone is not enough. We must translate our repentance into action. We must inspire each other, correct each other, and together bear the responsibility of striving towards the world of hope and future.

One thing is certain: the world cannot afford a fanatical faith that treats people of other faiths as enemies to be won over to one's fold or to be eradicated from the face of the earth. There should be no room either for a sectarian theology, be it Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian, a theology that takes its own experience and tradition for nothing less than the very oracles of God. This does not mean that we must go for a "universal" theology. Theology of whatever brand has to be particular in orientation and specific in context. But if we believe in the God of creation, is it not possible from time to time for people of different faiths to meet that God at the cross-sections of our journeys of faith and theology?The Christian theology that engages us in Asia must have must have room, yes, plenty of room, for people of different walks of life and of diverse religious traditions and cultural backgrounds. Its stage is the world of Asia - the world blessed with immense human and natural resources and tormented by endless natural disasters and human tragedies. To make sense of this world with all its good and evil, hopes and despairs, joys and anguishes, as an Asian Christian is the main theological task of the Christian church in Asia.

Let us face it, The dream of "christendom" has, the demise of Western colonial domination of the Third World, vanished. The Christian church alone cannot deal with the mounting problems that threaten to tear apart the moral fabric of human community. As Christians we have to learn to work together with people of other faiths to be a spiritual force that creates a mew vision for humanity. This is a theological experiment with both promises and challenges. Asia with its diverse cultures and religions offers a most experiment with both promises and experiment. I hope our theological experiment in Asia in the coming century will be a modest contribution to the human search for the meaning of life and eternity in the world of transition and temporality.


Steve Hayes said...

I suppose this is linked to the idea of religionless Chirstianity. All religion is a human construct, and like other human constructs has been corrupted by the fall -- and that of course includes our own religion, along with that of others.

On the other hand, human religion also arises in part from a God-implanted desire for God, and so is not totally depraved. St Maximus the Confessor, I am told, taught this.

Joey said...

I agree and although, religions are human construct, God is present and somehow revealed something about Godself in any kind of religions.