Years ago I wrote an article on Asian Christian Theology, where I expressed some questions or concerns about how some consider this. (You can read it by CLICKING HERE).
Recently I was in a meeting where exploration of supporting Asian Christian Theology books was explored. Some questions came up that commonly come up when this topic is being considered. For example, what defines Asian Christian Theology? If one is Asian does this make one’s theological writings Asian or not? Many Asians are trained (and sometimes indoctrinated) in Western schools or traditions. Will the results of these Asian writers be Asian theology, or simply Western Theology written by an Asian.
Additionally, do Asian Christian Theologies have characteristics that make them distinctly different AS A GROUP from Western or other Christian Theologies? Considering the variety of Asian cultures it seems doubtful that there is one unifying theme. Continental identity does not seem adequate.
Further, does Asian Christian Theology have unique methodologies (or at least foci) different from Western? Perhaps there is a greater focus on narrative over propositional truths. Maybe the dominant metaphors would be different. Perhaps systematization would be less valued. But if an Asian wrote a systematic theology with a strong focus on propositional truths, would that make it “un-Asian”?
For me, the key point is not on any of the above. I would suggest something different.
The above figure suggests theology as a man-made construct that relates God’s unchanging revelation to Man’s changing culture(s). Since human cultures are diverse and changing, good theologies should be:
- Culturally Practical
- Making sense within the culture
<Consider reading the post where I talk about this more. It was meant to be part of a book that I never finished. Click Here.>
With this in mind, what is an Asian Christian Theology? It is one that is
- Relevant to people living in a present Asian culture
- Has practical value to these same people in that culture
- Utilizes metaphors, thought processes, and such that make sense to people in that culture.
- AND… effectively links accurately and fully to God’s revelation.
I could add a fifth point. Ideally, it should speak to people of other cultures as well. That is because we are not only part of a local community of faith, we are part of a universal community of faith. As such, it should not serve as a wedge between local and non-local Christians. (Theology should both unify and diversify.)
Ultimately, the best test of whether a theology is Asian is “Does it give God’s answers to the questions that come from Asians within an Asian culture?”