It thus describes the dia- logic proper to Asian theologians and the way they strategically make use of symbols and narratives. It also asserts the fecundity of the approaches here studied for loading the theological language with renewed meaning and inventiveness, in Asia and beyond. The fact that other Churches still know relatively little about Asian theologies is perplexing: for many decades, Asian spiritual traditions have been shaping global trends focused on meditation techniques and inner exploration, and the Asian paths to the Divine have been taking universal significance.
However, as Christians constitute only a tiny minority of the Asian population, their theological journey has not awakened an interest as large as should be the case, and spiritual seekers worldwide do not connect Asian Christianity with the resources and insights that originate from this continent.
- e: Toward a Liberation Theology of Religions (Paul F. KNITTER).
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This article sketches the context, style and topics specific to such theology, while accounting for its inner diversity. It also raises some questions on its premises and methods, the answers to which will weigh on the future of this theological enterprise and the influence it will exercise on ecclesiological, theological and spiritual developments within and outside Asia. Such situation could be described as an ocean of contrasts —varying, sometimes even diverging contexts being nevertheless gathered into the unifying flux of the Asian space and ethos.
From the perspective of religious cultures, Asia draws its resources from a variety of sources: Chinese culture, embodying notably Taoist, Confucian and Greater Vehicle Buddhist traditions; Hinduism, Lesser Vehicle Buddhism and other religious expressions directly originating from the Indian subcontinent; Islam, with Indonesia being the most populated Muslim country in the world; indigenous beliefs and practices present all over the region, often associating with other faith expressions; and Christianity, as first molded in the West.
It should be noted however that Christian presence in South-East Asia started well before the sixteenth century. The Syrian Church, with the help of Persian merchants, established seats in Ceylon, Burma and the Malay archipelago, among other places, from the sixth century on. However, the avowed use of local resources and insights for doing theology is still recent. As an example, the Jesuit faculty of theology in Shanghai, which was first transferred to the Philippines from to , kept Latin as the only teaching language until , later shifting to English.
In the Catholic world, it is only with the foundation of the Fu Jen Faculty of Theology in Taipei that teaching and research were conducted in Chinese, starting in From that time on, the shift has been swift and complete. Similar remarks could be made for Japan and Korea. It means coming to terms with worldview embedded into words, concepts and linguistic structures.
It requires remaining open to the plurality of experiences as translated into linguistic forms. Additionally, Asian Christians deal with political issues that require from them to exhibit much wisdom and forbearance. Revivalism has become a predominant religious trend, which often endangers religious coexistence and freedom; over a background of post-colonial sensitivity, religious and ethnic pride affects the consciousness of various segments of the populations all around Asia.
Additionally, the growth of Christianity in Asia often occurs under a fundamentalist and proselytizing garb, which often exacerbates tensions already existing. This is true in Asia today as it has been for the whole of Christian history.
First, theology entails a critical discernment about the way its discourse is enacted, assessing the procedures through which its propositions are written and communicated. Second, an authentic theological discourse is grounded into an experience of the way the Word of God has been received and made flesh in the midst of a community, an experience that it precisely endeavors to translate into a language. In this regard, the crafting of a Christian community is akin to the crafting of a theological style.
The s were a seminal period in the crafting of the concepts and approaches that have been propounded till now. If some theologians contributed decisively to the building of an Asian Theology of Harmony, no name can encapsulate it. This specific theological endeavor belongs to no one.
The Past, Present, and Future of Theologies of Interreligious Dialogue on Apple Books
Since in Asia, Christians are only a small minority, we dialogue through life situations with people of other faiths. Theology of harmony is part of the discussion and reflection on theology of dialogue. Raimon Panikkar had already sketched the epistemological bases of this approach:. Dialogue seeks truth by trusting the other, just as dialectics pursues truth by trusting the order of things, the value of reason and weighty arguments. Dialectics is the optimism of reason; dialogue is the optimism of the heart.
Dialectics believes it can approach truth by relying on the objective consistency of ideas. Dialogue believes it can advance along the way to truth by relying on the subjective consistency of the dialogical partners.
Dialogue does not seek primarily to be duo-logue, a duet of two logoi, which would still be dialectical; but a dia-logos, a piercing of the logos to attain a truth that transcends it. A vision of harmony accepts multiple identities in the community as the gift of God for the enrichment of all. It promotes a participative democratic order to which every group has its contribution to make.
It moves through consensus rather than through the domination by any one group. Dialogue is the appropriate way of promoting harmony. Any mission that is set in the context of the mission of God cannot but be dialogical. If this method is able to give a coherent elaboration of the deposit of Christian faith in a religiously pluralistic context, and the Christian community can recognize its faith in that elaboration, then the method can be said to be valid. Most Catholic Asian theologians would concur with what Kosuke Koyama was writing while contemplating a herd of buffalos grazing in a muddy paddy field: Monsoon frogs, sticky-rice and cock-fighting were realities providing the congregation with metaphors akin to the language and insights of the Hebraic psalms.
And Life is a dance in solidarity and communion. There is an Asian approach to reality, an Asian understanding of reality that is profoundly organic, i. There is no part which is not in relation to all other parts; and all the parts together make the whole.
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The parts are understood in terms of their mutual dependence. Our efforts to resolve disharmony and promote wholeness of life need to draw from our Asian cultural and religious resources which will resonate with our people and speak to them more effectively. The later task has been one on which several Asian theologians have expressed themselves forcefully. Moyaert : Inappropriate Behavior? Moyaert : Theology Today: Theological Studies pp.
Moyaert : Ritualizing Interreligious Encounters: Interreligious studies and intercultural theology pp. Moyaert : Ricoeur and the wager of interreligious ritual participation International Journal of Philosophy and Theology pp. Moyaert : Voorbij de christianisering van religie:.
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