Theology: Towards An Asian Reconstruction

I just “found” this paper by C.S. Song, although it was originally presented in 1995 at the Conference on World Mission and the Role of Korean Churches. There are times in the paper where my allergic reactions to universalism flare up a bit, but I think it brings up important points for the evangelical church to ask about how we can better welcome and interact with people of other faiths. Speaking from a personal disposition where people in my own extended family wince when they hear that I’m Christian, it’s always good to give ourselves a gut-check so that Christianity as it is presented is not an obstacle for relationship. So keep that in mind if you read the paper…it’s born out of a context hostile to Christendom, but not necessarily Christ.

Check out these insights from a paper now twelve years old…

For the Christian church this is a season of distress and adjustment: distress because the ambition of “Christianizing” the world is not fulfilled, and adjustment because its centuries-old life-view and world-view have become obsolete and new ones have to constructed. As to Christians in Asia, this is an age of expanding our ecumenical horizon that to us God’s ways with the nations and peoples with which we have not seriously reckoned in our faith and theology before. It has become increasingly evident to thinking Christians that the future of Christianity cannot be separated from the future of other religions, that the well-being of the Christian church is closely bound with the well-being of the larger community around it, and that Christians and their neighbors are fellow pilgrims on earth in search of the meaning of life the and the fulfillment of it.

Some Christian theologians in Asia, particularly some of us from the reformed tradition, have taken upon ourselves the arduous task of doing Christian theology in this vast part of the world historically and culturally shaped by religions other than Christianity. We find ourselves questioning the ways in which traditional theology has gone about its business for centuries. We have no alternative but to listen to the voices from the world we share with our fellow Asians.

If there is salvation only for those who believe in Christ, as “extreme Christians” affirm, and salvation for them means eternal life in God, then what will be the fate of the great majority of the people of Asia, or more than two-thirds of the human race?

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Comments

  1. Wayne Park says:

    I’m quite surprised the author “places himself” within the reformed tradition..
    I too have the same allergic reaction as you but the author does bring up a salient point: what will be the fate of the great majority of the people of Asia.. 2/3’s of the human race.
    That would seem to me to be the #1 argument for global, contextualized mission.

  2. David Park says:

    wayne, you hit the nail right on the head. that question is precisely where i feel asian americans can really help negotiate western/eastern biases and colonial/postcolonial discussion as it pertains to christianity. this is the kind of discussion that evangelicals dismiss too quickly.

  3. Wayne Park says:

    I am of the persuasion that bi-culturals in the US will comprise the missionaries of the future; adept at switching between cultural modes, often computer/business savvy, and not carrying aroudn the stigma of a white face. Sadly tho, percentages per capita of mobilized bi-culturals into the mission field is frighteningly low – this according to research by bi-cultural agencies. Asian-Am’s are not going. Neither are Latino-Am’s or African-Am’s. It’s a sad fact.

  4. David Park says:

    excellent point wayne. i would agree with you, but with regards to faith, we are not bi-cultural, in fact, we have failed to truly connect Jesus to our story of strangers living in a foreign land. our lack of theology to explore this in the midst of globalization has left us without a deep christology. in other words, we trusted the institution more than we did in Christ, and because of that, we have no idea how Christ relates to our culture, except to that of the dominant American culture, which means we’re not bi-cultural at all. we have been indoctrinated in consumerism and church — which doesn’t produce missionaries. we haven’t even begun to unravel the riddle of how and who we are as it relates to Christ, which is precisely why we do not have the vocabulary to spread the gospel well. we do it, but with very little grace and substance.

  5. elderj says:

    david you are unfortunately very correct; there is a lack of an authentically formed bi-cultural identity, much less theology. In some ways, there is a bit of “out whiting the white man” which makes folks less effective. I believe unless Asian Am’s are willing to be cross cultural close to home (i.e. with their first generation parents and churches) any global missions will be hypocritical at best.

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