Sherman has been offering some dishes for us to taste and see whether it’s good for all – especially those of us in Asia. I’ll pick out some samples (in bold) and throw in a few comments.
Voice of Asia (Prologue)
“A friend of mine – a journalist by training, presently working as a writer for a mission organisation and also a student of the seminary I teach in – has been engaged in a series of conversations with me concerning Christianity in Asia, and more specifically, in Malaysia. This conversation arose from his interest in understanding the present ethos of Asian Christianity and how the Church in Asia may seek to mature in her faith and proclamation of the gospel.”
Indeed we often clarify ourselves better in conversation with “another”.
Voice of Asia (1)
“Let me begin with what is not (and if I may emphasise, what should not be) a primary influence of Asians coming to Christ – arguments, no matter how logically coherent they may be. I think many well-meaning western-influenced apologetic-inclined Christians are culturally very insensitive and disconnected from the local paradigm of life and religious faith. They think that if they come with a nicely charted out linear-logically constructed argument about why Jesus should be embraced as Saviour and Lord, then people are obligated to accept the faith. Eventually, they find themselves becoming little more than pedlers of a historical faith that has been reduced into a series of simplistic propositions about the Christian faith. In their process of gospelising the Asian society, the heart of the gospel itself is somewhat lost.
… To sum up, I would say that a solely propositional proclamation of the faith (represented by logical arguments, also called “apologetics”) is deficient in representing the heart of the Christian faith. The faith must be presented as a relational one, where God is demonstrated as the personal God. For the fulfilment of this requisite, I believe power encounters have been very instrumental in the propagation of the gospel in Asia. This case becomes self-explanatory when one contemplates on the way in which the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement has grown in Asia in the past several decades.”
Voice of Asia (2)
“I think our understanding of the Christian faith needs to be restored into a communal paradigm of life and faith before Christian discipleship can take place effectively. After all, the community of faith is the interpretive community for the revelation of God. Much of Christianity here needs to rise beyond an individualistic paradigm. Local Christians need to learn to live within community, for community, and be accountable to community for the way they choose to express their faith in their lives. Only within such kingdomic relationships will Christian discipleship take place in an authentic and effective way.”
Voice of Asia (3)
“What I’m trying to say is, deeply etched within the Asian cultural paradigm is a narratival way of communicating our values. Why should it be different for the communication of the gospel? Look at the way Jesus communicated with the Asian crowd (just so we’re reminded that Christianity IS an Asian faith!) – what method of communication did he commonly use? Stories! He narrated his theological principles in the form of stories. Stories have a powerful way of impacting people, ranging from the most intellectually sophisticated to the most simple-minded people. Stories have a way of penetrating through psychological and emotional defences that people erect to guard their reluctance to change.”
and even our cultural vocal chords are no longer “pure” but may sound “hoarse” after the pounding of foreign influences for better or worse and has evolved into what is before us now (and not we nostalgically we may want it to look like?)
Voice of Asia (4)
“We also need to re-examine our foundations. Within our tradition, this preceeding statement itself would provoke a fear of slipping into the clutches of liberal theology. But to not re-examine our foundations is to embrace the equal folly of misrepresenting the heart of the gospel, which may constitute an equal wrong. There are those among us who have emphatically affirmed that as Asian Christians, we have to move beyond the colonial Christianity that we have received. In the same breath, it is emphasised that this enterprise has to start with the word of God. But isn’t our understanding and handling of the word itself (our hermeneutical exercise) also colonially conditioned? Do such realities not need to be acknowledged? If so, does it not also present the imperative of examining, deconstructing, and reconstructing our foundations? Are we culturally as unperceptive as many well-meaning colonial missionairies were? If the Christian faith has in all these past decades and centuries been presented as a faith based on a linear-logical foundation, perhaps it is time for us to recover the circular-logical and parallel-logical dimensions of the faith as Asian Christians. If it has all this while been based on a propositional foundation, perhaps it is time for us to recover the relational and intuitive dimension of the faith as an authentic Asian faith.”
perhaps we are working with a kind of “rationality” that includes reasons (while recognizing it’s limits) and relationality (which perhaps may have been neglected and needs renewed emphasis) as a key enviroment in which we reason, experience, feel, guess, explore, etc.
Voice of Asia (5)
“For as long as Malaysia does not have an intention to develop a theology that is grounded upon our own contextual realities and be willing to pay the cost for that belief, I don’t think we will be anywhere near being ready to send missionaries on a large scale into the missionfield. We will merely continue living on a borrowed faith and subsist on teachings from the West which aren’t very connected to our context of ecclesial life and theology.”
Voice of Asia (6)
“We need to see, as a Malaysian Church, that we are “called” into different vocations based on our personalities, our giftings, our competencies, and our dispositions. These vocations are the very platforms for us, as Malaysian Christians, to be salt and light in the world. Our vocations are the vehicles for our being the sacramental presence of Christ in the world. Only when this theological value is ingrained in the Malaysian mind that it will “make sense” for one to desire to establish the presence of Christ through his/her vocation in a less developed nation.”
I think more posts are on the way.