After spending some extended conversationsat the Lausanne YLG-06 with Brad Smith (Thanks Brad for the stimulating conversations and questions posed) on Asian theologies, and all that’s related to that. My consciousness about Christianity in Asia is heightened 🙂 So, I decided to spend some time checking out some of the articles in the Dictionary of Asian Christianity. Here’s some excerpts of what leaped out for me this afternoon.
“One of Ricci’s first efforts at this accomodation was to publish a tract on friendship, a subject of extreme importance and interest to the Chinese, for whom friendship and human relationships rank above other virtues. Of equal importance to this small booklet was Ricci’s own modeling of friendship. he was more than a scholar — he was a remarkable human being whose life of friendship, humility, and love demonstrated the faith of which he wrote.” – entry on “Ricci, Matteo” (Sherman I thought of you when I was reading this!)
“To show he was no longer a Sikh, he cut off his long hair, distributed all his possessions to the poor, and began the life of a Christian sadhu. Clad in a saffron robe and a turban, he went on evangelistic tours throughout India. His greateste joy was to serve and suffer for Jesus, whose love he felt so deeply. For years he walked on the slopes of the Himalayas in his incessant ministry of preaching the Gospel, encountering many hardships from the climate, robbers, steep narrow roads, and persecution. He visited many parts of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and then preceeded father to Baluchistan and Afghanistan. He soon came to be known as the “apostle of the bleeding feet.” Meanwhile he spent eight months in St. John’s Divinity School at Lahore, but he found this too confining. He did not want to limit his ministry to any particular denomination. As a wandering sadhu, he could carry the message of Jesus Christ to all churches and to all people of other faiths.” – entry on “Sunder Singh”
“De Nobili was the first missionary to study philosophical Hinduism deeply. He adopted a Hindu lifestyle, including a strict vegetarian diet, and encouraged his converts to remian Hindu in every possible way. A few dozen baptisms demomstrated the potential of his approach before controversy led to a ban on further baptism. The issues are still controversial today despite belated official church approval for de Nobili’s methods.” – entry on “De Nobili, Roberto”
“De Silva believed that the acknowledgement of spiritual truths in other religions would not weaken one’s commitment to the Christian faith; rather, he was convinced that one’s own faith could be deepened and broadened by a sympathetic and intelligent understanding of faiths of others. His thesis was that the truths in Buddhism could be absorbed or adpated into Christianity and could fertilize and enrich a Christian’s own faith. In his publications and lectures, he tried to facilitate Buddhist-Christian dialogue and help people of these two faiths overcome prejudices and past misunderstandings of each other.” – entry on “De Silva, Lynn”
“According to inscriptions, the Nestorian monk Alopen, from Syria (Da Jin), arrived in the capital city of Changan om 635. He was escorted by Duke Fang Xuen-ling, with a guard of honor, to an audience with Tang emperor Tai Zong (626-49), who invited him into the imperial library and asked him to translate the Bible into Chinese. The emporer allowed a monastry housing 21 monks to be built in the capital and, as a gesture of honor, permitted his portrait to be placed in it. Emporer Gao Zong (649-83), son of Tai Zong, bestowed upon Alopen the title of “great patron and spiritual lord of the empire.” It is uncertian whether the title was only honorific or whether Alopen had been appointed an archbishop by the Nestorian patriach in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, Persia.” – entry on “Nestorian Church, China”
There’s more … I haven’t finished the entry on “Ancestor Worship” and “contextualization” which looks interesting.