To prepare for my role as an invited Western observer at the 1970 theological conferences sponsored in Singapore by the World Evangelical Fellowship and the East Asia Christian Council, I read This We Believe.… Asian Churches Confess their Faith. Prepared by John Fleming, former editor of the South East Asia Journal of Theology, the compilation was published as a paperback study guide (“Occasional Papers No. 1,” Taesheng Publishing House, 1968) under a grant from the Foundation for Theological Education in South East Asia.
The volume champions “a more ‘Asian’ and ‘indigenous’ expression” of the Christian faith than that imported from the West, and on the surface this emphasis has much to commend it. When one recalls transplanted denominational rivalries, the frequent orientation of missionary church life to Occidental culture, and the tremendous need to confess Christ over against every peculiarly Asian ideology that would deny man’s dignity and worth, one must applaud a determination by Asian Christians to reflect to their own continent “a fellowship of diverse people united by Jesus Christ, the moral transformation of innumerable lives, the force of a Christian moral sense, and the release of many from the fear of death and bondage to demonic and life-denying forces” (p. 21).
It is curious, then, that this volume, in seeking to free Asian Christianity from Western misconceptions, proposes to reshape Asian theology in terms of neo-orthodox or existential motifs or both, inclusive ecumenical theology, and the church’s direct socio-political involvement along lines that reflect contemporary neo-Protestant ecumenism. Written actually by a Scottish Presbyterian, this plea for a “more Asian Christianity” brings to mind one of ...1
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