His post is being highlighted by Kar Yong and responded by Alex Tang. And Tony has responded further.
Initially when I read Tony and Kar Yong, I didn't feel much excitement about producing a distinctly Asian theology. That's until Kar Yong blogged on the publication of Christian Theology in Asia. But not the publication that provoked me, but Kar Yong's allusion to Alex Tang's brainstorming post that takes on Tony's proposal seriously.
Alex's post is challenging. He questions the feasibility of the project. I like his questionings. And his questioning provokes me to give deeper thoughts on this project.
Although I am not a theologian yet the discussion among these theologians got me excited! So, I'll amateurishly throw some ideas around here.
What Is Asian Theology?
I noticed that the main difficulty to construct a distinctly Asian Theology is in the characterization of the adjective 'Asian'. That means we have to ask the question what do we mean by Asian?
Obviously, those who are born and bred in Asia! And since the function of theology is always to serve the believing communities, then an Asian Theology is the theology that is born and bred for Asia!
That means we have to realized that an Asian Theology is first of all is NOT distinctively recognized by the exercise of exegesis on Biblical text. This exercise is the groundwork required in all construction of theology, thus this will not characterize or provide the character for any theology.
Secondly, for a theology to serves a particular community, it must recognize and be familiar with the issues faced by the community which it intends to serve. That means in the construction of an Asian Theology, the theologians have to bear in mind the questions and problems faced by Asians. Nevermind the impact of globalization or post-colonialism unless you are constructing a historical Asian thelogy. What matters is the effectiveness of the theology to respond to the condition and situation engaging Asians now. For eg. the long working hours which is prevalent among Asians; or the unexamined and uncritical admiration, and hence the importation, of some Western practices; or the exploitation of Asian natural resources and manpower (legally and illegally) by the other Western continents.
We have to recognize that no theology is without chronological or geographical context. Western theologies were first constructed to respond to Westerners' problems. When these problems spilled over to the rest of the world, their theologies inevitably followed. That's why we find so many Western theologies applicable to us; because we are facing some of the same issues they faced and still facing.
Hence when we construct an Asian Theology, we should not try to extend its application to the rest of the world, but instead, we should concentrate its usefulness to our own issues. So whether Obama will be the next president of USA is not our main concern. In fact, we shouldn't concern so much over it. What we concern is whether Thailand's PM able to solve the problem faced by Thais; How should Christian respond in current political uncertainty in Malaysia; The food crisis faced by ASEAN; The image of Christianity as a 'Western religion'; The misperceived association of Christianity with Western imperialism in our current times; etc.
A theology is characterized by the questions it attempts to answer. When we say "Rowan Williams' theology", we are actually referring to the theological response formulated by Rowan Williams for the questions he faces. Hence, I contend that an Asian Theology is referring to the formulated theological response that engages the questions facing Asians. Therefore the more explicit a particular theology in tackling and expounding the problems distinctively dominating Asian, the more Asian the theology is.