In the business of theology it is hard not to be controversial - Jurgen Moltmann

Saturday, 28 July 2007

local theology and local culture

... if Christianity is alive at all in a situation, it will certainly change things about the culture. The Christian message, after all, is about change: repentance, salvation, and an eschatological reality to be realized. To think that Christianity will not change a situation is to rob the Christian message of its most important part.

Cultural romanticism on the part of Christian communities is often prompted by the lack of proper cultural sensitivity in the past. But to correct a lack of cultural sensitivity by creating an atmosphere inimical to any critique simply produces a new set of problems.

Robert Schreiter, Constructing Local Theologies (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1985), p.29.
(my italics)

Brilliant statement.
Nonetheless, the author goes on to expound a form of 'hidden Christ theory' - the presupposition that Christ is indeed already anonymously present in different cultures. Apparently throughout the whole book the author works with such a premise, which is problematic, to say the least. The notion was probably popular during the time when the book was written. (I am not sure.) Yet in any case, the author seems not to aware that, notwithstanding his consistent emphasis on cultural sensitivity and listening to local cultures, this presupposition of his is a violent assault on local cultures - it violently imposes an alien concept into different cultures; and ironically this basic gesture is what the author himself is trying to fight against.

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