Asia comprises over 60% of the world’s 6 Billion people, with China and India representing over 2.3 Billion people. The cultural heritage of Asians lies in its religious and cultural roots, which are very different from Western Judeo-Christian traditions. The number of Christians in Asia increased from approximately 22 million adherents in 1900 to nearly 351 million people today.
In this edition of Encounters we are pleased to offer you a feast of stimulating studies on a variety of issues facing Asian missions reflected through different approaches spanning North Asia, South Asia and South East Asia! These careful studies are worth further discussion and interaction from readers, and I would encourage you to firstly, give us your comments, and secondly, forward relevant articles to your churches and mission colleagues.
I start the discussion with an article addressing a complex missiological problem: “The Problem of an Alien Jesus for Asian Christianity.” The implications of this problem for contextualisation, for mission training and the way we do mission are wide ranging. Closely tied to the issue of Alien Jesus is the need for language and worldview training. Dr Paul Woods, Advocate and Advisor for Language, Culture, and Worldview Acquisition for OMF International based in Chiang Mai, Thailand critically evaluates the kind of outmoded language and cultural training prevalent in many mission contexts. He challenges the readers, especially new workers and those in leadership, to rethink the way we prepare new generation of missionaries.
During November and December of 2006, Redcliffe College was privileged to welcome Rev. Anthony Loke as our Scholar in Residence. Anthony teaches Old Testament at Seminari Theologi Malaysia and is currently conducting his PhD research in Old Testament studies. Anthony reflects on how an Old Testament exilic text, Isaiah 40-55, can be read in the light of and allowed to speak to a contemporary situation: the post-1987 Operation Lallang Malaysian Church. This is a rare study not merely offering unique insights into the political challenges facing Christians in Malaysia, but also demonstrating serious biblical and contextual reflections of an Asian scholar on political theology.
For the Winter Term of 2007, Rev. Dr. Pervaiz Sultan, Principal of St. Thomas’ Theological College, Karachi is with us as Scholar in Residence. Dr Sultan contributes an article on “Reconciliation as Mission.” Following Dr Sultan’s article, Peter Rowan, a theological educator in Malaysia reflects on “The Malaysian Dilemma: Where is the Racially Reconciled Community?”. Rowan argues toward a case for multicultural church in a plural context such as Malaysia.
For Western Christians, Asia is no longer “out there” overseas. Rather, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims from Asia are found in most major cities of Europe and North America. Robin Thomson, one of the key leaders with South Asian Concern offers us his reflections on “The South Asian Diaspora: a missed opportunity?”
Last, but not least, Dr Julie Ma, Research Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies presents a study on “The Growth of Christianity in Asia and Its Impact on Mission.” Julie, in a brief survey, brings us up to date with the amazing growth of Asian Christianity and ably illustrates for our readers how Asian missionaries have made an important contribution to the expansion of the church.
I would like to thank our contributors for the time taken in offering such high quality and thought provoking materials in the midst of their busy lives. Again, may I encourage our readers to show our appreciation through careful reading and responding with further engagements through our website discussion?
Finally, I have an exciting new development to announce to our readers! In response to the rapid rise in the economic, political, and cultural significance of Asia in a globalizing world, Redcliffe College will launch a new Masters course in Intercultural Studies in Asian Contexts. Subject to validation, we hope to start the MA programme beginning in September 2007. Please help us spread the word! This course will examine major issues for mission in Asia arising from the situation in Asia generally and through regional specialisation (broadly, South, South East and North East Asia). It will draw on cultural, regional, theological and other studies with a view to understanding Asians in Asia as well as drawing from Asian Diaspora studies in the West. The interdisciplinary emphasis of the programme is an innovative approach in equipping students to address the kind of complex and wide-ranging issues highlighted by writers in this edition. If you would like more information please do write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or go to MA in Asian Studies.
Article 1: The Problem of an Alien Jesus for Asian Christianity with Special Reference to Chinese Buddhists.
(Dr Kang San Tan, 3782 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 2: Mind the Gap: The Ongoing Need for Language Learning in Missions Training.
(Dr Paul Woods, 2963 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 3: There and Back Again: Reading an Exilic Text for the Post 1987 Operation Lallang Malaysian Church.
(Rev Anthony Loke, 2522 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 4: Reconciliation as Mission.
(Rev Dr Pervaiz Sultan, 2299 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 5: The Malaysian Dilemma: Where is the Racially Reconciled Community?
(Peter Rowan, 1661 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 6: The South Asian Diaspora: A Missed Opportunity?
(Robin Thomson, 2549 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 7: The Growth of Christianity in Asia and its Impact on Mission.
(Dr Julie Ma, 2730 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Book Review 1: A History of Christianity in Asia.
(By Samuel Hugh Moffett; Orbis Books)
Book Review 2: Shining Like Stars: The Power of the Gospel in the World’s Universities.
(By Lindsay Brown; Inter-Varsity Press)
And finally, a single PDF of the whole issue. Ideal for using offline or to make printing easier.
Issue 16: Single Document Version (in full).
(File size: 431kb)