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Why Asian American theology sucks

Well, it actually does not suck. Something that doesn't exist cannot suck. Its kind of like saying Shrek 7 sucks. And yet it probably would suck if it had been made.

In any case, the real question is why there isn't any Asian American theology. If you're a good Evangelical, Asian or otherwise, you're reading this thinking "Why would we need an Asian American Theology? What is the point? What could that possibly offer to Western Christianity?" And the reasons why we don't have a theology and why we need one are exactly what Amos Yong sets out to explain in this talk. Major props and big thanks to Tim Tseng and Grace Hsiao of ISAAC for highlighting this and the great discussion about this topic over the past year.

The talk is academically oriented. Big words and long sentences. Its only 21 minutes though - much shorter than the gospel coalition messages so its got that going for it.

Here's what got me thinking: Asian Americans are long way from doing own theology because 1) We are way gun shy and risk averse. He's calls it "double-conservatism". We're conservative because Asian culture is conservative in nature and conservative because Evangelicalism is also inherently conservative. 2) We are taught culture is bad and must be "redeemed" in Christ in order to be good. Therefore, my Asian-ness is something Jesus must overcome so I can be saved (I often preach like this - being derogatory towards Chinese culture) 3) We don't like to disagree with the white guys who taught us in seminaries. Everything we are taught in seminary comes from a Western perspective that separates gospel and theology from culture. Culture is simply an obstacle that must be overcome. Evangelical is ahistorical, acontextual because theology is done. Amos says this is not the case.

And here's my takeaway: We have spent too long separating culture from theology. We have spent too long critiquing our culture but not seeing how our culture reveals Christ in a sharper, more distinct way. Certainly culture is something Jesus overcomes but what if He redeems through and in the midst of culture? Perhaps our shame-based culture can actually help us see Christ? Perhaps being Asian helps me understand atonement as not just an individual, private transaction but also as a public act of restoration into community? More to come. . .

Comments

  1. Very cool! Lets keep this going!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can I invite you to develop these thoughts further and possibly find an outlet for them on a new community blog site globaltheology.org? Your last paragraph gives two great prompts:

    How does a shame-based culture view Christ/atonement/discipleship/community?

    How does the Asian perspective of restoration as a public act of community fulfill Biblical precedent?

    I would invite you and any others interested to find out more and share with us (Westerners included) so that we can learn more authentically from each other.

    -Michael

    ReplyDelete
  3. your last comment begs the question, 'but isn't Christianity already meshed in culture? that is the culture of western europe?' I think most people think that when, say, an Asian American theologian writes about theology while pointing to specificity of his/her context the reader often assumes that it's because the writer is engaged in a provincialized, local, and contextualize theology but leaves unquestioned that any and all theology is always already rooted in culture even European Christianity.
    Interesting blog and you raise many great questions.
    I consider myself an Asian American theologian and do not think that Asian American theologies 'suck.' There are plenty of excellent As Am theologies out there. If you'd like info please look up, Kwok Pui Lan, Anne Joh, Grace Cho, Rita Nakashima Brock, JungHa Kim, Su Pak, Nami Kim, Jakakiran Sebastian, Minah Cho, Christine Pae, Uriah Kim, Frank Yamada, Jeffrey Kuan, Patrick Cheng, etc. The list goes on and on. HOpe you find conversation partners who are open to engaging these wonderful questions! Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for the feedback. that is a lot of people to check out. anyone I should start with?

      Delete

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