BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR DEVELOPING CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY
Christianity which we follow today may not exist if there were no contextual theology. We would all have to learn Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and culture of Israel by compulsion and then try to fit into the religious practices like circumcision, Sabbath and Jerusalem. It would be a problem for people other than the Jews to really understand and accept. Contextual theology helps people to know God better as it makes the Gospel relevant to the people of a particular time and context. This paper attempts to draw out the Biblical foundations for formulating contextual theologies by briefly discussing the nature of Christian theology in general in relation to ‘context,’ the nature of contextual theology and some of the prominent contextual theologies today. 1. What is Christian Theology?
The traditional definition of the term theology refers to the meaning derived from the two Greek words “Theos” and “Logia” and perceived as the study of the word of God or understanding the knowledge of God. Identifying the limitation of this definition, in his book, Introducing Theological Ethics, Shimreingam gives three scholars’ opinons of theology: According to Sebastian Kappen, theology may be defined as the analytic, critical, articulate, dialogical and committed reflection on our primordial encounter with God. Kurien Kunnupuram said, theology should be experienced based, praxis oriented, dialogical and inter-disciplinary.” Gustavo Gutierezz opines that theology will be a critical reflection on historical praxis, following out that praxis and a confrontation with the world of the Lord that is accepted and lived by faith. We can also say that, Christian theology is developed from a particular culture of Jewish, and Greek- Roman cultures. The Bible was written and edited in Hebrew and Greek language and concluded under the Roman Empire setting. It means the main substances of long-established Christian theology were designed with the culture of Hebrews and Greeks. Christian Theology is “fully reflective understanding” of the Christian witness of faith in terms that are intelligible and related to human existence. Owen C. Thomas in his book Introduction to Theology, mentions that Christian Theology is to attempt to know and interpret the story of what God has done. He further says that theology is normative in the sense of attempting to determine what the true Christian faith is, to distinguish right doctrine from fake doctrine, to determine what is and what is not part of Christian faith. Alister E. McGrath’s book, Christian Theology states that, for Christian theology, God’s revelation is not simply a making known of facts about God, but a self-revelation of God. Revelation of ideas about God is to be supplemented by revelation of God as a person, a presence as much as content. 2. Towards the Emergence of Contextual Theology in Asia
In a general understanding, most theologians have agreed that theology since from the beginning of early Christian era has always been contextual in its own time and experiences of the people, in the sense there is no theology which is not contextual. In the classical way, theology is understood as an academic discipline, a methodical quest and therefore, it is an individual’s intellectual pursuit after truth. But what is happened in Asia or the third world countries is that theology as a human discipline needs to articulate one’s faith in the context, where people are striving for social and economic justice, peace, freedom or liberation from various exploitations and discriminations. Therefore, theology should be contextual so that it becomes relevant to the people’s faith or else the good news of the gospel becomes unrealistic, in the sense Christ would have become an unapproachable God, which has nothing to do with the history of humanity. Rethinking theology was a prior concern towards the emergence of contextual theology in Asia....
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