Towards a Theology of Struggle
“Asian theology” is also known as “contextual theology.” It emphasizes the importance and significances of Asia contexts in constructing its theology. Some Asian theologians said constructing Asian theology is somewhat similar to constructing Local theology—in this regard, Robert J. Schreiter’s book, Constructing Local Theologies, 1985 is good example. But constructing local theology is to engage in a wider scope which can be made in wherever of any particular context while Asian theology is to be done with the sole Asian contexts.
The long period of colonial rule over the Third World countries and the association of Christianity with the Western powers have made the Christian religion appears to the non-Christian Asians as an appendage of Western sovereignty and civilization. In my own understanding, generally, Asian countries are regarded as Third World countries in terms of their undeveloped situations compare to First world and Second world countries. Therefore, theologies which came out of Asian contexts are understood and taken as Asian theology.
An avowed dedication to developing unique, non-Western theological concepts and a marked emphasis on liberation are the two dominant factors in Asian theology -- currently in a stage of self-definition. As in African theology, Latin American liberation theology and theologies of the oppressed in North America, the search for an Asian theology has its origin in the recognition that Euro-American theology is totally inadequate to provide universal concepts of religious understanding. The shapes of a future Asian theology were seen in creative emergence at a recent conference held in Wennapura, Sri Lanka, the theme of which was “Asia’s Struggle for a Full Humanity: Toward a Relevant Theology.”
Yes, in my opinion, it is true hundred percent and is quite right to stand up for this theme. This theme is what the meaning of life is—for everyone struggles for his or her full humanity. This is universal truth, universal theology. In this sense “Theology of Struggle will be seen as the core kernel of the entire theology. In this sense it becomes clear that theology of whatever kind is theology of struggle. Theology of Struggle which I would like to introduce here, in this sense and in terms of its basic perspectives, is not the same with that of Fernandes, Eleazar S. (ed), Toward a Theology of Struggle, based on Philippine context.
Where from theology come into existence? We would best answer this question—it is from God. Questions like, “Who is God? Who is your God? How you understand your God?” are perhaps, the most important for all people who profess any religion or faith. How great admiration and trust we paid to our God and how big of contribution is given to him are crucial important in every adherent of any religion.
Therefore, understanding God, in my opinion, is so primary and the most important for all people and their theology. It is important not only for Christian religion but for all other world religions. J. B. Phillip’s book entitled, “Your God is too Small” (1952), and Kosuke Koyama’s book entitled “Three-Miles-an-Hour God (1979) are good guidelines in this understanding how we know God whom we believe and worship. I believe these books are important source underlining and expressing how the concept of God is important for every human being to reflect how their lives are determined by the concept that they pay to God.
Knowing God or understanding God may not be the same to all level of people. I believe that it depends upon a person’s level of civilization, education, philosophical thinking, maturity, etc. Since God is alpha and omega everything is in Him. In other words, since God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient everything is from Him. The more we understand Him—the higher we are uplifted, the better we know Him—the more we are gaining wisdom, etc. Therefore Understanding God and Naming God whom we worship is the primary foundation in constructing any kind of theology. Asian theologians will need to consider this basic element of philosophical concept in constructing relevant Asian theology.
Understanding Christian Theology
Primarily the word “Theology” comes from a combination of two Greek words qeoj (“Theo”) and logoj (“logy”), which means the study about God—knowing/understanding about God. Moreover, Theology is the study of religion, especially the Christian faith and God’s relation to the world; it is a religious theory, or system of belief. Theology is the study of religious faith, practice and experience; especially the study of God and his relation to the world. Theology in this sense is meaningful in understanding what God is, and how He[God] is relating to His[God’s] entire creation.
In C. S. Song once wrote, “Christian Theology is human speech about God; it is always related to concrete historical situations.” He explains further that theology [itself] is not transcendent language; it is interested language, always reflecting the goals and aspirations of a particular people in a definite social setting. John England said: “All theology is a discerning of the divine in the human being—the signs of God-in-Jesus Christ in the world—and is a reflection upon and a response to that. So its source is found in every place, time and level of human life.
D. John Hall asserts, “Theology is what happens when the two stories meet.” Doing theology in this perspective means let God and the world meet with each other. Paul Tillich states, “Theology moves back and forth between two poles: the eternal truth (God) and the temporal situation (the world)…” But theology must serve the two basic needs of the church, “the statement of the truth of the Christian message and the interpretation of this truth for every new generation.” The above definitions reflect one primary fact that theology is all about the study of God and his relation to the world. Asian theology, together with Christian theology, should aware well the fact “how we understand God and His relation to our world.” This is the reason which causes theologies to emerge in different fashions and perspectives.
Historically, most of the theological tasks had been done in the past in the Western form, thought, and context alone. Western religion, namely, Christianity had been shaped and developed in the western image by western socio-cultural ethos. There is no doubt that the Christian theology was imported from the West and its theological form and structure are explicitly western. In fact, doing theology in the past had been the monopoly of western Christians. Our new and common understanding today is that such a monopolization of Christian theology by the West has gradually been disappearing from the face of our “oikoumene” and the globalization of the Christian faith or “a wider ecumenism” has emerged in its stead.
Adolf von Harnack has once said, “The man who knows Christianity knows all religions,” [Harnack, What is Christianity?, 1978, pp. 1-18]. This has no absolute validity for today understanding and doing Christian theology. Modern Christians need to think significantly of doing theology in the global context, that is, in both western and eastern contexts. One cannot do a genuine or a universally valid Christian theology today in any context, without critical references to the historically enriched spiritual experiences of both the West and the East.
Finally, Christian theology needs to take account of the values of the underlying traditional worldview of different people as a sub-stratum which has to be taken very seriously. This is the main task of Christian theology today and has become one of struggling to give meaning to the ancient tradition within the new. In most parts of Asia, religious plurality raises a different problem, namely of how to exist as a Christian in a context which is determined by Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other religious or ideological values, and how to relate Christian theology meaningfully to a total culture which has no Christian (or indeed post-Christian) heritage.
Understanding Third World and Asian Theology
In introduction, I already mentioned that Third World and Asian theology is contextual. Contextualization was understood as a critical assessment of the peculiarity of the Third World contexts in which Christian theology has to be worked out. Contextualization sought to take into account ‘the process of secularity, technology, and the struggle for human justice, which characterizes the historical moment of nations in the Third World’. True contextualization is therefore always prophetic. ‘Arising out of a genuine encounter between God’s Word and His world (it) moves out toward the purpose of challenging and changing the situation through rootedness in and commitment to a given historical situation.’ The theological ground for contextuality is therefore the fact that the Son of God was incarnated within a specific human history and culture, through which grace has been made available to all.
According to Lourdino A. Yuzon, Asian theology is one under the umbrella of Contextual theology. The word “Contextual theology” is an umbrella term. There are many, not one, contextual theologies. For instance, Black theology, feminist theology, Minjung theology (Korea), Dalit theology (India), theology of struggle (Philippines), Latin American liberation theology are all contextual theologies that have emerged out of particular historical realities to which the liberative aspects of the Christian message are addressed.
According to Stephen B. Bevans, Contextual theology is:
a way of doing theology in which one takes into account the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the church; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change within that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.
Contextual theology is a way of understanding the Christian faith not only on the basis of Scripture and tradition – but also on the basis of concrete culturally conditioned human experience. It recognizes first, the signal importance of human experience as a source for reflection on Christian faith and morals. Second, it is rooted in concrete human experience in a particular culture and society; it speaks primarily to that context. Contextualization is an inherent dynamic of the Christian faith. Contextual theology reminds us that theology is not just a view of life, but also a way of life.
M. M. Thomas said: “Asian Theology is a response to the challenge to make faith relevant to life in the midst of the Asian social revolution.” In line with this, Asian theology is, in reality the product of the Asian struggles for self-determination. It was born out of Asian revolution, nationalism, and anti-westernization, which began mainly after the 1950’s when most of the Southeast Asian nations became independent from the colonial rules of the West. The idea of Asian theology has emerged in Asia bout 1965 when the East Asian Christian Conference’s (from 1973—Christian Conference of Asia) consultation on the theme, “The Task of Theology in the Asian Churches’” was held in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Subsequently in 1966, the EACC’s first “Asian Faith and Order Conference” was held in Hong Kong with the theme, “Confessing the Faith in Asia Today.”
In the meeting of the Senate of the Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology held in Bangkok in 1972, the phrase, “Critical Asian Principle,” which is a “distinctly Asian orientation,” was introduced. This principle “seeks to identify what is distinctively Asian and uses this distinctiveness as a critical principle of judgment on matters dealing with the life and mission of the Christian community, theology, and theological education in Asia.
Samuel Ngun Ling wrote, Asian theology is to be understood as a theology of continuing transformation of the context by the gospel of Christ. It is therefore important to know whether theology in Asia is a text-oriented or a context-oriented theology. Asian theology should be in the former position, and it is trans-contextual theology.
Doing Asian theology involves respect of Asian cultural values. Gospel comes only through human culture, history, and language. No Gospel has been revealed to us in vacuum and culture-free. The Gospel of Christ is not like an alien ball that would roll down accidentally from heaven but is Reality that becomes fully incarnated into human nature in order to express itself through human language, culture, and history. Christian Gospel cannot exist by itself without employing culture as its vehicle of expression.
In order to understand Asian theology one must examine distinctions between Eastern and Western cultures. Since the end of World War II, Asian theologians have been seeking liberation from Western theologies in order to make the gospel more relevant to their own life situations.
Historically, the development of Asian theology is closely related to the development of indigenization in the early twentieth century and to the recent development of the concept of contextualization in missions. The International Missionary Council in Jerusalem in 1930 stressed that the Christian message must be expressed in national and cultural patterns with liturgy, church music, dance, drama, and building structures accentuating national features. This emphasis on using indigenous art forms and structures was carried over into the area of theology.
Many theologians argue that God's revelation came to us in the Scriptures through a specific cultural form, such as in the NT when God used the Jewish and Hellenistic cultures to record his revelation. Therefore the gospel must also be translated today into the particular forms of Asian cultures, and consequently numerous Asian theologies claim to represent Asian cultural forms: pain of God theology (Japan), water buffalo theology (Thailand), third eye theology (for the Chinese), minjung theology (Korea), theology of change (Taiwan), and a score of other national theologies such as Indian theology, Burmese theology, and Sri Lanka theology. The proliferation of Asian theologies has escalated markedly since the 1960s and will continue to multiply in the future. This will undoubtedly produce enormous impact on as well as conflict and confusion in theological institutions and Christian churches in Asia. 
With regard to such heavy emphasis in doing theology in Asia, Samuel Ngun Ling states that there are shifts in Asian theological thinking in four stages. First, a theological change from traditional or missionary theology to contextual or indigenous theology; second, from contextual theology to ecumenical theology; and third, moving from ecumenical theology to pluralistic theology of religions. He said, therefore, the general Asian theological outlook today tends to be more Asian than Christian, more cultural than theological, and more regional than global. He further states that one can develop two kinds of theology in Asia—an Asianized theology and a theology of Asia. The former may take a more cultural form of theology, discussing the question of Christianity from an Asian religious cultural view point; and the latter may take a wider ecumenical form of theology, putting the whole historical Asia in question from a Christian theological view point.
Due to the existence of very divergent religious cultures in Asia, the content of Asian theology is also diversified. It can be classified in four main areas: (1) syncretistic theology, (2) accommodation theology, (3) situational theology, and (4) biblical theology which is relevant to Asian needs.
To refresh our understanding on what is Third world and Asian theology, it is good to sum up again in brief. Third World theology is a dynamic search for self-identity, an identity which takes seriously the traditions and cultures in which it is located, but at the same time seeks to address the social world in which Christians now live. What this in effect implies is that Third World theologies have rejected the theological agendas which are set by the West. The agenda must come from the context in which Christians live.
In my opinion, I acknowledge convincingly that Asian Theology should not be merely Western against Theology. Samuel Ngun Ling points out the fact that theologians in Asia came to be divided into three groups: pro-western, anti-western and in-between moderate groups. Upon the description of these three groups, what I want to put my own critical point is that the first group tends their theology to be de-Asianized; the second group has led to the western-against theology; and the third group seemingly came to be merely a self-complacent theology, or a mere Christian version of Asianization or Asianized theology. The question and concern still remain unsatisfactory in constructing and developing a genuine theology relevant to Asians—how will we adjust such divisions to produce a common stand/approach for Asian? In fact, Asian theologians have to be critical of Asianization of Christianity in the same degree as of Westernization of Christianity to construct a genuine theology for people in Asia.
Theology of Struggle
The business of life is to live. We are born to live and not to die. We toil and labor to live a fuller life. In this process and sense, life inevitably encounters suffering to be struggled. In other words, there is no life without being struggling. The main cause of life is to struggle of suffering—the suffering which encounters people’s life in different contexts. There is no life free from suffering, but the fashion and phases of suffering is not the same one context to another. It may differ as political oppressions and war, religious oppression and discriminations, economic poverty, social and racial discriminations, and so forth. Theology of Struggle comes out of such kinds of sufferings of people in Asia and of the entire world as well.
Suffering in Asia is the main cause of Theology of Struggle. Suffering in Asia is explicit as following.
a) More than 85% of Asians suffer from poverty and oppression. As in the rest of the third world, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing rather than shrinking.
b) Japan is both the source of suffering (e.g., WW II its subsequent effects).
c) Korea (North and South), Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia have all experienced their
own suffering in the form of wars as well.
d) In addition, many Christians suffer specifically for their faith (Rin Ro, "Need for a
Theology of Suffering"),
i. Jonathan Chao notes: "The history and experiences of Christian churches in China since 1949 reflect the suffering, death, resurrection of Jesus and the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit." (Chao, "Witness of a Suffering Church: The Chinese Experience", p. 73). Even today Chinese underground seminaries train their pastors ‘methods of handling suffering and persecution.’
ii. Suffering for religious conviction is especially seen in the Muslim-dominated countries, where evangelism or conversion may be punished by execution and non-Muslims enjoy second-class status at best. Therefore we need to look at shortly what contextual theology is.
According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, there is a division of countries in the world: First World, Second World, Third World, and Fourth World. The Fourth World is called LDC (Least Developed Countries). It comprises of countries in: Africa 34, Asia 10 (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Yemen), Australia/Oceania 5, and North America 1 (Haiti).
Moreover, According to World Bank figures the gap between the richest 20 per cent of the population of the world and the poorest has more than doubled in the last thirty years. Eighty-five per cent of the world’s income is consumed by the richest 20 per cent, and at the other end of the scale the poorest 20 per cent consume less than 1.5 per cent of its wealth. At the beginning of the twenty-first century some 40 per cent of the population of Asia and 50 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa are living in poverty, and some 37,000 children are dying each day of preventable or of poverty related diseases. This is to regard as an indicator of what is the reality of suffering in the so-called Third World and Fourth World.
Christians in the Struggle
In constructing theology of struggle, one must be a ware of the universal truth of the existence of suffering. It is like what Buddhism taught in the study of the Dharma. In the Chan School of Buddhism it is taught, “Small doubts lead to small awakenings. Great doubts lead to great awakenings. No doubts lead to no awakening.” The Dharma is like a great bell. If you tap it gently it will ring softly. If you strike it hard it will resound loudly. If you do not strike at all, it will not ring. The same is true to the need of awareness of our suffering in constructing theology of struggle—what kind of suffering do we encounter? The more we are aware of our suffering, the more we can overcome our struggle. The point here is the need to understand well what and how we suffer, and the deeper we understand it the more we will overcome and achieve the results of what we struggle.
Suffering is the arena in which the theological and the political interact. It is a life and death issue, and when death and life matters or when death and life questions are raised, they are questions both political and theological. Again, suffering is a question in which theology and politics intersect, this is certainly true with dreaming and hoping. If suffering is theo-political, and suffering propels the people to dream and hope, then it is sound to conclude that dreaming and hoping are also theo-political. Dreaming and hoping are attempts of the human to deny that which denies life and craves for something better, therefore they are matters of life and death, hence theo-political.
The masses of people in Asia are in bondage to dehumanizing, exploitative and oppressive con-conditions. Bishop Julio Labayen describes this common reality of suffering in Asia in these words:
...What makes Asian suffering different from the rest of the world? Most obviously it is the extent, the sheer magnitude of the suffering. More Asians are hungry, homeless, unemployed and illiterate than all the rest of the world put together. More men and women are despised, humiliated, cheated; more suffer the tyranny of governments and oppressive elites, and the fear and shame that tyranny brings than in all the rest of the world combined... There may be areas of poverty around the world as bad as Asia... but there is nothing anywhere to match the sweep and unrelieved misery of Asia’s suffering. (Julio Labayen, “Asian Suffering and the Christian Hope”, Testimony Amid Suffering, ed. T.K. Thomas, Singapore: CCA, 1977, p.9)
However, the face of suffering varies. For example, in the Philippine context suffering takes on the face of endemic poverty where about 80 percent of the people live below the poverty/bread line. This is a situation that is replicated in places like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Burma and Cambodia. Similarly, other Asian countries encounter different kinds of suffering.
Positing the broad struggle in which Christians have participated is vital for a sound understanding of the nature of the struggle itself, a point that Christians ought to learn. The thoughts of de la Torre, one of the early proponents of the theology of struggle, are helpful in clarifying the relation of the broad national struggle and the place of Christians in the struggle. The first is to place the Christian involvement vis-à-vis the broad struggle is to admit the independent nature of the struggle itself. The struggle operates on its own principles that are not inherently Christian; it has a dynamic of its own. This means that Christians, like other participants in the struggle, have to learn these principles. As de la Torre has pointed out, whereas Christians tend to know more about the “power of principle,” this may not be exactly true when we speak about the “principle of power.”
Second, being clear on the involvement of Christians in an already existing broader struggle should keep us from being misled into thinking that this is a Christian struggle. This struggle is the struggle of the whole people, some of whom may not profess a Christian belief, although they are very small in number. In this situation, Christians must learn to work with those with whom they do not agree on everything but agree on something that is vital. In this context and sense, Theology of struggle of the entire people, which I mentioned earlier, is explicit. This is to say again that theology of struggle is the cause not only of /for Christians but also all other religious adherents.
Theology of struggle is not a small business of concentration which focuses only a specific area. It covers the whole of life—for life itself is the cause of being struggling. It covers all concerns of humanity—religious, cultural, political, social, economics, etc. Life is to live and living. To live and to be a living inevitably involves to struggle for survival. Without struggle there is no life. Therefore theology of struggle is the most important theology for humanity not only for Christians but also for all people—the entire humanity.
In relation to theology of struggle everyone should ask the very basic and fundamental question: What is Life?Apostle Paul said, for him “Life is Christ.” In Gautama Buddha teaching, the Dharma (universal truth) is the existence of suffering. The truth of suffering describes how the reality of life is full of suffering. The first and the last teachings of Gautama Buddha is the Four Noble Truths. The first begins with the universal fact of the existence of suffering and the fourth ends with the ceasing of suffering, i.e. overcoming suffering that leads to blessed life. The Buddha taught the truth of suffering not to make us despair but to help us clearly recognize the realities of life. In this sense we would say succinctly, “Life is suffering.”
In Buddhism, suffering, which every life is inescapably encountering, is categorized as follows. 1) The Two Sufferings: Internal and external sufferings. It is the most basic way to understand suffering. Internal sufferings are all of those sufferings that we usually think of as being part of ourselves, including physical pain, anxiety, fear, jealousy, suspicion, anger, and so forth. External sufferings are all of those seem to come from the outside, including wind, rain, cold, heat, drought, wild animals, natural disasters, wars, criminals, etc.Three Sufferings:first—suffering within suffering; second—the suffering of deterioration; and third—the suffering of process. 3) The Eight Sufferings. These are a more detailed description of the suffering that all sentient beings must endure. They are grouped according to what they describe. The suffering of: first—birth, second—aging, third—illness, fourth—death, fifth—separation from loved ones, sixth—encountering objects of hate, seventh—not getting what we want, and eighth—the blaze of the five aggregates, which are the five components of existence: form, feeling, perception, mental formation, and consciousness.
In light of this worldly life, the question “What is life” would best fit by replying, “Life is being struggling for Survival”. Life Survival includes three basic divisions: 1) Food to energize our body to make strong, to give life; 2) Dressing to make our physical body beautiful, charm, good looking, etc.; and 3) House, abode etc. to reside our body safe and sound. In other words, it would be best to say, 1) Struggling for the cause of food for eating, 2) Struggling for the cause of clothing to dress, and 3) Struggling for the cause of securing life from any damaging effects of both natural and occasional.
A Burmese saying is quite good to employ this fact in a single phrase which says, “Sa-woh-nezi”. This Sa-woh-nezi is said of the meaning of human life. If we translate in English, Sa is eating, woh is dressing, and nezi is living. A more comprehensive meaning for this phrase is--Sa stands, for the cause of eating for life by means of feeding physical body, woh, for the cause of dressing beautiful life by means of physical body clothes, and nezi, for the cause of making a save refuge for life by means of keeping physical body in a safe bode. This is actually what life is all about and every life is struggling in this reality. Every human being is not free from this cause. Even animals need the same treatment for the survival of their lives. This is the meaning of life. Theology of struggle needs to understanding well these facts and to apply appropriately into relevant context in which life is struggling to attain its fullness.
Theology of Struggle can also be called “Theology of Living”. Basically there can be no life without being living and without struggle there can also be no life. We struggle to live—we live to struggle. We are struggling because we are living—we are living because we are struggling. Struggling implies being developed and improved resulting benefits. Living implies the same cause what of being struggling implies. Therefore theology of struggle is also theology of living. Being struggling and living both entail being active. It could not be being object—non-active.
Life is meaningful and worthy when it is living, i.e., being active. Life needs to be living, active, struggling. Life without such elements is meaningless and useless. Life without struggle is not life, it is nothing. The same way, theology without struggle is not a living theology and will benefit nothing. Therefore our theology must be based on struggling and it should be the theology struggle.
Emergence and basic orientation of the Theology of Struggle
Out of the involvement of Christians in the struggle of the whole Filipino people, the theology of struggle has struggled to be born. Born in and out of the struggle, it has no live apart from this struggle; it has taken shape in and out of the struggle; and it cannot be properly understood apart from this struggle. Theology of struggle can be somewhat identical with Latin American Liberation theology in their theological reflections, but theology of struggle is more oriented in struggle—this is “a struggle towards liberation.”
Ed de la Torre, one of the early articulators of the theology of struggle said, theology of struggle is the emerging theology in the Philippines. For him it captures a spirituality and a new experience of conversion—a new attitude and lifestyle, one that is not marked by indifference and resignation but a commitment to struggle for the fundamentally new and better. Similar expression is worth to consider in this sense too. Exponents of theology of struggles are committed to a radical process that will ensure their true liberation and authentic humanhood. In such a process they have demonstrated a spirituality not only of meditation but also
a spirituality of involvement and engagement of active obedience, and collective commitment towards a new social order and political well-being; of sacrifice and service to the people that is embodied in a life-style of economic discipline, sharing and mutuality; of a sense of enmity and anger to those things that cause the sufferings of many; of undying courage and love and of longings for justice and freedom for all. (Feliciano Carino, “What About the Theology of Struggle?”, in Religion and Society, Manila: FIDES, 1988, p.xii).
The basic orientation and configuration of the Theology of Struggle, like other liberation theologies, is coming from the perspective of the struggling victims; its emphasis on the contextual nature of theology, praxis, and the use of social analysis as a theological tools; and its orientation toward making the theology of struggle a people’s theology. This is, one that enables the common people to become theological subjects themselves, with the academically trained theologians maintaining an “organic” relationship to the struggling communities.
Theology of Struggle in the Asian Contexts/Churches
Even though Third World and Asian Theologies are contextual, it should not be being conformed to or being absorbed into any established culture of the context. This kind of approaches can surely be a danger to the lost of Christian theology for every churches. In reality, there is no such a theology that is, for example, completely Europeanized or Asianized theology in the history of Christian theology of the west, but only a theology that is developed in relevance to the contexts of Europe and Asian countries.
In light of this view, prominent theologians in America like the Niebuhr brothers never tried to make their theologies consciously and intentionally American. Similarly, Martin Luther and John Calvin did not try to construct a German or French theology in their time. In this view, it becomes clear that there is no Christian theology, which tries to be deliberately made for a particular continent, racial group and nation. There is only a theology that is constructed contextually and yet is globally creative. Therefore, theology needs not be a contextualized theology, but be most significantly a contextual or relevant theology. This theological thinking may fit best in constructing any kind of theology.
Any contextual theology that does not lead mankind to Christ but that ends in the context itself is misleading. As a matter of fact, a genuine Christian theology does not confine itself to any particular context but it rather transcends the particularities of all contexts. For theology is always trans-cultural, trans-linguistic, and trans-contextual.
Asian theology of Struggle should be a living theology, living with and in our midst/context.Theology is a living thing, having to do with our very existence as Christians and as churches. A living theology is born out of the meeting of a living church and its world. We discern a special task of theology in relation to the Asian renaissance and revolution, because we believe God is working out his purposes in these movements of the secular world. We believe, however, that today we can look for the development of authentic living theology in Asia.
The main problem of Christianity for the Burman Buddhists is not necessarily the Christ of Christianity but the western image of Christianity. The same happened also in other Asian countries. This is the reason that most non-Christian people in Asia like Mahatama Gandhi used to deny Christianity but not Christ.
Prophetic theology, ancient or modern, East or West, South or North, within the religious community was, is, and will always be a strong theology, a robust theology, a theology that takes account of suffering and pain in the world. It is a theology that thrives in the situation of social and political conflicts and contradictions. Its vocation is to stand on the side of the poor and the oppressed over against the rich and the powerful.
All theologies including classical theologies are contextual. It is said that the theology of St. Thomas of Aquinas was a response to the challenges of Aristotelian philosophy, and the hierarchical structure of Medieval society greatly influenced the Thomist system of theology. The crisis theology of Karl Barth was, in large measure, a response to the crises of Western civilization brought about by the First World War and the failure of liberal theology. “Theologians of every age are committed to interpreting the Gospel of Jesus in a way (that is) relevant and meaningful to the realities around them”
John C. England once pointed out our theology has grown old and irrelevant. It is a safe theology but has no life. Although it is a correct theology, it has misled many of us. It speaks of love, but generates division. It preaches harmony, but imposes subservience as a price for it. It proclaims truth, but it is the truth that threatens those who doubt it and protects those who depend on it for their power and status. In fact, Asian Christians must make their theologies, biblically oriented and relevant to their living situations in Asia.
A living theology in Asia, further, will be born when we accept the invitation to be in partnership with our brothers and sisters of other faiths. To do theology in partnership with our Maker is to do theology in partnership with the poor and the disinherited, with those who hold agony and pain in their hearts, and with those who seek to regain the power to live in spite of the powers that deny them the right to live as human beings. This is the way Jesus did his theology.
Jesus’ theology was a living theology. It was born and born again from each story that touched him and affected him. No story touched him in the same way. That is why his theology had to be born anew each time. Each story called him to say things and do things in a different way. That is why his theology had to be created afresh each time. His was not a custom-made theology. “You have heard that our forebears were told,” he said over and over, “but what I tell you is this.” This is a living theology, a born-again theology, a theology that gives birth to love, hope and life again and again. Is this not the kind of theology we are called to do in Asia?
The Theology of Struggle as Contextual
All theology is ultimately ‘contextual’, that is it arises from a specific historical context and it addresses that context. The questions which it asks, and the answers it seeks to give, are determined by its specific historical situation. To understand the rise of Third World theologies we also need to take serious notice of the circumstances, historical, political and social, in which they arise.
Rooted in the suffering, aspirations, and struggle of the people, the theology of struggle claims to be a contextual theology. Contextualizationdoes not mean “application,” “translation,” or “adaptation” of some readymade theological goods from the European or North American supermarkets. Contextualization even suggests something deeper and critical than “indigenization” or “inculturation.” 
Theology of struggle as contextual in the Filipino context is described in this way. Contextualization is imperative if theology is to be responsive and relevant to the suffering and struggling people, that is, if it is to be liberating. This is what theology of struggle is. The final thrust of contextualization is liberation, not for the sake of mere inculturating or indigenizing a theological given. Theology of struggle prevent itself from falling into “romantic Filipinization” while maintaining a critical appreciation of the Filipino culture, popular religiosity, and the people’s idiom. Without losing sight of the liberating thrust, there is an increasing interest and appreciation of the Filipino mode of thought or “popular idiom” in the theology of struggle. 
Currently, and particularly in the Third World contexts, theologies have found new conversation partners. Many respectable Third World theologians now draw knowledge and insights from other disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science and economics that describe, analyze and interpret people’s experience.
Contextual Asian theologies, for instance, take the articulation of the experience of grass-roots people as a basic source of theological construction. Asian situations have spawned a good number of contextual theologies. One of the most common has been called the praxis model. This is a departure from the assumption that theology is a systematic articulation of timeless truth and the practical application of a body of ideas to concrete historical situations.
The aim of contextual theology is not only to understand and interpret God’s act, or to give reason for their faith, but to help suffering people in their struggle to change their situation in accordance with the vision of the gospel of justice and freedom from bondage to fullness of life. 2) The Gandhi was once asked by a Christian missionary Stanley Jones to give him a good advice for the most effective approach to do mission work in India. Gandhi replied with such few words, but meaningful, “Be a little more like your Jesus.” And he further advised, “Teach your converts that when they become Christians they do not cease to be Indians. Don’t water down your religion, don’t reduce your demands hold your people up to the highest.” <<< Please appropriate lines for this portion<<<
Theology of struggle is an outcome of the struggle, that it is primarily a theology “in” and “of” struggle and not a theology “about” struggle. It must always be kept in mind that the theology of struggle was not born in the academic chamber, much less to satisfy intellectual curiosity. Although it does not escape the rigors of an intellectual discipline, its orientation is primarily to support the praxis of an intellectual discipline; its orientation is primarily to support the praxis of struggle. “Praxis is primary, both chronologically and epistemologically.”
From the struggle it derives its life and motivation; it is struggle that it serves. Geared toward enhancing the people’s struggle, it is only proper that its primary community of accountability is the struggling community, primarily to strengthen and equip it for the long and arduous struggle. What was foremost in the minds of those who tried to reflect theologically on the struggle, noted Carino, “was the sharpening of the Philippine struggle itself and how Christians can participate and contribute fully in that struggle.”
Theology of struggle must take account of the grassroots people as theologians together with their theological thinking. If the theology of struggle is a theological voice of the struggling people and a companion in their liberation, there should be an increasing participation of the struggling people in the articulation of this theology. Enabling people to become active theological subjects is necessary for their empowerment and liberation. Abesamis, in particular, asserted the need “to affirm strongly that the formulation of the Asian theology which is really liberating to the masses of the poor and oppressed in Asia is the work of Asian poor with liberated consciousness.
The theology of struggle claims that theological reflection is an activity of the whole struggling community and not an exclusive domain of the professional theologians. Those who have immersed themselves in the lives of the struggling people have realized how the people themselves are capable of deep theological reflection, although they may express it in academic community.
“Socio-analytic mediation” is a vital companion in the doing of theological reflection. This is what the proponents of the theology of struggle have perceived. Social analytic tools are crucial for understanding the context, to guide praxis, and to equip the people for transformative praxis. The struggling people should be equipped with tools of social analysis. They must acquire social-analytical tools in order to see not only the “issues,” but also the structural and systemic basis of the problems, thus to work for a more comprehensive solution. Social-analytical tools must not only be at the hands of the intellectuals and the elites, but must also be available to the struggling people. Bearing in mind above mentioned realities, it is now clear that “Theology of struggle can and should be done cooperatively” within people’s community context.
As afore-mentioned, Theology of Struggle needs to understand well the very basic concept of how it conceives God and how much tribute it gives to God. In the second step, it needs to realize primarily the universality of the existence of suffering.
Theology of Struggle must not be in conflict or contradictory with the understanding of Christian theology as commonly adopted. It should goes in line with the common and unique understanding of Christian theology as adopted accordingly from Christian traditions. Any theology that is not in line with unique Christian traditions and theology will surely be unfit with any context of particular people; it will not fruitful and will not be able to produce sound theology. In other words, theology should not be absorbed into any context. Theology must not be contextualized, rather context must be theologized and must transform it into a relevant common concept of the people’s struggle.
Having said that theology should not be contextualized, we need to consider the two contexts: the contents of theology and the contents of the people. What I mean here is theology should not be a monopoly of any context; rather any context is a monopoly of theology. Theology of struggle needs to keep hold firm this stands in order to attain the fullness of humanity and to make a Relevant Theology.
As mentioned earlier, we would argue here in our conclusion that “Theology of struggle is and must be a theology of all theology.” Every theology is done with struggle—there is no theology free of struggle. In considering the word “struggle”, we need further step to do big discussion. But, because of space limitation we will not go there. In short, in the “struggle” there are clear two-pair components. For example, Struggle with violence and struggle with non-violence; Struggle within self and struggle outside self; Struggle for self and struggle for others, and so on.
Indeed, life itself is struggle. No life is free from struggle. In this sense, theology is the understanding of how God and man are interacting in the cause making life in its fullness. C. S. Song once said, “God’s heart is aching now for the sake of Asian darkness. This makes God the theologian par excellence. God’s heart aches because of the deep darkness surrounding the formless and void earth (Gen 1:2). Likewise, in this sense, God’s heart is aching because of the struggle of all life. Whatever theology is not free from struggle, and therefore, theology of struggle is a theology of all [theology].
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 More extensive bibliography is available at: http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/search?q=su%3ATheology%2C+Doctrinal+Asia.&qt=hot_subject