Learning from our Fathers: Prospectss for Ecumenism in the 21st Century Asia

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2008 »Volume 45 2008 Number 2 »Learning From Our Fathers Prospectss For Ecumenism In The 21st Century Asia

Sherman Yen Long Kuek

Sherman Kuek Yen LONG is the Convenor of Revolution of Hope (RoH Malaysia), an ecumenical group of Christian theological and social scientific thinkers.  He is also an Internal Auditor for the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism.  He is currently finishing his doctorate studies at the Trinity Theological College (Singapore).  He blogs on www.ShermanKuek.net.



This paper aims to be essentially theological. Instead of explicating the difference that Christian churches can make together in furthering the vision of ecumenism in the 21st century, the author seeks to demonstrate it through ecumenical theological interaction within the paper itself. In the face of challenges of various natures confronting the global Church, this exercise hopefully demonstrates that the coming together of various ecclesial theological traditions can serve as a wealth of resources for the promotion of greater justice and peace in the world. Rather than this constituting a new initiative, it is an invitation to revisit an age-old exercise of exploring the mind of the Church. To this end, the author seeks to demonstrate that the Great Tradition contains adequate resources to empower the Church to effectively respond to 21st century sociopolitical realities, provided that such responses are undertaken with ecumenical attitudes. To narrowly confine the Church’s theological responses within specific traditions without due interaction with others is to paralyze her into a state of disempowered responses vis-à-vis compelling societal realities.

Keeping in mind that the global contexts which warrant the necessity of ecumenism are varied, it is also advanced in this paper that one can better assess the prospects of ecumenism from the specificities of one’s own immediate context. In this case, the author shall focus on the context of Asia. The Asian situation bespeaks two crucial realities, religious plurality and poverty, among others. Both these realities present compelling challenges and exciting prospects for the ecumenical endeavors of the Church, particularly the Asian Church itself.

The theological methodology of this paper is therefore in itself thoroughly ecumenical in outlook in that it engages theological articulations from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. The implicit approach of this paper therefore expounds the author’s deep conviction that ecumenism in the 21st century calls precisely for such an attitude in theological reflection.



Religious Plurality in Asia
and its Prospects for Ecumenism

One prominent mark of the Asian peoples is their innately religious ethos. Even at the dawning of modernization in Asia, which was thought to be potentially threatening to the existence of religion and religiosity, the persistence of Asian religious worldviews had been all but obliterated. The trend in the early twentieth century gravitated towards an uncritical embrace of Western modernity which posed a threat to Asian religious worldviews. However, this trend soon became subject to criticism as the intrusiveness of Western modernity provoked a concern among the Asian nations that modernity had become an essentially foreign project. The consequent challenge confronting Asia was therefore one of reversing this condition of imposed modernization so as to establish a modernity that honored the existential integrity of the Asian peoples by incorporating their religious ethos into their interactions with modern culture.

The interim process of delineating Asian modernity was characterized by the attempt to understand the values underlying Asia’s modernity. S. N. Eisenstadt, for example, unmistakably pointed out that one of the main considerations for the construction of Asian modernity had to do with the attitudes of the local community in regard to their identity as defined by their tradition and history.1Josiane Cauquelin, Paul Lim, and Birgit Mayer-König even more specifically suggest that the religious factor, among others, has contributed significantly to the development and evolution of Asian values.2 Evidently, there was something even more fundamental undergirding Asian values: religion. Hence, an understanding of the Asian worldview must encapsulate her religious ethos, for the peculiarity of Asian modernity rests heavily upon this worldview. In this light, Robert N. Bellah is correct to have pointed out that the spiritual heritage derived from Asian religions such as Hinduism, Confucianism, and Islam constitutes a vital part of traditional Asian values.3 Bellah’s observation is apt. If much of the modern values emerging in the West were birthed from a Protestant-based worldview,4 it should not be deemed odd that the spiritual heritage of Asia has been primarily responsible for the construction of the Asian peoples’ systematic understanding of life and the world. M. M. Thomas, in agreement with Bellah, succinctly presents his thesis that the kernel of indigenous Asian culture is its spiritual dimension, i.e., religion.5

Since the Asian worldview emerges from a legacy of religious belief systems, it is largely agreed that the interaction between religion and development in Asia’s modernizing society cannot be underestimated, let alone ignored. But in addition to that, the one reality that confronts an observer in regard to the religious ethos of Asia is that religious plurality has been an innate characteristic of Asia long before the West faced a postmodern-type plurality. Asia constitutes the homeland of the great religions of the world—Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Other religions such as Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and various less prominent religions also find their birth in Asia.

It must be acknowledged, however, that the place of Christianity in Asia is not as privileged as that of other locally cultivated religious faiths. Since the dawn of Christianity in Asia, the people of Asia have viewed the faith with little trust. This is so for three reasons.6 Firstly, Christianity is often considered the twin brother of colonialism.7 The colonial powers that found their way to the shores of Asia carried the faith along with them—three (Portugal, Spain, and France) were Catholic and three others (Britain, America, and Holland) Protestant. The colonial rule somehow required that the faith and culture of the colonizers be enforced upon the local people. The missionaries were also so closely linked to the colonial powers that the Asians came to despise them as much as they despised the colonial powers. This was one major effect of the simultaneous development of the religious revival and imperialism in Europe. Secondly, Christianity was perceived as being of a foreign culture. The efforts for the indigenization of Christianity in Asia were grossly inadequate. This absence of adaptation was based on claims of racial supremacy; hence, clerical roles were reserved for the Europeans. Furthermore, local converts were required to renounce their own cultures and follow the culture of the colonial rulers. The sense of ethnocentrism brought about an inability to distinguish the religious content of the Christian faith from that which was a mere Western expression of the faith. Thirdly, Christianity was viewed as a sectarian religion in view of its claim to the exclusive possession of truth. This attitude was naturally translated into hostility towards other Asian faiths and cultures and a consequent refusal to consider if they had any positive contributions to the manner in which Christianity was to take root in Asia. This mentality even caused the various Christian sects within Asia to disagree with one another, thereby deepening the negative impression of the local people towards the faith. These impositions upon the Asian people nevertheless caused them to submit and bow to the rule of the Western powers, together with their faith that was brought into Asia. Stephen Neill describes the reason for this submission: "The European was feared because he was strong, admired because he was clever, and at least in some measure respected because he was just. It seemed inevitable that for the time being he should become supreme."8

In the light of this historical reality, the Church in Asia faces a twofold challenge. The first challenge is that of identifying with the struggles of her people so that the faith would no longer be deemed a foreign faith. The second challenge is that of striving towards a visible unity within the Asian Church itself and cultivating mutual support with other religious voices within Asia. In so doing, the Asian Church is reminded to be committed to embody a reality which is different from its colonial history. In a wider culture of conflict and competition, the Church is called to be the mysterious and countercultural embodiment of a hope which propels her to act for the wellbeing of others. In a modern era that exalts the virtue of triumphalism, she is summoned to return to her calling to be the Church in the world and which loves the world in the manner that God so loves it. For this, the sacramental understanding of the Church needs to be recovered. Perhaps the most obvious call for the Church to identify with her own calling as the mysterion of the Kingdom of God in the world is found in Lumen gentium, one of the principal documents of Vatican II:



The Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of theunity of the whole human race [italics added] … The Church, or, in other words, the Kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world.9

The idea of the Church as a sacrament is by no means novel. Church Fathers such as Pope St. Leo the Great (ca. 400-461) included both Christ and the Church in their lists of sacraments. J. M. R. Tillard, in explicating the understanding of the Church as a Eucharistic body united to Christ, explores Augustine’s association of the Eucharist with Church. He begins by extensively quoting Augustine’s Sermon 227 in which Augustine stipulates that the bread and the cup are the body of Christ which he offers to the recipient. In this sermon, Augustine goes on to say that for the recipient who receives these well, "you are yourselves what you receive."10 Tillard also examines Augustine’s Sermon 272, in which it is described that the very members of the body of Christ are the ones placed on the Lord’s table, that "what you receive is the mystery that means you."11 Tillard goes on to quote Augustine’s baptismal sermons, in which is said to the believers: "You are on the table and you are in the chalice, you along with us are this. We are this together."12 In his scrutiny of Augustine’s correlation of the Eucharist to the Church, Tillard describes that the Eucharist is not Christ dissociated from the Church, but rather, the unity between the head and the body. Augustine himself writes in his The City of God, "The Church teaches that it itself is offered in the offering it makes to God."13

In so claiming, the Church is explained by the Church Fathers as a community of people in communion with the Triune God and with one another, and a community of people in the world that constitutes the visible presence of the invisible Christ. Of course, history observes that the Middle Ages somewhat clouded this understanding by way of a new fixation upon the individual sacraments of the Church and the effects of sacramental rituals upon the individual recipients through the persons who administered them. However, the re-emergence of the ancient understanding took place at the dawning of vital ecclesial considerations at the Second Vatican Council, thereby highlighting the role of the Church as not merely doing sacraments, but more so, being a sacrament. In resonance, Patricia Smith notes that "the Church of Christ is a sacrament, an explicit sign of what God hopes and intends for all people."14Henri de Lubac likewise affirms the following:



If Christ is the sacrament of God, the Church is for us the sacrament of Christ; she represents him, in the full and ancient meaning of the term, she really makes him present. She not only carries on his work, but she is his very continuation, in a sense far more real than that in which it can be said that any human institution is its founder’s continuation.15

Admittedly, the idea of Church as sacrament is not posed without difficulties. Avery Dulles identifies the complications arising from the stipulation of the Church as being a sacrament. In his Models of the Church, he comments on the sophistication of this concept, rendering it a difficult one to propagate.16 Later, in A Church to Believe In, he states the following:



The image suggests a conspicuousness which the Church as a whole does not possess, since most Catholics and Christians do not go about in uniform. And finally, there is some ambiguity about what the Church as sacrament or sign represents. Is the Church, as we commonly experience it, a convincing sign of the unity, love, and peace, for which we hope in the final kingdom? The Church in its pilgrim state is still far from adequately representing the heavenly Jerusalem, even in a provisional manner.17

Dulles’ observation calls for serious contemplation. It should be seen as posing a critical dilemma to the people who call themselves "Church." It is for the Church to reflect on her constant failure to embody her calling, to be what she was meant to be. Through her social action and her solidarity with all humanity, the Church is called to reflect the kenotic nature of her Savior. When this fact is consciously acknowledged, the Church’s social action translates from a self-serving triumphalistic effort into a self-giving and humanity-serving endeavor. The community of Christ, the sacrament of Christ in the world, is called to embody a different way of living and to embrace radically different values in the way it regulates its common life so that it may reflect the very Christ it follows. Evidently, religious plurality—together with the painful past of colonial history in Asia—necessitates that the Church undertakes a re-examined understanding of mission and evangelism, for the colonial paradigm of evangelizing the peoples of Asia may no longer be contributive to the enrichment of a pluralist Asian society. A theology of ecumenism for Asia must take into consideration the Christian Tradition’s embrace of a common humanity in the Church’s mission. The Church is the sacrament of Christ in the world, and Christ is for all. The Church is therefore called to uphold justice and peace for common humanity as a sacramental act of Christ’s presence in the world.

An overtly visible outworking of this need was apparent at the fourth gathering of the Asian Movement for Christian Unity held in Kuala Lumpur from 11 to 14 June 2007. This event saw the release of a statement calling for the Church in Asia to work proactively towards "Our Common Witness in Contemporary Asia" by being "united in responding to the social, political, and religious realities of Asia today." It is in taking "a prophetic stand [with a united Christian voice] against any form of discrimination, such as that of caste, class, race, and gender, as being incompatible with the teaching of the Gospel" that the followers of Christ are embracing their calling to be a part of that sacramental mystery of Christ in the world.



Poverty in Asia
and its Prospects for Ecumenism

Franklyn J. Balasundaram notes that prior to colonization, Asia had strong possession of self-sustaining economies together with a strong sense of social solidarity. These put her people in good stead with one another.18 In fact, Asia demonstrated greater acumen than the West in certain dimensions of science, technology, agriculture, industrial methods, architecture, and the arts.19 When the colonizers came, the natural resources of Asia together with her peoples were exploited for centuries and the Western Europeans were given a free hand in this enterprise. Well it may be that the era of colonialism is now past, but the end of colonialism has unfortunately not marked the cessation of such economic exploitation. Exploitation continues to persist under the hand of multinational companies which impose forced poverty upon many of the Asian peoples:



[Asia’s] life has been truncated by centuries of colonialism and a more recent neo-colonialism. Its cultures are marginalized, its social relations distorted. The cities, with their miserable slums, swollen with the poor peasants driven off the land, constitute a picture of wanton affluence side by side with abject poverty that is possible to the majority of Asia’s countries. This extreme disparity is the result of a class contradiction, a continuous domination of Asia by internal and external forces.20

This explains why poverty continues to remain one of Asia’s most acute problems despite the continent strangely having been recognized to have achieved phenomenal economic growth.21 Asia continues to remain a home to two-thirds of the world’s poor. An estimated 1.9 billion people, constituting 60 percent of the Asian population, still live on an average of less than US$2 a day. Assuming that the poverty line is US$1 a day, about 690 million or 21.5 percent of Asia's population is considered to be living in absolute poverty. In very practical terms, absolute poverty means suffering from poor nutrition and health, limited educational opportunities, and lack of access to water and sanitation.

Within the larger economic arena in Asia, the gap between the rich and the poor is ever escalating rather than decreasing.22 Even if the acute poverty of a nation like Bangladesh gets far less media representation than the tremendous economic wealth of a nation like Japan, the development of even such wealthy economies is keenly dependent on Western economics since the regulation of international relationships is usually Western-imposed. This problem is compounded by one important trait of Asian politics—which frequently remains little understood by Western political entities—that the masses of Asia are generally excluded from the decision-making process of society. Therefore, despite the European and Asian governments having together signed the United Nations "Millennium Development Goals" for the halving of poverty in Asia by 2015, the people of Asia largely remain disempowered from the process of wealth-creation and wealth-distribution. The power structures prevent the benefits of economic growth from being disseminated equally. Whilst many in Asia have been lifted out of poverty, most others are left behind in this endeavor for the eradication of poverty as the national elites continue monopolizing the industrial sector. This could very well be the reason for the continuing existence of what Dr. Bruce Tolentino, Director for Economic Reform and Development Programmes at the Asia Foundation, calls "stubborn pockets of deprivation."23 In the face of this reality, the problem and the need are unmistakably evident:



At this time when the world is preoccupied with the menace of terrorism, it is worth considering that people who are deprived of control over their lives—necessary for a dignified life—are liable to search for fulfillment along the path of violence. Merely providing them with a certain material sufficiency is not enough to win them over to peace and unity. Their potential for human development has to be realized and their human dignity respected so that they can gain the skills and confidence to build a world strong and prosperous in harmonious diversity.24

Such is the context in which the Asian Church exists today. It is a context in which "glaring and enforced poverty is the rule of life in most countries"25 and which calls for a gospel which speaks directly to the problem. Again, an ecumenical exploration of the Great Tradition yields surprising wisdom in response to this phenomenon plaguing the Asian situation.

The Christian Tradition has much to say about the employment of wealth by affluent people. Augustine distinguishes between the "use" (usus) and the "enjoyment" (fruitio) of material wealth.26 Such finite commodities are merely to be employed for the service of God’s greater purpose and not for temporal and obsessive pleasure. Ambrose teaches: "Not from your own do you bestow upon the poor man, but you make return from what is his."27 Basil of Caesarea asserts that the hoarding of wealth at the expense of one’s neighbor is to commit a wrong towards him.28 John Chrysostom identifies the failure to share one’s possessions as "theft and swindle and defraudation." He reminds his readers, "I beg you remember this without fail, that not to share our own wealth with the poor is theft from the poor and deprivation of their means of life; we do not possess our own wealth but theirs."29 Wealthier Christians are warned to be mindful of the plight of the poor, failing which, they would be guilty of a moral injury. This is why Thomas Aquinas emphatically points out that each human person has an innate right to a means of survival, and that it is the rightful duty of those who possess excess wealth to provide a way of access for the poor.30 According to him, when the wealthy fail to provide such access, the marginalized are justified in secretly or forcefully taking what is rightfully theirs. Evidently, beyond being a gift, the provision of wealth to the poor by the wealthy is a moral duty. It is thus far apparent that the Great Tradition upholds the virtue of temperance and the employment of one’s abundance for the welfare of the needy, holding that materialism endangers the spirit of the Christian faith.

John R. Schneider, in delineating the effects of globalization, positively notes that globalization has brought nations together in closer proximity and has propelled affluent nations to notice the needs of their neighboring nations.31 This provokes the Christian community to reconsider its participation in such an "experience of excess."32 But Schneider also notes that theological scholarship has yet to develop an adequate framework to prescribe proper Christian involvement in wealth creation and distribution. This deficiency becomes more prominent when one sees that globalization has further provided the wealthy (which includes a large population of affluent Christians) with access to a needy world. Whilst scholars like Peter Singer have responded to this global need by propagating simpler living and stating that ignoring such economic injustice is tantamount to murder on a global scale, Schneider pronounces this view simplistic. For Schneider, "the enjoyment of affluence is part of our existential human condition in advanced societies" and Christian theology does advance provisions for the legitimacy of enjoying the beautiful gifts of life.33 He rather espouses the legitimacy of abundance, but goes on to state that the blessing of abundance should provoke an attitude of gratitude. Beyond that, such gratitude should also translate into a love towards one’s neighbor suffering from lack. Furthermore, Schneider’s key solution to the moral impasse of global economic injustice is that of particularity. He establishes the necessity of caring for the economic welfare of one’s immediate neighbors rather than embarking on an aimless global "scattershot." All this, however, is to be executed within a framework of a "global calling."

Schneider’s solution enables a more focused sense of responsibility for the Christian community, whilst also enabling more concrete and efficient interaction with needy neighbors. However, he still falls short of providing a concretely universal benchmark for the level of wealth distribution by the affluent people. His proposal has yet to mitigate the moral impasse presented by Peter Singer. At which point is the distribution of wealth considered adequate for the affluent Church? Also, does the prerogative of particularity mitigate one’s responsibility towards those of farther lands living in equal (if not worse) poverty? For a fourth-century Church leader like John Chrysostom, the Christian community’s conscience and responsibility towards the poor is not free for as long as there exist the poor in the world.34

Margaret M. Mitchell delineates John Chrysostom’s argument against the ownership of wealth and the inequitable distribution of resources in society. For John Chrysostom, the primary culprit of unjust distribution is the concept of private ownership which has resulted in social evil and economic injustice.35 He explains that material wealth is placed alongside human existence as a way of testing the human capacity to exercise stewardship with the poor in mind. However, people have become consumed by their love for such goods and pandered to an idolatrous abomination of covetousness, i.e., the voracious propensity towards acquisition. Thus, Chrysostom makes it his project to protect the wealthy from an obsessive concern for wealth. The only properties that are legitimate, as far as he is concerned, are those things that are required for one’s daily survival and which belong to all people as servants of a common Master, virtues arising from one’s character, eschatological rewards for those who have viewed earthly wealth with disdain, and universal properties of creation which are to belong to no one.

Lest one should understand Chrysostom’s vehement objection towards private ownership as an ancient form of Marxism, the two views should be starkly differentiated. Whilst Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto announced an imperative for the elimination of private property in order to avoid personal covetouness,36 there is a distinction between the two positions. Marx consigns the prerogative of wealth ownership and distribution to the state, but Chrysostom would see the state as nothing more than an appointed steward of wealth which belongs to the common Master. Marx mistakes the state to be incapable of greed and corruption in the way that individuals are in capitalistic contexts. If the state consists of individuals who hold that religion constitutes no more than a fictitious invention, it would seem strange for Marx’s economic ethics to be held as morally binding by those very individuals who comprise the state. Richard Harries comments that this is Marxism’s "fallacious view of human beings and the nature of the state."37However, Chrysostom’s ownership of wealth is attributed to a common Master whose standards of social ethics are binding upon all. Contrary to his communitarian vision being communistic, it in fact explicitly disqualifies the communistic philosophy through the attribution of wealth ownership to God.

But beyond a denunciation of the love for wealth, Chrysostom argues for a more radical measure of help rendered to the poor. He does this by relegating the poor to a new social status as the owners of authentic spiritual commodities which they can trade with the wealthy in the open market. The poor, he claims, have a privileged right of access to God, whereas the rich are to be indebted to them for providing that which the affluent cannot themselves attain. Chrysostom’s thorough "theological and social redefinition"38 of wealth and the role of the poor even goes to the extent of advancing the particular role of the Christian community in the alleviation of this problem.39 All Christians called to live in a common brotherhood and sisterhood under God are also to share wealth in equality since it belongs to the same Master, and private possessions are commodities which destroy human communities.

With these analyses in mind, Chrysostom advances a Christian discipline for appropriate economic behavior.40 Firstly, he propagates an ascetic spirituality in which one should be fixated on things eternal rather than on earthly materialism. Secondly, one should practice giving charitable donations to the poor. This act is an ethical discipline aimed at the redistribution of wealth for a more economically just society. Thirdly, Chrysostom calls for identification with the poor in a spirit of solidarity, which is of course, reflected through the ascetic discipline of charitable donations or almsgiving. It is a prophetic act of the rich standing alongside and dignifying the poor. Fourthly, he calls for a shared vision for economic reformation through communitarian lifestyles among Christians as it was with the early church in Jerusalem.41

Mitchell explains that Chrysostom’s main method for affecting change is rhetorics, for "intervention begins with sight, and is followed by words."42 This may very well be the sort of spirituality the Asian Church needs to exercise, coupled with radical social action, so as to impact the economic order. As it was with Chrysostom who as a bishop employed rhetorics to garner contributions from the rich so he could distribute these gifts to the poor, the Asian Church too needs leaders who will do likewise, ecclesiastical leaders who will stand in solidarity alongside the economically lesser segments of society. Together with such rhetorics, such ecclesiastical leaders would do well to, like Chrysostom, sell "plate and furniture from the palace at Constantinople to give to the poor and to found hospitals" and "live austerely."43 Chrysostom’s call to the Church should be the call of every modern ecclesiastical leader in Asia and beyond, "a call to integral Christianity, in which faith and charity, belief and practice, are organically linked in an unconditional surrender of man to God's overwhelming love."44 As has been demonstrated, Chrysostom does not stand alone in this Patristic tradition. He is joined by a host of other echoing voices such as Basil of Caesarea from the East and Ambrose and Augustine from the West in articulating a case against the hoarding of private property so as to ensure that the less privileged are well cared for.45



Ecumenism for 21st Century Asia

It is hoped that this paper has demonstrated the depth and wealth of the Great Tradition—the ecumenical wisdom of the Church—and successfully exhibited how this legacy may inform the Church of the appropriate responses towards various realities in 21stcentury Asia and beyond. It is the express intention of the author to expound how ecumenism in the 21st century should, beyond being a mere desire that we express and talk about, also be thoroughly integrated into our theological method and analytical reflections. This need has hopefully been established in this paper, which in turn anticipates further similar sustained efforts.

The present state of ecumenical endeavors in the Church is deeply heart-warming. If certain segments of the Church have recently declared pronouncements that seem factionary or segregatory, it merely shows that the ecumenical movement in the world has grown to a new level at which Christians are able to confess their differences with utter honesty. An example of this is the recent 16-page document by the Roman Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which describes Orthodox churches, although being true churches, as suffering from a "wound" since they do not recognize papal primacy.46 The document also states that the "wound is still more profound" in Protestant denominations. Whilst such confessional statements are often regarded as a regression in ecumenical commitment, one must notice that they are also accompanied by the most sincere prayers and deepest longings for unity in the Body of Christ and solidarity with the human race. It is in this spirit that the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has issued an unmistakable call to the Body of Christ, emphatically instructing the church that "ecumenism is not an option but a sacred duty."47This sacred duty we must fulfill.





S. N. Eisenstadt, "Introduction: Historical Traditions, Modernization and Development," in Patterns of Modernity: Beyond the West, Vol. 2, ed. S. N. Eisenstadt (Washington Square, NY: New York University Press, 1987), 10, 11.

Josiane Cauquelin, Paul Lim, and Birgit Mayer-König, "Understanding Asian Values," in Asian Values: Encounter with Diversity, eds.Josiane Cauquelin, Paul Lim, and Birgit Mayer-König (Surrey: Curzon Press, 1998), 4.

Robert Neelly Bellah, ed., Religion and Progress in Modern Asia (NY: Free Press; London: Collier-Macmillan, 1965), x-xi.

One persisting preoccupation of Reformation studies has been the extent of its contribution to the birth of modernity. Steven Ozment, despite conceding to the possibility of the Reformation’s lack of existential and intellectual appeal to the then grassroots laity, is reluctant to discount its success in setting a backdrop for the establishment of modernity through the Enlightenment. He maintains that the seeds of key Western values are to be found in the Protestant Reformation. Steven Ozment, Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution (NY: Doubleday, 1992), 215.

M. M. Thomas, "Modernization of Traditional Societies and the Struggle for a New Cultural Ethos," in The Asian Meaning of Modernization,edSaral K. Chatterji (Lucknow: East Asia Christian Conference, 1972).

The reasons are well explained in Hans Staffner, SJ, The Significance of Jesus Christ in Asia (India: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 1985), 207-236.

For a detailed treatment of this brief argument, refer to M. D. David, Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity (Bombay, India: Himalaya Publishing House, 1988).

Stephen C. Neill, The Cross over Asia (London: Canterbury Press, 1948), 17.

Lumen gentium, Chapter 1. It must be noted also that this document does not identify the Roman Catholic Church as the only legitimate and visible embodiment of the Body of Christ. Chapter 2 offers theological justifications for holding that other Christian churches too give expression and realization to that which constitutes the Church, thereby validating the ecclesial character of non-Catholic Christian communities.

J. M. R. Tillard, Flesh of the Church, Flesh of Christ: At the Source of the Ecclesiology of Communion (Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2001), 39, 40.

Ibid., 42.

Ibid., 43.

Augustine, The City of God, 10.6.

Patricia Smith, Teaching Sacraments (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1987), 113.

Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, trs. Lancelot C. Sheppard and Sr. Elizabeth Englund, OCD (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988), 76.

Avery Dulles, Models of the Church (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1976), 69-70.

Dulles, A Church to Believe In (New York: Crossroad, 1985), 5.

Franklyn J. Balasundaram, "Being Church in Asia and the Pacific"; available athttp://www.warc.ch/dp/bs31/03.html; accessed 31 January 2008.

Karl Gunnar Myrdal, Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations (NY: Twentieth Century Fund, 1968), Vol. 1, 445, 464, 581; Vol. II, 1030-1031, 1035, 1094-1095, 1208.

Virginia Fabella, ed., Asia's Struggle for Full Humanity: Towards a Relevant Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1980), 152-53.

"Poverty Remains Asia’s Major Challenge Despite High Growth"; available athttp://german.china.org.cn/english/null/ 105261.htm; accessed 31 January 2008.

"Asia Faces ‘Growing Poverty Gap’"; available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6342599.stm;accessed 31 January 2008.

"Poverty in Asia: Stubborn Pockets of Deprivation"; available at http://asiafoundation.org/in-asia/2007/12/12/poverty-in-asia-stu bborn-pockets-of-deprivation/; accessed 31 January 2008.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Contribution to Human Development Report 2002.


St. Augustine, On Christian Teaching, tr. R. P. H. Green (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 354-430. Cf. also Oliver O’Donovan, "Ususand Fruitio in Augustine, de Doctrina Christiana I,Journal of Theological Studies 33: 361-97.

Charles Avila, Ownership: Early Christian Teaching (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1983), 50.

Ibid., 66.

St. John Chrysostom, On Wealth and Poverty, tr. Catherine P. Roth (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984), 49-55.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II.32.7.

John R. Schneider, "Can Christianity Engage Consumer Capitalism?" Pro Rege XXXIII (March 2005) 3: 3.

Ibid., 4.

Ibid., 6.

Chrysostom is estimated to have preached between at least ninety to a hundred sermons on the stewardship of wealth. Cf. Chrysostomus Baur, John Chrysostom and His Time, 2 vols., tr. M Gonzaga (Westminster, MD: Newman, 1959), 1:217.

Margaret M. Mitchell, "Silver Chamber Pots and Other Goods Which Are Not Good: John Chrysostom’s Discourse Against Wealth and Possessions," Having Property and Possessions in Religious and Social Life, eds. William Schweiker and Charles Matthewes (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2004), 94, 96.

Karl Marx, Capital: The Communist Manifesto and Other Writings (NY: Modern Library, 1932).

Richard Harries, Is There a Gospel for the Rich? The Christian in a Capitalist World (London: Mowbray, 1992), 151.

Mitchell, 102.

Ibid., 106-109.

Ibid., 111-119.

Mitchell notes that the notion of Chrysostom having a more radical vision for social change is contested, but goes on to acknowledge that evidence of such a vision in his homilies is more than implicit.

Mitchell, 119.

Harries, 37.

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