One of my pastime stuff to do is probably typing down titles of books on the search engine to search for reviews, either on blogs or online publications, I just dig doing this. My girlfriend thinks I'm weird for my unorthodox ways for relaxing and having fun (but she love me though warts and all).
I came across this sort of review about this new IVP dictionary entitled "Global Dictionary of Theology". Released in 2008, the title captured my attention, especially the word 'Global' which denotes theology that transcends the realm of the western world. I love western theology and it's literature, mainly because my theological education requires me to learn them. The other part is because tend to understand books using English language rather then Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysia's national language). I hope Malaysians will forgive me for this.
While I was in bible school I remember my lecturer saying something like this, "...this book (forgot the name of the book) is helpful but some of the things said can't really be applied fully here. This author is mainly writing from a western perspective...". That caught my attention and made me think of the possibilities of having a Malaysian/ Asian perspective view on theology.
Back to the review...I was reading through and this quote caught my attention (follow this link to the post)
"I once heard of a Karl Barth conference that was held in Germany several years ago. The conference organisers had invited a Japanese theologian to participate, but they were somewhat dismayed to find that their Japanese scholar had no interest in theologising his own national context – he was entirely preoccupied with the questions and problems of modern German thought! Presumably the conference organisers had expected their guest to provide a more exotic “oriental” perspective."
I think, this is reminder for me. I view theology to be very important for a christian, because we are in actual fact always and constantly theologizing whether we realize this or not. One of my passions is of course to study theology and make it understandable. This has always been something that I see myself doing. I don't want to sound corny in stating this though.
But one problem I find is, not many Malaysians see theology as something a christian does. Many think theology is meant only for pastors or students in bible school. Many Malaysians don't seem to mind that preachers can just preach mediocre exposition of the bible as long as it is simple and done with a preachers charisma to entertain. Many Malaysians don't seem to mind what a preacher teaches as long as they are known as pastors. And many Malaysians don't seem to see the importance of education, especially in the field of theology because the only thing that counts is practical ministry. I would further convey that many pastors in Malaysia doesn't even care to read any theological books because it takes too much of their time.
Don't get me wrong though. I love Malaysia, its my country and I was born in Malaysia, a full blooded Malaysian. The Malaysian layered criticism is one that I am in contact with and not a thorough assessment of Malaysia as a whole.
I wish Malaysians would see that they do have a voice in theology. That they will do well in charting some of their own conversations. Because only Malaysians themselves know their context and understand their cultural background. And because of that Malaysians need to think and create their own voice in understanding the bible and theology to fit to their own context. I wish that there would be more Malaysian contextualized books by Malaysians. I wish also that someday Malaysians can broaden the theological perspective in the global scene being a voice that widens the theological conversation. At the moment though, this is still a distant reality but nonetheless a worthy undertaking to plow in, one that I am willing to work at.
Are there any agreements if you are a Malaysian/ disagreements with what I said? Are there things that I missed out? I need your thoughts.
- OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
- I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations