The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology

By Niels Henrik Gregersen; Bo Holm et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 23
An Ecumenical
Legacy of Martin
Luther and Asian
Spirituality

Paul
S.
Chung

Martin Luther is of profound interest in the ecumenical context. In parallel, there has also been growing interest in Martin Luther from the perspective of liberation theology in Latin America. Leonardo Boff characterizes him as the one standing in favor of the movement of liberation in the age to come. Bringing about a grand process of liberation, he calls Luther “a necessary point of reference for all who seek liberation.”1

However, Luther is not well explored from an Asian perspective. It is not easy to see Luther as the one recognizing and affirming otherness in a postmodern, religious pluralistic context. Therefore, an attempt to actualize Luther for the future in Asian context calls for a spirit of audacity. Luther was a man of his time, with limitations, weakness, and mistakes. Notwithstanding, Luther's insight into the discovery of the Bible, and his teaching of grace in particular, serve as an inspiration for setting Western theology free from its bondage to Greek formulations regarding Christian beliefs, system, and doctrine. Therefore, Luther may encourage Christianity to undertake an encounter with otherness by listening to the word of God openly and honestly in our pluralistic context.2

Unlike liberation theology in Latin America, most Asian theologians are concerned more about the issue of inter-religious dialogue. Aloysius Pieris, a representative of Asian religious liberation theology from Sri Lanka, is an experienced theologian in contact with Buddhism and in touch with many multireligious groups in the struggle for the liberation of the poor. According to Pieris, theological reflection in Asia must take both these elements—poverty and religiosity—together. As far as poverty and religiosity come together in this way, both become liberative. Pieris points to this as the specific difference of Asian liberation theology from liberation theology in Latin America.3

1. Richard Shaull, The Reformation and Liberation Theology: Insights for Challenges of Today
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991), 25.

2. John B. Cobb, Jr., Transforming Christianity and the World: A Way beyond Absolutism and
Relativism
(Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1999)., 139.

3. Aloysius Pieris, S. J., An Asian Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1988), 69.

-291-

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