Vethakani Vedhanayagam, Assistant. Prof. of New Testament at Masters College of Theology, Vizag, of New Testament. Research interests are Gospels, Early Church writings, Non-canonical gospels, and gender studies (Womainst Interpretations).
Vethakani Vedhanayagam, “‘Dechristianising’ Liberation Theology in the Multi Religio-Cultural Asian Contexts”
As liberation theology begins with the analysis of the context, its primary engagement is with the cries of the people and responding to the communities’ voices of their struggle between life and death. Hence, considering the Asian context, it has to predominantly affirm the multi religious, cultural, linguistic, and economic contexts of the Asian communities. Likewise, the hermeneutical imagination and its engagement of liberation theology in the Asian context faces the demand of valuing these multi religio-cultural contexts but with a critical appropriation of them in availing the liberation experience to the oppressed communities. Having said the basic methodological demand of imagining the liberation theologies for Asian communities, the question of why the liberation theologies could not contribute to the Asian societies at large in terms of social transformation of the respective communities, points to the hermeneutical issue of liberation theology in its hermeneutical imagination itself.
In the process of appropriating the liberation theology of Latin America to the Asian context, the Asian liberation theology failed to “dechristainize” it in order to appropriate to its own communities by considering the fact that, in contrast with Latin America, the Asian context adheres to a wide variety of popular religious traditions of multi religions which have shaped the dominant Asian cultures. “Dechristainizing” means decolonizing the Gospel of liberation and appropriating it in and through the Asian communities’ socio-cultural realities. For the liberation motifs of the “Reign of God” that Jesus preached have to be introduced to and interpreted with the Asian communities’ realities as such, without the Christian values (Christianized with its religious values). Deconstructing the liberation theology from its religious and colonial values and interpreting it among the Asian communities’ realities of the Asian context demands the dechristianization of a liberation theological imagination as the majority of the poor, oppressed and those who are crying out for their emancipation in Asia, are non-Christians.