Hope for the World

Yesterday started working through Hope for the World by Roland Chia. It’s part of Intervarsity’s Christian Doctrine in Global Perspective series. The general concept is something I’m excited about; I believe that Christians would benefit from a theological dialog involving persons from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds. Chi is from Singapore, so brings an Asian perspective. Though to be fair, not as much of an Asian perspective as I would like in the first few chapters. Perhaps I’m being overly idealistic or expecting too much! The introduction does have a few references to some issues that are unique to an Asian context. But the next several chapters are biblical theologically oriented, and while good overall, I felt as I read them that I could have written them! I haven’t finished a detailed read, but as I skimmed through the rest of the book, it seemed that most of the theological reflection of global relevance was comparing/contrasting Christian eschatological views with those of important Asian religions/philosophies. Necessary and important, but I wonder if there is a need to go back to the beginning and allow something of the cultural context to shape the presentation in more fundamental ways; more integration perhaps? I have no clear idea what that would look like (as I’m not Asian), but structurally, it seemed awfully familiar. Perhaps my judgment will change as I go further in the book – this is a first impression, mind you. I’ll try and follow up on this effort.

One more note – the discussion of dispensationalism (mercifully brief at about 4 pages) was pretty thin and didn’t really seem to interact with the issues particularly effectively. Hal Lindsey was cited as the key representative (I’m not sure who really pays much attention to him anymore, though he was big when I was in high school in the 1970s!). There is a good chunk of critique of the dividing history into ages, followed by the observation that Stan Grenz didn’t think that was a central point (if not, why spend 20% of your space on that issue – just wondering). And one of the last critiques was one of those: “one can imagine how this view might lead to a particular unhealthy conclusion, though I won’t bother to show any evidence that it actually does and I have to admit that it mostly doesn’t” kind of criticism. Annoying, but may simply be due to a rather deficient education in this issue (which is fully understandable). In the end, this doesn’t detract overmuch from the worth of the volume, but wanted to jot down my thoughts anyway!

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