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Kosuke Koyama: A Model for Intercultural Theology.

This book represents a condensation of a doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Birmingham, England. The author, an American Lutheran pastor, did his work in close association with Professor Walter J. Hollenweger and Bishop Lesslie Newbigin. His previous life experience had led him from a background primarily "shaped by Scandinavian Christianity into a society steeped in Theravada Buddhism." This period of study and service in Thailand was followed by several years of teaching in Japan, altogether an ideal background for study of the theology and life of Kosuke Koyama.

Koyama needs no personal introduction to the readers of this journal. Suffice it to say that his birth (1929), upbringing, and theological education in Japan, along with his subsequent career in Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, and now Union Theological Seminary in New York City, have all served to make him a significant contemporary model for intercultural theology.

Koyama's theology is missionary - oriented to others, derived from and tapered to human experience, especially the experience of encounter (with God and fellow human beings). This is intercultural living, "committed to the self-understanding and self-expression of Christian faith in a world that is predominantly not Christian" P. 9). Koyama's own background in Japan and other countries where Christians are in minority status has clearly helped him to identify and give focus to certain basic elements of biblical faith that have counterpoints in other religious traditions and may well serve as bridges for encounter-witness. A primary example is Koyama's emphasis upon the themes of suffering and self-denial, which he sees as central to New Testament portrayals of the activity of God and his Christ, as of the proper conduct of Christians in the world.

Morse summarizes Koyama's theology in saying, "In Jesus God takes on the discord and pain of the world and embraces it with love" (P. 24). A significant part of Koyama's theology, as of this book, is also emphasis upon the crucified-mind, a term that Koyama uses not only of the "mind of Christ" (Phil. 2:1-11) but also of all authentic Christian faith-living, witness, and theology. The self-denial and suffering inherent in this life-style, however, are also found beyond the Judeo-Christian tradition, and Koyama's open-ended approach to other religious traditions constitutes a major contribution of his theology. This Christlike mentality in Koyama's handling is seen as specifically contrary to the crusading mind of not a little Christian thinking, theology, and mission in recent centuries. He would therefore have it lead to radical change in Christian praxis. This book, like Koyama's theology, can make a major contribution to contemporary Christian thinking and living in every part of the world.
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Author:Drummond, Richard Henry
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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