My Journey Towards Cultural Authenticity in Contextual Theologizing
Jose M. De Mesa
PDF Version Download

In the article, the author recounts the personal context of his theological work. Convinced that "the Gospel must be presented with tools, methods and expressions coming from the culture itself," he narrates the Western influences he has had and their impact. He cites the crucial role of the Filipino language amidst the dominance of Western sources in his country and the continuing use of English as the theological lingua franca. Contextual theology must be done in loco. The God-human relationship must be articulated in terms that are intelligible, meaningful and challenging to the culture. To this end, issues, presuppositions, cultural thought patterns and theological language must be carefully considered. The Judaeo-Christian Tradition and human (cultural) experience are the two poles of contextual theologizing which are essential and constitutive. Due to historical reasons, the author privileges the positive aspects of both over the negative. Procedure-wise, he distinguishes in theologizing between starting principle and starting point, leading to keeping in mind the former and starting where one prefers with the latter. The discussion on the loob (will) of God illustrates this and points to his personal experience of God as singularly warm and irresistibly captivating. The inter-relationship of cultures within globalization is not neglected. He speaks of intertraditionality as one culture building its own theological tradition interacting with other theological traditions. Theology is less focused on the interaction with other cultures per se, but is more attentive to how communities use their cultures to express their faith. The social relevance of the author's theology is seen in his inculturated interpretation of the core meaning of "salvation" as ginhawa. Its dynamic cultural translation becomes the hermeneutical key to understanding the reality of "salvation" as total well-being of all on earth which is not completed within history.

Year Published