Wrestling with God, in Taiwan and around the World

Taiwan is on most front pages around the world today. Let’s pay attention to what’s happening in the neighborhood.

* * *

But instead of focusing on today’s headlines here, I’d like to spotlight an important Taiwanese theologian and minister: Shoki Coe (黃彰輝)

When you merely scratch the surface of “the contextualization of theology,” you should come across Shoki Coe’s name, his writings, and the writings of people in Asia and around the world whom he has influenced over the years.

Here’s a snapshot of Shoki Coe:

Shoki Coe was first and foremost Taiwanese. In spite of the difficult and tumultuous period into which he was born and in which he gained his theological formation, his love and passion for the land and people of Taiwan remained steadfast. Although he spent much of his formative years abroad, first in Japan and then in England, he eventually returned to Taiwan and served for 18 years as the principal of Tainan Theological College. He returned to face a changing and challenging context in which the church was called to give prophetic voice and priestly ministry. The various revolutionary changes that were enveloping Taiwan, as well as other countries in Asia and elsewhere in the world, informed his theological analysis of the situation and contributed to the development of “contextualization” as a new method of Christian engagement with the world and particularly of theology and theological education. In spite of his “good works” within Taiwan, he experienced the pain of betrayal and distrust because of his participation in the Self-Determination Movement of Taiwan and because he spoke out on behalf of many who were not being heard. Although such a stance eventually led to a virtual exile, separating him from the land and people he loved so much, he did not let this period of suffering detract from his pride in identity nor his self-awareness as a Taiwanese. (From Olav Fykse Tveit’s preface to “Shoki Coe: An Ecumenical Life in Context,” by Jonah Chang)

Wrestling with God in Context: Revisiting The Theology and Social Vision of Shoki Coe, edited by M. P. Joseph, Po Ho Huang, and Victor Hsu

Look at the chapter titles of “Wrestling with God in Context,” a collection of essays published by Fortress Press in 2018 (here’s a review of the book). They offer a taste of the sort of issues and problems people are grappling with when thinking about contextualized theology. They’ll also show you the breadth and depth of this Taiwanese theologian’s influence.

Introduction: Context, Discernment, and Contextualization: Theology of Shoki Coe, the Prophet from the Fourth World, by M. P. Joseph

Part I. Shoki Co and the Reconstruction of Theological Methodology

1. Revisiting the Methodology of Contextual Theology in the Era of Globalization, by Po Ho Huang

2. Contextualization as Reception of the World: Shoki Coe and the Transformation of Theology, by Dale Irvin

3. Epistemological Decolonization of Theology, by Enrique Dussel (Translated by Néstor Medina)

4. Doing Contextual Theology: Feminist and Postcolonial Perspectives, by Kwok Pui-lan

5. Religions and Scriptures in Actual Cultural Contexts: A Reflection in Honor of Shoki Coe, by J. N. K. Mugambi

Part II. Redefining Mission and Ecumenism

6. Implications of Shoki Coe’s Thoughts on Contextualization for the Mission and Ministry of the Church, by S. Wesley Ariarajah

7. Contextualization, Ecumenism, and the Wider Ecumenism, by Edmund Kee-Fook Chia

Part III. Mission and Dialogue: Universality of Contextual Theological Discourse

8. Pope Francis as Contextual Theologian, by Stephen Bevans

9. Contextual Theology as Dialogue: An Asian Catholic Approach to Shoki Coe’s Theological Legacy, by Anh Q. Tran, SJ

10. Christian Church among Religions: Toward a Hospitable Missionary Encounter with the Other, by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

Part IV. Text and Context

11. Engaging the Context of the Tower of Babel and Listening to the Voices in the Text, by Archie Lee

12. Contextual Rereading of the Bible to Construct Hope in a World of Oppression and Marginalization, by Dhyanchand Carr

Part V. Theology out of Context: Contextual Theologies of the Marginalized

13. Startling Paths in Latin American Theologies, by Diego Irarrázaval

14. Black Liberation Theology USA and Global Cross-Cultural Leadership, by Dwight Hopkins

15. Shoki Coe and Contextualization in African Christian Theology, by Augustine Chingwala Musopole

16. Beyond Context: An Intercultural Perspective from the UK, by Michael Jagessar

17. Asian Contextual Theology: Location and Methodology—An Indigenous Perspective, by Wati Longchar

Part VI. Contextualizing Theological Education

18. Toward the Renewal of Theological Education and Church Ministry: A Reflection on Shoki Coe’s Views on Theological Education, by Chen Nan-Jou

Part VII. Political Witness of Faith

19. Christian Political Witness: Shoki Coe’s Involvement in the Struggle for Self-Determination, by J. Ben Wei

Part VIII. Prophet from the Fourth World: Life and Legacy of Shoki Coe

20. A Watershed Figure in Asian Theologies: The Very Rev. Dr. Hwang Chiong-Hui (Shoki Coe, C. H. Hwang) 1914–1988, by John England

21. Shoki Coe: A Giant in His Time, by Yeow Choo Lak

Essential Writings of and about Shoki Coe

* * *

Finally, take a look at this brief, personal tribute to Shoki Coe by an important Japanese theologian: “Christ’s Homelessness,” by Kosuke Koyama

The author, a Japanese Christian, tells how a Taiwanese Christian helped him to deal with the spiritual homelessness that he experienced by going to live in other cultures.

* * *