and Christian Responsibility
It is not clear what is meant by the term Pacific
civilization." Geo-politically it means the "civilization" of the Pacific
islands and the continents around the Pacific Ocean. From the point of view of the powers
surrounding the ocean, it has the character of a lake. From the peoples point of
view, nevertheless, it is still an ocean.
There can be no meaning of organic unity in the notion of "Pacific
civilization," however, unless one has an "imperialistic" vision of
integrating all of the Pacific lands and peoples into such a civilizational framework.
This is particularly true from the peoples point of view. In any case, the term
"Pacific civilization" is an arbitrary one. Still, it may be very important to
forge a vision of a webwork of solidarity among the peoples who are suffering and
struggling in the Pacific area, who have different religio-cultural roots and different
historical experiences but who are all confronted by the global reorganization being
undertaken by the dominant civilization.
I. A Historical Perspective of Asian Peoples
From the Asian perspective, the encroachment of the colonial powers
began with the appearance of Ferdinand Magellan in the Philippines in the 16th century.
The Spanish, Dutch, English, French and Japanese colonial powers all extended their
influence into Asia with U.S. power entering the region beginning in the middle of the
last century. Eventually the U.S. and English powers drove out Spanish colonialism from
parts of Asia; the Japanese colonial power occupied Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria, and its
military forces occupied other Asian nations during the Second World War. After World War
II, Asia was divided by the two superpower military blocs, and the United States became
predominant over other powers in the Pacific rim area. This outline then was the series of
experiences of colonial domination in and around the Pacific.
Asia, including Russia and China as well as other nations, has been
regarded as "the non-Western world." Arnold Toynbee (The World and theWest,
1953) views the process of interaction between the Western colonial powers and the Asian
nations as fundamentally the Wests penetration of the East. Eastern peoples have
responded to such penetrations in diverse ways, ranging from outright rejection and
reaction to selective accommodation.
This process has also dominated the missiological thinking of the West
as it undertook the "civilizing and enlightening" of the barbarians or Centiles,
leading to the triumph of Western technocracy over the Asian peoples. In the initial
stage, the Spanish, the English and the Dutch led these events; later it was the United
States. While eliciting differing responses from the Asian peoples, this historical chain
of events and interactions brought about their generalized suffering and struggles.
The first serious interaction of East and West came through the Western
military encroachment of Asia. Here the Japanese experience is pivotal, for Japan accepted
Western technology to meet the military challenges from the West, a decision that
culminated in the tragic militarization of Japan.
Militarization in the context of the Cold War had similar social and
political consequences in Asia where most countries underwent an unfortunate
militarization process which victimized the people and overwhelmed their lives with brutal
regional wars and internal violence. Today such military interactions have evolved into
sets of interlocking military alliances and counteralliances.
Commercial penetration and transactions between the Asian nations and
Western commercial powers has a long history which began with simple trade and has now
reached the point where global capital dominates the peoples of Asia and the Third World.
Based upon the security networks of the Cold War military alliances, global capital has
been transnationalized, crossing borders and barriers to enter Asia. The structures of
transnational corporations (TNCs) have penetrated deep into Asias nations, now
including the Asian socialist nations which have been striving for self- reliance. The
world powers are seeking to create several economic blocs out of the national economies in
Asia and elsewhere, but the "balance" of such an emerging global economic order
will likely intensify the economic hardships of peoples in the South.
The last three centuries have also seen many different forms of
cultural contact and resistance by the people of Asia. Classical and enduring
religious-cultural heritages in Asia have been strongly affected by the process of
West-East interaction. At first, the Asian nations reacted; then they sought to accept
selectively certain aspects of the Western cultures. The process of renewal,
"renaissance," regeneration and transformation of Asian cultures has been taking
place in various modes and diverse situations, but it can be said that Western penetration
is happening in a violent fashion through the massive globalization of the Western media
and information technetronics.
Part of the cultural interaction consisted of penetration by the
Christian religion, persecution of indigenous Christian believers and rejection of the
Western faith. Western Christianity had difficulties establishing connections with the
religious-cultural heritages of Asias peoples. The Nestorian and early Roman
Catholic connections were less than secure; in some areas, they were rejected. Western
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism also had trouble making deep connections with the
peoples of Asia because of their colonial association.
Thus, the history of interaction between the West and the peoples of
the Pacific area was a complex of penetration, rejection, accommodation and domination.
Now the West, undergirded by globalized capital and by the military and political power of
the United States and its Western allies, dominates the world. We must discern the
inherent dynamics of the West and the power of the United States in the West, in Asia and
in the rest of the world.
II. Western Christianity as a" Messianism of
Domination" around the Pacific Rim
A universal vision of imperial domination predates Christianity; and in
fact, the Hebrew and Christian religions rose against the background of the empires.
However, the Christian religion has been symbiotically connected with the imperial powers
on all levels, a linkage which has dominated the entire history of Christianity since the
time of the Emperor Constantine.
Though there are prophetic actions by Christian communities against the
faiths imperial connections in the history of East and West, these did not alter the
general thrust of Christian history. Still, it is important to recognize that there were
and are Christian communities outside of this syndrome, and these include the peoples in
and around the Pacific. These communities - indigenous peoples, black people, Asian
people, Third World immigrants in South and North America and the peoples of the Pacific
islands - experience a different Christianity.
We do not have to go back to the period of colonial domination to prove
this point; rather, let us take the case of U.S. power for our examination.
Power and religion in the United States is a complex issue. Thus, we
will start with history. H. Richard Niebuhr in his classical work The Kingdom of God in
America describes the intertwining of the Protestant reformed Christian faith in the
Kingdom of Cod with the formation of the American people in New England. The belief in the
Kingdom of Cod, shared by New England Pilgrims, Puritans, Quakers and sectarians, put
strong emphasis on the sovereignty of Cod, the corollaries of which are Christian
(theocratic) constitutionalism, independence of the Church (against the established
church) an~l the rule of limitation of all human power, political and economic.
In these ways - through insistence upon constitutionalism, upon the
primacy and independence of the Church and upon the limitation of all power - the faith in
the Kingdom of Cod became a constructive force in early America (pp. 86-87).
Niebuhr describes the movement of the Kingdom of Cod through the
threefold orchestration of the sovereignty of Cod, the Kingdom of Christ and the coming
Kingdom, which weave through the lives of the American people as the chosen people in the
dynamic periods of both the Creat Awakenings and Creat Revivals and in the
institutionalizations and petrifications. In this process, what is most remarkable is the
fact that the spiritual foundation of American liberty was forged in personal conversion,
regeneration and the experiences of the awakenings and revivals.
Robert Bellah gives a similar analysis of the beginning of the American
republic in his book The Broken Covenant. Bellah views the founding of the American
republic as deeply rooted in millennial expectations in which themes such as conversion
and covenant were woven through the ideas of individual freedom and social order or
commonwealth of the American people.
Of course, America was founded not merely upon religious beliefs but
also upon the liberal ideas of liberty and social contract that had been developing in
England and France. However, the point is that the powerful religious and spiritual forces
of Protestantism were intertwined with these social ideas to forge the beginning of the
American peoples history, and this has determined the basic structure of the
relationship between the Protestant religion and the American republic despite its various
and multifarious manifestations and developments. Bellah traces the renewal and new birth
of freedom and covenant in the great awakenings and in political events, such as the War
of Independence and the Civil War, and he thinks that in the 1970s the American people
were experiencing a crisis in their society for which a new birth of freedom and covenant
was urgently needed.
Niebuhr analyzed this history of relationship between religion and
society in a schematic manner, distinguishing five types of relationships. He proposes a
typology of five historically recurrent patterns of adjustment of the rival claims of
Christ and cultural and political responsibilities.
These range from an other-worldly renunciation of cultural
responsibility to a domestication of the Christ within the cultural perspective. Three
intermediate patterns are distinguished in which both poles are taken seriously in various
ways. The five patterns are designated as "the Christ of culture," "Christ
above culture," "Christ transforming culture," "Christ and culture in
unresdlved tension" and "Christ against culture." Through these kinds of
variations and contours, the American Protestant religion has provided spiritual
underpinnings for the political life of the American people.
Then there are the liberal political philosophical ideas, which are not
quite identical, but are, nevertheless, coexistent or mutually complementary with
religious beliefs. Individual freedom and social virtue are related to the natural rights
of defending life and property or of self-survival and interests, and the calculation of
the interests provides the form of social contract - the goal of which is the common
interest or good. Then there is a utilitarian pragmatism, the development of science and
technology, which was mingled with the other liberal ideas and religious beliefs in the
process of social development in American history.
This is not to say that Protestant religious beliefs functioned in the
same way throughout the history of the American people (or in an equally forcible and
successful way). The religious belief of Americans that holds themselves to be the chosen
people with manifest destiny has been creating very tragic consequences, as Bellah
Bellah argues that the covenant of the American people with Cod has
been broken, even before it was completely forged. Of course, the covenant among the
Anglo-Saxon communities was faithfully kept; but in terms of the relationship with other
people, the covenant has been miserably broken. Bellah maintains that this tragic breaking
of the covenant is because of Americans belief that they are the chosen people. It
has made Americans morally blind or innocent, and it has even forged a moral perfectionist
attitude in the American person.
The broken covenant is that Americans massacred the native Indians;
they brought and bought Negro slaves and exploited them; they discriminated against
Mexicans and Orientals. Even the anti- slave movement around the time of the Civil War was
a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant confirmation of the goodness of the chosen people. The
annexation of the Philippines was justified in the same way. Americas
self-identification as the defender of freedom and democracy pushed the American people
into the Vietnam drama, which they saw through color television. The brokenness of their
covenant and the defilement of their moral innocence has been exposed through the civil
rights movement, through the Vietnam War, through the womens movement, through the
youth rebellion and most recently through the movement of minority groups. Bellah
maintains that the renewal of the covenant and the rebirth of American freedom is required
to have a new, humane social order in America.
In their society in the 1960s and 1970s, the American people
experienced the breaking of the social order in a profound way. There was the cumulative
impact of scientific and technological development and the concomitant economic
organization of American society, as we read in John K. Calbraiths The New
Industrial State. At the same time, they experienced the rise of the black civil rights
movement and the youth rebellion. President Eisenhower warned against the power of the
military-industrial complex, and a few years later President Kennedy launched the race to
the moon, challenged by the Soviet Unions Sputnik. The development of technocracy,
which integrated the economic component (large corporations), the military apparatus, the
government bureaucracy and educational institutions, enveloped the social process of the
American people and was globalized during the 1960s and 1970s. Brzyzenski describes the
process as "technetronic" in his book Between Two Ages. One glimpses the process
on the global level in the book by Barnett and Muhler, Global Reach. Toeffler and his
company are other eloquent spokespeople indicating the future of the technetronic era.
In the meantime, the black civil rights movement came from the South
through the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., but the movement swept the entire nation
challenging the absolute supremacy of the white Anglo-Saxon majority. In the late-1960s,
major urban centers were boiling with unrest in their black ghettos, perhaps because of
the combination of racism and socio- economic discrimination in those areas (Hamilton and
Carmichael, Black Power). As time passed, the black civil rights movement was not merely
for integration into the mainstream of American life but for self-determination of the
black people in political, socio-economic and cultural life.
Then there was a youth rebellion throughout American society, which was
a symptom of cultural alienation caused by socio- economic changes in society. It was a
rejection of Protestant ethics and morality, which was represented by their parents.
Glimpses of this scene can be read in Its Happening by J. I. Simmons and Barry
Perhaps the most profound social change in American civilization is
being wrought by the womens movement in America today. The relationship between men
and women, that is, male dominance, is being radically challenged on all levels, from the
physical and psychological to the socioeconomic and cultural levels, not to mention the
political level. Again, this ought to be perceived within the context of the structural
change of American society on the socio-economic level.
Internationally since the 1950s, America has been involved in the Cold
War, which is an international expression of American power. After World War II, America
was thrown into the international arena to become the policeman of the world for peace and
freedom. The ideological framework of the Cold War fitteçi well with the history of the
chosen people against the "devils." The McCarthy era represented the extreme of
the same political, historical perspective. The reality of power, however, was a most
puzzling thing to the American consciousness. Power could not be adequately understood by
the negative Protestant ethics, that is, the limiting of power by Cods sovereignty.
Although Hobbesian realism about society was not new, it was never intended to understand
the enormous power of America. Power was not understood clearly, yet it increased
dramatically to the point that America became the dominant power of the world
economically, militarily and politically.
The religious underpinnings of U.S. power in the 1960s and 1970s show
further the symbiosis of that power and religion.
When industrial development was beginning to take shape in America as
it had been in Europe, there arose in America the Social Gospel Movement of which Walter
Rauschenbusch is representative. It was a parallel development with the progressive
movement. It had a highly optimistic, utopian vision with no cynical or realistic
understanding of society, especially of power realities.
In the 1930s, however, there rose a giant prophetic theologian,
Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote the famous book Moral Man and Immoral Society. Niebuhr
introduced a quite heretical belief into the American scene, drawing on the Augustinian
theology of history. He says that power is incapable of love, and therefore, it is
immoral; yet it should be used to establish justice and order. This is an opening for the
cynical use of power in American liberal Protestantism. Niebuhr justified cynical power as
completely as Hobbes did. For Niebuhr, power should be limited, not merely by theological
beliefs or the morality of love, but by another power, that is, through the balance of
power. The original religious consciousness of the American people could not allow this
notion of cynical power. Thus, Niebuhr cracked the liberal Protestant theological
consciousness to justify the cynical use of power with the condition that this not be
absolutized. Liberal American Pro testantism, led by Niebuhr, supported the indefinite
expansion of American military, economic and political power all over the world, and this
process of globalizing American power created a profound religious and moral dilemma for
the American people.
The heightened sense of this dilemma was exposed during the Vietnam
War. The American military giant was caught in the snare of a jungle where its mighty
power was killing helpless people in Southeast Asia - at least this was the perception of
the American people. It debilitated the American will, and the American conscience was
deeply troubled about its own nations arrogant use of brutal power. This
consciousness in turn was the conscientization of the American people about their broken
covenant with Cod in relation to th~ American Indians, blacks, Mexican-Americans,
Orientals and the peoples of the Third World.
In this context, there emerged new religious and theological movements
closely related to the social movements. The first and most shocking theological and
religious event was caused by the radical theologians who claimed that "the God of
the American people is dead." That is, all the religious and theological beliefs that
undergird the foundation of American society were doing their job so they have become
irrelevant and the society has become secular; therefore, society has no need of religious
A contemporary form of faith is, therefore, called to be a dialectical
vocation. It can only be open to the present by negating the past. Indeed, its acceptance
of the present demands an acceptance of the death of Cod, a willing of the death of Cod.
Apart from a free acceptance of death, there lies no way to our profane present (Thomas J.
J. Altizer and William Hamilton, Radical Theology and the Death of God, p. 20).
The position of this radical theology is not rejection of the Christian
faith; rather, it seeks radical renewal of the Christian faith and its religious language,
for the past and present forms of religious language are no longer meaningful for the
American peoples secular expenences.
Religious languages that are more positively related are three forms of
liberation theologies: first, the theology of black liberation; second, the theology of
womens liberation; and third, the indirect penetration of the American scene by
liberation theology from Latin America.
The most outstanding theologian for black liberation, James Cone,
"In a society where men are oppressed because they are black,
Christian theology must become black theology, a theology that is unreservedly identified
with the goals of the oppressed community and that seeks to interpret the divine character
of their struggle for liberation. Black theology is a phrase that is particularly
appropriate for contemporary America because of its symbolic power to convey both what
whites mean by oppression and what blacks mean by liberation."
Religious faith existed in the black communities throughout their
history, becoming a powerful liberating language in the 1960s and 1970s as articulated in
Cones book, A Black Theology of Liberation (1970).
This is a radical challenge to the ideological theology of white
Anglo-Saxon Americans. While the death of Cod theology is a radical challenge from secular
cultural experiences against traditional theistic religious beliefs in America, black
theology is an attack on the American religious foundation from the black experience of
oppression and liberation.
The theme of liberation is also developing with the struggle of
womens liberation movements. The religious language and convictions of the American
people have had to be challenged here as well, for the American religious belief system
has undergirded the male-dominated society. The theology of womens liberation
challenges the very structures of language, culture and social relations in the American
religious heritage, even so far as to question the patriarchal expressions of the Biblical
Finally, the theology of liberation in Latin America is being felt in
American religious communities, for the Third World perspective is beginning to question
American society as the seat of world power. This might be called the rise of Third World
consciousness in America. Theologians, such as Richard Shaull, are questioning the
American religious heritage in terms bearing implications from the theology of liberation.
These are some of the rising trends in the transformation process of
the American religious system. These theological and religious movements are a radical
challenge to the established white Anglo- Saxon Protestant religion, and yet these
movements are inherently American in that they seek a rebirth, though radical, of their
freedom (liberation) and a drastic renewal of the covenant. It is yet to be seen whether
the American people can bring about such a profound religious change to undergird a new
foundation of American society. This is the task facing established American liberal
Protestantism, which so far has failed to create a new foundation based on the demands of
Americans to theologically respond to Americas role in the world.
One of the greatest failings of American liberal Protestantism, in
addition to its broken covenant with God in relation to American ideals, blacks, women,
Orientals, Mexican-Americans and oppressed people in the Third World, has been its
inability to cope with the power of American technocracy inside and outside of the United
States. Technocracy is a radically new power reality in human history: the power of
American corporations both at home and broad, the power of the American military and the
power of American science and technology. Somehow the liberal ideas and liberal
Protestantism seem to have failed to grasp this situation of power and, thereby, to give a
new historical perspective for the future of the American people. This question rises from
the very success of the people of America.
III. The Constellation of Powers in and around the Pacific
The attitude of Western civilization and its powers towards the peoples
in and around the Pacific has been dictated by the contours of the interplay of religion
and power in North America. The religio-cultural heritages of the people of the Pacific
region were regarded as "uncivilized" from the Western point of view.
Christianity regarded them as pagan. Politically they were subjugated, brutalized and
colonized. Socio-economically they were exploited, enslaved and excluded.
Socio-biographical histories of the peoples in and around the Pacific reveal the Western
attitude toward them, the impact of the Western powers upon them and their reaction,
response, resistance and struggle.
The process of interaction between the East and the West has not been
so simple; even in the East, there have been different responses to the West. The first
response was to accept certain aspects of practical things from the West and to reject
spiritual things on the cultural level; the second important response was the
establishment of commercial intercourse between Western enterprises and Eastern nations on
the economic level; and the third response was the anti-colonial and nationalist stand
taken against the Western powers, for many Asian nations were subjugated under Western
colonialism. In the process, Asian nations have sought to shape their nations into modern
political powers with self-reliance, independence and national identity.
Their historical process, however, has been subject to the complex
power plays among the four competing and conflicting global power realities around the
Pacific: the United States and the Asian powers of Japan, the U.S.S.R. and China. During
the past century, the major interactions of these powers have determined overall
international power relationships and, consequently, the destinies of peoples.
Until the 19th century, the European colonial powers of Spain and
Portugal, Great Britain, France and the Netherlands dominated the global scene with the
four big powers at a relative distance, although they engaged in intercourse on the
commercial, cultural and political levels. It is only from the second half of the 19th
century that these powers began their mutual rivalry.
The United States took an early lead with its encroachment in the
Philippines, crossing the Pacific to expel the Spanish from that nation. Japan had begun
to carry out its imperial design, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, colonizing
Taiwan and Korea. China engaged in a war with Japan in 1894; Japan invaded Manchuria in
1931; and war between China and Japan in 1938 led to World War II. Tsarist Russia fought a
war with Japan in 1904, and the United States and Great Britain struck a political deal
with victorious Japan to contain the southward move of Russia while the United States
tried to sustain its influence over the Philippines. On the one hand, the traditional
influences of Great Britain, France and Holland over the Pacific cannot be ignored; on the
other hand, the influence of the Monroe Doctrine over America should also be taken
The outcome of World War II, which involved the four big powers (and
European powers) in and around the Pacific, decided the structure of power relations. The
Cold War division has dominated the global political order bringing about a series of
military alliances around two power centers, that is, the United States and the Soviet
Union. Later China became an independent military patron of some Asian socialist
countries. The confrontation of the Cold War brought two major regional wars to Asia: the
Korean War and the Vietnam War. Following these two wars, Western and Japanese capital has
penetrated deeply into the Asian nations, especially since the mid-1960s.
Now we are living in a rapidly changing context characterized by the
dismantling of the Cold War order, a U.S.-centered reorganization of political and
military hegemony and a tn-focal economic order led by the United States, Japan and
Western Europe. The most populous Asian nations, including China, the Soviet Union and
India, are backseat participants in the formation of the global political and economic
order. The nexus of economic capitalism, political liberalism, military power and
information and communication influence of the three new powers - the United States, Japan
and Europe - are dominating the world while the remaining nations are being more or less
vertically integrated with these power centers.
Two important developments have taken place in Asia: the first is the
establishment of socialist paths for modernization in some Asian nations, such as China,
north Korea and Vietnam; the second is the emergence of the so-called Newly
Industrializing Countries (NICs), such as south Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
These developments should be seen in the context of the global economic
order of capitalist development and in the light of modern science and technology, which
decisively qualify the historical and social process, turning it into technocracy in which
the whole or the core of society is dominated by scientific and technological elites.
IV. The Social Biographies of Peoples Reveal Realities of Power
Native Americans, black people, Hispanic and Mexican-Americans,
Asian-Americans and other oppressed peoples in North America have different histories and
social biographies. We must recognize their unique suffering and struggling in their own
contexts, revealed through the web-work of their social biographies.
We have various peoples in the Pacific islands - the Maori people in
Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the Aboriginal people in Australia. They have their own history
and social biographies with distinct experiences of suffering and struggle. This
constitutes another webwork of the peoples biographies.
Then we have the Minjung peoples in Asian nations. Their histories and
social biographies are also distinct and unique. In the Christian Conference of Asia
(CCA), we have established the point of reference as "the suffering and struggling
peoples of Asia."
The existence of such different social biographies prohibits any
universalization or generalization by the powers-that-be. The dominant language of the
powerful - be it scientific, ideological or religious - cannot be imposed upon the
Pacific-region peoples, who speak with their own voices and tell their own stories of
suffering and struggle under the ruling powers.
The military, economic, political and cultural powers of the West have
victimized these peoples in different combinations and networks: national security,
industrialization, political and military dictatorship and political, ideological and
commercial propaganda. They have all made sustained onslaughts upon the peoples
lives and communities.
Consequently, the peoples movements in Asia are the fundamental
arena of struggle to become free and self-determining subjects of their own destiny. In
the context of the peoples movements has arisen the basic conviction that the people
are subjects of history. The goals of these movements are the sovereignty of the people
over the powers-that-be; socio-economic security based on a self-reliant and participatory
political economy; common social, political and international security; the peoples
cultural and ethnic identity; and the preservation of a sustainable life environment.
Asian peoples are struggling to make and transform power in order that they may be
accountable through their active participation.
V. Solidarity (New Covenant) of God with the Suffering and
Struggling People: Jesus Christ, Crucified and Resurrected
Asian peoples reject the triumphal Christ of colonialism; they shy away
from the ecclesia-centered mission of the Church; they are frustrated by a Missio Dei
which does not know their fight to exist. We find that the suffering peoples of Asia are
akin to the Suffering Messiah, who has been resurrected, overcoming the power of death.
There is a fundamental point of contact between these suffering peoples
and the Suffering Christ; there is an inherent connection between their struggles for life
and the resurrection of Christ. This is the solidarity of God with them.
Gods solidarity with the people through Jesus the Messiah is
experienced (1) among peoples who are victimized by contradictions of class, gender, caste
and other socio-cultural divisions; (2) between classes, genders, castes and powers -
across contradictions; and (3) across the barriers and boundaries of geo-political
distances and power (i.e., nation-state) relations (Gal. 3:26-28). Here the primary form
of solidarity among the peoples is that which takes place across contradictions. The
victimized people are the subjects who can speak and forge solidarity across such
barriers, and the ultimate vision of such solidarity is the Messianic Reign in which all
peoples are participants.
This is a paradigm shift from unity and diversity, dialog and
cooperation. Here solidarity does not mean one-dimensional solidity but rather faithful
relations among partners. This may be termed covenant solidarity. The World Convocation
for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in 1990 in Seoul, south Korea, initiated
a global conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) on these most fundamental
issues of life and produced an Act of Covenant Solidarity.
Our vision is for a round table of the suffering and struggling peoples
in and around the Pacific to begin to build solidarity linkages; and for this to happen,
we need to determine who will be the partners in this relationship and what are the terms
of mutual commitment. It is the Christian communities among these peoples that should be
the leaven and the seeds for solidarity relationships that will transcend across all
barriers that destroy the life of peoples.
Jesus Christ - that is, the solidarity of God with the suffering and
struggling peoples in and around the Pacific Ocean - means the sovereignty of the people.
This is the basis of the participation of the people as the subjects of history.
Traditionally, the sovereignty of God meant the subjugation of humans to God; but in our
context, the conviction that God is sovereign over the principalities and powers means the
belief that the people are also sovereign over the powers and principalities. The people
are the chief stewards of the power and resources for their life and community.
Jesus Christ stands for freedom from divisions, contradictions and
conflicts and for the establishment of a faithful relationship between God and people and
among the people themselves. Jesus Christ means solidarity:
peoples solidarity with Christ in suffering and peoples
solidarity with each other in Christ. The people who are struggling against all powers of
death and destruction are in solidarity with Christ, who has risen victorious over the
power of death.
VI. Messianic Reign: Faith and Ideology in Peoples
In recent decades, as the nations of Asia have pursued their social
goals of independence and self-determination, modernization and development, freedom and
justice and peace and security, these social goals have been formulated in various
Since the inception of CCA, Asian Christian communities have been
challenged to participate in the suffering and struggle of the people in Asia as they
confess their faith, as they live their religious life and as they undertake their mission
engagement to share the Good News among their peoples. Urban Rural Mission (URM) work has
been a central force drawing Christian communities to involve themselves in the real toils
and hardships of the Asian peoples.
Over time, "the suffering and struggling peoples of Asia"
have become a basic historical point of reference for the life and witness of Christian
communities in Asia. One fundamental notion that has evolved is that the people are the
subject of history. The political notion of the sovereignty of the people has also evolved
in this connection. The actual subjectivity of the people grows through their struggle. It
is also in this context that the sovereignty of God makes the sovereignty of the people
possible. Thus, the ideological or value question is subsumed under "the
people," on the one hand, and "faith," on the other. The proper framework
of our discussion on ideology has been "faith and ideology in the context of the
suffering and struggling peoples of Asia." Faith involves the religious faith of all
people. Therefore, the question of faith and ideology is far more complicated than the
question of Christian faith and ideology. Both religious faith and ideology must serve the
people and their subjecthood.
Thus, the question of ideology or value must be related to the people.
They are victims, "sacrificial lambs" of the powers, and they are subjects of
history. Ideology should be understood from the peoples perspective. In the Asian
context, this is when people have their own voice, their own stories to tell, and they
speak about their own lives. At times, there has been tension between this kind of
peoples perspective and the ideological question, and the peoples stories,
voices and perspectives have sometimes been regarded as "unclear." The question
is whether ideology is a true reflection of the peoples experiences or not.
In earlier times, discussions in the Asian peoples movements
about the Latin American and Asian contexts emphasized the peoples experiences,
voices and stories in contrast with ideology. Recently in Asia, ideology is regarded as an
important element in peoples struggle, and therefore, the tension between ideology
and peoples experiences is accepted as an integral part of the struggle.
At various times in history, it has been assumed that the people
possess wisdom accumulated through their various historical experiences; and that whatever
the ideological and social goals, they should be expressions of the experiences and wisdom
of the people.
A. People Are Subjects of History
That the people are sovereign is a fundamental conviction of the Asian
peoples movements. This sovereignty is not only political but extends to all areas
of society and is translated into peoples participation. This means, for example,
that the people should lead in the management of resources for the socio-economic security
of their life.
The people should be social agents for the transformation of structures
of power and for the achievement of just social relations. Politically, the people are
sovereign over the powers: granting and taking away the legitimacy of the government,
changing the powers of government and deciding its policies. Culturally, people are
sovereign when they are able to preserve wisdoms and traditions and to evolve and create
new cultures. Spiritually, they should be blessed with vital freedom, dynamic justice and
wholeness of life to be the motive power of history. Thus, peoples participation is
critically important, not only in the political arena, but in all areas of life.
B. Solidarity among Peoples Movements in and around
the Pacific Ocean
Solidarity is also a geographical question. Today the world powers
-both governments and multinational corporations - cross all boundaries, particularly
national boundaries with ease. The peoples in Asia need solidarity globally. We have
emphasized the grassroots so much that our global linkages have not been emphasized.
In relation to this, another strategy that is being emphasized by
democratic movements in different countries is that the decisive point of struggle can
only be on the national level. It is not enough for the peoples movements to be
faithful to the grassroots without interlinking with the national struggle. When we train
our labor union leaders, for instance, they should learn about the national context. In
answer to the question of how and where we should interlink in terms of solidarity, this
should be on the local, national and global levels.
In conclusion, we may say that the four goals and values sought by the
peoples movements are: human dignity; socio-economic justice and security for the
people; peace, particularly social peace; and the affirmation of life.