Shifting ideas about ancestors in the construction of identities : an intercultural theological evaluation of Korean witnesses in South Africa

Kwon, Hyo-Sang (2008-03)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Interculturation theology as a way of communication in religious cultural arenas is the most recent and remarkable methodology that can be used to open space for mutual witness and dialogue with regard to ideas about and the praxes of ancestral rituals between South Korean and South African Christians. The purpose of this research is to overcome some dichotomised problems that are inherent in exclusive, inclusive, and religious pluralistic approaches in dialogue with other religious cultures. In this regard, we examined some problems of the colonial way of mission and the functional translation of the exclusivistic approach and noted that the inclusive approach also has its weakness, in that it weakens the historicity of the subject. We attempted to show that theocentric and religious pluralistic approaches do not solve the problem of mutual identity simply by searching for commonalities between religious traditions. Our rationale is that although these approaches have their weak points, we should not overlook their benefits. Therefore, in appraising these approaches, attention is drawn to how these benefits may be used to complement one another. Consequently, we proposed a meaningcentred and praxis-centred communication methodology using a holistic approach. To appropriate a meaning-centred and praxis-centred methodology of communication, we began by adopting the theological principle of perichoresis, which is the inner relationship among the Persons of the Divine Trinity. Perichoresis is the foundation of missio Dei, which is God’s initiative love to the world in praxis. Through incarnational self-giving, missio Dei is revealed in the world. Secondly, we re-interpreted perichoresis as an intercultural term and ideology, based on its components, mutual indwelling, mutual space, and mutual identity. The intercultural meaning of mutual indwelling is continual mutual penetrating, while cultural meaning of mutual space is interpreted as the others, that is, from the viewpoint of emptying themselves in mutual communication instead of that of dominion and replacement. Further, we re-interpreted mutual identity through the ‘praxis of with’. Based on this cultural reinterpretation of perichoresis, we established a praxis-centred and meaning-centred model of interculturation theology. More importantly, the perichoretic model of interculturation enabled us to construct a theological and cultural identity of Christianity in encountering with others, which is the ‘praxis of with’. In particular, the study attempted to apply intercultural communication method to the encounter between Xhosa churches and Korean missionaries in Khayelitsha in terms of ancestor related matters. Through this intercultural and comparative evaluation of shifting identities, we suggested how Korean missionary and Xhosa churches could mutually construct theological cultural identities. For this purpose, we first carried out a literature study of Korean and South African indigenous theologies concerning ancestor worship.1 Subsequently, we conducted an empirical survey in Khayelitsha to determine the missiological views of Korean missionaries in the light of their traditional religious background and Korean theologians’ indigenised interpretations of ancestral matters. We also considered the theological positions of some Western missionaries in Khayelitsha on the same issue. Finally, we investigated the identities of Xhosa churches in Khayelitsha on literature and empirical levels and how intercultural theology can be reconstructed to evaluate the missiological identities of Korean missionaries and Xhosa churches in terms of ancestor worship.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Interkulturasie teologie as 'n kommunikasiewyse in godsdienstige kultuurgebiede is die mees onlangse en merkwaardigste metodologie wat aangewend kan word om ruimte te skep vir wedersydse getuienis en dialoog rakende idees aangaande en die praktyke voorouerlike rituele onder Suid-Koreaanse en Suid-Afrikaanse Christene. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om sekere gedigotomiseerde probleme te oorkom wat inherent is in eksklusiewe, inklusiewe en religieus pluralistiese benaderings wat in dialoog is met ander religieuse kulture. In hierdie verband het ons ondersoek ingestel na sekere probleme van die koloniale wyse van sendingwerk en die funksionele oorskakeling van die eksklusivistiese benadering en gemerk dat die inklusiewe benadering ook sy swakheid het deurdat dit die historisiteit van die onderwerp verswak. Ons het gepoog om aan te dui dat teosentriese en religieus pluralistiese benaderings nie die probleem van onderlinge identiteit oplos nie deur eenvoudig te soek na gemeenskaplikhede tussen religieuse tradisies. Ons rasionaal is dat alhoewel hierdie benaderings hul swakpunte het, behoort ons nie verby hul voordele te kyk nie. By die inskatting van hierdie benaderings word die aandag dus gevestig op hoe hierdie voordele gebruik kan word om die ander aan te vul. Gevolglik het ons 'n betekenisgesentreerde en praktykgerigte kommunikasiemetodologie voorgestel wat 'n holistiese benadering aanwend. Om 'n betekenisgesentreerde en praktykgerigte kommunikasiemetodogie aan te wend, het ons begin deur die teologiese beginsel van perichoresis te aanvaar, wat die innerlike verhouding tussen die lede van die heilige drie eenheid is. Perichoresis is die fondament van missio Dei, wat die inisiatief verteenwoordig wat God se liefde vir die wêreld in die praktyk is. By wyse van inkarnasionele gee-van-die-self, word missio Dei aan die wêreld openbaar. Tweedens het ons perichoresis herinterpreteer as 'n interkulturele term en ideologie wat op sy samestellende elemente gebaseer is, naamlik 'n gemeenskaplike woning, gemeenskaplike ruimte en gemeenskaplike identiteit. Die interkulturele betekenis van 'n gemeenskaplike woning is voortdurende gemeenskaplike deurdringing, terwyl die kulturele betekenis van gemeenskaplike ruimte geïnterpreteer word as die andere, met ander woorde vanuit die oogpunt van die lediging van hulself in gemeenskaplike kommunikasie, eerder as oorheersing en verplasing. Ons het verder gemeenskaplike identiteit herinterpreteer by wyse van die 'praktyk waarmee'. Gebaseer op hierdie kulturele herinterpretasie van perichoresis, het ons 'n praktykgerigte en betekenisgesentreerde model van interkulturele teologie daargestel. Belangriker nog het die perichoretiese model van interkulturasie ons in staat gestel om 'n teologiese en kulturele identiteit van die Christendom op te stel temidde van 'n ontmoeting met andere, wat die 'praktyk waarmee' verteenwoordig. In die besonder het die studie gepoog om die interkulturele kommunikasiemetode toe te pas op die ontmoeting tussen Xhosa-kerke en Koreaanse sendelinge in Khayelitsha in terme van voorouerverwante sake. Deur hierdie interkuturele en vergelykende evaluering van verskuiwende identiteite, het ons voorgestel hoe Koreaanse sendelinge en Xhosa-kerke wedersyds teologiese kulturele identiteite kan daarstel. Vir hierdie doel het ons aanvanklik 'n literatuurstudie onderneem van Koreaanse en Suid- Afrikaanse inheemse teologieë aangaande die aanbidding van voorouers. Daarna het ons 'n empiriese opname in Khayelitsha onderneem om die missiologiese sienings van Koreaanse sendelinge vas te stel in die lig van hul tradisionele godsdienstige agtergrond en die Koreaanse teoloë se verinheemste interpretasie van voorouerlike sake. Ons het ook aandag geskenk aan die teologiese posisies van sommige Westerse sendelinge in Khayelitsha oor dieselfde aangeleentheid. Laastens het ons die identiteite nagevors van die Xhosa-kerke in Khayelitsha op literêre en empiriese vlakke en hoe interkulturele teologie gerekonstrueer kan word om die missiologiese identiteite van Koreaanse sendelinge en Xhosa-kerke te evalueer ingevolge die aanbidding van voorouers.

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