Grassroots Theology in the Philippines as a Third Way Beyond Pentecostal and Liberation Theologies
The purpose of this study is to conduct a critical evaluation of the theological claims made in Simon Chan’s book entitled Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up (2014). Chan argues Asian liberation theologians became elitist because they failed to take seriously the ethnographic concerns (personal healing, freedom from debt, and deliverance from evil spirits) of Pentecostal/Charismatic movements. In Grassroots Asian Theology Chan addresses the subject intensively and, in contrast to the Asian liberationists, proposes the notion of “ecclesial experience” as a concrete expression of grassroots Asian theology. Ecclesial experience, as Chan further argues, reflects and is derived from the lived experiences of the people of God. In other words, an authentic formulation of grassroots Asian theology requires cooperation between the lay person and the theologian. Firstly, this researcher attempts an exposition of several concepts that Chan repeatedly uses: grassroots Asian theology, ecclesial experience, and cultural experience. However, the difference between grassroots Asian theologies (Pentecostalism/Charismatic movements) and elite theologies (Asian liberation theologies) appears to be the central motif of Chan’s book. In the end, the researcher critically evaluates the accuracy and relevance of Chan’s concept of grassroots Asian theology.
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