Jung Young Lee, 'The Perfect Realization of Change: Jesus Christ', in R S. Sugirtharajah (ed.),
38 Asian Faces of Jesus (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1993), pp. 62—74.
John Hick (ed.), The Myth of God Incarnate (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977), p. 31. The Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna's Counsel in Time of War, trans. with Introduction and Afterword, Barbara Stoler Miller (New York: Bantam Books, 1986), p. 50.
While Indian Christian theologians have employed the concept of avatar in their Christological explorations, they are also aware of some inherent problems in doing so. For these theologians, the problem is not the mythical character of the idea of incarnation, rather the unique and once-and-for-all character of the incarnation of Christ, which is foreign to the Hindu idea of a multiplicity of incarnations. V. Chakkarai, a twentieth-century theologian, addresses precisely these issues in his book, Jesus the Avatar.40 He finds that the Hindu understanding of incarnation is defective on two counts. First, the incarnation is temporary. God appears as the incarnate one, disappears and reappears, thus leading to a multiplicity of incarnations. The Christian understanding of incarnation views the Logos as a permanent God-Human, once the Logos had become flesh. Secondly, the Hindu view of incarnation is static, devoid of any further development or progress. The incarnation of Christ, on the other hand, is dynamic, in the sense that it progresses through several stages. Chakkarai writes: 'The Incarnation advanced from stage to stage, from the historical to the spiritual, from the external to the internal, from time to eternity.'41 Thus he is able to state: 'Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of Avatar of God; the Holy Spirit in human experience is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.'42 Tamil hymn-writers, of course, have used the title avatar for Christ in many of their hymns. For example, M. Vedamanickam of Neyyoor sings:
Holy avatara, I bow to you!
Saviour of the world, I bow to you!
What I have touched upon is only a small fragment of the various Christological articulations of Asian theologians, both Christians and others. There is a wealth of resources for delving into this rich resource of Christology in a setting of religious pluralism.43
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