It is not difficult to discover, even with a cursory glance, the otherness of Christianity in the midst of the religions of Asia. The historical beginnings of Christianity are very different from those of Hinduism, for example. Hinduism may even claim not to have any historical beginning and it calls itself sanatana dharma, meaning 'the eternal order'. The theological underpinnings of Christianity are significantly different from those of Buddhism, which in its original form is 'atheistic'. Similarly, the rituals and practices of the Christian faith are markedly different from those of Asian religions, even though Christian rituals and practices have taken on an Asian flavour in many places of Asia. This means, then, that when Asian Christians encounter the other religions of Asia, the question of the 'other' becomes crucial and the perception and view of the other plays an important role in defining the goals and the processes of the encounter. This is one of the reasons why we first look at some of the models of encounter before we address the theological themes that arise out of the encounter.
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