From the middle of the twentieth century onwards there has been a movement among the churches in Asia called the inculturation of the gospel in Asian terms, symbols and spiritualities. Vatican II played an important part in promoting programmes of inculturation especially in the 'Third World' countries. As Felix Wilfred notes:
[The] most appropriate point of departure from the discussion of inculturation and mission in contemporary times in the Roman Catholic Church would be to begin with a very insightful observation of Karl Rahner, who was undoubtedly one of the foremost architects of Vatican II ... the Euro-centrism in which the church was caught up was broken, to enable all the peoples of the earth to live, celebrate, think and express the faith in their uniquely distinct ways.9
Hindu, Buddhist and other religious practices were adapted to serve Christian spiritual life and worship. Such a programme of inculturation sees the religious other as the storehouse of cultural symbols, linguistic tools and spiritual practices. In this move one detects a clear distinction between religion and culture. While religious beliefs and practices are shunned as non-Christian, the cultural milieu is accepted as that which
J. N. Farquhar, The Crown of Hinduism (London: Oxford University Press, 1919).
Felix Wilfred, On the Banks of Ganges: Doing Contextual Theology (Delhi: ISPCK, 2002), p. 30.
enhances the liturgical and spiritual life of Christian communities. Many Asian theologians view the religious traditions of Asia as those that provide the language, conceptual frameworks and resources for their own theological enterprise.10
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