Intersections in Pneumatology
It is in the intersections that you find new meanings, and rethink old ones. Thus, our reading pod is an amalgamation of both Asian-Contextual theologies and Womanist/Mujerista theologies. I will write primarily from an Asian-contextual lens, but refer to points of commonality and contention with my fellow group members who read Karen Baker-Fletcher.
Last semester, we discussed the essence of Christocentricity being jeong from a Korean Minjung lens. This is what is referred to as God’s “sticky love”. What Chan asserts in his article is that this jeong only works if the Holy Spirit acts as the glue between the other members of the Trinity. Indeed, not only does the Spirit intercede for us as individuals, but the Spirit is also interested in systemic redemption. This is the crux of Chan’s exploration as he compares the Evangelical notions of being saved for self and Catholic notions of being saved for the Body. Put in other terms, being saved inward (for self) or being saved outward (for mission). In Asian cultures, one does not exist without his/her community, or as Galatians 2:20 says, “I have crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body…” (NIV). Thus, one’s identity as a Christian is based on their relationship to others in their culture. This often differs from predominant Western evangelical interpretations of salvation as being predominantly for self, and growth as a Christian can be done by buying the new book that Tim Keller wrote or going to that cool new grad school with the motto ‘textsoulculture.’
The Spirit, as portrayed by Chan, influences all the -ologies, whether it be Christology, Ecclesiology, Sotieriology, or Ontology. By being saved for the Body, the Christian receives the Spirit as a means to empower their work in the Body, outward, in systems of injustice and inequity. This Spirit draws similarities to that which Karen Baker-Fletcher portrays in Mamie Till-Mobley, a leader in the Civil Rights movement in the US. Baker-Fletcher even draws parallels between Mamie and Mother Mary, both oppressed, suffering, and challenged women, yet persevering in their struggle primarily catalyzed by their faith. The suffering that these women endured sounds like the han in Minjung theology, a rancor that undergirds the need for jeong, God’s sticky and pleasant love. It is in the interplay of han and jeong that the Spirit works, for not only individual believers, but for the entire body of Christ.
Being saved for self means being saved for the body. Western theologies should take note.