Jesus was Asian and we need to remember that Christianity is not a European religion it’s a world religion. And it’s appropriate that people are able to express their faith in ways they are familiar with. So said Kirsteen Kim, Professor of Theology and World Religion at the first of the Vatican II lecture series organised by the Milltown Institute.
The lectures are held every Wednesday night and began on Feb 20, when Professor Kim from Leeds Trinity spoke to the topic of ‘Edinbugh1910, Vatican II and World Christianity.’ She said she chose that topic because Edinburgh 1910 was the place a key event for Protestant churches took place. Their missionaries from all over the world gathered in the city to reflect and discuss the state of Christianity worldwide. “And in much the same way that the Catholic Bishops gathered in Rome at the second Vatican Council to talk about Christianity in the modern world,” said Professor Kim.
Whilst Christianity in Europe is very important, she continued, nonetheless there was much to learn from genuine dialogue with Christian churches from every corner of the globe. Those churches could challenge us about our expressions of Christianity and our assumptions and they could help us see what we need to keep and what we need to shed in European Christianity.
She acknowledged that it was understandable that European Christianity should be seen to be so important in the history of the faith. However she believes that as other countries develop technologically and make political and economic gains, then we in Europe, will be given great gifts and insights from those countries in relation to their faith, how they read the bible and in the way that they worship. “They have insights into the faith that we in Europe can’t get because of the particular lens through which we are viewing the world and Christianity.”
She cited her work with impoverished Christian women’s groups in India and how they relate to and identify with for example a story like the Samaritan woman at the well, where the woman is marginalised because of her people and her past history. “In a European context we tend to see the Samaritan woman as some sort of serial divorcee who’d be at home in a Hollywood celebrity story. But in the Indian context it was clear to the woman I spoke to that she was viewed as the one sinned against, someone who was used and abused and passed from one contact to another. “ I would never have picked it up like that coming from my own European context. We have much to learn from each other.”
You can listen here to a podcast interview between Pat Coyle of the JCC and Professor Kim. The third lecture in the series is by Pádraig Corkery of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and it’s entitled ‘The Ethics of Life: Bioethical Challenges and Possibilities’. It takes place in the Arrupe Room, Milltown Institute from 7.30pm-9pm.