Saturday, October 16, 2004

Water Buffalo Theology: Chapter 13

Water Buffalo Theology by Kosuke Koyama
water buffalo theology coverDuring Spring 2003 a group of us had a chapter-by-chapter discussion of the book on the old United Church of Christ online fora. Water Buffalo Theology is an offering in the Christian-Buddhist dialogue, as ecological theology and as liberation theology. Recently I've been revisiting the book and reviewing some of my comments, which I found interesting and very relevant where I am in my life at this very time, so I hope this book has something to say to a few others, as well!
Chapter 13: Apostle James in Thailand

To begin, a personal note: I tend to vacillate between austerity and elegance of expression in style of worship and in the adiaphora of worship - both "more" and "less" helping us approach the ultimate reality of our both transcendent and immanent God. But the same can be said about our evangelism, missiology and our ministry and living in general. For me, this means not measuring myself in terms of results-oriented successes and it means always remembering God's ultimate call to be faithful rather than to be productive, results-oriented or success-obsessed or focusing on "winning" numbers: I believe that's a lot of what Kosuke Koyama's addressing James is about. Someone on this book discussion perceptively observed, "Koyama's is not a hard core missiology, it's a softer, cooler approach."

Chapter 13 and James (moving away from Martin Luther for a moment in time)!!! I love this chapter, as it concisely describes how we need to live out our lives in Christ both hot-ly and cool-ly! Again, he reminds us the Buddha's type of detachment is the "very radical one" of detachment from even the very idea of oneself! James and "picture-language" ...all language is metaphor, "picture-language."

Being cool means not being attached, or more radically, being detached from whatever decays, from the "changeables." The passage of each individual human life and the life of any human group or organization, including the local church, is extremely changeable and it's easy to become hotly attached to the pressure and constraints of its changes. Slowness in James...

Living coolly as servants of our "hot" God. How can a servant to hot person (person is a hot concept) be cool? But we know our God--particularly God as revealed in Jesus Christ—as a servant-God and any servant needs to coolly do the master's will.

"Risk" also is a hot concept, and Jesus calls us to a life of constant risk, a life that gives up even the pretense of self-protection…but a life that shows no partiality, coolly imitating our God who "is not partial." To become involved in the world without becoming attached to the world, or more accurately, without becoming attached to the powerful pull of the world's fleeting, ephemeral and corrupting pleasure. Page 122: if we're cool, "the King of Death cannot seize" us! Wow, that is so Jesus, so Paul!

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