Embodying God’s Hospitality Today’:
A Message from the Seventh Congress of Asian Theologians
We Asian theologians—24 women and 46 men—gathered together for the
seventh Congress of Asian Theologians in Seoul, Korea, from July 1 to 5,
2012, under the theme “Embracing and Embodying God’s Hospitality Today,”
would like to convey the message below to the sisters and brothers in
Christ, particularly in Asia, but also beyond, especially in view of the
forthcoming World Council of Churches (WCC) General Assembly next year
in Busan, Korea, with the theme “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and
our belief that God is the ultimate host of the whole Creation and
we are the recipients and agents of God’s hospitality through Jesus
Christ, churches, religions and creation.
We also affirm
that our hospitality is simply an overflowing of God’s abundant
hospitality and our joyful and thankful response to it.
We speak of hospitality in a theological and moral sense, which does
not assume any return or profit, and not in a commercialized and
that we Christians in the past—and at times even in the present—have
harbored an attitude of superiority to others and have often been
lacking in giving due recognition to them, even in providing
hospitality, unilaterally playing the role of host.
This is particularly a painful memory in Asia where most of the
churches were brought by the Western missions that often coincided
with colonial projects.
that we first learn to recognize and embrace God’s hospitality
through Jesus Christ, churches, religions and creation and,
secondly, commit ourselves to embody God’s hospitality in churches,
between churches, among religions and in the midst of Creation.
We are aware that this may entail a prophetic role to challenge an
unjust host in seeking to provide just and true hospitality,
especially to the marginalized.
Through the discussions during the congress, we have
also come to propose the recommendations below that have emerged.
Migration and Multicultural Society
In the context of migration within and from Asian
countries and its by-products of victims of exploitation and
violence, it is imperative that Asian Christians take a deliberate
prophetic role to advocate for justice and the human dignity of all
Asian Christians need to acknowledge the
injustices against Aboriginals and indigenous peoples in their own
native lands and to embrace and embody the wisdom and experiences
that indigenous people offer to the well-being of the community.
Asian societies and churches should embrace the
multicultural realities in their lands as a God-given opportunity
for hospitality and mutual transformation in congregations,
workplaces and the whole community. Hospitality from the perspective
of multiculturalism is not just about culture but is a way of
defining what it means to be a human being.
We call upon the Asian churches to manifest
mutual hospitality toward one another by moving beyond our doctrinal
differences and the practice of competitive proselytizing for the
sake of better intercommunion and effective witness in this
We call upon the churches to implement programs
of education that include the theme of Christian unity in all levels
of ecclesial existence.
Just as a rainbow cannot be formed by one color,
the whole nature of God cannot be expressed by a single religion.
We call upon the Asian churches to form and
nurture our distinct Christian identity in ways that do not repeat
the mistakes of our past practices of mission and evangelism by
being the guests of our religious neighbors as well, shedding our
assumption of superiority and being humble learners of their rich
spiritual treasures as gifts of God’s gracious hospitality.
Peace and Conflict Resolution
Peace-building and conflict resolution skills
have become necessary skills for today, which the Church in Asia can
provide. Asian Christians can radically embrace the prophetic
tradition and courageously take up the role of facilitators for
peace in conflict zones in Asia, such as those involving North and
South Korea and Pakistan and India.
Continued dialogue, engaged with respectful
recognition of the other (ethnic, religious, caste, class, gender),
need to be funded and pursued persistently.
A critical re-reading of the Bible is necessary
to ground the Asian Christians’ affirmation of a just and holistic
Asian churches should publicly oppose and seek
alternatives to the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons and
power plants, especially after the exposure of the catastrophic
damage to nature and human life in the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
Asian Christians should become aware of the
collusion of government, business and the nuclear industry to hide
the truth of the real dangers and costs of using nuclear power.
Churches in Asia should take responsibility to
work for ecological justice by participating in people’s movements
(e.g., fisherfolk, farmers, etc.) and give attention to the peoples
of Oceania who are in danger of becoming climate refugees due to the
drastic impacts of global warming.
Seminaries in Asia need to include courses in
environmental theology and ecological justice in the required
curriculum with field exposures as a vital component in order to
equip churches with leaders who understand the responsibility of
humans as part of the web of Creation.
Asian churches need to acknowledge the existence
of diverse sexual orientations (gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender) among their people and be open to include them in their
Violence against women and sexual minorities need
to be addressed as an urgent challenge to Asian churches; violence
in all forms, e.g., domestic violence, sexual trafficking, rape,
sexual harassment, etc., strikes at the root of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ which requires and affirms respect and the dignity of all
The leaders and authorities of the
institutionalized churches should make deliberate efforts to include
women in all forms of ministry.
There is a need to organize a database of women
theologians who can be resources for programs.
our sisters and brothers in Christ to consider our recommendations
above and find ways together to make them concrete and translate
them into action in order to witness to God’s hospitality.
that Korea, the host country, remains divided between North and
South. We particularly wish that the efforts for reunification will
bear fruit and would like to encourage fellow Christians and others
in Korea and around the world in such efforts.
as a congress the host for the wonderful hospitality during the
meeting that was shown especially by local Korean churches and
congregations as well as by the faculty, staff and students of the
Methodist Theological University. Theirs was the setting and
nourishment for our reflections and conversations.
The hospitality of the Triune God, which we are to
embrace and to embody, is the supreme expression of self-emptying and
self-giving as manifest in the incarnation, ministry, cross and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our message of hospitality, which we
declare here and carry with us as we journey back to our many nations
and churches, is one of courageous vulnerability and a faithful gift of
ourselves to our neighbors and to one another.