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A Theology of Dalitism

A Theology of Dalitism
Item Code: NAY583
Author: Jacob Devadason
Publisher: Punthi Pustak, Kolkata
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 9789381209462
Pages: 360
Other Details: 8.50 X 5.50 inch
About the Author
Rev. Dr.Jacob Devada-son ordained in the Church of England, Diocese of Manchester. He served his curacy at St. Cross, Clayton, Vicar at- St. Martin with St. Francis. He also served as the Vicar and Incumbent at Christ Church and Inter faith Adviser to Bishop of Croydon, Southwark Diocese, London. He is Currently serving as the Vicar at St.Catherine’s, Healed Green in the Chester Diocese, United Kingdom.

All theological enterprises are ensconced within larger cultural frameworks and contexts that help to give shape to any specific or generic attempt to speak of the divine. Despite the alleged attempts to do objective, universal forms of theological scholarship, all theological endeavors are contextual. I recall listening to my all time scholarly hero, James H. Cone, the founding patriarch of academic Black Theology, who once opined that theology was a human enterprise as it was 'human speech about God....God Doesn't do theology, we do'. Cone's dictum is timely and apt for it is a critical reminder of the human endeavour to speak of God in ways that are intelligible to us as individuals and communities within specific times and spaces in which our human consciousness is located. There is no doubting the truth that the very best of our human endeavors to do theology .can and often do transcend the immediacy of the context that first gave rise to them, but it is equally true, that all theology emerges from specific contexts.

The rise in prominence of Contextual theologies has reminded us also of the ideological basis of much that can be construed as theology. Any casual observance of the role that Christianity played in the construction of the British Empire cannot but help notice the ways in which Eurocentric, Christian theology provided the buttressing for the ideological claims to subjugate and occupy lands and people's minds. In the now famous dictum of Stanley Livingstone the British Empire was founded on the triumvirate of 'Christianity, Commerce, and Civilisation.'

Wherever God 'keeps company with the companionless among the poorest, the lowliest, and the lost" is the new locus theologicus.These words from Tagore provide the basis for the need of a contextual theology on Indian soil because it explains the contextual reality of the oppressed and socially excluded. In every local theology, the regional conditions or contexts are included. Theology in India has always attempted to relate itself to the conditions of India. But there is a change in the situation in India and this is because of people's awareness of their identity and consciousness of their place and role in their society; that is, the changed present day Indian context poses a serious challenge to theology. Unless the changed Indian context is much more seriously taken into account, theology cannot and will not serve any useful purpose. The emergence of the Dalit theology has to do with the challenge that is posed by the Indian context.

In the classical way of doing theology, the theologians in the relative calm and seclusion of the seminary or university or monastery, detached from the world of their surroundings, reflect on the texts of the past as their basic resources and produce large and scholarly forms of Systematic Theology; that is, theology, in the classical way, is understood as an academic discipline, a methodological quest, and therefore as an individual's intellectual pursuit after truth. This point is clearly brought out by Western Churches in their discussion with the Christian Conference of Asia in 1976. The position paper from the Western Churches read as follows:

Theology is understood as an academic discipline which feels entitled, because of its declared commitments to the principles of a methodological quest for truth, to a definite place in the modern university. Its specific subject is the testimony of faith as contained in the scriptures and interpreted in the traditions of Christianity. The hoped for results of this process are twofold: firstly, the believer is to be enabled to believe with intellectual honesty. Secondly, theology is to contribute to a proclamation of faith which is understandable to modern man in as much as his self-perception and general world view are shaped by science and philosophy. As far as the Church is concerned, theology is an ongoing process of criticism of Christian practice by the standards of an intellectual honest, intelligible faith.2

However, theology will fulfil its task only if it is for people -for people who strive for social justice and humanity. That is, the prime mission of theology is to give human life a certain direction and purpose because the subject of doing theology is human life. Only then can theology be a living option. In the Indian context, in which Christianity finds itself as a minority religion, it is necessary that theology strives to aid all people who struggle for justice, dignity of life and humanity. Very little attempt has been made in the past to understand the world views of marginalised people. In the past, rejection of Dalit religion was accompanied by the rejection of Dalit culture, and it is so even now. This approach to Dalit religion and culture cannot continue because the changed context of India warrants a different approach and poses a challenge to the classical way of doing theology.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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