Apr 21, 2015
model of a religious state. Of course, those who do these things would have no interest in covenantal humanism, but that is all the more reason for those of us who do to go on working at these ideas. Paul Chung’s book, dedicated to Ulrich Duchrow, does not offer us a theological engagement with economics in the way, say, that Douglas Meeks did or Duchrow does, but rather a history of the ideas which got us where we are, and an account of the discussion surrounding them. There are detailed discussions of thinkers from Locke to Habermas, of Marx to Wallerstein and Hardt and Negri. A final chapter sketches alternatives; an excursus considers the relationship of East Asian religions to social justice; and an epilogue sets out a theology of God’s life and emancipation from greed and dominion more or less in the way that Duchrow and Hinkelammert present it. Interesting as the account is I wish that the excursus occupied the main part of the book, because the history is available elsewhere and the theology is more interesting. It is long overdue for Minjung theology to move on and go deeper, and this is something Professor Chung could offer us. South Korea has both been through the capitalist ‘miracle’ and been dumped in the trash can as the wheel moves onwards and further east to China. Apart from the Philippines it has the largest Christian population in Asia. It is locked in another atavism in its relation to its paranoid northern sister, parotting slogans from an ideology which needs carbon dating. All this means that South Korea could and ought to be extraordinarily theologically creative. So far, to my knowledge, only Aloysius Pieris, in Sri Lanka, has really shown the kind of creativity which might flow from the encounter of Christianity with both Asian religion and the call for social justice which was embodied in the Marxist tradition which Professor Chung knows so well. What we really look for is not this book but a full-length version of the excursus which brings these things together and shows us what this part of the world may have to offer in responding to the dire predicament we find ourselves in, which will be, not covenantal humanism, but some other kind of humanism, of which Pieris is the precursor.