Asian Christian Contexts

August 3, 2013


Dr. Melba Magay, president of the
Institute for Studies in Asian Christian
Church and Culture (ISACC)

Last July 26 and 27, the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture (ISAAC) held a two day conference at the University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines. On the first day were scholarly lectures and open forums with the theme: "The Gospel in Culture: Contextualization Issues in Asian Contexts". The second day was filled with activities aimed for artists and media people, entitled: "Transformational Development , Integrating Faith and Culture in Empowering the Poor".

The event was held in celebration of ISACC's 35th anniversary. "ISACC is an advocacy, research and training organization engaged in development, missiology and cultural studies within Asian contexts aimed at social transformation". The lectures were conducted by Dr. William Dyrness, one of the founding members of ISACC, Dr. Kang San Tan, Dr. Matthew Jeong and Dr. Grace Dyrness from the Price School of Public Policy in USA.


Korean missionary to Pakistan,
Dr. Matthew Jong
Dr. William Dyrness gave a lecture entitled "Gospel and Culture: A Theological Perspective". He introduced the idea of "vernacular theology". It was derived from term vernacular architecture, wherein an individual builds his/her own house according to his/her needs. The same thing can apply to theology. The interpretation of the gospel can be modified so it can be adapted to the physical and cultural environment of the individual.

Korean Missionary, Dr. Matthew Jong related his experience during his mission work in Pakistan. He emphasized the importance of “Weakness” in spreading the gospel and cited Filipina overseas workers as examples. Their humble occupations as housekeepers and babysitters gave them an opportunity to spread the gospel in the household of their employers.

Dr. Kang San Tan of the Church Society, UK and Malaysia lectured on his study on the "Contextual Witness and Multi-religious Belongings: With Special Reference to Buddhism". His struggle with his cultural and religious influences led Dr. Kang San Tan to this research. He was born into a Buddhist family in the Muslim dominated Malaysia.

Dr. Kang San Tan (RIGHT) discussing his study on Multi-religious
Belongings with Dr. William Dynress
Dr. Grace Dyrness discussed the “Culture and Development in the Two-Thirds World” and called to the church community to fulfill the Christian commandment-“to love thy neighbor”. Christians should engage in an advocacy focused on social justice. She also cited the importance of educating women, who put the welfare of their family on top priority.

Presentations on the upcoming ISACC publications were also conducted. Dr. Athena Gorospe and Dr. Mona Bias of IGSL (International Graduate School for Liturgy) lectured on contextual hermeneutics; while Dr. Amanda Shao Tan and Dr. David Lin focused on dealing with metaphors and archetypes in Asian Cultures. The second day was marked with short lectures and performances and was graced with the presence of Filipino national artist for literature, Sionil F. Jose.For more information about ISACC projects, events and publications, visit their website at