Gospel and Cultures - A research project of the Academy of Finland

  • Ruokanen, Miikka (Project manager)
  • Kurtén, Tage (Principal Investigator)
  • Hurskainen, Arvi (Principal Investigator)
  • Vasko, Timo (Participant)
  • Huang, Paulos (Other)
  • Ahonen, Risto (Other)
  • Schreiter, Robert J. (Other)
  • Walls, Andrew F. (Other)
  • Jongeneel, Jan A.B. (Other)
  • Brandt, Herrmann (Other)
  • Nayak, Anand (Other)
  • Lande, Aasulv (Other)
  • Thelle, Notto Reidar (Other)
  • Olsen, Jorn Henrik (Other)
  • Strandenaes, Thor (Other)
  • Komulainen, Jyri (Participant)
  • Ahonen, Tiina Talvikki (Participant)
  • Vähäkangas, Mika (Participant)
  • Vikström, Björn (Participant)
  • Ylänkö, Maaria (Participant)
  • Kainulainen, Pauliina (Participant)
  • Raunu, Jukka (Participant)
  • Antola, Markku (Participant)

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description (abstract)

Academy of Finland funded this three-year research project "Gospel and Cultures," 1998-2000; prof. Miikka Ruokanen worked as the project leader.

The project was cooperated by Department of Systematic Theology of University of Helsinki, Department of Systematic Theology of Åbo Akademi University, and Department of Asian and African Studies of University of Helsinki. The project has contacts with leading international authors and institutions in the field of researching the problems of the intercultural globalization and contextualization of theology.

THE CORE IDEA OF THE PROJECT: "Gospel and Cultures" is a groundbreaking research project in Finnish theology establishing the necessity of a global intercultural approach for theological research and methodology. At the same time, the project has shown how the questions of contextual self-awareness and -criticism are an essential part of modern theological research and methodology. Both the issues of globalization and contextualization have become an increasingly important part of theological research. As Christianity has become increasingly a non-Western religion, the dialogue between non-Western and Western theologians has become an unavoidable necessity of modern theological research and discussion everywhere. Moreover, this new situation has challenged the theologians to pay more attention to the urgency of interreligious dialogue as a vital part of theological research and thinking.

THE MAIN RESULTS OF THE PROJECT: "Gospel and Cultures" focused its research on the development and changes of Christianity taking place in various parts of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. It was clearly pointed out how modern theology is bound to act between the tension of the local and the global. Analyzing various local contexts leads to a self-critical attitude toward one's own contextual limitations, such as historical, social, cultural, political, economic, etc. conditions. Any responsible theological method is bound to be context-sensitive, but, at the same time, it must discuss the intercultural issues of global theology. Local or national theologies live in the network of theological globalization. The results of our project have shown how this newly emerged fact has pushed Western theological methodology towards more universal issues. The project has also been able to trace some of the forms and paradigms of the theological methodology obtained in the new situation.

It has been noted that the most successive models of Christianity are those local ones which are fully indigenous, take seriously their cultural and social contexts, and also have clear truth claims. New global dimensions of theology consist of liberation theology defending the rights of the poor. women, and racial minorities, and of those approaches which defend a holistic view of the close link between humanity and creation, and of a cosmic vision of the relational unity of everything.

At the same time, it has become clear that dialogue between Christianity and non-Christian religions has entered the era of a post-pluralistic paradigm. The prevailing pluralistic model is not theoretically coherent: abstract harmonization will inevitably lead into some kind of a new meta-religion. The truth claims, historical institutions, and rites of various religions cannot be harmonized; any authentic dialogue is based on the toleration of differences, respectful discussion, and cooperation in defending common human ethical values and in protecting the harmony of all creation.

THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE PROJECT: The "Gospel and Cultures" research project contributed to the eventual publication of eight (8) doctoral dissertations (Tiina Ahonen, Markku Antola, Pauliina Kainulainen, Jyri Komulainen, Jukka Raunu, Björn Vikstöm, Mika Vähäkangas, Maaria Ylänkö). Numerous scientific articles were published both by the doctoral candidates and by the senior researchers (members of the steering group of the project). Our researchers presented project-related papers in international conferences (IAMS and NIME, for instance). The project arranged together with NIME and with Chinese scholars an international conference on "Theological Education in China and in Nordic Countries." The papers of this conference were published as a special issue of Swedish Missiological Themes.
Effective start/end date01/01/199831/12/2000