East Asian and Nordic Perspectives
Edited By Knut Alfsvåg and Thor Strandenæs
Cultural Affirmation or Innovation? Christian Spirituality in Its Thai Cultural Context
“…no spirituality – in its expression and development – escapes reliance on the culture that ‘hosts’ it…Spiritualities, as articulated, practiced and materially expressed, bear the marks of their cultural contexts, even if they also challenge those contexts.”1
This quote from the article “Spirituality and Culture” by James Corkery highlights the fact that all spirituality takes place in a particular context, be it geographical, historical or cultural, and that the particular context influences and shapes the spirituality it hosts. Further, the quote recognizes the ability of spiritualities to challenge, and I would also say, to transform the context within which they are situated.
In this article, I will discuss the relationship between spirituality and culture with reference to how Thai Christian spirituality relates to its cultural context, and address the following questions: In what ways is Thai Christian spirituality related to and informed by Thai Buddhist spirituality? Is Christian spirituality in Thailand an affirmation of spiritual practices found in Thai Buddhism, or does it reflect other spiritual practices and values which are innovative with regard to the Thai Buddhist context? In other words, is Christian spirituality in Thailand of a type that changes and challenges its cultural context, or does it mainly reflect Thai Buddhist values and beliefs?
By “Thai Christian” I here refer to Christians within the Protestant Churches of Thailand, with a particular emphasis on Christians in Bangkok belonging to congregations belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in...
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