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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Water Buffalo Theology
Kosuke Koyama
Orbis 04/99 Paperback $18.00
ISBN: 1-57075-256-7

"One day some years ago I met a missionary couple from the West at the Bangkok Airport. They had just arrived. They expressed the view that Thai Buddhism is a manifestation of demons. How simple! Thirty million people in the Buddhist tradition of 700 years were brushed aside in one second," writes Kosuke Koyama, a Japanese Christian in this twenty-fifth anniversary edition of his 1974 pioneering work in theology.

In this revised and expanded version of Water Buffalo Theology, the author, who served as a missionary in Thailand and Singapore, presents an alternative to arrogant Christian triumphalism. Koyama reminds us "love does not insist on its own way" (I Corinthians 13:5). As he ponders the task of ministry and the imperatives of the Gospel in Buddhist countries, he asks all the right questions: What is the unique quality of the Christian "abundant life" in the world of other living faiths and ideologies? How can one reinforce the spiritual practice of "seeing the face of God in the faces of people?" What should be the nature and goal of interreligious dialogue?

Water Buffalo Theology squares off with issues that the Christian community must still address with more rigor and imagination. In one chapter, Koyama marvels at the relevance of the Epistle of James to the Thai people. Today, as back in 1974, the spiritual practice of Christian love expressed through concrete acts of service is what is important.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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