“Renewing Christian Anthropology in Terms of Kashmir Shaivism”, in Theology@ McAuley, E-Journal, Australian Catholic University, 2004.
My good friend Bettina Bäumer relates the following story:
“It was a seminar in Vienna University where [Karl Rahner] also spoke and I gave my first ever paper on KS [Kashmir Shaivism] on anupÁya. After listening very attentively, he took me aside after the discussion and said [Wir sind nur Waisenkinder] [which she glosses as] “we are orphans compared to what these Indians have discovered!” (Waisenkinder means we are far behind or more primitive, spiritually).”
The first generations of Christians moved out of the Jewish framework into the thought-world of the Greeks and reinterpreted their faith in a new way. Now with the end of the colonial era, where the East was interesting only if it was exotic, we are witnessing a massive new shift. Rahner’s comment to Bettina Bäumer reflects his awareness that the Hindu thought must profoundly affect Christian theology, making Christians qualify categories and images that are so familiar as to be unquestioned.
Christian anthropology, as presently understood, is profoundly dualistic: God and man, heaven and earth, nature and grace, faith and reason, Church and State, sin and grace, good and evil etc. But St Paul says: “all are one in Christ Jesus”. New anthropologies are needed.
The method of this paper is to present some aspects of Indian and Christian thought. I will weave between Christianity and Kashmir Shaivism ending not with syncretism but reinterpretation. I will speak of consciousness in place of the word ‘God’, of emanation in place of creation, of ignorance in place of sin, recognition in place of redemption, of identity instead of faith, of universal bliss instead of eternal life.
These pairs of terms – consciousness / God etc. – are not deemed to be equivalent. Neither are they being compared but only connected. What light can one throw on the other? What questions are posed? Can the Christian experience be expounded – not falsely – in these terms, given, as we know, that Christian vocabulary cannot adequately express Christian experience? Can these Sanskrit terms become the vehicle for a theology which leads to the knowledge of the Christ who exceeds all that can be said of him?
This attempt will be the beginnings of a Shaiva Christianity or a Christian Shaivism.
It is part of the future task of theology. In the opinion of David Tracy “the inter-religious dialogue will become an integral part of all Christian theological thought.”
 Prof. Dr. Bettina Bäumer, Institute of Religious Studies, University of Vienna.
 Personal communication, 9 April 2004.
 Gal. 3.28.
 Cardinal Ratzinger, in the recent ad limina visit of the Australian Catholic Bishops “spoke of the need for the Church to present a Christian anthropology which opens out to the world a deeper understanding of the human condition …. A positive vision of what it means to be a human being…’Letter of Archbishop Hart, dated 1 April 2004, to all priests of the Archdiocese.