The soteriology of Aloysius Pieris: An Asian contribution

Antoinette Gutzler, Fordham University


This dissertation argues that Aloysius Pieris constructs a soteriology that expresses a unique Asian understanding of the salvific meaning of the Christ-event and is an example of the construction of a local theology from the heart of Asia that has challenging implications for the church. Centered in Jesus' double baptism in the Jordan of Asian religiosity and on the Calvary of Asian poverty, and in the desire of all people for liberation/salvation, this soteriology differs dramatically from what has been developed in the West and in Latin America. Chapter 1 situates Pieris in his Sri Lankan context and explores the trajectory of his theological journey. It also introduces his particular analysis of the bidimensionality of Asia's poverty and religiosity and discusses his insights into the multifaceted meaning of mammon which is a central concept in his work. Chapter 2 addresses the living tradition of Asia today vis-à-vis the Christian tradition and how soteriological models provide access to the meaning of salvation in Christ. This chapter describes Pieris's claim concerning the soteriological nucleus at the heart of every religion and discusses the meaning of a “core-to-core” dialogue specifically between Buddhism and Christianity. Chapter 3 analyzes the claim that the core idioms of Buddhism and Christianity— gnosis and agape—are complementary and the implications of naming both the Buddha and the Christ as mediators of salvation. Chapter 4 explores several implications of this soteriology for the formation of the Christian community in Asia and discusses the meaning of basic ecclesial communities as well as basic human communities that have both Christian and non-Christian membership. Chapter 5 evaluates Pieris's project and explores any lacuna found in his work. Throughout the dissertation, I argue that Pieris's work yields a soteriological expression that enables Asians to encounter, understand and express the mystery of Christ in their own cultural idioms. His work also steers a course through the difficulties, misunderstandings and challenges that await the church as it enters the double baptism of Jesus and lives out the meaning of God's Reign for God's poor.

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Recommended Citation

Gutzler, Antoinette, "The soteriology of Aloysius Pieris: An Asian contribution" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3037217.