• John N Sheveland Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, USA
Keywords: Comparative Theology, Ecumenism, FABC, Inculturation, Interreligious Dialogue, Stages of Faith Development, World Christianity


This article argues three points concerning the Federation of Asian Bishops’ writings on theological method. First, because North Atlantic ecclesial and academic communities stand to learn much from their Asian Christian brothers and sisters, the relative invisibility of the latter in North Atlantic contexts represents a missed opportunity to learn from the resources available in World Christianity, specifically Asian theologies. Second, through their own distinctively Asian patterns of receptivity in theological learning, the bishops and their trusted theologians exemplify many key tenets of Receptive Ecumenism and thus warrant study by practitioners of receptive theological disciplines like Comparative Theology, Scriptural Reasoning, and Receptive Ecumenism. Third, in answer to the question, ‘what are the conditions for the possibility of receptive learning?,’ the article proposes that a psychology of faith development can dispose or inhibit one from receptivity. Evidence is adduced in support of the Asian bishops exemplifying what James Fowler would call a Stage 5 conjunctive faith, which may, in the bishops’ writings, signify a fresh performance of catholicity.

Author Biography

John N Sheveland, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, USA

John N. Sheveland (PhD, Boston College, 2006) is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, USA. He teaches courses on interreligious dialogue, religion and violence, the religions of India, and Catholic theology. He is the author of Piety and Responsibility (Ashgate/Routledge, 2011) and has contributed articles to a number of journals and edited volumes. He serves as theology of religions area editor for Religious Studies Review and on the board of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. Email:


Bishops’ Institute for Interreligious Affairs, I (BIRA I), For All the Peoples of Asia, Vol.1, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Documents from 1970-1991, ed. Gaudencio Rosales and C.G. Arevalo, SJ, Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 1997.

Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, “A New Way of Being Church in Asia,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 63 (1999).

Edmund Chia, “FABC’s ‘Response’ to Dominus Iesus,” in SEDOS Bulletin 33, 11 (2001).

Edmund Chia, “Receptive Ecumenism through Asia’s Triple Dialogue Theology,” Pacifica: Australasian Theological Studies 28,2 (June 2015).

Edmund Kee-Fook Chia: “Of Fork and Spoon or Fingers and Chopsticks: Interreligious Dialogue in Ecclesia in Asia,” Horizons 28, 2 (2001).

Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Office of Theological Concerns, FABC Paper 96, Methodology: Asian Christian Theology (Doing Theology in Asia Today), 2000.

Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Theological Advisory Commission, FABC Paper 75, Asian Christian Perspectives on Harmony, 1996.

For All the People of Asia, Vol. I, 287. Cf. Peter Phan, “A New Christianity, but What Kind?” Mission Studies 22, 1 (2005).

James Fowler, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning, San Francisco: Harper One, 1995.

Michael Amaladoss, SJ, “Interreligious Dialogue: A View from Asia,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research (January 1995).

Michael Amaldoss, “Is There an Asian Way of Doing Theology?,” East Asian Pastoral Review 45 (2008, 1) 1-9, 3. Available at Last accessed 01/10/2014.

Paul Avis, “Are We Receiving Receptive Ecumenism?” Ecclesiology 8 (2012).

Paul D. Murray, “Families of Receptive Theological Learning: Scriptural Reasoning, Comparative Theology, and Receptive Ecumenism,” Modern Theology 29, 4 (October 2013).

Paul D. Murray, “Introducing Receptive Ecumenism,” The Ecumenist: A Journal of Theology, Culture, and Society 51, 2 (Spring 2014).

Peter Phan, “Reception and Trajectories for Vatican II in Asia,” Theological Studies 74 (2013).

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Dialogue and Proclamation, 1991. Available at Last accessed 01/10/2014.

Receptive Ecumenism in International Perspective, Fairfield University, Fairfield CT, USA, June 9-12, 2014.

The Society of Jesus, General Congregation 34, Decree 5, “Our Mission and Interreligious Dialogue,” § 7, in Society of Jesus, The Documents of the Thirty-Fourth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, St Louis, MO.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995. Also available online at Last accessed 01/10/2014.

How to Cite
Sheveland, J. N. (2016). RECEPTIVE THEOLOGICAL LEARNING IN AND FROM THE ASIAN BISHOPS. Asian Horizons, 10(03), 545-560. Retrieved from