Phan believes the whole church benefits from inter-religious dialogue and from the efforts of non-Western Christians to represent Christianity with many faces. From the Sri Lankan Jesuit Aloysius Pieris (An Asian Theology of Liberation, Orbis, 1988), Phan borrows an underlying principle for Asian theology: it must recognize that the majority of Asian peoples are religious and they are crushingly poor. That must be the foundation of Christian inculturation in Asia today.
On that foundation can be built a firmly based church and a theology that reaches the people and honors Jesus' preferential option for the poor. Phan sees the likenesses to and the differences from Latin American liberation theologies.
Peter C. Phan, a native of Vietnam, emigrated as a refugee to the United States in 1975. He earned three doctorates, the Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Universitas Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, and the Doctor Philosophy and the Doctor of Divinity from the University of London. He was also awarded the honorary Doctor of Theology from Chicago Theological Union.
He began his teaching career in philosophy at the age of 18 at Don Bosco College, Hong Kong.
In the United States, he has taught at the University of Dallas, Texas; at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, where he held the Warren-Blanding Chair of Religion and Culture; at Union Theological Seminary, N.Y.; at Elms College, Chicopee, MA; at St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, and at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, where he is currently holding the Ignacio Ellacuría Chair of Catholic Social Thought.
Phan has major publications in diverse theological areas including anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, spirituality, political and liberation theology, religious pluralism, and religious education.