Building the Biblical Story

In order to teach the Bible and share the gospel, we do best to understand both how stories work and how people learn. If we lack sufficient knowledge of either, we might create unnecessary challenges to our ministry. In mission circles, “story” is often linked with orality and UPG work. Among theologians, the entire Bible [Read More…]

Humility and Hutzpah: Two Characteristics of Biblical Contextualization

Contextualization requires character more than competence. Too few people talk about this. As a result, all discussion focuses on (important) intellectual issues but rarely is consideration given to the character that yields good contextualization. Yes, contextualization often requires a bit of creativity and experimentation. But what else goes into it? The Character of Biblical Contextualization [Read More…]

Using Chinese to Teach Hebrew

As I’ve said many times before, the Chinese church needs more teaching in the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. For those who engage in this ministry, this is the post for you. Recently, Scott Callaham, a professor at Baptist Theological Seminary (Singapore), published an insightful article titled: Biblical Hebrew in Chinese: Fostering the [Read More…]

Jewish scholar gets evangelical, rips bad contextualization

Previously, I described the distress I felt at a recent SABS conference. No doubt, hearing presenters so radically misuse Scripture was the low point, especially since those scholars call their work “contextual interpretation.” (Their terminology gives people wrong impressions about genuine contextualization) Now, I’ll share a high point from the week. Athalya Brenner-Idan (University of [Read More…]

If you give praise, you and they will lose face.

Embed from Getty Images Working in strong honor-shame cultures should make us rethink assumptions about leading others. For example, here are a few quotes from this BBC article: “If you don’t hear from your Japanese manager, you’re doing well.” “If you go around and keep telling your employees ‘terrific job,’ they’re going to wonder what’s [Read More…]

Honor and Shame in the Bible (intro video)

Here’s the 4th installment in my ongoing video series. This training video explains various ways that honor and shame shape the message of the Bible. It particularly looks at key doctrines such sin, salvation and others.   Part One explained the “what” and “why” of contextualization. Part Two gave an overview about “how” we contextualize [Read More…]

Recent Insights into Chinese Culture

Two recent articles well illustrate some important dynamics within contemporary Chinese culture. They further show how how honor-shame (e.g. an emphasis on relationships, concern for reputation, etc.) shape various aspects of daily life. These snapshots should alert us to the need to approach ministry in China in different ways that are used in the West. [Read More…]

It’s okay to cry. You’re a Christian.

Being a pastor is hard. Crossing a culture as a missionary is hard. Being a parent and a Christian in this world feels impossible some days. Theology and missiology concern more than the mind. They require a lot of heart if we are to grasp the significance of God’s calling for his people. This is [Read More…]

The Yin-Yang of Contextualization

The male students in my class agreed, “The Bible says that men are more important than women.” In Chinese culture, one never wants to provoke a teacher, but that is exactly what they did that day. Of all people, my Chinese students should grasp the interdependence of maleness (yang) and femaleness (yin). The yin-yang symbol [Read More…]

The Latest Issue of Themelios (August 2016)

Here are a few highlights from the latest issue of Themelios for those interested on doing theology while thinking about mission.   Book Reviews In the Mission and Culture section: Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch. The Trinity Among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in [Read More…]


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