Is Western Culture Dystopian?

Dystopia is a distinctly Western genre. It also is one of the most popular story genres of our day. The explosive growth of dystopian stories is no accident. In effect, they contextualize a worldview perspective that is prevalent in Western culture. I am convinced of at least three benefits to understanding dystopian thinking. By seeing [Read More…]

Reinterpreting Contextualization (Session 1 Training Video)

In the coming weeks, I will release 4 full length training videos. The audio comes from the 2016 theology conference hosted by Singapore Bible College. I have overlapped the audio with visuals to assist groups who might want to use the material for training purposes. Session 1: Reinterpreting Contextualization Session 2: How does the Bible [Read More…]

True but Confusing Advice for Missionaries

Mack Stiles’ recent post on The Gospel Coalition causes unnecessary confusion.[1] Why? It offers advice that is merely true. He suggests “3 Great Missionary Confusions.” In principle, his comments are true enough. But they could be misleading in practice. The Gospel in Context The first “confusion” he mentions begins like this: Don’t we adjust the [Read More…]

How Metaphors Make Us Moral

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.” Arguably, John Sanders’ Theology in the Flesh from beginning to end attempts to show the significance of this statement by Orson Scott Card. He demonstrates how metaphors both shape moral reasoning and determine meaning. What if the church grasped the subtle yet [Read More…]

What Cognitive Science Teaches about Contextualization

“Cognitive science” and “contextualization” –– two things that sound complicated but shape everything we do in ministry. In  Theology in the Flesh, John Sanders explains the concept of “framing” with this sentence: “We never open our presents until the morning.” For most Americans, at least, those eight words make complete sense because they evoke a [Read More…]

How do we “embody” theology?

John Sanders says all theology is embodied. On the surface, this doesn’t seem noteworthy. People for many years have aspired to “embody the gospel.” However, this is not Sanders’ meaning. His recent book Theology in the Flesh: How Embodiment and Culture Shape the Way We Think about Truth, Morality, and God (2016) will be a [Read More…]

Reconnecting God’s Story to Scripture and Service

Tom Steffen has a nice article in the most recent issue of Christian Education Journal. It is titled “Discoveries Made While Reconnecting God’s Story to Scripture and Service.” Here is the article’s abstract: Story was much more nuanced than I had ever anticipated. Cross-cultural experience drove home the need to identify and define the various [Read More…]

Is the Chinese Church a Test-Case for “The Benedict Option”?

If you’ve been on the web but haven’t heard of Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, you need to loosen up your internet filters a bit. David Brooks is correct when he says the book is “already the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” Any book that both Al Mohler and Stanley [Read More…]

Individualism with “Chinese Characteristics”?

“Traditional” views of Chinese culture as so Qing dynasty. That’s what Danny Hsu argues in his recent article in Missiology. In many respects, Hsu is right. My saying this might surprise some people. Last year, he directly challenged my work in a published article. And, yes, he reiterates his criticism in this recent essay. However, [Read More…]

Contextualize. Don’t Merely Theologize.

I was a math major. But it was my college soccer class that made me feel dumb. In our first scrimmage, the teacher told me to kick off the ball. Since I attended school in America, I knew what a “kick off” is. So, I naturally ran up to the ball and kicked it as [Read More…]