The Bible Tells a Dystopian Story

Dystopian stories contextualize the anxieties of Western culture. If so, how might the Bible address concerns of a genre that is relatively young and distinctly Western? Or is it? In this post, I suggest the Bible itself tells a dystopian narrative. That might sound odd. Isn’t the Bible more utopian by nature? This point is relevant for anyone influenced by Western culture. Reframing Dystopian Stories Before I explain, recall a key point from my previous post. Scholars typically interpret dystopias… Read more

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 dystopian narratives as a form of contextualization, we gain insight concerning the underlying assumptions and concerns that mark Western society. Inasmuch as Western culture influences… 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 Contextualize the Gospel? Session 3: How does the Bible Explain the Gospel? Session 4: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization These videos explore a practical… Read more

Should Missionaries Adopt Warriors’ “Run and Gun” Offense?

What can Golden State Warriors teach missionaries? A lot. 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 gospel to fit the context, removing offensive things that would prevent someone from a different background from coming to Jesus? Didn’t Paul say he became… Read more

Reflections on the Reformation 500 and the Gospel Conference

Over four-thousand Chinese leaders and mission workers from around the world recently met in Hong Kong for the “Reformation 500 and the Gospel” conference. I’ll offer an overview and commentary on the meeting. From the Main Stage Three plenary speakers gave three talks, one-per-day. John Piper Chinese believers were introduced to vintage Piper. His opening message helpfully reminded people of the central (but oft overlooked) promise of the New Covenant––– new hearts. Salvation is more than forgiveness; it causes God’s… 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 pervasive ways that metaphors influence our ministry? Metaphors are not like similes. We can easily locate similes. But they are like Chinese water torture…too many… Read more

Online Chinese Christianity Collection

I recently found out the Online Chinese Christianity Collection (OCCC) is now accessible. It is chock full of articles, etc. for people interested in China. The online library is searchable. Depending on the resource, you can use English or Chinese. The worldwide largest online library on Chinese Christianity Chinese and multi-lingual full text downloadable for free Over 34,500 documents, weekly growing The site is run by If you register (for free), you get more access to scholarly material. Enjoy! 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 common “frame,” i.e. Christmas. Families have different traditions about when they open their gifts. For more common yet frustrating examples, contrast how MSNBC and Fox… 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 game changer for many people. Sanders explains why cognitive linguistics is so significant for biblical interpretation and theological discourse. With terms like “embodiment” and “cognitive… Read more

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