The New Covenant in a Chinese Context (Part 1): A Collectivistic Understanding of Identity

One thing that gets me excited is thinking about the way that an eastern (e.g. Chinese) worldview can contribute to the task of theology. Stephen Bevans speaks for many when he writes, “There is no such thing a ‘theology’; there is only contextual theology” (Models of Contextual Theology, 2008; p. 3). The Bible is a book for all of humanity. Therefore, we should expect the Bible to speak in ways and about topics that typically resonate more with Easterners than… Read more

A legal solution won't solve a shame problem. Agree or Disagree?

“If sin is framed in terms of shame, however, then a legal solution to something as deep and existential as shame will be inappropriate.” Would you agree with this? Disagree? Or would you want to qualify it a bit? I read this line in Robin Stockitt’s Restoring the Shamed: Towards a Theology of Shame (Cascade Books, 2012).   Later, he adds, “If this is how our status before God is depicted then the “solution” to our damaged status must turn… Read more

Reply to Questions about Compromising the Gospel by Settling for Truth

This is second post where I answer a reader’s questions about my latest article, “We Compromise the Gospel When We Settle for Truth: How ‘Right’ Interpretation Lead to ‘Wrong’ Contextualization.” Comment from John: Absolute moralism/relativism—this is a little difficult to swallow.  I understand and agree with much of what you say hear.  From a Chinese perspective, they fear in making moral judgments even within contexts that demand one.  For example, abortion.  Is this right or wrong?  Pirating software or DVDs?  I know the latter is… Read more

Questions About What Happens When We Compromise the Gospel by Settling for Truth

As I announced previously, my newest article was published in Global Missiology. Someone read it and sent me a lot of good questions. I know from experience that others have similar questions. He said I could post our interaction. For the sake of his privacy, I’ll just call this person “John.” I hope you find it helpful. Let a comment with your own thoughts. This is PART ONE of two. For those of you who have not read the article,… Read more

7 Reasons to Get to the Mission Field Before You're 30 (from The Gospel in China blog)

Here are some good reasons why you should NOT wait for the kids to get older before getting on the mission field. This is a nice post by The Gospel in China, entitled 7 Reasons to Get to the Mission Field Before You’re 30. Here are the seven reasons, but you’ll want to check out the explanations that go with each. 1. Languages are hard to learn 2. The early legwork can be brutal 3. There is a steep learning… Read more

Explaining the Trinity in Chinese Language

One of the glaring weaknesses of missionaries to China is the lack of theological language, as opposed to more general religious language. You may be surprised to know even many Chinese Christians don’t know key terms related to core theological ideas. From time to time. I’ll give my own suggestions for teaching and discussing various biblical doctrines. I warn you, however, that Chinese theological language has not become as standardized as it is the West. So, some may dispute my… Read more

The Relationship between Good Works and Honor

Here’s a good quote relating glory-honor to works: “The one good work that God requires of us according to Paul, is that we seek after the glory, honor, and immortality that we do not have.” Mark Seifrid, “Justified by Faith and Judged by Works: A Biblical Paradox and Its Significance,” SBTJ, 95 (84–97). Read more

Two Kinds of Contextualization and Why They Matter (Part 3––A Matrix for Seeing the World)

This is Part 3 in a series that aims to help people understand contextualization. Contextualization comes from our having a certain perspective on the biblical text and the cultural context. In Part 1, I surveyed a number of standard evangelical views of contextualization (in which contextualization is essentially a kind of communication). In Part 2, I suggested an alternative view in which I distinguish two kinds of contextualization. This post illustrates different ways of seeing the world, connecting them with… Read more

Two Kinds of Contextualization and Why They Matter (Part 2)

What we don’t know about contextualization CAN hurt our gospel ministry. Typically, people regard contextualization as a form of communication or application. This is not mistaken; but it is critically incomplete. Contextualization most basically is an act of interpretation. Only then can it be understood as communication or application. Contextualization is not primarily something we do to the gospel; rather, it is the mind’s perception of and/or response to the gospel. This is a broad description. In actual fact, we… Read more

Two Kinds of Contextualization and Why It Matters: Defining the Relationship Between the Biblical Text and Cultural Context (Part 1)

This is part 1 in a series on contextualization. It first considers conventional evangelical views on contextualization and the need for a new perspective. Part 2 will introduce a distinction between two kinds of contextualization. It concludes by explaining why it matters that we differentiate the two. Finally, part 3 will illustrate four ways in which people “see” the world. Taken together, they reinforce the importance of perspective and worldview in doing contextualization. Just for fun, we’ll draw from the… Read more

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