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

Interview with Karl Dahlfred, Theology Drives Methodology (Part 2)

Here’s the second part of Karl Dahlfred’s reply to my questions. After you read his answers, let me know your thoughts on how Theology Drives Methodology might critique various mission methods. You seem to approve of Nevin’s critique of that Finney’s methods (and their modern descendants), namely, they make Church redundant. Recently, Scot McKnight makes the case that individualistic “soterian” gospel presentations (e.g. Four Spiritual Laws, Roman Road, etc.) have a similar effect in that there is nothing inherent to… Read more

Some Reviews of T4T

I know a number of mission agencies will begin having winter meetings in the coming weeks. This means a lot of discussion about church planting strategies and methods. To stimulate a little discussion, I’ve offer two reviews of Steve Smith and Ying Kai’s T4T: A Discipleship Re-revolution. The first review is from George Robinson (D.Miss, Western Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Missions and Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. His short article was originally published in… Read more

Interview with Karl Dahlfred, Theology Drives Methodology (Part 1)

I’ve asked Karl Dahlfred to answer a few follow-up questions I had stemming from his book, Theology Drives Methodology: Conversion in the Theology of Charles Finney and John Nevin. I reviewed the book last month (Part 1, Part 2). What do you think about his answers? How might this apply to your ministry context? 1. You claim that many today who use Finney’s methods may not hold to his theology. You want these people to consider what their methods may… Read more

Finding Virtue in Sports for the Sake of Missions

Why do we like sports and why does it matter for missions? This is a more sensitive topic that some might think. After all, watching an athletic championship game with others could be compared to a worship experience. Vast amount of discussion, money, and time are spent in gathering millions to join in common celebration. Sports fanatics memorize statistics better than many Christians memorize Scripture. Fans seek “union” with the their champion, such that when they win, “we win.” When… Read more

We Compromise the Gospel When We Settle for Truth

Check out the January edition of Global Missiology, which includes my article titled, “We Compromise the Gospel When We Settle for Truth: How “Right” Interpretations Lead to “Wrong” Contextualization.” The article attempts to lay a foundation for a method of contextualization. It argues for a particular relationship between culture and Bible whereby we can and should use culture as a means of interpreting Scripture. Many people are wary of culture’s influence on theology, fearing a syncretism that would compromise the authority… Read more

"Should Missionaries Learn Classical Literature as well?" (A Response to a Question)

Someone left a comment on the previous post about Hudson Taylor and the state on contextualization and cultural adaptation among missionaries today. I know multiple people have similar questions. I think some people might be interested to join the conversation. Ethan’s Question: “Wondering about your point regarding classical Chinese literature… What kind of competence level are you advocating? Should missionaries set aside time to develop this competence (much like many do to work on language competence)?” Here’s my reply: The… Read more

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