Taking the Context out of the Bible? We’ve all heard taking a passage out of context, where someone interprets a text in a way that completely doesn’t fit with the author’s original context. Among oral-based and illiterate cultures, I wonder if the mirror reflection of this problem exists––stripping the context from the biblical story. I’m asking this question: Might it be the case that some methods of oral Bible teaching may make it more difficult, even impossible, for oral peoples… Read more

In this series, I will explore the topic of contextualization among unreached people groups with orality based cultures. To state it negatively, they have high levels of illiteracy. This is a complex topic, which requires a few posts to unpack the diverse factors related to contextualization among oral peoples. THEOLOGY FOR THE SAKE OF UPGs One of the main reasons I do theological education among Chinese church leaders is to equip a massive missionary force to reach the various unreached… Read more

Trying to figure out how to contextualize the gospel? Practically speaking, how do we assess whether a contextualization is faithful to Scripture and meaningful for a local culture? Check out my article called “Contextualizing the One Gospel in Any Culture––A Model from the Biblical Text for a Global Context.” In a single article, I jump head first into a few questions that are heavily debated among evangelicals. On the question “What is the Gospel?” here are just a few of… Read more

I have written on the influence of our culture lens on our theology and view of contextualization. (My forthcoming article in April will apply this principle to the gospel in particular). I want to give a brief and rather humorous example how our culture influences the way we read Scripture. While grading one of my student’s papers from my Systematic Theology II class, the following explanation was given for why Adam and Eve wore loincloths, “人类始祖犯罪后,因 . . . 惧怕冷… Read more

In previous posts, I explained the meaning of the resurrection and gave a few ideas how the resurrection influences the work of missions. I want to briefly add a few additional thoughts. Evangelism This application naturally works out of what was previously said. I’ll sharpen the point here. We do not merely preach Jesus’ death (as the climax of the gospel) with the resurrection as the confirming evidence. We preach the resurrection as the gospel’s climax. After all, a “gospel,”… Read more

Next week, I’m starting a series that focuses on how we might help oral learners do biblical interpretation and contextualization. This task has obvious challenges. To get you thinking about the topic ahead of time, I direct your attention to a thoughtful blog post by Heather Holt at WCIU International Development Journal, called Theological Education for Oral Learners.   WCIU has a blog with posts covering a range of topics. Here is a sample: “In teaching an oral audience, the important… Read more

I have no idea where this comes from, but I thought you’d like it. A Chinese friend told me this one. There was a Chinese, American, and European student sitting a class. Their teacher was giving them an essay to write. The teacher aid they had to answer the following question, “In your opinion, why is there a lack of food in other countries?” The American was a little confused so he raised his hand and said: “Teacher, I don’t… Read more

Without question, 1 Cor 15 is the most important passage concerning the resurrection in all of Scripture. Many people are familiar with the first section, verses 4–8, which is regarded as a summary of the gospel. The climax of the gospel proclamation is the resurrection. If we do not understand the resurrection, we little understand the significance of the gospel. I suggest then that Paul’s discussion of the gospel is not limited to vv. 4–8; rather, the entire chapter is… Read more

I think evangelicals in general tend to have a low view of the resurrection. That sounds like an overstatement, but this is what I mean. Typically, evangelicals see the resurrection mainly as having more to do with apologetics than theology. The resurrection acts as a “proof” that Jesus is divine. If they are more precise, they might even say it proves Jesus is King (cf. Acts 2:24–26; 13:30–39). While these conclusion are be true enough, this is not the primary… Read more

Biblically speaking, how should we understand “reproducibility?” Or, stated in another way, what is it we seek to reproduce in our training? In the previous posts, I considered possible reasons why missionaries so strongly emphasize “reproducibility.” I argued that there are serious problems with this trend. In this post, I propose an alternative way of thinking about reproducibility. At one level, I agree that we want to teach ideas and methods in a simple way, if possible. However, we do not… Read more

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