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 the 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 of Scripture.
In the first section, I highlight a number of ways we can defend one biblical idea at the expense of other truths. We treat as right/wrong what is really primary/secondary. Consequently, this has made it practically impossible for evangelicals to advance the work of contextualization.
The second section defends a model by which we interpret ancient Scripture by using contemporary cultures of the world. While, at first, this may sound counterintuitive, I think this perspective offers new possibilities for understanding what the Bible actually says, without forcing one’s own culture into the text.
The third section examines how worldviews shape our theology. I specifically contrast traditionally eastern and western worldviews. Historically speaking, Western culture has had the greatest influence on Christian theology. Therefore, I want us to consider what difference it would make if we assumed some of the categories fundamental to “Eastern” thinking. What insights might we get?
This is the first of a series of articles coming out this year in which I lay out a comprehensive perspective and approach to contextualizing theology. I hope to show what the contextualization process can look like from beginning to end. This article establishes some principles and foundations.
A future article will suggest a specific methodology by which one can contextualize the gospel from any culture in the world. Applying this method to Chinese culture, other articles will offer suggestions for how to contextualize biblical theology in China.
After you’ve read it, I’d like to hear your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. Perhaps, we can expand your thoughts in future posts.
Note: These articles were later adapted and included in One Gospel for All Nations.