One Gospel for All Nations makes much more explicit the methodology that is implicit in Saving God’s Face. Naturally, it is worth a short post that reiterates a few ideas that tie the two books together.
In Saving God’s Face, I identified a key problem that plagues many evangelical efforts to contextualize the gospel. This post gives a short excerpt from the book simply to help people catch up on what I’ve said. If you want further discussion, check out Saving God’s Face.
What do I mean by “assuming the gospel?”
“One who writes about theology and contextualization can tacitly assume a particular formulation of the gospel and even open a door to syncretism” (p. 11).
The person who assumes the gospel “ . . . does little more than restate a doctrine in traditional theological categories” (p. 11).
“To assume the gospel prior to contextualization risks not actually contextualizing the gospel, since the conclusion is presupposed. To do so immediately makes contextualization a matter of application or communication; rather than doing so, this book argues that it is more helpful to see contextualization most basically as an interpretative process.
All readers come to the biblical text with worldviews that influence their ability to understand Scripture. One must not completely equate biblical truth with one’s personal theology. Therefore, in order to temper subjectivity and broaden one’s perspective, the contextualizer critically examines the local context and compares it with ancient biblical culture, noting commonalities and differences.” (p. 68)
Although these are only partial quotes, I hope they will remind people of what I’ve said previously and perhaps spur new questions in your mind.
(This post is part of a series introducing my new book One Gospel for All Nations: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization. For other posts in the series, click here.)