Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Word Among Us- Part Uno

There are two things which I think about the most. 1) Interpretation and 2) Contextualization. The first term does not need a definition, for I think most of you know what it means to interpret something. However, contextualization may need a definition. The problem, if I give you a definition it is probably going to be used differently by some other author. Thus, your context will cause you to misinterpret their meaning. :)

The problem with contextualization has just as much to do with its history as its present. The term was first used by the World Council of Churches (see Gilliland's introduction to The Word Among Us, 2). Also, liberation theology, and black theology, are considered to be contextual theologies (ibid). This has caused evangelicals/conservatives to usually shy away from the discussion.

For the next long while we'll be discussing contextualization here. We'll be going chapter by chapter through The Word Among Us, edited by Deas S. Gilliland. This work was written by Fuller Theological Seminary staff and is useful, I think, in opening the discussion on contextualization.

In the forward of the book, David Allan Hubbard begins with the image of the fiddler on the roof, "fall to the right and you end in obscurantism...slip to the left and you tumble into syncretism." This is the whole issue of contextualization in a nutshell, how do we communicate God's word to other cultures? Will we do it in a way, like the right, where it means nothing to the people, or to the left, where it has nothing of the true gospel left in it. This is the fine line the missiologists have to walk when communicating the gospel, translating the Bible and discipling.

Therefore, at a blog like this, the topic of contextualization will have to come up. It will have to be discussed and that is what we are going here. In the next post I'll post some of my major concerns/biases in this whole discussion so you'll know them up front. But for now let me say on thing about the book, The Word Among Us. I am going to try to bring out its good points, but I am already not apt to do so. I read this back a few years ago and when I started to do my homework I found some errors on the part of those writing in their analysis of Greek used in the New Testament. I am more likely to criticize this work than present its arguments in a fair manner. If you catch me doing so—that is not presenting a balanced approach of criticism—call me on it!

I hope that this discussion is fruitful and glorifying to God. I hope that we all can learn from one another and that we can exchange ideas in a good way. Missionaries—speak up on this topic, we'll greatly appreciate your input.

Through Christ,

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