The church's challenge today remains the same: to articulate with integrity the substance and detail of the faith in terms accessible and persuasive to our neighbors around the world.
Contextualisation is a constant mindset and a way of life. It is a continuing struggle with how to live out the gospel in a particular cultural setting. If the church is to be faithful, it must reflect deeply on the gospel and its implications, on its urban context, and on how to live out that gospel in the urban context.
The gospel calls for faithful living in all of life. Yet each culture shapes all of human life by a different set of beliefs. The church is part of the cultural community and the people of God. As such, it indwells two irreconcilable stories… There is a missionary encounter between the two ways of life that meet in the very life of the Christian community. The struggle is to find a faithful way embodied and expressed, as it always is, within the culture.
Jesus wasn’t born in a nice unit in a modern hospital. He was born in a fairly primitive building, perhaps lit by smoky oil lamps. His mother was an unmarried teenage girl, in a town far away from her family and friends. I’ve no doubt that the women of the village gathered round to help the strange girl who found herself giving birth a long way from home. That's what happens in relational societies. When Jesus came into the world, he was a funny colour and if he didn’t start screaming immediately, a woman no-doubt smacked his bum to get his lungs working and some air flowing.
Being reflective about mission practice can leave you in some uncomfortable places.
Paul's Gospel, then, is at its heart the powerful narrative of what God has done to redeem and transform the whole world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul's letters flow out of that gospel, explain it and instruct you Christian churches in what it means to live out the good news. … Continue reading Paul and Contextualisation
You put your right arm in, you put your right arm out... Most people are aware of the concept of contextualisation. The notion that missionaries should present the Gospel in a way which speaks into the culture to which it is being addressed. The result is that the expression of Christianity in the UK today … Continue reading Hokey-Cokey Contextualisation
Sue has just completed her MA in aspects of Biblical Interpretation. Her dissertation was on the role of translated Scriptures in the contextualisation of the gospel in West Africa, or how having the Bible in African languages has helped the development of authentic Africa Christianity, if you prefer. You can download it as a pdf … Continue reading The Word in West Africa
Every now and then, I read a comment by someone saying that Christianity should not adapt to cultures or some such. As far as I am aware, the people who say this sort of thing don't wander around in robes, speaking Aramaic or Koine Greek, holding evangelistic meetings in the local synagogues or exactly following … Continue reading What Does Christianity Look Like?