Contextualization. Those working in cross-cultural situations know they need to contextualize the gospel message but are often at a loss as to how. Or even to really know what contextualize means.
This summer Jackson Wu released four full-length training videos dealing with contextualization, honor, and shame. These videos are based on talks given at the 2016 theology conference hosted by Singapore Bible College. He has overlapped the audio with visuals to assist groups who might want to use the material for training purposes. Each training session also includes an audio file and study guide.
Earlier we highlighted the first training video. Now that all four have been made available, we want to recommend the full series.
“All theology is contextualized theology.” This has emerged as something of a dictum among many missiologists and theologians. We all come to Scripture with our limited worldviews and varying assumptions. In light of these realities, session one examines common evangelical views about contextualization, which are largely regarded as application and communication.
It suggests a holistic approach to contextualization has a more foundational starting point––biblical interpretation. In the process, Wu offers a few criteria for healthy contextualization. Also, he addresses an important preliminary concern—the relationship between culture and the Bible.
This session considers the question, “How does the Bible frame the gospel?” To answer the question, we survey various ways that biblical writers explicitly presented their gospel. Amid a diversity of presentations, readers find that a distinct set of themes frames them all.
These themes constitute a firm framework by which Paul could claim there was only one gospel. Nevertheless, because these framework themes shape the grand biblical narrative, they also provide a large degree of flexibility when preaching the gospel in various cultural contexts.
There is one gospel yet many ways to present this message. Accordingly, in addition to framework themes, biblical writers use a number of “explanation themes” to clarify the significance of this good news. These themes complement each other as they serve different functions. The explanation themes help us answer four key questions routinely answered in discussions about the gospel.
As the Bible provides multiple answers to each question, it enables Christians to have flexibility when sharing the gospel. The session also suggests how these gospel themes provide the necessary lens for ministering in diverse cultural contexts.
These videos explore a practical approach to contextualizing the gospel in a way that is biblically faithful and culturally meaningful. They propose a firm but flexible model of contextualization that is rooted in biblical theology and useful for doing ministry in any cultural context. Accordingly, we’re able to put together theology and missiology so that the Bible shapes both our message and our methods.
Jackson Wu (PhD, SEBTS) has other videos and resources on these topics, which can be found at his blog, jacksonwu.org. He is a professor to Chinese pastors in Asia and has written Saving God’s Face: A Chinese Contextualization of Salvation through Honor and Shame and One Gospel for All Nations: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization.
Image credit: Jackson Wu.
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