Skip to main content

Contextualization in World Missions

Contextualization in World Missions: Mapping and Assessing Evangelical Models by A. Scott Moreau

Andres Scott Moreau has written a comprehensive, well-researched and enlightening book on the issue of contextualization in world missions.  The sheer research that went into this book is amazing even when looking at the bibliography, notes, and graphs.  The book is divided into 2 sections, one that deals with foundations of contextualization and another section that deals with mapping models of contextualization.  Rather than comment on each chapter, I would like to highlight some high impact points that Moreau makes and how they make a difference for the role of world missions and our mission as Christians.

The Nature and Scope of the Book
The two sections of the book are designed to be an important reminder that the process of contextualizing the gospel begins with laying a foundation involving presuppositions or prior beliefs.  Only then can you map models of contextualization after an inquiry into foundational beliefs.  Moreau takes up the issue of revelation in regard to Charles Kraft’s work with an eye toward towards the implications of Kraft’s view of the dynamic process of revelation.  Moreau writes, “for Kraft….Content is important but not central….He contends that models which focus on static information “turn living events into cadavers, capable of being dissected but no longer capable of life” (59).  Kraft here seems to be reacting strongly against models of revelation that overly use grammatical and historical data that imbed the message of God’s revelation in analytical tools.  Moreau points out that Kraft goes too far in some cases by presenting a view of biblical revelation that is open, that is able to added to in further generations.  What I took away from this somewhat complex argument is that what we believe about revelation consequently affects the way we do missions work in a global context, hindering or advancing both our evangelical foundations and our desire for gospel growth in various communities. 

I think the format of the book is majorly helpful in trying to pull together the key points in Moreau’s argument.  For instance, in focusing on the initiator as prophet, Moreau asks at the end of the chapter, “What characteristics of the prophetic initiator are most attractive to you personally”? (292).    This key questions helped me to focus on the role of the prophet’s voice here, one of speaking out for the oppressed and marginalized, calling others to repentance.  What the reflection questions did for me was help me to see these initiators on a local context and then to extrapolate what that would look like in a global context.  With added resources for further study, this book was tremendous in providing much needed resources to go deeper with each issue.

Details and Examples in the Text
The immense bibliography in the back of the book is one detail of this work not to be missed.  Moreau’s bibliography incorporates missiological journals, books and resources while leaving out theological works from around the world.  The example of Cindy Perry’s work with Nepalese Christians  in coming to grips with important festivals from their Hindu heritage was eye opening to say the least (268).  The question is asked is exactly the one we should ask, “How can we retain our integrity as Nepalis and affirm the positive values in our culture, especially those consistent with biblical values?” (268).   For these Christians, the point relates to how can they take part in Hindu festivals in such a way as to honor Christ but engage in the uplifting elements of our one’s culture.  The role of initiator as Pathfinder blazes a trail of new opportunity and growth in the Christian community while acting in ways that bring out the best of one’s culture while honoring Christ, this is exactly what happened in the Christian Women’s Conference in Nepal.

This book was a comprehensive look at the process of contextualization in world missions.  Yet, I have to say, these issues of contextualization are not only for world missions contexts, but can be worked through in our own communities as well.  The local and global applications found in this book suit both the world and local contexts.  If you want to know the issues of contextualization and don’t know where to turn, pick up this book and you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to Kregel Academic Publications for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.


Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …