DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

CONTEXT WITHOUT TEXT IS A CON

Written by: on January 26, 2017

BEVIN – MODELS OF CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY

People today are pressured by world events, life events, and spiritual relations. A preacher today must be aware of all these events previously mentioned. These events affect the preacher as whereas their congregants. To spark their interest in the sermon or biblical lesson, one must address them at their need. My senior pastor said in our Ministers in Training (MIT) session, “make your sermon portable.” They need to take what you said and be able to apply it in their lives.

Bevin states that contextual theology should include the “scripture, tradition, and present human experience—or context.” (Location 198, Kindle) The context includes personal experience, and their community. This reminded me of my MIT session and a course I attended in seminary entitled, “Jesus, The Master Teacher.” We studied his sermons and speeches to the people. He was a master at telling stories. He would teach in parables which related to their life experiences and culture. This assisted in their learning and understanding about God, the Messiah, Heaven, salvation, and eternal life. He Jesus is an excellent example of one utilizing contextual theology.  Jesus spoke to the woman at the well and shared what he knew about her personal life, which encouraged her to tell others about a man who knew everything about her.  Another example, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about being a neighbor telling the story about an individual begin robbed and left for dead. He spoke on how the priest and the Levite did not help the man. A Samaritan came by and not only assisted him but provided shelter for him. (Luke 10)

Bevin identified two factors to support the need for contextual theology, they were: External and Internal. External covers historical events, intellectual currents, cultural shifts, and political forces. (Location 335, Kindle) Internal factors represent the incarnational nature of Christianity, sacramental nature reality, (location 414, Kindle) understanding the nature of divine revelation (location 425, Kindle), and the essence of what the church of Christ should try to be (Location 458, Kindle), and the Trinity. (Location 480, Kindle)

Stephen Garner gave is views on Bevan’s Contextual Theology. Bevan’s mentioned six models of Contextual Theology. Garner addressed the Praxis Model and referred to it as “pastor cycle.” [1]He states with this model you must “(1) listen to the stories of those affected; 2)  seek a deeper understanding of their community, 3) personal experience is brought into dialogue, and 4) bringing the story, questions, and resources together in a theological  way of thinking. Bevan says Praxis is an alternative word to practice or action.” [2]  It is challenging to integrate the various sources that contribute to the development of a logical or balance theology when preaching or teaching, yet it is necessary. As a pastor or leader, you are a shepherd to many with different cultural backgrounds, life experiences, spiritual maturity, and personal development. You cannot at all times provide a lesson that will address all but understanding your audience helps one to cover most.

 

[1] Stephen Garner, Contextual and Public Theology: Passing Fads or Theological Imperatives, accessed 01/21/2017

[2] Ibid.

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

5 responses to “CONTEXT WITHOUT TEXT IS A CON”

  1. Stu Cocanougher says:

    “As a pastor or leader, you are a shepherd to many with different cultural backgrounds, life experiences, spiritual maturity, and personal development. You cannot at all times provide a lesson that will address all but understanding your audience helps one to cover most.”

    It has always fascinated me, as a leader, when people give me feedback from my teaching, a mission trip experience, etc. and something that was irrelevant to me was critically important to them.

    This brings up one concept that was not discussed in the writings… the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the great contexualizer (I am not sure that is a word). He can bridge the gap between message and context.

  2. Lynda, I love that concept to make your sermons portable. As teachers and preachers, It is our job to make God’s word as comprehensible and user-friendly as possible. I also liked the concepts of internal and external factors that influence the need for contextual theology that you mentioned. I wanted to mention this part in my post but it was already getting too long. I enjoyed how Bevans clearly defined these influencers and explained their relationship to contextual theology.

  3. Mary Walker says:

    Lynda, thank you for your insights on getting the context into the context. What I mean is, I agree that people need “to take what you said and be able to apply it in their lives.” That is what it is all about. It’s not just about our “head knowledge” of theology. I also agree with Stu’s response to you – the Holy Spirit helps us.
    I’ve had the experience of sharing with a Chinese Christian woman who thought Mao Tse Tung was wonderful. I was able to just smile and tell her that I was glad she thought life seemed better for her family. But the really wonderful thing was worshipping together as sisters in her culture. The Holy Spirit makes that happen!

  4. Lynda I agree that it is important for our message to connect to the hearts and minds of those we are called to serve. I agree with the authors this week that contextual theology is sound theology when it contain Scripture, tradition and context. For a message to be portable it must be something that can be put into action. Because it is the role of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us, He will show us the manner in which we allow it to transform us while we continue to reflectively practice it everyday of our life!

  5. mm Katy Lines says:

    Thanks for connecting Jesus’ teaching to doing contextual theology, Lynda. He certainly understood his audience, for they were his own people. One challenge we have as teachers today is being able to bridge the context of Jesus’ time with our audience today. For instance, while the “good Samaritan” parable may have been readily understood (though not necessarily well received) by Jesus’ audience, we have to go the extra mile to set the context for our audience today by explaining the characters and their social situations and why Jesus’ story was so controversial when he told it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *