This weeks reading left me with more questions than answers. It left me excited about the future and skeptical about our willingness to step into that future. The idea of contextualization gave me a sense of awe as I think about how great God is and how little we, the people of God, actually understand. Thinking about contextualization has helped me notice all the boxes and boundaries we have put on God in order to understand God better. In our quest to understand more, we’ve often made God smaller.
Theology of place, liberal theology, feminist theology, all these different branches of theology have to maintain the gospel as the foundation. The difference doesn’t lay in the interpretation of the Gospel, but it lays in the way that the Gospel is being presented. I think that the danger in contextual theology is in trying to make the gospel comfortable for all people. So, sometimes we might water it down therefore it will loose its power because we’ve allowed the context to alter the truth. So, my questions is, how do we maintain the integrity of the Gospel while contextualizing it?
How do we as leaders help our communities understand that their theology is contextual whether they believe it or not. Most Christians tend to think that the way that they practice their faith is the way that God intended them to do so. Many are not comfortable in thinking that the way they practice their faith was and is influenced by their location, their culture, their family background and even personality. How do we help our community members to not only understand this, but also no be afraid of acknowledging it?
In his article, Public Theology Through Popular Culture, Stephen Garner acknowledges, “One of the challenges public theology faces is to articulate the Gospel understanding in a language that is accessible, credible and intelligible to those inside and outside the church.” (p175) I wonder if this isn’t a problem that Christianity faces as a whole. The church has become full of people that are either too busy, or too lazy to think through their theology so they are satisfied with barely scratching the surface of the Christian life without any power or conviction.
With all this said, I agree with Bevans when he says, “Christianity, if it is to be faithful to it’s deepest roots and to its most basic insight, must continue God’s incarnation in Jesus by becoming contextual.” (p12) However, this is easier said than done.