The main focus of Simon Chan’s book Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith From the Ground Up is how theology ought to be done, within the Asian culture as well as other cultures. As I am reading more and more on the subject of contextualization I am learning that this ought to be the objective for every person attempting to share the Gospel with any other person. Yet isn’t theology already set? Have we not already figured out the main tenants of the faith and therefore have only to explain these discoveries to the culture groups we encounter? Is there really any “new theology” to develop? This was my line of thought at one time. I love what Flemming stated in his book Contextualization in the New Testament, “Any attempt to reduce the gospel to a set of pre-fabricated formulations that can be carried about and unpacked for all situations runs contrary to both the spirit of the New Testament and the nature of the Christian mission.” We are therefore needing to do the work of contextualization not transport some prefabricated formulations to the people and the cultures we encounters.
Indeed, Bevans states it more boldly by saying, “The contextualization of theology — the attempt to understand Christian faith in terms of a particular context — is really a theological imperative.” So when we begin to think of contextualizing the gospel in Asia or any other part of the world we must remember the fact that “all theologies developed by human beings are shaped by their particular historical and cultural contexts – by the languages they use and the questions they ask. All human theologies are only partial understandings of Theology as God sees it.” As Chan pointed out, it is only in the renewed Spirit of the church that fallen humanity can truly discern what is God and what is guided by cultural experiences. By including the church in the discussion process of contextualization Chan revels his own collectivist cultural nature synonymous with the Confucian Asian culture. In discussing the 10 cultural clusters of our world, Confucian Asia, which includes countries like China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, this collectivist nature of the Confucian Asians is noted as being the highest in the world. But perhaps when it comes to doing theology a collectivist approach would be better than an individualistic elitist attitude. Unfortunately, “much of what the West knows as Asian theology consists largely of elitist accounts of what Asian theologians are saying, and elitist theologians seldom take grassroots Christianity seriously. Yet it is at the grassroots level that we encounter a vibrant, albeit implicit, theology.”
So in this understanding of grassroots-vibrant-implicit-contextualized theology where does the professional theologian or western missionary fit in? It is the place of the outsider to become as much a part of “the inside” as possible to become as Jesus did – incarnation-ally sharing the Gospel. So the missionary does not come with answers to the foreign church but rather as the foreigner he is to “listen carefully [to] what the Spirit of truth who indwells the church is saying through the people of God.” If we as theologians and missionaries do not pause to listen we will become like those elitist theologians that Chan warns us about “who fail to recognize what God is doing among his people by his Spirit are no better (and are perhaps worse) at recognizing what God is doing in the world.”
Finally I have to express my appreciation for Chan bringing out the somewhat dramatic, and living aspect of the work of contextualization. I have often thought of my relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as a dance where often I fail to follow His lead and perhaps even step on His toes. Nonetheless, I am in a sweet fellowship of music, dance, and the rhythm of this life that God has seen fit to play the music and carry the tune. So, for me to read that, “if Scripture is a kind of dramatic script, translating the gospel into new contexts is not a matter of translating ‘concepts’ but more like interpreting a drama, which is a more fluid process,” excited me to say “yes! and Amen!” Truly “the Bible is the redemptive drama, which is not reducible to abstract, fixed concepts. When we attempt to do local theologies we are not merely trying to explain the meaning of a script; rather, we are interpreting the gospel drama by indwelling the text, enacting it and improvising as we go, much like how good actors act out the script of a play.” So, for us all, may we do the dance, improvise as we go along and share the redemptive drama with all nations, tribes, and tongues through the work of contextualization.
 Simon Chan, Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith From the Ground Up (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), Loc. 57.
 Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2005), 296.
 Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002), 3.
 Paul G. Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 198.
 Chan, Loc. 236–238.
 David A Livermore, Expand Your Boarders: Discover 10 Cultural Clusters (East Lansing, MI: Cultural Intelligence Center, LLC, 2013), 61.
 Chan, Loc. 46–48.
 Ibid., Loc. 423.
 Ibid., Loc. 425.
 Ibid., 150.
 Ibid., Loc. 153–154.