In Bevans’ introduction to his book Contextual theology, the author starts with a story about his time in Roman as a theology student in the late 1960. Consistent with his discussion of contextualization, Bevans shares about a past experience which involved the preparations for the liturgy of the Advent. Bevans writes:
The central idea of the liturgy was based on the song by the Beatles’ George Harrison, Here Comes the Sun” (these were the days of “theme liturgies)… Christ was the sum, bringing light to our darkness and warmth to our cold, God-less world-… it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter…
Advent liturgy and the Beatles? How fitting that Bevans chose such a comparison to capture the “… the experience of the past and the experience of the present …” so beautifully! With the idea of contextual theology in mind, I thought about the religious ethos today. How is the “experience of the past” engaging “… the experience of the present?”  Such a question echoed through my mind because I was impact by Bevan’s ideas which caused inquiries about ‘theology’ and its relationship with history and current affairs. I am was also captivated by the author’s claim, “there is no such thing as “theology”; there is only contextual theology…”
What a shift! How then is a believer supposed to understand the current events of the measles outbreak in the United States, wars in the news from around the world? What is the proper role of theologizing? As I listened to President Obama’s speech at today’s National Prayer Breakfast, I was reminded that contextual theology is always playing itself out, perhaps unbeknownst to some Christians. Religions and their various theologies seem to be intermingling the experiences of the past and presents. For example the President’s speech highlighted religious violence and how it is not unique to one religion. According the President Obama:
We’ve seen faith driving us to do right, but we’ve also seen faith being twisted and distorted or worse, sometimes being used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets in Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand for faith, their faith. Profess to stand for Islam but are in fact betraying it. We see ISIS, a brutal vicious, death cult that in the name of religion carries out unspeakable acts of barbarianism against religious minorities…, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, claiming a mantle of religious authority for such religious actions. We see sectarian wars in Syrian, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe so often perpetrated in the name of religion. So how do we as people of faith reconcile these realities? The profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion, the love that can flow from all our faiths; operating alongside those who seek to hijack religion for their own murders sense. Human has been grappling with questions throughout human history. Least we get on our high horse and think and think this is unique to some other place, remember that the crusade and inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our own country, all too often Jim Crow and slavery was justified in the name of Christ.
The above example is yet another glimpse of the interaction between, faith, religion, public theologizing and politics from the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. It was timely that I was reading Bevan and the Neville’s book material this week because I also found myself intersecting with discussions about theology and global perspectives about justice. In fact, while teaching a class on “Conflict, Refugee and justice”, I applied some the material to demonstrate the importance of contextual theology and a possible understanding of biblical justice as “relational reality” in our different contexts.
 Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002), 1.
 Ibid., 3.
 David J. Neville, ed. The Bible, Justice and Public Theology (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014), 8.