I see you have been reading McGrath! Fun stuff eh?
I’ve tended to see the engagement we have as three way — a trialogue with the gospel, church, and world (culture and our experience in the world). But it seems to me that one of the things we are learning is that we have not given enough attention to context. We have naively assumed that there is a pure gospel that we can access. These days we are learning that every “gospel” already carries a history with it — the baggage of culture and tradition. Part of our task is to recognize our lenses, and then enter a fresh engagement with the place, people and history we are encountering.
In other words, in practice, the diagram looks more like the one above. We are learning to give greater weight to the context. That voice has been muted for a variety of reasons: Enlightenment myths surrounding “objectivity,” cultural imperialism of those who bring the good news; naivete about the way language is constructed, and more. But I want to play with one more version of the diagram yet.
What would the trialogue look like if we weighted it around the missio Dei, and framed it in view of the people of God as a unique culture in the world, a contrast society? So this is a trialogue that recognizes this unique point in history. This is what it would look like —
So in this image God’s mission and God’s purposes are at the center of the field, and are dominating the conversation. The church grows out of the missio Dei, a distinct culture in the world, and culture both stands apart from but is penetrated by the work of the Spirit in mission. The interpenetration of the missio Dei with both the church and the mission context indicates that we continue to partake in world cultures and in culture-production, but we retain our distinctiveness. It is as the mission of God takes root in cultures that a contrast society is produced.
Anyway, it’s a while since I’ve played with these ideas, but you can see the idea of a trialogue is useful and you may come up with your own variant that helps to make a particular point!