We must,” claimed Lesslie Newbigin, “acknowledge the fact that there is not and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied. This is simply another way of affirming…the historical nature of the gospel”. In this series of article I attempt to show that Newbigin is correct.
A gospel that is culturally embodied insures that the mystery of the person and work of Christ Jesus is clear to all whom God opens the door for His Word. There is no and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied because we are called to “[w]alk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let[ting our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person.”(Col. 4:5-6 ESV)
“Knowing how to respond to seekers in their own life context,” explained Martin, and “how to contextualize the gospel without compromising the message, how to communicate the good news of Christ clearly, and how to keep methods consistent with the message—these are essential ingredients for faithful witness.”(Martin 1993: 206) Concurs with Martin, Dodson argued:
We need churches more concerned with gospel faithfulness through true contextualization. We need to preach, teach, train, and disciple the church to communicate the historic gospel of grace in creative cultural forms that awaken people to Jesus, not just lure them into bland services. May we retrieve the true gospel, expressing it in wonderfully creative ways, in order to awaken people to the grace and truth found only in Jesus. (Dodson 2012: n.p)
A gracious and seasoned with salt presentation and sharing of the good news in Christ Jesus enable a Christian to faithfully maintain both a Christian love and a Christian convictions as she share the Gospel of Christ in the cultural context she finds herself in.
This marks the end of my series on Newbigin and Contextualization. If you missed Newbigin And Cultural Embodied Gospel, Paul: The Missionary And Contextualizer, and Contextualization: Becoming All Things To All, I welcome you to read them and share your view on contextualization.
Martin, E. D. (1993). Colossians, Philemon. Believers church Bible commentary (206). Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press.
Dodson, Jonathan K. (2012) Internet Source,Last Accessed: 5/4/2012