What does it mean to “contextualise Christianity” in contexts like ours where pluralism is the order of the day? What does it mean to be “culturally incarnational” in societies like ours which are multi-cultural? What does that mean for Christian leaders?
4 thoughts on “Contextualization in a Pluralistic Context”
Goodness I hope you aren’t looking for one word answers, I’ll need to think about how to answer this one!
Always like to make you think 🙂
Matt, great questions in such a brief paragraph and post! I am thinking along these lines too, but it seems to me that the trouble is not so much pluralism, given that the early church contextualized successfully in such an environment, but that we live in a post-Christendom pluralism in the West. Living among and engaging others in a pre-Christian environment is far different, and less challenging perhaps, than in a post-Christendom environment where the church faces challenges like a loss of credibility, perceptions of little viability, and at odds with the shift to anti-hierarchical spiritualities which emphasize the divine feminine, as well as the sacred self and nature, all perceived to be antithetical to traditional Christianity. I am currently working through Dean Flemming’s “Contextualization in the New Testament” as well as Robert Schreiter’s “Constructing Local Theologies” for considerations on how all of this applies to contextualized theologies in my local contexts.
John, welcome back. Yes, some of the challenges of the post-Christendom environment are: (1) most people think they know a lot about Christianity, given their childhood experiences, when most don’t even have a good grasp of the basics, (2) many people have expectations about what church should be like, such that they resist cultural contextualization even as they complain about the irrelevance of the church, (3) most Christians don’t yet grok they are in a missional context and think incremental change will do.