Gospel in Culture
Indigenization and Contexutalization
Gospel in Culture
Etic analysis of culture
 In anthropology the “etic” model, or construct, is
the means of describing people and cultural
phenomenon from “the analyst’s conceptual
categories and basic assumptions” rather than
from the categories and assumptions of the people
with whom the anthropologist interacts (Hiebert
1983, 50).
Gospel in Culture
Emic analysis of culture
 The emic model which describes people and
their cultural phenomenon from their
perspective using their conceptual
categories and words.
Gospel in Culture
 Methodology that looks for significant
patterns of behavior in social contexts and
seeks to interpret them according to the
insiders perspective.
 Studying a way of life
Gospel in Culture
Five Missiological Implications of Ethnographic
 Missionaries need to be competent in ethnographic
 Ethnographies are helpful in mission preparation
 Crucial in ongoing contextualization and problem of
 Used to provide comparative data to help with strategies
 Should be use by mission leaders to better understand
internationalization and globalization
Four Models Missions
Contextualization (1971)
Self-Theologizing (Hiebert, 1985)
Four Models Missions
Replication – A strictly etic model would coincide
with Shenk’s “replication model” or the “structural
model” in Lamin Sanneh’s words (Sanneh 1999, 66).
Shenk describes the “replication model” as one that
“seeks to replicate or reproduce a church in another
culture patterned carefully after that of the church
from which the missionary originated.” The
missionary retains control and responsibility for the
church (1999, 51). The missionary also becomes the
final authority for theological reflection, application,
and defining theological and cultural constructs.
Four Models Missions
Replication Model
Meaning: Scripture: Exegesis/interpretation/application
Gospel Transmission
Cultural Grid
Four Models Missions
Indigenization – the translatability of the Christian
faith into the forms and symbols of the particular
cultures throughout the world. In other words, make
the gospel intelligible and relevant in word and deed
to the eyes and ears of the people being taught.
Rufus Anderson is considered the founder of the “indigenous
church principle” (Beaver 1967, 31). At the core of the
indigenous model is Anderson’s concept of the “three-selfs”
which is also associated with Henry Venn and John Nevius.
Four Models Missions
John Nevius and Henry Venn Three-selfs
(1) Self-governing
(2) Self-propagating
(3) Self-supporting
Four Models Missions
Positive contributions
(1) Churches were not as financially dependent on missionaries
(2) In reacting to the “Old System” where “native churches” depend
on foreign funds to support and stimulate growth, John Nevius places
emphasis on “applying principles of independence and self-reliance”
from the initiation of the new churches (1958, 8).
(3) Provided a model for missionaries to assist in maturing
independent churches.
(4) Moved away from a total replication model.
Four Models Missions
Limitations and problems
(1) Control still in hands of missionary or mission
“This opening for paternalism is provided by giving the missionary
responsibility to decide when a church is to be organized, to
determine how it shall be organized…” (Beaver 1967, 34)
(2) Leadership controlled by missionary
The reduction of dependence on the mission funds did not reflect an
equal independence from the control of the missionary. “The leader
constantly superintends, directs, and examines those under him; the
helper directs and examines the leaders and their stations; and the
missionary in charge has a general supervision and control of the
whole” (Allen 1958, 32-33).
(3) Focus mainly on structural aspects and finances
Four Models Missions
Indigenous church concept
(1) Associated with Sidney J. W. Clark
(2) Clark published a pamphlet entitled “The Country Church
and Indigenous Christianity”, later published and given
worldwide circulation through the World Dominion Press under
the tile of “The Indigenous Church.”
(3) By 1924 a movement was founded under the name of
“World Dominion” to propagate the “indigenous church”
Four Models Missions
Indigenous church concept
(4) Two primary principles were added to the “three-selfs”.
First, “the foreign missionary should devote himself to pioneer
evangelism” and not take on “pastoral duties for a
Second, “nothing should be instituted on the mission field by
the mission which could not be taken over, maintained, and
conducted by the native church” (Ritchie 1946, 13-18).
Four Models Missions
Indigenous Model
Form of Christianity to
fit in cultural context
Four Models Missions
Origin of concept: The term “contextualization”
came upon the missiological scene in 1972 with the
publication of the Theological Education Fund’s
(TEF) Ministry in Context: The Third Mandate.
TEF observes that contextualization conveys “all that
is implied in the familiar term ‘indigenization’ and
yet seeks to press beyond for a more dynamic concept
which is open to change and which is future-oriented”
(Coe 1976, 21).
Four Models Missions
Definition: Stephen Bevans defines contextual
theology as “a way of doing theology in which one
takes into account: the spirit and message of the
gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the
culture in which one is theologizing; and social
change in that culture, whether brought about by
western technological process or the grass-roots
struggle for equality, justice and liberation” (1992,
Four Models Missions
Definition: Victor Cole defines contextualization as “a
theological formulation from exegesis of biblical texts
within a socio-cultural context, and a living out of that
theology within the given cultural context, utilizing the
Bible as the only authority while recognizing the
progress of biblical revelation” (1998, 12).
Four Models Missions
Four arenas of contextualization according to
the Theological Education Fund’s Report.
•Missiological – focus on renewal & reform issues for human
development and justice
•Structural – develop structures socio-economic and political
•Pedagogical – training in servant ministry, not elitism and
•Theological – finding appropriate ways of doing theology in
various contexts related to ministry issues within and
without the ministry contexts
Lienemann-Perrin 1981, 175
Four Models Missions
Fourth self – moving beyond indigenization
Self-theologizing – Christians and church leaders do
their own theology through studying scripture and make
application to their own cultural situation.
Four Models Missions
Contextualization Model
Four Models Missions
(a) “Emic contextualization” is intended to convey the
idea that the host culture Christians are taking the
leading role in contextualizing the gospel message in
their cultural context by increasingly providing the
theological categories for doing theology.
(b) Emic-contextualization progresses from a relatively
unconscious self-contextualization to a conscious
grappling with the application of biblical teaching to the
cultural context.
(c) Thus for an African context, there would be
particular African Christian theologies emerging from
their own contexts which address their daily concerns.
Four Models Missions
Emic-Contextualization Model
Facilitating Emic-theologizing
The six dimensions for evaluating emic-theologizing:
Facilitating Emic-theologizing
Cognitive - The “cognitive” dimension refers to “knowledge,”
but specifically, the ability to conceptualize biblical knowledge
from the educational process, from personal study, and from
experience to make application in various cultural contexts.
Affective - The “affective” dimension involves the feelings the
ministers have toward their theological education experience
both positive and negative.
Evaluative - “Evaluative” refers to the ability to interact with
one’s own cultural heritage, current socio-cultural context,
and the church context to apply the biblical message to make
decisions in determining right and wrong within a ministry
Facilitating Emic-theologizing
Missiological - The “missiological” dimension focuses on
developing training that addresses renewal and reform issues
in the church dealing with human development and justice in
its particular context.
Structural - The “structural” category refers to the
administrative and infrastructure of the church and its various
institutions for carrying on ministry and providing training
sensitive to the socio-economic and political contexts.
Ministerial - The “ministerial” dimension carries the idea
that the ministers and other church leaders see themselves as
developing in their ministry skills and personally
experiencing a dynamic relationship with God in their
churches and communities.
Critical Contextualization
The Process
• Exegesis of culture
• Exegesis of scripture & hermeneutical bridge
• Critical response
• New contextualized practices
Critical Contextualization
Exegesis of Culture
“The first step calls for a phenomenological
analysis of the culture. This involves studying
the culture to understand “the categories,
assumptions and logic the people use to
construct their world.”
Critical Contextualization
Exegesis of Scripture & Hermeneutical Bridge
In the second step, there is a need for an
“ontological critique” that tests “the truth claims
of different beliefs and values.”
The two criteria for testing truth are:
(1) Scripture
(2) “Reality testing” to avoid an ethnocentric
understanding of reality. “Reality testing” calls
for an examination of one’s own understanding
of reality and that of the host culture.
Critical Contextualization
Critical Response
The third step calls for an “evaluative
response” which means one critically
evaluates his/her own beliefs, customs, and
cultural norms in light of the improved
understanding of the other culture and one’s
own previous biblical understanding and
cultural assumptions.
Critical Contextualization
New Contextualized Practices
The fourth step envisions “transformative
ministries” that assist people to “move from
where they are to where God wants them to
be” (1994, 88-90; 1999, 21-29).
Critical Contextualization
Millard J. Erickson defines theology as “that
discipline which strives to give a coherent
statement of the doctrines of the Christian
faith, based primarily upon Scripture, placed
within the context of culture in general,
worded in a contemporary idiom, and related
to issues of life” (1985, 21).
Critical Contextualization
Theology may originally only been the
cultivation of a spiritual reflective habit or
disposition in the believer.
Enlightenment: The science of systematically,
rationally, and without necessity of any
accompanying faith in the supernatural
character of its object of study.
Critical Contextualization
Reformation: Emphasized sola scritura and
sola gratia turning theology from a mere
metaphysical science of ontological
speculation to a systematic search for God’s
wisdom. (Systematic Theology)
Critical Contextualization
Meta-theology – is “a set of procedures by
which different theologies, each a partial
understanding of the truth in a certain
context, could be constructed” which are
rooted in the scripture and person of Jesus
Christ (Hiebert 1994, 101)
Critical Contextualization
Theology is the process by which a person
interacts with God’s revelation given within
its own contexts and from which a person
discovers the original meaning of scripture
and makes application to his/her own context,
expressed in the language and idioms of the
Theology: Understanding
Scripture in a Cultural Context
Hiebert – Anthropological Reflections (47)
God’s Self Revelation
The Process
• Bible Translated into the new language
• Old customs must be evaluated in light of
• The church needs to become a new
sociocultural order in light of scripture
• The church in sociocultural settings must
develop it own theology by applying
biblical truth to their context – “Selftheologizing”
Checks on Syncretism
1. Biblical revelation is the standard by which
all practices and beliefs are measured
2. Holy Spirit works in all the believers
3. Church acts as a hermeneutical
4. Worldwide hermeneutical community