Thursday, November 25, 2010
The Need for Contextualized Theology and Evangelism
Here's a great blog post by Allen Yeh on the need for nonwestern theology in the body of Christ, by way of Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity. I encourage you to read it because it explains why we in the West need to hear the perspectives of our nonwestern brothers and sisters in Christ. I think it is a great parallel to 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, where Paul explains how indispensable each part of Christ's body (the church) is to the others.
Another post in a similar vein is Contextualization and the Essence of the Gospel by Mark Naylor, who discusses the need for contextualized evangelism. Be sure to also read his previous post, Shaping the Gospel message so that it Resonates. Both posts echo Yeh's post in that they advocate the idea that there are several biblical layers/facets to the Gospel as a whole, and most people and cultures naturally relate to some of these layers more than others. Therefore, the missionary/evangelist needs to contextualize his presentation of the Gospel to enhance the understanding of the particular audience.
So what does all of this have to do with contextualized art? In presenting the Gospel visually, we must first understand the hearts and minds of the intended audience. Ultimately, it would be most preferable to have a native theologian/artist presenting any visual theology, since they would understand their own culture best. But if the task falls to a nonwesterner, then understanding on our part is indispensable.
It also means that nonwestern theologians and artists have much to teach us in the West about Christ and his kingdom, just as we have much to teach them. By doing so with an attitude of mutual respect and humility, we will all grow closer to each other while growing closer to Chirst.