Sunday, June 2, 2013

Searching for a Practical Theology of Contextualization

I've been spending a lot of the last month or so working on my shade garden, hence the lack of posts here on Indigenous Jesus.  However one thing that I've been thinking about in the back of my mind for some time is the subject of a theology of contextualization. I have a few books on contextualization (see below), but was wondering if there is a standout book that both discusses the theological background of the subject along with practical missiological examples, especially if they relate at all to the arts. I know that a lot has been written on contextualization, which makes it a bit difficult to narrow down to just one or two books.

I do think, however, that a theological foundation is essential to engaging in the practice of contextualization in ministry. And until or unless I take some theology classes on the subject, I'd like some thought-provoking reading that might help pull together all of the various strands– history, theology, examples– and give a practical, working theology of contextualization.

The books that I own are:
Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission by Dean Flemming
Contextualization: A Theology of Gospel and Culture by Bruce J. Nicholls
Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models by David J. Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen

The most recent new title I've seen is Contextualization in World Missions: Mapping and Assessing Evangelical Models by A. Scott Moreau, who teaches in the Missions and Intercultural Studies Department at Wheaton College. It looks very thorough and may be what I'm looking for.  Has anyone read it?

Other books on contextualization that I'm aware of are:
Christianity In Culture: A Study In Dynamic Biblical Theologizing In Cross-cultural Perspective by Charles H. and Marguerite G. Kraft
Contextualization and Syncretism: Navigating Cultural Currents by Gailyn Van Rheenen
Models of Contextual Theology (Faith and Cultures Series) by Stephen B. Bevans

Any other suggestions or insights? Thanks!


  1. a few years ago I wrote a doctoral paper on the biblical basis of contextualization you might be interested in. (i.e. it didn't start in Acts but is all throughout the OT) Andy LaBreche

  2. Really enjoy your posts by the way.. have used several of them in teaching contextualization to new missionaries. Andy

  3. My missionary aunt got her "papers on the wall" on this subject of contextualization. She let me borrow the following books (which I only had time to read a few) which were excellent on the subject. This is such a great subject to study, hope you continue to grow therein.

    --Appropriate Christianity by Charles H. Kraft
    --Christianity In Culture: A Study In Dynamic Biblical Theologizing In Cross-cultural Perspective by Charles H. Kraft and Marguerite G. Kraft
    --Anthropology for Christian Witness by Charles H. Kraft
    --Culture Communication and Christ by Kraft Charles
    Transforming Culture: A Challenge for Christian Mission by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
    --Agents of Transformation: A Guide for Effective Cross-Cultural Ministry by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

    Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Missionby Flemming Dean

    Gospel in Human Contexts, The: Anthropological Explorations for Contemporary Missions by Paul G. iebert

  4. Thanks Andy and Levi for your input. Btw, one more book that I own, but haven't read, is D.A. Carson's Christ and Culture Revisited.