Contextuwhat?

7 Jul

I’ve spent the last couple days basically in the house studying. 

In particular and you can think with me about this, I’ve been thinking about something you might call “contextualization.”  Let me try to explain.

We often talk about as preachers, “being faithful to the message” of Scripture. 

And I’m glad. 

One of the dangers we face as we go out there and interact with an ungodly world is becoming just like the world.  I think of Abraham in Egypt, lying about Sarah as an example.

But as we communicate God’s Word we do not only need to be faithful to the “message” of Scripture, we also need to be faithful to the “method” of Scripture.   Contextualization.

And if you look at the method God uses to communicate with us, you find that he stoops down to use words and phrases that we can understand in order to reveal himself to us.  I’m not saying that he didn’t use words and concepts that are hard to understand.  I am saying that he by and large used familiar words and cultural concepts and images to reveal Himself to us. 

He didn’t have to.

He could have spoken some sort of heavenly language and used all sorts of unrevealed images and concepts and expected us to just do the work of figuring it out.  But He didn’t.

Maybe another way of putting it would be to say that we as communicators need to be unselfish.  If we understand the text, that’s great.  But that’s not the end of communication.  One of the goals of communication is not just speaking the text, it is communicating the text.  And if we are going to do that we need to think not only about the text we are communicating but also the people we are communicating it to.

I’m applying this obviously to preaching in Africa.  The focus of my dissertation is going to be something like, does expository preaching look different in a traditional South African culture than it does in a Western culture?  And how?  What are the negotiables and the non-negotiables of expository preaching.

I’ve got to thank my church for giving me this opportunity to study in Africa.  It’s a big sacrifice for them.  But they have a vision beyond Coopersburg.  And I believe that their willingness to sacrifice will prove a blessing both to them and hopefully, God willing to churches in Africa.

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One Response to “Contextuwhat?”

  1. Peter van Arkens July 7, 2006 at 9:06 pm #

    Josh,

    Be encouraged in all that you do, for the Lord has His hands on you and you can be sure He is watching over your family and the flock at Grace Fellowship Church. Sometimes He takes us away and tests our mettle to see if we are conforming to His will for He is the Potter and we are the clay. Thank you for your godly counsel and direction to my family and I over the years that we were privileged to be under your guidance. I am coming to Kenya and Uganda shortly and I expect that I will have Him with me whenever and wherever I am. Your work is important, Josh, so go in peace and let the Lord have His way with you.

    Peter van Arkens

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