Honored as one of the "Fifteen Outstanding Books of 2005 for Mission Studies" by International Bulletin of Missionary Research
From Cairo to Calcutta, from Cochabamba to Columbus, Christians are engaged in a conversation about how to speak and live the gospel in today's traditional, modern and emergent cultures. The technical term for their efforts is contextualization. Missionary theorists have pondered and written on it at length. More and more, those who do theology in the West are also trying to discover new ways of communicating and embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. But few have considered in depth how the early church contextualized the gospel. And yet the New Testament provides numerous examples.
As both a crosscultural missionary and a New Testament scholar, Dean Flemming is well equipped to examine how the early church contextualized the gospel and to draw out lessons for today. By carefully sifting the New Testament evidence, Flemming uncovers the patterns and parameters of a Paul or Mark or John as they spoke the Word on target, and he brings these to bear on our contemporary missiological task.
Rich in insights and conversant with frontline thinking, this is a book that will revitalize the conversation and refresh our speaking and living the gospel in today's cultures, whether in traditional, modern or emergent contexts.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Flemming (2005, 19) asserts that contextualisation is a hermeneutical, theological, cultural and missiological quest, arguing that there is no consensus as to whether the Gospel or the Cultural context should play the lead role in the shaping of the contextualization process. He draws on a breadth of biblical, historical, geographical, socio/political and cultural, narrative, literary and grammatical disciplines to establish his thesis that "the New Testament informs and mentors a contextual application of the Gospel" according to the following outline:
Chapter one identifies patterns of incarnating the gospel overviewing the book of Acts to establish precedents for how the gospel addresses new situations and cultural groups in fresh ways.
Chapter two reviews Paul's missionary sermons as exemplars of evangelistic contextualisation in a variety of settings.
Chapters three through seven interact as a conversation with Paul to...
As the emergent village dialogs to frame new paradigms, more orthodox churches and movements struggle to maintain their theological integrity while contextualizing their message.
Dean Flemming, with teaching experience in southeast Asia and western Europe, contributes usefully to this discussion. Flemming, whose orientation is Wesleyan-Arminian, provides a careful and thorough study of the contextual ministry of New Testament authors, whom Flemming contends were highly aware of the cultural settings they addressed, framing their messages accordingly.
Moving with an articulate grace through many Pauline passages, Flemming devotes the core of his book to Paul's efforts to contextualize both the transitional and cultural aspects of Christ's life --- e.g. his Jewish birth and heritage --- as well as the universal and transcultural realities of Christ's atoning death and subsequent resurrection. Flemming proposes that, among its other relevant characteristics,...
In this book, Flemming not only provides insight into issues of contextualization and expositions of the contextualization methodology of the NT writers; he has also given us a handbook to help in reading the NT reflectively with regard to re-contextualization of the NT for historically Christian cultures, as well as to assist others in contextualization of the gospel in their cultures.
The reader will realize that the NT provides us with a rich compendium of case studies in theological contextualization in a variety of cross- and inter-cultural contexts, in each of which a particular worldview (with its beliefs, values, ethics and consequent behavior) is challenged, and where an alternative, biblical and gospel-centered worldview (with its own beliefs, values, ethics and consequent behavior) is presented in a variety of possible ways. There is no "one size fits all" approach. Each context is treated with sensitivity to the specific issues faced. What is crucial in this...
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