The goal of gospel contextualization

(Old Facebook Post – Revised)

Good questions and reflections here by Thabiti Anyabwile for missiologists and church leaders about the gospel and culture. I especially found this thought-provoking:

“It seems to me that a lot of the popular discussion of contextualization suffers from an incomplete statement of the goal. Contextualizing isn’t the goal. I think everyone who pauses to think about this even for a moment would agree with this. But what’s missing is, imo, a robust statement of the goal. What’s the end we ought to have in mind as we employ this strategy? What does Paul have in mind when he says “so that I might win some”? It’s not simply Christian profession. Nor is it simply personal discipleship. Neither is it simply church membership. If Paul means to win people to the position he himself occupies, it also includes such a radical redefinition of personal identity that he and the convert can become all things to all men (a kind of loose grip on natural identity itself, or a radically enlarged notion of freedom in Christ).”

How should this shape our churches? What if the goal of our discipleship programs and church structures was to equip each member to “become all things to all people… for the sake of the gospel,” as Paul did, “that by all means [they] might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22-23)? What would such a church look like? How much visible diversity would be present? How much gospel unity?


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