Cultural Contextualization in Missions
Cultural contextualization may be defined as understanding the Scriptures within their cultural contexts, so that they can be translated into the local culture without losing their divine message (Hiebert 1985:97).
This definition advocates the use of critical contextualization approach to response to the question of how new converts should relate to their cultural past. The approach suggests neither rejecting nor accepting old beliefs and customs without examination in light of biblical norms, which means in essence, that all Christians must recognize the need to deal biblically with all areas of our lives. The missionary should therefore lead the congregation in uncritically gathering and analyzing traditional customs associated with the question at hand, and through the study of the Bible, help the local congregation evaluate critically their own past customs with the new biblical understandings to make a decision regarding their use. This is crucial because the people must understand and accept the biblical teachings in order to be able to deal with their cultural past. The choices they make may not necessary be what the missionary agree, but it is important to recognize and accept these decisions make by the local Christians as led by the Spirit of God (Hiebert 1985:186-190).
Cultural contextualization plays an important role in helping local congregations understand the gospel in their own context. We should therefore learn to recognize the different customs of the different cultures, so as not to impose on new converts our own customs, and deny them the right to make their own decisions.
Hiebert, G. Paul (1985), Anthropological Insights for Missionaries. Michigan: Baker Book House.
For the complete e-book of this article, please read Introduction to Christian Missions.
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