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Contextualization in World Missions

, 2012
ISBN: 9780825433894



Contextualization is the art of translating ideas into a particular situation, place, or culture. It is fundamental to communication, which makes contextualization essential in missions. This textbook pulls together and maps the variety of evangelical approaches to contextualization. Introductory classes on contextualization and missionary preparation institutes will appreciate this valuable textbook.

In section one, Moreau explores foundations that make it possible to see the variety of evangelical models more clearly. He looks at the ways evangelical models have been characterized in the literature, and he highlights the main concerns of evangelicals in their contextualizing efforts. Moreau explains several guiding ideas and analytic tools that show how evangelicals “lean into” contextualization.

In section two, Moreau describes how evangelical models of contextualization can be split into six primary categories based on the role of the initiator: facilitator, guide, herald, pathfinder, prophet, and restorer. For each initiator role, Moreau explains the role, portrays one or more models from the category, and presents selected contextual practices that evangelicals use which fit the category. This arrangement makes categorization easier than other options and does not frame the models in ways that bias their evaluation.

Contextualization in World Missions will guide the mission-minded to an informed plan for spreading the gospel effectively. While written with a theoretical perspective, Contextualization in World Missions also provides real-world examples to provoke both thought and action.

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  • Maps the variety of evangelical approaches to contextualization
  • Offers criteria by which evangelicals label sections of our continent
  • Provides short excursions to some carefully chosen landmarks in each type of terrain
  • Section 1: Foundations for Evangelical Contextualization
    • Models and Maps of Contextualizations
    • Presuppositional Concerns in Contextualizations 1: Revelation
    • Presuppositional Concerns in Contextualizations 2: Interpretation
    • Discerning the Good from the Bad in Contextualization
    • Concepts That Shape and Constrain Contextualization
    • Tools for Analysis and Application in Contextualization

  • Section 2: Mapping Evangelical Models of Contextualization
    • Mapping Examples of Evangelical Contextualization
    • Initiator as Facilitator
    • Initiator as Guide
    • Initiator as Herald
    • Initiator as Pathfinder
    • Initiator as Prophet
    • Initiator as Restorer
    • Future Trajectories
He skillfully provides the theoretical framework, definitions, charts, and ample resources for students exploring contextualization for the first time. There is such depth here, however, that graduate students will find the chapters equally challenging and useful for extended research. The reference list of articles and books alone is a lasting treasure for missiology students. Moreau spans a spectrum of approaches and issues where the gospel intersects with cultures. This work is a springboard for various teaching styles and methods of presentation. The well-planned layout of outlines, summaries, study questions, and key word lists make travel through the material extremely manageable. One shouldn’t study contextualization without access to Moreau’s work.

—Paul W. Shea, associate professor of missions, Houghton College

Scott Moreau provides us with a very thoughtful treatment of one of the most important and controversial issues of the day—contextualization. Setting this issue in the context of history, current reality, and future possibilities provides readers with a helpful framework to deal with this topic. As evangelicals who are committed to the gospel transformation of individuals, families, communities, and nations, we must personally and corporately wrestle with the issues raised by Moreau. I believe Contextualization in World Missions will help provide greater clarity, understanding, and hopefully unity as we serve our risen Lord in seeking to make disciples of all nations.

—Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO/secretary general, World Evangelical Alliance

Jesus ate local food and spoke the local dialect. He honored his context. But contextualization is not bulletproof. There are many dangers. What term do we use for God? What rituals do we participate in? Is air conditioning contextual? Is the majority language contextual, or only the minority? If the second generation is influenced by global media, are their values as contextual as the first generation’s? How much does it matter anyway? Aren’t there other priorities that are more important than contextualization? For many years on the field and in the literature, Scott Moreau has explored this. Here is the fruit of his labor—nuanced, comparative, and inspiring.

—Miriam Adeney, associate professor of world Christian studies, Seattle Pacific University

Dr. A. Scott Moreau is professor of intercultural studies at Wheaton College and the author of numerous articles on missions in journals and books. Having spent a number of years in Africa as a missionary, he has firsthand knowledge of contextualization issues. His other professional interests include folk religions and technology in missions.


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