Summary: THREE INTERSECTING ASPECTS OF THE WILL OF GOD SOVEREIGN WISDOM MORAL DIMENSIONS
THREE INTERSECTING ASPECTS OF THE WILL OF GOD
SOVEREIGN WISDOM MORAL
So how does a contextualizer differentiate between what is a moral absolute and what is a cultural ideal that runs contradictory to God’s standards? It seems that the solution is found through discrimatorily discerning what are God’s essential principles in their original context. Second, a contextualizer needs to distinguish the ways in which those principles were communicated in their original cultural context. Third, the contextualizer should consider which elements are cultural values that are supracultural and which are expressions of cultural specifics that are non-essentials. For example, Paul told the Corinthians that a woman should have her head covered during worship services. This aligned with the principles of women demonstrating meekness and submission to the church authorities as representatives of God’s leadership. The Corinthian culture understood that wearing a head covering best expressed this in their culture. So Paul encouraged this practice, but today, many western families look at headcovering as a non-essential or culturally specific directive to the people of that time and context. So a western woman would demonstrate her submission to the church authorities by other means, but with similar attitudes of humility. This gentle and quiet spirit is what God is looking for as Peter reminds us in his letter, not the great attention to externals.
Therefore, a contextualizer seeks to be able to discerningly pick out the ideals of scripture and the ideals of culture and look for parallels. Don Richardson has made popular the redemptive analogy style of contextual evangelism in his book called Peace Child. In working with the Sawi tribe of Papau New Guinea, he discovered the value of analogizing the peace child between two warring villages and Jesus Christ, our chief reconciler between God and men. With this concept he has written numerous articles and books like Eternity in Their Hearts, encouraging others to think in terms of drawing bridges between the ideals hidden in the cultural consciences of people and those of the scripture. Take for example the following instance of a redemptive analogy from Perspectives on page 416 in an article called Concept Fulfillment he writes:
``When a missionary enters another culture, he is conspicuously foreign, and that is to be expected. but often the gospel he preaches is labeled foreign. How can he explain the gospel so it seems culturally right? The New Testament way seems to be through concept fulfillment. Consider:
The Jewish people practiced lamb sacrifice. John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the perfect, personal fulfillment of that sacrifice by saying, ``Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’’ This is concept fulfillment.
Nicodemus, a Jewish teacher, knew that Moses had lifted up a serpent of brass upon a pole, so that Jews when dying of snakebite could look at it and be healed.
Jesus promised, ``As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’’