Dr. Keller discussed the term of art called 'contextualization' in his second talk of the conference. Think of it as: What context should I put the gospel in for my audience?
Contextualization Dr Keller - 1/26/2011
Contextualization - to put (a linguistic element, an action, etc.) in a context, especially one that is characteristic or appropriate, as for purposes of study. giving answers to peoples questions in a way they understand. The trick is not overadapting or underadapting. Ministry has to be contextualized for the mission culture at hand. This culture can be almost any demographic/social trait. Most boring sermons arent unbiblical, they havnt properly been contextualized for the audience.
We get to understand the gospel better, because we realize how the gospel is contextualized in our own culture so that we are able to present the gospel to other cultures.
Context is invisible to us. You don't ask a fish about water. We only understand our own culture when we've left it for a certain period of time. To return after some years, may make you even better at contextualizing to your home audience.
-When spreading the Gospel there is no reason not to adapt our gospel to the surrounding environment. You can do that without losing the gospel truth. Your cultural preferences shouldn't be on the same altar as the gospel truth.
Biblical themes that have have the largest effect / motivation on people:
1. Fear of judgment or death
2. Relieve the burden of guilt or shame
3. The beauty of the Gospel itself
4. Satisfaction of unfulfilled longings (woman at the well)
5. Desire for freedom
6. Attractiveness of the grace and love of Jesus. (don't you want him!?)
We have to use all these appeals when sharing the gospel, we cannot simply use the one that appealed most to us. Various cultures and groups will respond to some of these more than others...(this is not a complete list.)
Sme great examples of Paul appealing to different cultures:
Acts 13:16-43 - Paul knew he could assume that the Jews would be living with Old Test. Theology as furniture in their mind.
Acts 14 - Paul presents to blue collar pagans
Acts 17 - Paul appeals to white collar pagans at Mars Hill
Read these and look at the different ways that Paul preaches.
***See John Stott's commentary on Acts!!
Go to 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 Most important of all texts on contextualization. The Greeks seeked wisdom, the Jews seeked for justice and righteousness. The cross was foolishness to both of these groups. Or did it answer both of see groups aspirations?!! Paul skillfully confronts and completes the baseline cultural narrative of both these groups.
There are some things about Christianity that will resonate more with people.
Popular doctrines = logs (grace & love)
Unpopular doctrines = stones (pre-marital sex & predestination*)
If you want to get your doctrines across the river, you must lash your logs together, and place your stones on top. You cannot lash your stones together and put your logs on top.
With contextualization, do not over adapt, or under adapt. But when you do adapt, you must confront the false issues of the day...if you do not confront these issues, you run the risk of becoming a club, not a church. (Don't forget to attach the stones to the logs).
There are different ways to talk about sin, for example...so if you culture looks at being good as being more important than being free...then talk about sin as idolatry.
*John Calvin interpreted predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others. Keller is a Calvinist. Point: You can only believe in free grace (which is one of the five points of Calvinism) if you believe in predestination. Otherwise, you have to admit that the reason you follow Christ and someone else doesn't is because you are a bit better than them. Your works have put you in a better position to receive Christ. You must take credit for something you've done, over something they've done. As soon as you begin doing this, your faith isn't something that was completed through christs work, and given freely to you...It's salvation by works, by your own merit.
The Bible gives you an entire medicine chest to use to treat spiritual illness, you just have to pick the right medication for the patient(s).
When trying to get around a boulder do not:
1. Put your explosives on the outside of the rock, then run away; or
2. Drill a hole all the way to the middle of the boulder, but not put any explosives in the center.
You have to drill all the way to the center of the boulder (or person) and the ignite the explosives (the Gospel)