Wednesday, January 27, 2016

D. Broughton Knox on Contextualization and the Desire to Be Liked

Someone on facebook tonight insightfully said, "The church is crippled by the desire to be liked." This "desire to be liked" leads to that dreaded word, "contextualization," and then to a lack of faithfulness. What we need in the church, it seems to me, is to reclaim law and gospel preaching. The law exposes sin and threatens judgment, and the gospel when believed removes condemnation and gives God's favor.
Here is one of my favorite Australian authors, who is sadly not well known in the US, D. Broughton Knox, on this subject:

"A gospel which contains judgement as a prominent strand as does the New Testament gospel, is relevant to men and women everywhere and in every age and culture. It does not need indigenization [that is, contextualization], so popular a catchword today, but requires only clarity of language and faithfulness in proclamation. The sense of right and wrong is universal in the human race and so is the knowledge that we fall below our own standards of what is right, and that this entails death.

"Thus the gospel that contains judgement, and salvation from judgement, is a gospel that is always relevant to the hearer, no matter to what stage of civilization he may have attained. Such a gospel does not need to be assimilated to the culture of the people who are hearing it.

"A theology that proclaims the God who saves from judgement by forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does not need to be adapted for Australian audiences, or to be turned into a black theology for the blacks of North America. Asian Christians and Western Christians need the same gospel and the same theology which is based on it, and all are able to understand it, no matter how different the cultural backgrounds of the hearers and preachers may be, so long as the proclamation is true to the New Testament gospel of judgement and salvation from judgement."

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