Contextualization: A Theology of Gospel and Culture – Daniel Rickett

The main focus of this book was to attempt to develop some kind of a starting point and strategy to be able to communicate the message of the Word of God into a culture without it being tainted by the communicator’s culture and without it being twisted by the receptor’s culture.  The author sought to provide information of how to take the unchanging Word of God and allow someone to be a biblical Christian in their own culture.

            The strengths of the book I would say would be the wide variety of examples the author gave of how culture has affected the communication of the biblical message throughout history.  This I believe will greatly help readers to recognize and maybe change some of the cultural biases that we bring to the table.  There were examples of what happens when someone falls into the trap of syncretism in the spreading of the biblical message to other cultures.  There were warnings on both sides of the issue; not being too culturally insensitive, and not being too accommodating to cultural issues that are contrary to Scripture.  The section on what a biblical theology really is, was excellent.  It really helps to show what a Christian worldview should be.

            Some of the weaknesses of the book would be, at points the book was a little difficult to wade through, especially when dealing with those “believers” who fancy themselves as philosophers.  Their language is a bit “cloudy” at times.  The language that described some of the foreign religions and their belief systems was a bit foreign to me also.  I remember having to study some of these religions in high school but do not have the knowledge base to understand all of what the author was discussing at points.

            There were some new ideas that I learned from this book.  The principals that were set forth on how to communicate the message of the Bible to other cultures will be very helpful in every aspect of life and ministry.  There were warnings involved for us not to become to culturally influenced, and thereby become entrenched in wrong thinking and living.  There were also helpful tips of how to be a Christian in times and cultures that are continuously changing.

            I was reminded by this book the importance of helping people in my church to realize that Christianity and the American political process are not synonymous.  It has further reinforced my feelings that we should stop wrapping ourselves in the American flag.  We need to start practicing our grammatical-historical method of understanding Scripture and apply that to the fact that we are not living in the promised land.  We are people that have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, and therefore, have been adopted into the family of God.  We live according to the instruction and standards of God’s Word.  I am beginning to realize why so many people in other countries are skeptical of American believers, because too many times we have too closely associated ourselves with the American way of life, instead of “the way” that is described in the book of Acts.  This must change. 

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