The gospel is directed to people in the concreteness of their lives. For this reason the understanding of the gospel is always of a contextual nature, i.e., is at all times related to the situations in which people live and is therefore influenced by various cultures. The one gospel is understood in and shaped by many cultures. In One Gospel—Many Cultures authors from various parts of the world describe examples of such contextual understandings of the gospel message.
The volume contains accounts of Jesus as rice in a Korean and as guru in a South-Indian setting; churches in secular and individualistic societies on both sides of the Atlantic struggling to understand the gospel anew; Christians in East Asian megalopolises trying to inculturate faith in their local cultures; poverty stricken people in massive urban areas in Latin America who cannot read eating fragments of the Psalms; women in African countries suffering poverty and threatened by the spread of diseases, raising the question whether the churches should stick to monogamy or make room for polygamy? These examples entail serious questions for the churches. In what does the unity of the worldwide church consist and how strong is its witness if various contexts yield different interpretations of the gospel? Is cross-cultural understanding in the church possible?
Is the World's Day of Women's Prayer perhaps a better example of cross-cultural sharing and unity, women listening to women from parts of the world other than their own, praying together, sharing songs and, if needed, money, and thereby demonstrating one faith, one gospel, one God. And to take another completely different case, was apartheid not a cruel form of contextualization, a parody of the gospel of liberation, a negation of the gospel that calls for and makes possible the breaking down of existing walls of separation between people of different races, colours, nations and genders? The contributors to the work in hand do not merely present case studies of attempts to bring the gospel into rapport with diverse cultural and human situations but also discuss the pro's and con's of the examples of contextualization they describe.
The papers included in the present work are the fruit of a study project which forms part of the larger long-standing and ongoing program of theological reflection undertaken by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. With its fascinating cases studies and thorough discussions of the problems and issues involved in contextualization, this volume will be recognized as an important textbook for academic courses in intercultural theology, ecumenical studies and theological hermeneutics.
Contributors: Marcella Althaus-Reid, Russell Botman, Heup Young Kim, Christine Lienemann-Perrin, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Joseph Small, M. Thomas Thangaraj, Hendrik M. Vroom, and Choo-Lak Yeow