When I clicked this link, it says the video was not available…..Am I doing something wrong?
Sorry, I failed to read the small writing….I was able to watch it through YouTube..Please disregard my previous comment. Thank you.
Thank you Dr. Kikawa, for your video and introducing the 3 cords that often bind people from other cultures from accepting Christianity — Christianity as a foreign religion; Christianity as a rejection of culture; and the harmful view of Christianity as seen through colonialism and crusade. Thankfully, you did not leave it with the cords, but you also suggested powerful tools for cutting those cords — coming to see God’s fingerprints in their own cultures; contextualizing the gospel in local context and culture; and willingness to discern the past hurts and to confess and ask forgiveness. This video offers wise insights as we go deeper into understanding a people/culture and seek to find ways to share Jesus in ways that they will understand Him and see themselves and their cultures loved and accepted in Him.
Dr. Kikawa makes a point in his video about the need to separate Jesus from harmful deeds done by Western Christian nations. This reminded me of a comment that my friend from college made about Christianity being “strong and scary” religion because of the Crusade. Even last week someone mentioned about Catholic priests molesting boys as her reason for not accepting Christianity. I grieve over these things that tarnish God’s reputation and I’d like to learn ways of conversing the faith with people in such a way to help people understand the difference between Jesus and what has been done in His name.
Dr. Kikawa’s paper “Cultural Theology and Missiology” asks two questions. One of the questions is Can an indigenous man who does not know the Bible or has not heard the gospel know and have a relationship with the God of the Bible? The answer is yes and the paper gives evidence for it. Does that mean he is saved without the full understanding of his Lord and Savior? Then the logical conclusion may be “Then why missions?” Don’t we have to follow up and say that people’s relationship with God without the knowledge of the Bible in these indigenous cultures may not be what it can be, i.e., rich intimacy with Jesus? That’s why we need cross-cultural mission. Some of the prophesies in the indigenous cultures told people about strangers coming to tell them the full story of God.
The paper on syncretism reminds me of the fact that God is concerned about our hearts, not just about our behavior. The same behavior can be syncretism or free from syncretism depending on where the person’s heart is. So the article has the implication for foreign missionaries; they can’t easily determine some behavior in the culture is syncretic to the indigenous people.
Contextualization in Action reminds me of my long journey with questions such as “What is church?” “What form(s) or venue to teach/learn the Bible, to worship, to fellowship and to do “one anothers” are most effective in Japan?” I’m still searching for the answers.
This week’s theme, syncretism, and contextualization are interesting subjects. As we have been reading how God had revealed himself to people all over the world, there are numerous examples of signposts we can find. It is true that Christians are often afraid of integrating or adopting the culture/customs of the place they are sent which might not align with scripture or introduce incorrect theology/practices. Rather missionaries want the people to copy exactly how they do it in their culture which can make people turn away from God.
Contextualizing the history and the narrative of people group’s culture and customs into the gospel is crucial to reach out to indigenous people. At the same time, we need to examine our hearts (motives) when we do so. What are we trying to do by contextualizing the customs or practice? Is this to help them to see the signpost of God or just try to avoid conflict? Are we compromising scripture and stretching too much of the truth? By the leading of the Holy Spirit, we need to carefully apply the truth to help the people for understanding and experiencing the only true God. It requires God’s wisdom and timing.
I was discussing with a friend of mine who is a recent missionary to Thailand, particularly about contextualization and syncretism. While not yet at that stage, my friend definitely is thinking about it. There isn’t a concept of sin there, either, but they do believe in karma. So the gospel has been contextualized to share Jesus as the way to break out of the karma cycle because He took the karma and offers perfect merit.
This week’s theme, Syncretism and Contextualization are the issues that I want to study the most. Due to Japanese people have very unique culture and religious traditions, I hope that I have keen eyes to discern what to consider as differences and wrongs. And I enjoyed reading Dr.Kikawa’s paper that there are so many fingerprints of God in every culture so that an indigenous Man can have faith and relationship with God. I liked his point of describing the role of the Bible, as the measuring stick of the truth. There are many evidences to know God without the Bible, but the Bible is the only source to help us discern. Most failures in the past mission works all over the world are from cultural colonialism and bias. So I believe we have to pay very careful attentions to find a way of having spiritually healthy balance between indigenous culture and our own culture when we are in the mission field.
My apologies, I completed all the assignments earlier in the week but was waiting for Saturday to post and mark complete, then missed posting by the Saturday deadline.
Cultural Theology: great reminder that every people group and culture has a history with the creator. I love reading the many examples of how God has worked and prepared people to receive, or receive again, His Gospel. “The Fields are Ripe”
Syncretism: The article correctly states that every believer is at risk of falling into error. Reminds me again how I need to move away from any thoughts that I have in all figured out. I think this is very common in the American church. We don’t just want converts turned lose to love and follow God, we want people to believe everything just the way we believe it. Discipleship is important, but it’s more important to teach and disciple how to read the Word, and listen to God, than to try to drill perfect doctrine. We have to trust that God is faithful and responsible for speaking to hearts.
Contextualization: honors history, culture, and ethnicity to make the Gospel understandable and conceivable.
All good stuff. I’m really enjoying these assignments
Week 6 comment
Cultural Theology part 1 talked about how so many people whose name appears in the Bible have encountered God. God came to each person where they were at the time, even some of them were not Jewish and were from pagan culture. According to the scriptures listed, I felt that God was taking action first in a lot of these situations not men did anything first. For example, ‘God told Noah’, ‘God sent angels to Lot’, and ‘God gave a dream to Abimelech’. This really tells that God’s desires to connect with people and reveal Himself to us in so many different ways. Just like the Bible says He sees our hearts and not outward appearance. He sees how each person seeks after God. As we try to reach non-believers, I would like to have this kind of heart to approach people. Reaching out to people with the love God has for them. This article really spoke to me that God has so many ways to reach out people and I don’t want to limit His ways with my own doing.
I want to share a story. A true story. An unsung hero of faith. Her name is unknown to me. I know her as my student’s great grandmother who passed away when he was nine but left a lasting impact on his heart. She was the only Christian in the family. In fact, she was the only Christian in the village at that time (this was long time ago). Being a Christian in a communist country wasn’t easy for her. “Why didn’t she share her faith with you?” I asked my Chinese student who claimed to be a seeker in the group Bible study. “I don’t think she herself understood the full scope of her faith. Its like she believed but could not explain others”. So, it was a faith without fully understanding the Gospel. It was not hard to digest because I come from a similar past myself. I had walked with Jesus for 11 years before someone explained and theologically unpacked the Gospel fully to me. I was happy to learn the deep theology. However, it was clear that faith was not directly proportional to the knowledge. No wonder Jesus calls us to have a childlike faith! Anyway, back to our hero of faith – an old great grandma from China.
She must have at least the Bible she could read and get her facts in order. No, she didn’t. she only had a few pages, not even in order. To make things worse, she was illiterate.
Despite all that, she held on to her faith. Her name is not as known as some other heroes of faith from her time, nonetheless, her faith is no less admirable. Faith without access to reading the Bible and a faith without a full understanding of the Gospel. Indeed, God had placed eternity in her heart!
The actions taken to make the gospel more relevant and remove the 3 “cords that bound” up the Hawaiian people were a great testimony to God’s desire and leading of the team seeking to reach them more effectively. There may be some similarities in reaching other people groups with the gospel that have other barriers to receiving the good news. The fundamental question of can someone know God without access to the good news in Jesus is a little more nuanced. Yes – God does prepare people to hear the good news. However, they still need to be introduced to Jesus and the salvation that is given by no other name under heaven. Otherwise – why bother going and why bother sharing because God is doing it without us and doesn’t need our assistance. Similarly, finding a good name to describe the Most High God in a particular language requires a good depth of understanding of the language and religious background of a people. The article on Contextualization highlighted some of the difficulty with the concept. A person could be praying with what looks like a buddhist set of tools and in a specific posture – and yet it is entirely different since they are praying specifically to the Father God in Jesus name. However, a person who is still confused about the need to pray in a specific temple (because it gets better results) is still growing in their understanding of who God is and how prayer works.