Friday, February 1, 2008


This is a chat between myself and one of my favorite Presbyterian brothers....

ME: The theoretical dynamic of contextualization is good to beat into our skulls, but actually doing contextualization has got to be Spirit-led. As Gordon Fee pleads that that our exegesis and scholarship must be Spirit-wrought, so must our contextualization be. When Paul was burning to go to Spain, he knew that they spoke Latin and that culture there was probably a bit different, but it is not likely he had John Mark run up there and sketch a dozen ethnographic and/or demographic surveys. He was compelled by the Spirit. I dont think they're mutually exclusive though. Knowing the how, why, when, and where of contextualizing - these are gifts of God as well. I hope all this doesn't sound smart aleck. It's kind of where He has been teaching me.

PD: We need to be careful in talking about the Spirt working through us that we are not gnostics. Calvinists believe that God works through means, so we are not left in some kind of Kantian bikini. Thinking hard about contextualization is the work of the Spirt leading us....

ME: I concur readily that contextualization is, or rather - can be and should be - the work of the Spirit. For Paul, gnosticism and being led by the Spirit weren't things to confuse. The gnostics damned the real Jesus, not the real Spirit. Still, I think many of those "means" are the gifts or ministries of the Spirit in the lives of the believers. After Paul yaps thoroughly about theology in his epistles, he then turns to what it looks like for Spirit-endowed believers to live that theology [the "gifts" or "ministries" in Rom 12, 1 Cor 12-14, Gal 5, Eph 4-5, etc]. Believers should have a direct relationship with the Spirit and should also be sensitive to the "means" he uses. I think that it is both/and, not either/or. Is this too pentecostal? I'd rather not categorize it. I just think that is where the NT balance is. Well, I need a good Presbyterian response to this. Feedback please. I need iron-sharpening on this. Also, your image of the Kantian bikini is really seductive. I'm going to buy one for Sara.


Sara said...
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Bible Ninja said...

Is limiting the Spirit working through my thoughtlife the equivalent of handing a child a high-powered shotgun?

'Oh. God works primarily through what I'm thinking. I'm thinking 'x' is reasonable. Therefore the Spirit is leading us to 'x'. Therefore if you disagree with me, you are disagreeing with the Spirit.'

Its like the ultimate trump card.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding.