I am currently doing some studies at the Mrel program at ABTS (Arab Baptist Theological Seminary) in Beirut. Last week we had the assignment to write 6-10 short propositional statements summarizing a basic theology of the relationship between the gospel and culture. Here are my statements:
- The gospel is the good news about the kingdom of God with the purpose to save and redeem human beings, communities, cultures, and the whole creation.
- The gospel is and always must be about the historical and resurrected Jesus Christ, as he is described in the biblical story. It can’t be generalized in broader Christian or religious terms.
- The gospel is missional. God sent his son to the world to save it. Jesus let himself be sent to preach and demonstrate the gospel. He is continuing to send out his disciples to do the same.
- The gospel is incarnational. In Jesus Christ, the word of God became flesh. Jesus was incarnated in a specific time and culture to meet specific people. In a similar way the gospel constantly needs to be incarnated into every culture and people group of the world.
- The gospel is supra-religious. No religious tradition contains the full truth or own the gospel. Every religion is a mixture of truth, human desires and flaws and demonic influence. The gospel will sometimes confirm, sometimes challenge, and sometimes transform different parts of any given religion.
- The gospel is supra-cultural. It transcends culture but we always meet it in cultural forms. No incarnation of the gospel in any culture is a universally objective version of the gospel. Even in the biblical stories, the gospel is incarnated in a specific time, place, and culture. There is need for a cross-cultural conversation in the global church to be able to get past one’s own cultural biases and get a clearer understanding of the gospel.
- When preaching the gospel there is need for self-critical reflection to preach the gospel and not one’s own culture and in a biblical way contextualize the gospel in every culture.
- The gospel always come with a call to repentance and discipleship. Human ways are flawed. Jesus calls us to turn from our ways and our cultural and religious idols and learn to follow him and follow his instructions. The gospel will challenge power structures, gender roles and economic structures.
- Jesus Christ is the model for how his disciples influence the surrounding culture with the gospel. Not through coercive power or dominance but through service and self-sacrificial love.
What do you make of those statements?