Reading about the translation of Jn 3:16 in the Japanese Sign Language Bible reminded me of something that’s been sitting on my ever-expanding “wild ideas” list for quite some time now: we need a new translation of the Bible into Japanese. Or possibly two. Read more about Why we need another Japanese Bible translation (or two)
The other day I wrote a long blog post in Japanese. I haven’t posted it yet; I have a feeling it might offend people. That isn’t why I haven’t posted it, though—I want to make sure I offend the right people to just the right degree: not too much, of course, but not too little either. Here I want to work through the philosophical underpinnings of that post—why I wrote it and what I’m thinking about it, and why I think it’s worth offending people over. Read more about Counter-contextualization: Keeping our saltiness
When I went to Bible college, we were taught about a variety of theological viewpoints, with the implication that you would pick the one you liked the look of, since, you know, we’re all Protestants and so there’s nobody to tell you which one you should choose. (Although we will happily treat you like a heretic if you choose the wrong one.) And in terms of learning to work in multi-denominational teams and whatnot, that was all very useful to help us understand each other and, hopefully, not treat each other too much like heretics.
But we were also taught about contextualization and about presenting the Gospel in ways that make the most sense to the recipient, and so now when I come back to this idea of choosing which theological camp you belong to, I can’t help thinking, “Do I only get to choose one?” Read more about Can we be theological chameleons?
OK, I just finished reading 文脈化教会の形成, the Japanese translation of Mitsuo Fukuda’s PhD Thesis “Developing a contextualized church as a bridge to Christianity in Japan”. It’s much easier to get hold of the Japanese translation, which is published as a book by Harvest Time Ministries, than the original thesis, which is unpublished and so you have to order at great expense from UMI. Read more about Contextualization in Japan
On Monday we did a lecture at the Perspectives course on culture and evangelism, and it ended up getting a bit too extreme - I threw the whole kitchen sink into the talk and the audience probably wasn't very well prepared for it.
First, everyone thinks that contextualization is this clever new theory that has only found expression in the missionary movement in the past few decades. This isn't true. Even if you discount stuff like Paul in Athens because they weren't writing about the theory, well, there were people doing so 150 years ago: