MRT 10.3 Sept 2015 – Christ Meets Culture

Shaped by many forces, our identity is substantially moulded by the culture(s) in which we were raised and where we live and work. This is true whether we are monocultural or have been significantly impacted by the majority or minority cultures around us. And though it is not accurate to think of missionaries solely as cross-cultural workers since the missio dei reaches to people from within and without our cultures, we are cultural workers, sharing the message of Jesus Christ so that it can be understood by people of culture, no matter where they are found.

Many evangelical Christians are, as the opening article suggests, suspicious of culture—particularly popular culture. By interacting with the biblical text and contemporary scholarship, Paul Woods lays foundations for thinking about culture and our place in it. The next two articles come from the OMF International Daniel Team that was formed to help missionaries develop in their understanding of language, culture, and worldview. “How I lived Among You” promotes living an “incarnational lifestyle” after the model of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. “Incarnation and Transformation” invites us to examine our own culture along with the culture of the people with whom we work so that we can more humbly and effectively communicate with them.

Following these are two articles by Susan Chapman and Walter McConnell that orient us to current and historical approaches to culture to help missionaries think through cultural issues they confront and and respond to the culture in which they live and work.

The importance of applying our thinking about culture to concrete examples stands out in Brian Powell’s and Ruth Page’s articles. The last two articles written by J. Hudson Taylor and D. E. Hoste distinguish between the key principles of identifying with the people and removing obstacles to the gospel and cultural issues—like wardrobe—that may change with time and place.


The Sound of One Hand Clapping? Scriptural Perspectives on Faith Engaging with Culture – Paul Woods

How I lived Among You: A Theology of Incarnational Ministry – T. E. and the OMF International Daniel Team

Incarnation and Transformation – T. E. and the OMF International Daniel Team

Three Models of Culture – Susan Chapman

Reconsidering H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture – Walter McConnell

Perceptions of Christ in Manobo Culture – Brian Powell

When Beauty Isn’t – Ruth Page

CIM and Adapting to Chinese Culture – Walter McConnell

On Becoming Chinese to the Chinese – James Hudson Taylor

Wearing of the Chinese Dress Shall No Longer be Obligatory – D. E. Hoste

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