One of the many arguments being used in church circles to defend creative rewriting of Scripture to placate cultural sensibilities is termed contextualization. Essentially, the argument is made that what is received as truth in Africa, or Asia, or rural America, will not “float” in sophisticated urban America.
Homosexuality, of course, is the presenting issue. Contextualization advocates argue that it is good and right to present the gospel in ways that people will accept it—even if it is a different gospel than the one presented in Scripture, particularly in terms of human sexual practice. They (arrogantly) assume that Africa (or poor rural folk) will “catch up with” their (supposed) “wisdom” if we just give them a few more decades….
Here is the resolution we are presenting that addresses contextualization.
RESOLUTION ON CONTEXTUALIZATION
TENNESSEE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Whereas, the term Contextualization has become a popular term in our Church cultural, used to explain the concept that varied cultural contexts call for the Gospel to be presented in various ways; and
Whereas, the Scriptural justification for contextualization is seemingly found in 1 Corinthians 9:22b, which reads, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some” (NRSV); and
Whereas, this justification for contextualization seems reasonable until placed in the light of 1 Corinthians 9:21b, which states “I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law,” which makes clear that the cultural context does not and cannot override Biblical truth and morality; and
Whereas, the law and love of Christ does not therefore bend to the context, but rather, the context bends to the loving law of Christ Jesus;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference values the Christ over the Context; celebrating God’s love which transforms cultural contexts by aligning them with Christ’s love, and not the other way around; and
Be it further resolved, that the Tennessee Annual Conference champions “Christ-textualization” as the way to change a culture and the world, not contextualization—when used as a justification to change the Gospel.
Submitted by: Rev. Dr. Craig Green and Livingston First United Methodist Church