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Models of Contextual Theology (Faith and Cultures Series) Paperback – September 10, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen B. Bevans, a member of the Divine Word Missionaries, is Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor of Gospel and Culture at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and editor of Mission Studies.
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Product Details

  • Series: Faith and Cultures Series
  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; Rev Exp edition (September 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570754381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570754388
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"There is no such thing as theology, there is only contextual theology". So states the author, Stephen Bevans.
Everything, every thought, every belief and creed must be set in context. You, your faith and your expression of faith is as much North American faith as it is Christian faith.
If you are familiar with H. Richard Niebuhr's "Christ and Culture", you will see how Bevans presents six new models that are more relevant to the time in which we live. Though the book was originally printed in 1992, with five models (Translation, Anthropological, Praxis, Synthetic and Transcendental), this second editions has added a new "Counter-cultural" model.
Models are like a GPS, they orient you. They help to define where you are in relation to the world that you live in. Thus, when you can get your bearings you can then plot the course where you need to go.
For Bevans, faith, and everything it embraces, must be seen through context. You, me and all human beings are products of our culture and context. Our understanding of God is a product of Western, European context. Scripture is written in a context, for a context, and from a historical context (See Lucien Legrand's "The Bible on Culture".).
The role of the theologian, minister and everyday Christian is to articulate God to a society that is on the other side of the God experience. The models that Bevans offers can help. His six models allow you to select a vantage point, or rather a platform from which to speak to the world today.
Bevans has done a great service for those seeking to understand their Christian faith in a postmodern world. Strongly Recommended
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Format: Paperback
The greatest problem with Bevans' models of contextual theology is that they are so acontextually constructed, so much so that it must be asked whether his typology of models is a misguided attempt. The Korean theologian Cyris Moon (himself a likely candidate of contextual theologian, although his work is not discussed in Bevans' book) expresses this reservation eloquently: 'the attempt to systematize contextual theologies into a local and ordered set of models seems to contradict the situational, cultural and political idiosyncrasies that these theologies embody'. Likewise, Charles Kraft, who is featured by Bevans as an intellectual sponsor of the translation model, voices his genuine dissatisfaction that he fails to identify with either of the examples Bevans uses.

This insensitivity on the part of Bevans is not only explainable but almost expected. As "ideal types", the models are bound to fail to capture the reality; and insofar as they are constructed by a process of abstraction, they are necessarily decontextualizing. The examples, when used as illustrations of the models, are not only decontextualized from their original contexts of the actual encounter with the concrete Others. Much more importantly, these real life examples of contextual theology are decontextualized from their original motivations (which might be theological, political, cultural, etc.) and pre-emptively recontextualized by the presuppositions of the abstract model to which the examples do not necessarily subscribe. No wonder the models constructed always fail to do justice to the examples presented.

And at a more profound level of methodology, we suspect that the root problem is Bevans' metaphysical commitment to the idea that contextual theology is something BOTH radically new AND traditional.
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As an Anabaptist I could not put the book down. Doing theology is at the foundation of Anabaptist thought. Bevans moves beyond the Roman Catholic perspective constructs of Contextual Theology to in invite the reader to discover their own experience of doing contextual theology. I look forward to reading his other works and explore Contextual Theology within the Anabaptist Tradition.
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The author comes from a Catholic and very intellectual background. The content is great in contextualizing theology in any worldview. May be a bit of a dry read, but if you can handle it or like a very intelligently written book, this is the book for you. Over my head at times, but did great in teaching me a lot of new things.
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I would highly recommend this book to students doing Practical Theology. A superb and highly helpful book for those who are interested to do Contextual Theology.
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The updated version has helped us a lot in our course. It is very well organized and very easy to follow. The subject of gospel and cultures, i.e., contextual theology, is indeed imperative for all Christians. God bless us all!
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I recommend that an Abrahamic edition be done or at least addendum in charts as references. Nonetheless a good tool for thinking through contextual theological research.
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