Evangelism and Cultures

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life; Humanity is tainted by sin and is therefore separated from God. As a result, we cannot know God’s wonderful plan for our lives; Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. Through Jesus Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and restore a right relationship with God and we must place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior in order to receive the gift of salvation and know God’s wonderful plan for our lives.

This is of course from the Four Spiritual Laws, which was a popular evangelistic tool developed in an evangelistic tract by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ in the early 1950s. This tract has been translated into numerous languages and used in a variety of contexts. The question for mission thinkers is, is this the pure Gospel or a mid-Twentieth Century, North American understanding of the Gospel?

The contextualisation of the Gospel is a missionary task. Does this one size fits all approach truly get to the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The document that I have been reading and blogging about over the past few days would disagree.

Jesus calls us out of the narrow concerns of our own kingdom, our own liberation, and our own independence (Acts 1:6) by unveiling to us a larger vision and empowering us by the Holy Spirit to go “to the ends of the earth” as witnesses in each context of time and space to God’s justice, freedom, and peace. Our calling is to point all to Jesus, rather than to ourselves or our institutions, looking out for the interests of others rather than our own (see Phil. 2:3-4). We cannot capture the complexities of the scriptures through one dominant cultural perspective. A plurality of cultures is a gift of the Spirit to deepen our understanding of our faith and one another. As such, intercultural communities of faith, where diverse cultural communities worship together, is one way in which cultures can engage one another authentically and where culture can enrich gospel. At the same time, the gospel critiques notions of cultural superiority. Therefore, “the gospel, to be fruitful, needs to be both true to itself and incarnated or rooted in the culture of a people … We need constantly to seek the insight of the Holy Spirit in helping us to better discern where the gospel challenges, endorses or transforms a particular culture” for the sake of life.
 Up until the Phil 2:3-4 bit I am pretty certain Bill Bright would agree. Disagreement would arise when we start talking about the “plurality of cultures;” “cultures engage one another…can enrich the gospel” and that the gospel is “incarnated and rooted in the culture of a people.”
Many Evangelicals get nervous when we start to express the fact that we may not have a perfect understanding of the Gospel. I think it is important to continue to engage with believers from other cultures and Christian traditions to refine how we view Gospel and Culture.