Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Is the concept of “worldview” still useful in missiology?

Conversion (coming to faith in Christ) as a “transformation of worldview” is practically canon in evangelical missiology, especially with the publication of Paul Hiebert’s Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change (Baker Academic 2008).

But does contemporary anthropology still use the concept of worldview today?

In his review of Kraft’s book, Worldview for Christian Witness (William Carey Library 2008), Wheaton professor of anthropology Brian Howell said:

Although the worldview concept has become mainstream in missiological circles, it is virtually defunct in use in contemporary anthropology. Kraft uses Michael Kearney’s 1984 book on worldview as the anthropological example; however, there is no anthropological reference more recent than that. Classic anthropology can still speak to us today, but there is a great deal more current theory that is helpful for understanding culture change.

So should we move on from the concept of worldview? Is it really defunct in anthropology? David Beine, in his short research article, The end of worldview in anthropology?, (SIL Electronic Working Papers 2010) concludes with this:

The worldview concept, although no longer in vogue in the dominant paradigm of American anthropology, has remained a fruitful construct of analysis over the past decade for several other valid anthropological paradigms. There seems to be agreement among those still using worldview effectively as an analytical framework, that cultures—if I can
still use that word—do have central ideas or themes that serve to organize a wide variety of things, from material culture to political behavior. And recognizing the limitations, worldview is still a valuable construct for studying and representing these ideas. In the end, I hope the rest of
us anthropologists will not throw the baby (worldview) out with the bathwater (valid concerns of about essentialism); I would rather that those most concerned just help us change the dirty diaper.

It seems to me that the worldview concept can still be employed, but it is wise to note, as Howell reminds us in his review, that “concepts of hybridity, global ethnoscapes, and practice theory-based approaches to agency yield more nuanced understandings of cultural change.”

And yet, despite the ways they are often used in missiology, worldviews and cultures do not have discrete boundaries in today’s globalizing world.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Outlining a Biblical Theology of Islam: Practical Implications for Disciple Makers and Church Planting | EMQ 2019

Here is full access to my article “Outlining a Biblical Theology of Islam: Practical Implications for Disciple Makers and Church Planting,” that first appeared in EMQ in January 2019.

Taking into consideration the ambiguous nature of religion, a reconsideration of the historicity of Islamic origins, and the diversity of Muslim contexts, I discuss the important topics to consider when constructing a biblical theology of Islam. In the light of authoritative biblical revelation, my approach also illuminates the connections between theology-in-context and our practice of disciple making.

Here are the topics I have paired together:

  • Religion and Kingdom Sociology
  • Biblical Anthropology and Idolatry
  • Prophecy and Muhammad
  • Revelation and the Qur’an
  • Christocentric Doxology and Allah

It is obviously a lot to discuss in just over 3,000 words (EMQ’s limit), but these are the major themes that need consideration in our contextual theology of Islam.