Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gospel Clothing Part II

This quote is awesome because it explains the key to both Islam and contextualization at the same time:

When the church had lost track of an important element in the saving work of Jesus Christ, and was teaching that believers are justified not by faith but by being sanctified, as a result it became very easy for the church to revert to an old covenant lifestyle. Uneasiness about justification by grace alone produced a flowering of asceticism, reflecting an unconscious need for a list of clean and unclean activities and a rebirth of Phariseeism.

Thus, those who are not secure in Christ cast about for spiritual life preservers with which to support their confidence. And in their frantic search they not only cling to the shreds of ability and righteousness they find in themselves, but they fix upon their race, membership in a party, familiar social and ecclesiastic patterns, and their culture as means of self-recommendation. The culture is put on as if it were armor against self-doubt. But it becomes a mental straight-jacked which cleaves to the flesh and can never be removed except through comprehensive faith in the saving work of Christ. Once you understand the gospel, once faith is exercised, a Christian is free to be enculturated- to wear his culture like a comfortable suit of clothes. He can shift to other cultural clothing temporarily if he wishes to do so as Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 9 and he is released to admire and appreciate the differing expressions of Christ shining through other cultures.

-Richard Lovelace, quoted in Tim Keller's talk on Contextualization in 2004, starting at 53:00

The gospel is the key to contextualization. (And to Islam.)

Related: Gospel Clothing (Part I)

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