“Take heed that you not be deceived." Luke 21:8

Theology of Culture

 The Cross-cultural Perspective


Notes and links from Susan Conway


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A. 1. Background of Newbiginˇ's Cross-cultural Perspective

Newbigin began his Christian ministry as a missionary. His forty years of cross-cultural ministry had brought him to the point his mastery of understanding two cultures: a western and an oriental culture. Hunsberger notes three stages in Newbiginˇ's engagements with cultural plurality. The first stage covers from 1936 to 1959. His missiological inquiry began from the very beginning of his missionary service. In 1936, he joined the company of the vast network of missionary around the world whose daily struggle with ˇ°the issues involved in communicating the gospel to a people and to a cultureˇ± (1998:23).[1]

Hunsberger indicates that Newbiginˇ's cross-cultural experience in India has an implication for Christian witness in his own Western culture as he

He [Newbigin] had come to live in a place ˇ°foreignˇ± to him, among people whose basic orientation to living was sharply divergent from his own. The pastoral challenge of communicating a gospel which he assumed to be addressed to culturally ˇ°otherˇ± people as surely as people of his own particular culture became and remained a deep commitment of his life (1998:23).

While serving as bishop of the diocese of Mandura and Ramnad (Newbigin 1985:90), he attempted to implement insights of the "spontaneous expansion" of the church articulated by Roland Allen earlier in the twentieth century. Responding to many local Christian movements among unchurched people groups, he saw his strategy in early baptism, intensive training, and the cultivation of natural and Spirit-identified leadership (:146-148).