Contextualization, World Christians, and Heresy
It is a fact that Christianity is all over the globe and Christians are in every country. It is also true that Western Christians no longer make up the center of Christendom. There are Asian, African, Latin-American, and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, the state of Christianity in the West is full of liberalism and weak faith that has allowed the tolerance of rampant heresy. This same problem has carried over to churches around the world, most often through the new missiologists from the West who think the Bible is not sufficient to help the world. They believe the Bible alone is not sufficient for teaching about matters of faith; and they care more about gaining numbers who are simply “okay” with Jesus, rather than building up a strong quality of individual believers. This idea has helped promote the lack of theologically sound training that has carried over to many seminaries. Most of these liberals come up with unsound ideas they try to present as innovative evangelism techniques. They use these techniques to address issues within new people groups that the Church encounters around the world. This is based on a pragmatic desire to build an ecuminical “church.”
It is important that biblically sound, systematic theology and apologetics are made known to various Christian ethnicites to provide answers to the questions that people from these cultural worldviews have. It is also necessary to be able to debunk the false claims of their false religion’s “sacred” texts. We cannot simply answer questions from our cultural point of view either and assume all Christians will think the same way or behave the same way on every issue. Non-Christian people that a missionary is evangelizing will also be thinking within their own cultural context. Culture is not a bad thing in itself, and every culture has things other cultures might not understand. It will take some cultural learning by missionaries, but every culture has its sinful issues that need to be dealt with. This does not mean that Christians should change the gospel message and manipulate it to fit a culture. Christianity should transcend individual cultures, and Christians worldwide need to unite together around the one true Faith. World Christians need to support each other over the main issues we believe about Jesus Christ, but at the same time avoid liberal ecumenicism and dangerous teachings. So many attacks on the Bible come and go. For example, in this new age, Gnosticism is coming back and influencing societies to question, and re-think what is authoritative. We can thank the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements for this attitude since they believe revelations can come outside of Scripture to individual believers and are able to make prophetic claims.
Gnostic beliefs have invaded many of our churches. Not just Gnosictism, but in certain cultures the occult mystery religions are mixing with Christian religious practices and perverting the gospel of God’s grace. This is called syncretism because it unites paganism with Christian ideas. This creates a false Christianity that is just as dead as any form of solitary pagan religion. One way this heresy has invaded the Western churches is through what is called Contemplative Spirituality or Spiritual Formation. These 2 religious practices are nothing more than New Age mysticism spray painted over with Christian sounding words. It takes the sensual aspects of false religion from the East and presents it as true Christianity.
Most of these problems are arising because of liberal missiologists who are spreading a false idea about Jesus Christ around the world with weak doctrines based on pragmatism, instead of relying on the hard biblical truths found in Scripture. Many missiologists are using what they call “contextualization” to allow for a postmodern idea of Christianity to form that will mix differently depending on individual cultures. Contexualists will claim the gospel in the Bible is not enough for a people group to read and understand, instead missionaries need to change it and find symbols and beliefs within a people group’s culture to adopt in place of the simple historical biblical writings. They do not think that just educating people on the history, archeology, cultural settings, and texts is going to help them understand Jesus. When contextualizing the gospel, the gospel will look completely different for each individual culture. They want Christianity to be multiple things, looking different within each culture. They want multi-colored sheep, but in reality are only creating multi-colored sheepskin for wolves to drape themselves with so they can parade as God’s chosen and please the masses of pragmatists and lead people astray.
The current consensus of missiologists says that there is no “same kind” of Christianity, or any one theology. There is now Asian theology, Latino theology, African theology, Pacific Islander theology etc. It can even be more concentrated for individual countries such as Chinese theology, Filipino theology, Iraqi theology, Ukranian theology and whatever country’s theology. Furthermore, it can go into sub-culture/communities: Punk Rock theology, Hip Hop theology, drum circle theology and anything else that is ridiculous theology. There is also a big disdain for Western culture and white people, which is used to attack biblical theology: what these liberals call Western theology. So they have created a new name for sound doctrine and labeled it “Western.” What is good for the West might not be good for the East is what they say.
Missiologists seem to be the types of people that consist mostly of professors and authors who sit inside their university office all day at some large Evangelical university, and are always thinking up new ridiculous ideas in order to be innovative and “relevant.” They write all kinds of books and ideas about “Christianity and culture” with a disdain for Christianity’s roots from the West. Not that Christianity originated in the West, it did not, it originated in the East in Israel. Yet, it was European Christians who heavily promoted the Faith throughout history after Christians became dispersed due to persecution. With Christianity allowed, and heavily promoted, in the vast Roman Empire, of course all of the evil corruptions from wolves in sheeps clothing came with it. Even the New Testament speaks of this. This is how the heretical church of Rome began in the first place! Through all of this, God had preserved a remnant of men that eventually “reformed” the Church during the Protestant Reformation over 500 years ago. This was after all kinds of persecutions. Later, more and more men of God have been able to establish biblical doctrines that the Bible teaches universally for all people, and God has used these men to preserve the Bible’s true teachings. From the West many missionaries went out and witnessed God’s loving grace all over the world and died for it! This is the sole reason why Christians in Asia, Latin-American, and the Pacific Islands exist today (no it is not because the Catholics conquered much of the world and set up churches in these regions; after the Reformation many evangelical Christians had to confront Catholicism and still face it today when promoting biblical faith to peoples worldwide). Most early missionaries were White and through them the worldwide church grew. With this history, God’s church all over the world has been able to produce non-White missionaries from non-Western countries who have also died for the faith and established many churches in new cultures; some cultures that White Christians were never able to reach. So today, most of the Christians worldwide are not from European ancestry. This shows the diverse pleasure of God in bringing people to salvation from every culture.
Culture itself is not wrong, and to deny people of their own cultures by trying to conform different ethnic groups into the missionary’s home culture is wrong. But allowing sin within the ethnic group’s culture and not correcting it is an atrocity! As well as neglecting to correct bad theology! Another problem is to deny the historic roots of Christian faith and act as if it is not important for people to study such men as Martin Luther or John Calvin.
Why do these missiologists believe we should not focus on the founding fathers of the Reformation and what happened in Western Christianity when relating to other world cultures, when in fact Christianity would not have came to them if it was not for what happened in the history of Christianity in the West? To shun Western Christianity as “not for them” is only going to withhold the knowledge of God that has been revealed and studied intensely under these “White Christians.” Why do these missiologists believe that the only theology that is important is the theology that exists wherever the majority of Christians are in a region or even the entire world? A majority could still be wrong! The real agenda is to replace biblical Christianity with a postmodern outlook that does not have truth within itself. There is a real motive behind this error that is energized by Satan. It is very plausible that the false church that Satan has been trying to set up since the dawn of mankind existing on earth is being built up by such wolves in sheep’s clothing who parade as missiologists that want the Reformation of Christianity to be countered and directed back to Rome.
So many missiologists like Timothy C. Tennet make claims against liberalism, yet are actually promoting that very thing by camouflaging it with the term Christian Ecumenism. Whether or not most of these missiologists and church builders are promoting this knowingly, or they are deceived into it I do not know, but this “Christian Ecumenism” is only paving the way for more liberal ideas in the near future since they claim that there is no one way of doing theology. Saying there is no one way of doing theology is wrong.
I think it is great that so many people all over the world are becoming Christians and many new eyes are reading the Bible for the first time. Even if books like The Gospel of Judas are top sellers, it still does not outsell the Bible. It gives me encouragement to know this. While at the same time, I feel wary of the different types of theologies present in the world today. I think Christian belief should be narrow, exclusive, and identified boldly within the Bible, and also it should be careful of the heresies spreading around the world more than ever today. All theological ideas must match up with Scripture. Anything that contradicts it or is interpreted the wrong way is a false belief and we should not accept it. It is true that Gnostic beliefs seem to be popular today and our society is a society that wants to hear something new and is tired of hearing the “Old, old story.” This is why the Emergent Church was created which promotes most of these liberal authors, missiologists, and academics. This is very sad and Christians should keep standing up for the truth and the authority of the Bible (Sola Scriptura!). There is only one gospel that is true, and with it comes only one theology that is true. Christians should boldly oppose any road back to Rome as well as reject any kind of man-centered theology of sensual occult/mystic practices. Cultures must conform to the Bible, not the other way around.
Christians should not lose hope and must understand that all of the events in history are in God’s control. God is aware of these problems that the liberal missionaries have been causing. It will all be accounted for and God’s elect will not be lost. There are still many world Christians in enclaves around the world who are involved with different churches that are true to Scripture, and hold firmly to the faith found by all the saints in history, including the glorious historic path it traveled from in the West.
On page 272 of Timothy C. Tennet’s book, Theology in the Context of World Christianity, he claims, “After all, the theology that matters the most is wherever the most Christians are located.” This bothers me because it is an appeal to a majority. Just because a lot of people who claim to be Christians are in one area promoting a type of belief about God does not mean their theology is correct. A bunch of heretics could have taken over, and simply because there are more of them than true believers does not mean Christians should then start promoting their false doctrines, and help these heretics grow churches. This is a horrible outcome of sinful liberalism. Where this idea rang true is in the West where the Roman Catholic Church took over and started promoting heresy early on, while claiming it was true, and we all know what the bloody history of the RCC was. Because a majority at that time claimed Christ should we ignore the false doctrine that Catholicism teaches? No!
The Church still has to be careful to protect the integrity of Scriptures and understand that a majority does not matter. What the intention of the message the authors of the Bible were communicating is all that matters. A large group of people who claim Christ could be preaching heresies. With this theological outlook those heresies would be the theology that matters. This is irrational. Appealing to a majority is a logical fallacy. Christianity has never seen a majority in a society and always has been unpopular and offensive to those who are perishing. We do not aim to please man, but to be true to God.
Even with these issues, Christians should seriously think about the worldviews of other cultures and listen to them. Hopefully in the future many Christians will be able to write theological books about different religions and worldviews and come up with Biblical answers for those cultures. Different cultures will have different issues to deal with. I think it is a great idea for the people of those cultures to be the ones to write those types of books (that is if they are doctrinally sound believers). It will give more credibility to the answers for these cultural issues. Christians as a whole need to use intense spiritual discernment about any theological idea that comes around and be willing to reject any heresies or false doctrines that come from those beliefs. Contextualization has never been, and should never be, considered a theological word and is only a way to enforce postmodernism worldwide onto Christianity. This is meant to destroy what true missionaries of God built up in the past, many of them dying, for Christ’s kingdom. This is the way the Enemy, the Devil, is working in this postmodern age. We must declare war on these new tactics!