Contextual Theology in One Diagram

I’m in the middle of teaching Thesis Design for the Doctoral program in Missional Leadership at Northern Seminary. I’m the director of this program. This is the capstone course of the program which moves the student into thesis-research writing stage – the final stage of the program. Here we do ethnography in the ministry field which forms the context for theological reflection. The context is opened by listening, observing, field notes, charting the stories. And yet we bring theology to the context. Just as the context is opened by listening, the tradition/Scripture/theology is also opened up in dialogue with the context. We begin to see, understand and indeed eventually reveal the context through what we have been “sent” with into the context: the gospel. This creates the social dynamic of witness, the church, the Kingdom taking on flesh. This is the opening of the future to God’s work, His Kingdom. This becomes chapter 5 of the thesis. This I take it is the task of all mission work. Here’s the opening diagram of the class. We start a new cohort in Summer 2015. If you’re interested, here’s more information here.    I’m busy teaching this class and then off to CBOQ General Assembly in Toronto. My tweeting, facebooking and blogging will be less in the week ahead.

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2 comments on “Contextual Theology in One Diagram
  1. A. Amos Love says:

    David

    Thesis Design???
    we do ethnography???
    the context for theological reflection???
    the tradition/Scripture/theology is also opened up in dialogue with the context???

    Huh???

    But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,
    so your minds should be corrupted from **the simplicity that is in Christ.**
    2 Cor 11:3 KJV

    Didn’t Jesus, when training His Disciples, in the streets, keep it simple, and…
    Preach “The Kingdom of God?” And heal the sick? Luke 4:43, Luke 9:11.
    Then, sent “His Dsiciples” to do the same?

    And he sent them to **preach the kingdom of God,* and **to heal the sick.**
    Luke 9:2 KJV

    And *heal the sick* that are therein, and say unto them,
    *The kingdom of God* is come nigh unto you.
    Luke 10:9 KJV

    Now when they “saw the boldness of Peter and John,”
    and perceived that they were *unlearned and ignorant men,*
    **they marvelled;**
    and “they took knowledge of them”, that **they had “been with Jesus.**
    And beholding “the man” which was “healed” standing with them,
    they could say nothing against it.
    Acts 4:12-14 KJV

    Seems, IF, The Religious Leaders notice you have been with Jesus?
    IF, The Religious Leaders notice you see the sick healed?

    The Religious Leaders will marvel…

    Even when they perceive you are *unlearned and ignorant men,*

    MY Sheep – Hear MY Voice – and I know them – and they Follow Me….

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  2. We’ve been working through Ruth Barton’s book on discernment, and as we have listened to our fellow leaders, I’ve been struck again that the most fundamental rhythms of submission to Word and Spirit are largely missing. While all would say they pray and read the bible, few read it well or enter deeply into listening prayer. We really have become functional deists. Even learning to listen to one another deeply (as Bonhoeffer and so many spiritual guides attest) can take us further along the road to deep listening to the Spirit. And all this becomes foundational to listening to our neighbours. Nouwen is right – Bonhoeffer is right – listening is the foundation for spiritual life.

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David Fitch
Betty R. Lindner Professor of Theology
Northern Seminary
DMin in Missional Leadership
Prodigal Christianity
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