How do we “contextualize” the gospel in a culture that pursues excellence in all spheres of life and society? How far is too far? In other words, how can we contextualize the gospel without being syncretistic? Liberals largely contextualize and eventually syncretise. Conservatives fail to contextualize and end up being irrelevant, looking more like a Church that lives in the 19th century context. Can there be a radical middle by which we contextualize without syncretising, and still communicate the true biblical gospel without compromising? I believe this is what every Church that seeks to reach this nation should wrestle with. This article says we should never contextualize the Gospel in advance because the “Japanese contextualize the gospel in their own way far better than Christian missionaries ever can!” I can see why.(read more). But ask yourselves: How can we bring the power of the Gospel to bear on every aspects of the Japanese culture?
The article also addresses what I’ve been trying to communicate to our folks here about our “Church culture” in so far as contextualization is concerned. This is why we started The Bridge (music cafe), to bridge the gap between Church and the artist community who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to hear the gospel (Acts 17: 22-34). It started with befriending just one Japanese Jazz guitar player. I don’t like Jazz per se, but I can see why God would have us start this. In only 8 months, by God’s grace, we’ve seen over 20 non-christian band members at these events. That’s the musicians alone, not counting their friends and relatives that are present to support them. We conduct The Bridge only every 3rd month. It has been a joy.
J.S Bach points Jesus to musicians at The Bridge cafe. As Hebrews 11: 4 puts it: “And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”
The article goes on to address what truly expresses our hearts when it comes to the pursuit of excellence for the glory of God in Japan. Read:
“Our situation is very different from that of developing regions elsewhere in the world. This makes evangelism in Japan extremely difficult. Average Japanese non-believers demand very high quality in everything……… Adult non-believers pay little attention to the evangelicals. Pietistic, escapist, and existential messages mean nothing to Japanese non-believers who face life-and-death issues in business, politics, diplomacy, manufacturing, education, and science. The governing classes in Japanese society pay no attention to the evangelical culture, either. They are extremely keen consumers of art and culture. They don’t demand mediocre evangelical pop music, but the excellence of Johann Sebastian Bach. Tokyo supports and patronizes more than six professional orchestras, and there are many Japanese concertmasters in the world’s top orchestras. Unless we reach a people accustomed to living by such high standards, Japanese society won’t be changed. Only a faith that has cultural substance can speak to these needs.” Read more HERE.