Culture is discussed in both anthropological and theological terms, with an emphasis on enculturation as a means of bridging the divides between cultures, although translation, adaptation and contextual approaches are discussed. Where is the divide between those practices which are purely cultural and those intrinsically intertwined with moral behavior which are considered “non-negotiable” within the Christian world? Pertinent case studies are examined, from both secular post-modern Western cultures and from a traditional culture. Students observe and attend spiritual practices in settings different from one’s own as a partial means of developing reflective and reflexive skills.
Anthropological and theological disciplines work in conjunction to give a solid academic foundation for examining and responding to real-life spiritual and cultural discontinuity from Christian cultural settings and practice. It is particularly designed for those who want in-depth missiological training. Questions addressed seek to aid in bridge-building relationships, and dealing with core contested issues on one’s own Christian belief systems.
With a strong emphasis on academic theory, practice is carried out in the student’s area of interest, allowing development of experiential knowledge with those of different spiritual backgrounds and religious systems, especially in terms of preparation for doing cross-cultural evangelism. Applied practice (such as visiting mosques, temples, or seeking out an unreached people group) may be customized according to the student’s interest.
All study and praxis are conducted according to principles found in Scripture, which not only command us to love those of all cultural backgrounds, but also to reach them with the message of Jesus Christ.
The very heart of the Great Commission is to “disciple the nations”; the ultimate purpose of this course is to prepare students for the work of discipling whether in dealing with diversity in Western culture or a cross-cultural setting.
Cultural context must often live in tension with one’s own interpretation of universal Biblical truth; cultural context with various spiritual/cultural practices are examined by the student. Reflexive skills are developed as held assumptions regarding theological hermeneutics and cultural practice as tradition are re-examined in a more intercultural epistemological framework.
Informing oneself about specific cultures, and becoming reflexive about one’s own culture opens a path to not only understanding another culture, but also understanding how to move past cultural barriers and speak a relevant “God message” into that culture.
Part of the course is spent in real-life settings and situations, engaging with those of culturally diverse backgrounds as a backdrop for academic, theoretical study.
The purpose of this course is, through exposure, participation, study and reflection to become a bridge-builder for presenting a cross-cultural, relevant Christian message as well as for Christian formation.