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Models of Contextual Theology (Faith and Cultures Series) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   186
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.75" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2002
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  1570754381  
EAN  9781570754388  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Acclaimed as a classic examination of faith and culture Models of Contextual Theology uses models to elucidate the various meanings of "contextualization." Now Bevans adds a sixth "counter-cultural" model, reflected to various degrees in the thinking of such disparate figures as Stanley Hauerwas, John Milbank, Lesslie Newbigin, "and (occasionally) Pope John Paul II."

Publishers Description
Stephen B Bevans's Models of Contextual Theology has become a staple in courses on theological method and as a handbook used by missioners and other Christians concerned with the Christian tradition's understanding of itself in relation to culture. First published in 1992 and now in its seventh printing in English, with translations underway into Spanish, Korean, and Indonesian, Bevans's book is a judicious examination of what the terms "contextual theology" and "to contextualize" mean. In the revised and expanded edition, Bevans adds a "counter-cultural" model to the five presented in the first edition -- the translation, the anthropological, the praxis, the synthetic, and the transcendental model. This means that readers will be introduced to the way in which figures such as Stanley Hauerwas, John Milbank, Lesslie Newbigin, "and (occasionally) Pope John Paul II" need to be taken into account. The author's revisions also incorporate suggestions made by reviewers to enhance the clarity of the original three chapters on the nature of contextual theology and the five models.

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More About Stephen B. Bevans

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephen B. Bevans, SVD, is the Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor of Theology and Culture at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Models of Contextual Theology, An Introduction for Theology in Global Perspective, and co-author, with Roger Schroeder, of Constant in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today and Prophetic Dialogue: Reflections on Christian Mission Today.

Stephen B. Bevans currently resides in Chicago. Stephen B. Bevans was born in 1944.

Stephen B. Bevans has published or released items in the following series...
  1. New Directions in Mission and Evangelization
  2. Rediscovering Vatican II
  3. Theology in Global Perspectives

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity   [2832  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
What if everything is contextual?  Aug 22, 2005
The greatest problem with Bevans' models of contextual theology is that they are so acontextually constructed, so much so that it must be asked whether his typology of models is a misguided attempt. The Korean theologian Cyris Moon (himself a likely candidate of contextual theologian, although his work is not discussed in Bevans' book) expresses this reservation eloquently: 'the attempt to systematize contextual theologies into a local and ordered set of models seems to contradict the situational, cultural and political idiosyncrasies that these theologies embody'. Likewise, Charles Kraft, who is featured by Bevans as an intellectual sponsor of the translation model, voices his genuine dissatisfaction that he fails to identify with either of the examples Bevans uses.

This insensitivity on the part of Bevans is not only explainable but almost expected. As "ideal types", the models are bound to fail to capture the reality; and insofar as they are constructed by a process of abstraction, they are necessarily decontextualizing. The examples, when used as illustrations of the models, are not only decontextualized from their original contexts of the actual encounter with the concrete Others. Much more importantly, these real life examples of contextual theology are decontextualized from their original motivations (which might be theological, political, cultural, etc.) and pre-emptively recontextualized by the presuppositions of the abstract model to which the examples do not necessarily subscribe. No wonder the models constructed always fail to do justice to the examples presented.

And at a more profound level of methodology, we suspect that the root problem is Bevans' metaphysical commitment to the idea that contextual theology is something BOTH radically new AND traditional. The claim that (authentic) theology has always been contextual becomes a metaphysical, a priori statement about what theology IS. If theology is always contextual, what does "contextual theology" distinguish? If everything is contextual, the entire notion of "contextual theology" will have limited descriptive or evaluative value, if at all. This difficulty is perhaps also sensed by Schreiter, who attempts in his foreword to the book to rescue the term by further specifying its reference: contextual theologies are 'both those that are consciously contextual and those that are best understood from their contexts' (p.x). Unfortunately such catch-all equivocation does not help much - it is still not clear what is NOT referred to by "contextual theology" if so understood. There will be little for us - or for Bevans either - to hang on to in deciding what models should be in and what should be out. In the last analysis, the models will be as good and useful as the examples invoked to flesh them out. But then, do the models help us understand the examples, or vice versa? Which is the familiar, and which is the unfamiliar? What analytic or explanatory purchase we may gain from understanding the examples AS models OF contextual theology?

The artificiality and superficiality of the models contribute to this sense of lack of orientation in the "map" Bevans provides (p.32, Fig.2) - which is in fact the "model" of models of contextual theology. The translation model and the anthropological model look like caricatures of each other, and one's virtue is presented as the other's vice. One wonders who would prefer such false and forced opposites of extremes to the more sensible synthetic model. As for the transcendental model, the praxis model and the counter-contextual model, they are not models OF contextual theology at all, they are actually on a par with Bevans' "model of models" of contextual theology on the same meta-level as perspectives ON what theology IS. Bevans says that theology is/has to be contextual, these models emphasise instead respectively the transcendental (self-appropriating) nature, the praxis orientation, and the prophetic dimension of all theology. Bevans is perhaps half-conscious of this difficulty as the transcendental model is plotted on his map as standing out oddly among the other models (ibid.).

Finally, the most severe criticism of Bevans' "model of models" is perhaps that it does not allow any role for God to play in contextualization. (I do NOT mean that authors of the theologies deployed by Bevans as examples share the same oversight. Quite the contrary, and THIS obviously counts against Bevans, not the authors he discusses.) Contextualization becomes an entirely human enterprise, or an instrument under control (all you need is to pick and choose among the six different tools). There is no room for the surprising work of God in the matter.

On how to do theology by taking the contexts seriously, there are many other better books I would recommend, e.g. Schreiter's _Constructing Local Theologies_.
There is only contextual theology.  Jul 3, 2003
"There is no such thing as theology, there is only contextual theology". So states the author, Stephen Bevans.

Everything, every thought, every belief and creed must be set in context. You, your faith and your expression of faith is as much North American faith as it is Christian faith.

If you are familiar with H. Richard Niebuhr's "Christ and Culture", you will see how Bevans presents six new models that are more relevant to the time in which we live. Though the book was originally printed in 1992, with five models (Translation, Anthropological, Praxis, Synthetic and Transcendental), this second editions has added a new "Counter-cultural" model.

Models are like a GPS, they orient you. They help to define where you are in relation to the world that you live in. Thus, when you can get your bearings you can then plot the course where you need to go.

For Bevans, faith, and everything it embraces, must be seen through context. You, me and all human beings are products of our culture and context. Our understanding of God is a product of Western, European context. Scripture is written in a context, for a context, and from a historical context (See Lucien Legrand's "The Bible on Culture".).

The role of the theologian, minister and everyday Christian is to articulate God to a society that is on the other side of the God experience. The models that Bevans offers can help. His six models allow you to select a vantage point, or rather a platform from which to speak to the world today.

Bevans has done a great service for those seeking to understand their Christian faith in a postmodern world. Strongly Recommended


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