The Philosophical Presuppositions of ContextualizationPosted: January 22, 2009
Question: Dewalt, what are the philosophical presuppositions of contextualization, and where and how can it be useful; what place would a biblical program of hermeneutics give to contextualization or what would be its substitute.
Contextualization is different today then it was when it started. Contextualization is the process of assigning the meaning of a text, passage to culture and people. To me, that sounds like doing great application. However when Contextualization started, it was from the roots of rationalism and mainly Relativism in which the Reformed circles was scared of, and disliked. These starters so-to-speak of contextualization allowed words to change and the meaning of text change. This brought a different meaning to the Scriptures and allowed for multiple meanings to be taught in their circles.
As far as what would be its’ substitute, I am going to take a “non-traditional reformed view.” I believe whole heartily and would die on the grounds of what the actual definition of “contextualization” is. I would say that proper contextualizing is applying the application of the text to the listener that is hearing the teaching and preaching of the Word. To the traditional reformed circles, I say this is doing proper application in their teaching and preaching. We don’t give the same applications form a text to a crowd of prisoners, homeless, windows, poor, church circles, or new believers. However that seems to be the case that I see among the conservative Reformed circles (we can meet on this is you would like). Contextualizing is giving the right kind of application to the right group in which is being taught to. I know, the roots of it may be scary, but I am not fighting for “contextualization” as it started, but fighting for proper application in which reaches cultures, peoples, nations, cities, people groups and individuals that are all different in themselves. I say it like this, One observation of the test, One meaning of the text, Many applications of the text.