Noetic Sin, Neutrality, and Contextualization: How Culture Receives the Gospel -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 09:1 (Fall 2004)
Article: Noetic Sin, Neutrality, and Contextualization: How Culture Receives the Gospel
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger

Noetic Sin, Neutrality, and Contextualization:
How Culture Receives the Gospel

Mark A. Snoeberger1

Knowing that the overuse of superlatives can cheapen a tribute into mere flattery, I take a risk in identifying Dr. McCune as among the greatest of mentors for adolescent theologs in the present generation. It is by God’s good providence that I can name him as my own mentor. Dr. McCune’s personal godliness and practical theology contribute immensely to this privileged role as mentor, and he needs defer to none in these areas; however, the field in which Dr. McCune has excelled most visibly is that of systematics.

I did not fully grasp the idea of a systematic theology until I took two final classes from Dr. McCune, one on the Kingdom and the other on apologetics, to complete my M.Div. at DBTS. I can well remember the eureka moment, while taking these classes, when I finally understood that systematic theology was not an anthology of individual doctrinal studies or an assortment of fragmentary bits of biblical theology, but that the fundamentalist, dispensationalist, Calvinist, Baptist, and other elements in Dr. McCune’s theology were really part of a single, integrated system—a system that eschews antinomy and loves congruity. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in his discussions of the Kingdom (or, as he likes to call it, “the unifying center to all God’s activity”) and of presuppositionalist apologetics. It is the latter of these two topics that this essay will address, and I trust that its contents accurately reflect Dr. McCune’s theology and truly celebrate his contribution to fundamentalist scholarship.


Evangelical Christianity today is absorbed with the quest for relevance. The question “What is the gospel?” has slowly been supplanted by the question, “Of what value is the gospel?” and the concurrent

assumption that if the gospel cannot be communicated in simple, attractive, culturally relevant, and otherwise advantageous terms, it stands a significant chance of rejection.

The concept of “contextualization,” the fruit of this quest, sprang up almost overnight in the literature of Protestant Liberal missions work,2 but evangelicalism quickly garnered a corner on the concept. Because of its relative novelty, “contextualization” has been variously defined,3 but a general evangelical consensus has grown around David J. Hesselgrave’s definition:

Contextualization can be thought of as an attempt to communicate the message of the per...

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