From The Editor -- By: Robert J. Priest
TRINJ 30:2 (Fall 2009) p. 169
From The Editor
Academic theologians and ministry practitioners on the one hand, and missiologists and missionaries on the other, need each other. The world is growing in complexity with globalization, migration, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism, clashing values, and growing generation gaps. What was once the nearly exclusive purview of missionaries encountering exotic cultures in far away places has now become a daily encounter in our home neighborhoods. With this, ministry practice and the nature of doing theology have also become more complex. And even for those living in relatively homogenous communities, the speed of cultural change has overtaken the church as it finds itself in the midst of a world that sometimes appears more and more foreign. Cultural engagement has become a major concern in the church. The quest for ever more creative and relevant ways to connect with our contemporaries has reached a high pitch—books, seminars, websites, and networks to this effect abound.
And yet not all efforts at understanding and wisely engaging our world are grounded in both biblical wisdom and cultural understanding. One of the most highly respected scholars for doing precisely this taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for the last seventeen years of his life. Again and again Paul Hiebert wrote wise essays which became classics, influencing missionaries and theologians alike. One of the noteworthy features of Hiebert’s genius was his ability to borrow theories from other fields of knowledge and apply them to theology and missiological practice. Set theory from mathematics became a tool to conceptualize Christian conversion and identity. He applied semiotics to the task of contextualization. Law provided a framework for mapping out missional theology. Anthropological understandings of worldview served to uncover blind spots in Western theology such as the flaw of the excluded middle. Hiebert often compared fields of knowledge to different blueprints for building a house: one drawing for the
TRINJ 30:2 (Fall 2009) p. 170
basic floor plan, one for the electrical lines, one for plumbing, etc. Each has its place and sheds a different light on the phenomena but would be incomplete alone. Hiebert’s writings serve as a wonderful example of this kind of integration of knowledge.
Over the last couple of years, under the guidance of Robert Priest and Craig Ott, a team of gifted Ph.D. students has been investigating the impact of Paul Hiebert’s writings. With the addition of an essay by Dr. Scott Moreau, we provide here the fruit of our labor. Our hope is that this edition of Trinity Journal will bring t...
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