Monday, July 19, 2010

God, Humanity, and Culture - Ethnotheological Model #1

As mentioned in the previous post, Charles F. Kraft in his book, Christianity in Culture, articulates two ethnotheological models to aid in theologizing cross-culturally. I find this model helpful in dialog about scripture with two vary diverse cultures found within my (many) churches: 1) conservative and 2) progressive Christians.

Kraft calls this model God, Humanity, and Culture and uses it to demonstrate the relationship between God, human beings, and the culture within which they interact. The model has five aspects:
  1. God stand apart from culture but works through culture to accomplish his purposes.
  2. Theology is a culture-bound enterprise even though the meaning of Scripture (truth) originates outside culture with God.
  3. The primacy of such supra-cultural meaning over their cultural forms must be recognized.
  4. Human beings are culture bound; there is no God-endorsed culture (whether Hebrew, Greek, or Western-American).
  5. God's interaction with humans are relative to their culture; God does not seek to impose their forms of one culture upon another.
Example: Churches have argued (split) over church structure. Consider the difference perspective on church government in the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Church of Christ. Each group would suggest their form of of church structure is God ordained. The key word is that their doctrinal stance focuses on "form." With Kraft's model, the ground shifts from cultural form to supra cultural meaning: "Churches should be governed."

Here is how the model would look (slightly modified for clarity):

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