Rather than reconsidering contemporary culture in light of secularization, much of the western church operates with a degree of nostalgia. She has yet to fully embrace prospective, innovative models for what form her task might take in some of Christianity’s historic heartlands. Amidst rapidly declining church membership, contextualizing the Gospel for the contemporary West is an urgent task for churches and Christians living in this context.
This book seeks an interdisciplinary, international, and ecumenical response to this challenge, uniting historical, sociological, theological, and missiological perspectives. Benefiting from recent studies in sociology of religion, Dr. Gantenbein offers several detailed contextual case studies before establishing correlations between western cultural-religious characteristics and corresponding theological affirmations. This study includes several unexpected dimensions, including the development of a theological aesthetic in tension with the typically Word-alone tradition of Protestantism; a constructive reading of the book of Revelation as a source for contemporary aesthetic missiology; reflections on a soteriology for the postmodern era; and a proposal for an anonymous ecclesiology within a European context where churches are viewed with growing suspicion. With rare perspicacity, Gantenbein’s study creatively calls churches to apply renewed intellectual rigor in faithfulness to their common purpose.
Jean-Georges Gantenbein is lecturer in missiology at Theological Seminary St Chrischona near Basel, Switzerland.
Chapter 1: Methodological Criteria
Chapter 2: The Current “Religious” Context
Chapter 3: Contextual Characteristics
Chapter 4: Theological Criteria
Chapter 5: A Contextual Theology for the West
Chapter 6: Conclusion and Prospects
“…[Gantenbein] contributes to a welcome renewal of the debate on contextualization for Western cultures. This is a major contribution to missiology for the 21st century in Europe.”
–Jacques Matthey, in International Review of Mission vol. 107 n°1 (June 2018), p. 302.
“Theology of mission and sociology of religions intertwine pertinently in this stimulating book, promoting an original missiology in dialogue with three protestant missiologists who have impacted the twentieth and twenty-first centuries…Let us highlight the importance of this original encounter between inductive and deductive approaches, without losing sight of the authority of Scripture. The author masterfully discusses the different approaches he puts forward…Rigorous, methodical, and well-informed, this work will allow missiologists of diverse confessions to enter into a fecund conversation…Catholic theologians rejoice at the contextual awareness evident in the elaboration of a missiology for today.”
–Marie-Hélène Robert, in “Vivre l’exil,” Théophilyon : Revue des Facultés catholiques de Théologie et de Philosophie de Lyon, tome XXIII vol. 1 (2018), pp. 240–241.
“This study is an ambitious work…Gantenbein demonstrates vast theological and sociological erudition…”
–Arnaud Join-Lambert, in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses. Louvain Journal of Theology and Canon Law vol. 94 fasc. 3 (2018), pp. 566–568.
“…abundantly explores Germanophone and (catholic) Francophone literatures consecrated to this theme…This work will be very useful for exploring and conceptualizing this new ecclesiological thematic which, according to one’s preference, might be called “missiology,” “contextual theology,” “evangelism,” “Church development,” or “(re)construction of communities.”
–Jérôme Cottin, in Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses, tome 97 n°2 (April-June 2017), pp. 300–301.