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