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Biblical Heritage

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Contextualizing theology is attractive, since it means responding very directly to our subjectivity and our culture. In such an important conversation, how can we avoid relativization? Or is relativization a basically sound and healthy approach to reading and thinking about theology and God?

In contextual theology, it is almost impossible to avoid relativization. The mere reason being that as human beings, we are programmed to be slightly selfish, something that counts as a weakness at certain points and strength at others. In so being, if we find something irrelevant to our lives, or believe that something is irrelevant to our lives, we tend to disregard it and move on.

This applies to the conversation on contextual theology because if one is not able to relate to, or explain the stories in the Bible to fit into one's life, then the religion partially serves no purpose, because it exists to help us. Not being able to relate to something that is supposed to help someone does not induce a person to continue believing in whatever is to be believed in.

On the other side of this, it might be a bit important not to relativize, simply because, as part of human frailty that can be seen sometimes, we, as human beings, tend to be able to rationalize anything we do, whether good or bad. Turning a little bit away from relativization aids in being able to tell what is good and what is bad, before one "joins the emotional human race" to practice that understanding. Another thing that could get in the way is one's culture, because as discussed in class, it might have been good to incorporate some of the things in the newly discovered cultures, such as "replacing the bread and wine with peanuts and coconut juice" or something like that, however, if a culture contained killing someone for some reason, although this idea seems almost too farfetched, it wouldn't work with Christianity and therefore would be found irrelevant to the people it's being introduced to.

Bevans agrees with this fact by saying that "Doing theology contextually is not an option, nor is it something that should only interest people from the Third World or missionaries who work there. The contextualization of theology - the attempt to understand Christian faith in terms of a particular context - is really a theological imperative. As we understand theology today, contextualization is part of the very nature



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