Project Augustine

Chapter 9: “Confessing Jesus Christ in Context”

  1. Have you personally come across different views of Jesus or God from persons of a different culture (i.e. non-Western)?  If so how were they different or similar?  Do you think Christianity is too heavily Westernized?  Has Christianity been victimized by Western cultural imperialism?  What are your feelings, after reading this chapter, about the ever-changing, dynamic, and fluid nature of theology?  Do you feel threatened by it?  Is theology fixed and bound to eternal truths about God (like the laws of nature) or can some be discarded and modified in light of new understanding, technology, and moral evolution?  In the future, will our attitudes about homosexuality, abortion, and evolution change or should it remain the same and keep tradition as is?

  2. On the bottom of page 198 & top of page 199, Migliore writes, “God’s act of self-communication through incarnation is an act of divine revelation par excellence, and it provides the theological basis of the necessary work of translation in the proclamation and mission of the church.  Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, lived in a particular locality, belonged to a particular ethnic group, and spoke a particular language… According to Walls, ‘Incarnation is translation.  When God in Christ becomes man, divinity was translated into humanity…. The first divine act of translation thus gives rise to a constant succession of new translations.  Christian diversity is the necessary product of the incarnation.”  What are your thoughts about this- Jesus being a translation of God?  Is there a problem with Protestant Christianity and its 41,000 plus and growing denominations?   What about multiple translations of the Bible?

  3. On page 199, he writes, “If we seek to emphasize the universality of the gospel by generalizing its message and stripping it of all historical contingency, we lose sight of the gospel’s own particularity and its power to receive and transform human life in all its historical particularity and its power to receive and transform human life in all its historical particularity and diversity.   On the other hand, if we emphasize one particular expression of the gospel to the exclusion of all others, we lose sight of its universal power.  Robert Schreiter states the problem in this way: ‘In the midst of the tremendous vitality that today’s Christians are showing, one set of problems emerges over and over again: how to be faithful both to the contemporary experience of the gospel and to the tradition of Christian life that has been received.”    Is there a universal message of the gospel that transcends all cultures and languages or does it need to be contextualized?  Does it need updating or constant revisement to meet or reflect the changes of changes in society and technology?  Can you bypass all the Greco-Roman and Jewish history and communicate the gospel message with integrity or must it be watered down in some manner?

  4. On page 201 – 202, in regards to Latin American Christology, he writes that one of the primary aspects of this view is its emphasis on the social and political aspects of the gospel.  He writes, “This is a response to the entrenched and damaging privatization of Christian faith and life.  While such privatization may fit well with the dualisms that permeate modern Western culture, in the eyes of Latin American theologians it is a distortion of the biblical message  There are corporate structures of sin and injustice.  Jesus did not confront only sinful individuals but a sinful structure of life.  Similarly, he saw salvation as more than the rescue of isolated souls to fellowship with God.  Rather, he proclaimed and inaugurated the kingdom of God, the rule of the gracious and righteous God that encompasses the whole of life.”  Furthermore, he writes, “Sentimental views of the poor and neglect of the need of all people for repentance and conversion have nothing to do with integral liberation.”  Do you think Western Christianity is too individualized and sentimentalized?  It’s too much about “my personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and sentimental thinking about the poor – that all we have to do is give money to a charity and that’s that?  What about missions trips that go to save “lost souls”, report mass conversions, and then leave without providing long-term economic and social assistance?  Not my problem, not my fight…

  5. Is Jesus too white?  Is he too WASPY?  Why do you think there’s a divide within churches today of racially uniform churches (i.e. purely black churches, Korean churches, white churches, Hispanic churches, etc.) vs. more racially mixed churches?  Are there undercurrents of racism or prejudice still existent even today?  Is it just an innate, human, sociological phenomenon that we just naturally do?  Is it wrong?  Why or why not?

  6. In regards to Feminist theology, on page 209, “feminist theologians repudiate the explicit or unspoken assumption that the maleness of Jesus is an ontological necessity of his work as Savior.  To the contrary, they contend that ‘Jesus the Christ’s ability to be savior does not reside in his maleness but in his loving, liberating history in the midst of the power of evil and oppression.’”  Do you think the church’s predominant view of God being male is a serious issue?  Are women relegated to a second-class or inferior status b/c of biblical issues, such as women pastors or teachers?  Are these warranted?  How much does the Bible have authority in these issues of gender roles in the church?  Do women have to be “Proverbs 31” women and be relegated to subservient roles as mothers and wives and house-keepers?

  7. On page 212 – 213, on Hispanic Christology, “To be a Galilean Jew classified one as an outsider in many respects – geographically, socially, culturally, linguistically, and religiously.  Galilee was a region where people of mixed origins lived; an economically marginalized region separated from the center of power in Jerusalem; a region known not only for its distinctive dialect but also associated with ignorance of the religious law and laxity in observing the Jewish religious customs and ceremonies.” Does Jesus’ ethnicity, that he was a 1st century Jew (of mixed heritage and blood) living in Israel ever affect your faith or understanding of him?  Does it even cross your mind?
    1. Also on page 215, “For the Docetists, Jesus only appeared to be human.  He was in fact a purely heavenly being, untouched by the realities of human suffering and death.  By affirming the full humanity of Jesus Christ, Chalcedon flatly rejected Docetism and, in so doing, repudiated a heresy that is still a temptation to Christians today.  Addressing Hispanic Christians in particular, Gonzalez notes how individuals who feel powerless may succumb to the message of many television preachers who dodge the issue of the transformation of life here and now and instead encourage the poor to forget about their present misery and think only of the life to come.  Such a message is a modern version of Docetism.”  Do you see patterns of Docetism in your life or church?  Have you been seduced by messages that things will be better in heaven?  Or have you caught yourself saying this to others in order to soothe their suffering?

  8. On page 217, he writes about the Asian-American experience of being marginalized in (American) society for being an immigrant.  Was Jesus an immigrant?  Was he marginalized?  Did he have his foot in one door and the other outside?

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