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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


VERSTER, Pieter. A missiological investigation of the value of autogenous culture. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2017, vol.57, n.3, pp.772-783. ISSN 2224-7912.

Missionaries have sometimes dealt with the distinctive or unique culture of certain nations, tribes and groups in such a way that currently much criticism is expressed about the manner in which it was handled. The main criticism is that a Western model of the gospel of Jesus Christ was imprinted on people without taking into account that the distinctive culture of various groups was thus wrongfully disrupted. The gospel message was sometimes cast in Western cans and jars and did not really bring the message home to people within the communities where the message was communicated. Scientific missiological research will have to include investigating carefully how the distinctive culture of groups should be recognized when communicating the gospel. The challenge to be contextual without losing the essential elements of the gospel remains high. The way in which inculturation must take place is investigated. Inculturation involves an approach in which the communities participate in understanding the message conveyed to them. The message of the gospel is not only conveyed by the missionary but the community also has input in the understanding of the gospel and the Holy Spirit and the local community are the agents that inform mission. The whole context of the local community is taken into account. There should however also be a critical element in inculturation. Culture is not neutral and needs to be critically evaluated in the light of the gospel. The challenge of inculturation is to be totally involved in the local community. It is also necessary to understand the way in which Paul deals with culture. Two pericopes in the Pauline literature are of importance. In Philippians 3:4-9 and 1Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul refers to the issue of his own culture and the relation of this culture to that of others. He highly regards his own Jewish culture but is prepared to limit his own background and become like the other so as to bring more people to Christ. It is, however, clear that he does not regard indigenous culture as obsolete. He honours the culture of those that he testifies to. New challenges of subcultures, among Western-oriented people as well, also receive attention. The missional church and even the emerging church handle the issue in a unique way. The significance of distinctive cultures should be affirmed in a missionary way. It is important to realise that, against the idea that culture is an "ism" that is reprehensible, culture is an unquestionable essence of being human and that the only difference lies in the way in which it transpires among people, groups and communities. How should it be handled? Rejection of certain cultures is unacceptable, as is evident from the history of mission. To break down certain types of culture to promote uniformity, as in the model of the United States, should also be avoided. When some insist that one language, one culture and one way of living should be accepted, it is important to note that the essence of humanity is disregarded. Culture is part of the human condition and should be valued highly. A danger present in the South African community is that emphasis on indigenous culture may lead to disunity in the communities. The unity in Christ and the unity of the church may then be disregarded. Inculturation must therefore not lead to the building of borders between believers but to acknowledging the value of all cultures and respect for all. Some missionaries have translated the Bible into local languages, which shows respect for distinctive cultures. Within the South African context respect, cultural enrichment, and developing the cultures of various groups, are essential. In this, the missional church can play an important role.

Palavras-chave : Mission; culture; Western dominance; inculturation; Paul; Philippians; 1 Corinthians; missional church; unity of the church; diversity.

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