The kangling/femur flute situation has been left unresolved in the first part of this discussion, so that you strive on your own to think through both the given situation and the overall framework. The goal goes beyond merely proffering a right or wrong resolution: in fact, the brothers and I were not looking for only the “answer.” Especially after talking and thinking through the first two principles of the Framework, the brothers and I wanted to learn, to mature as God’s people and as church leaders. So let us finish the “Framework for Approaching Contextualization.”
Contextualization is best done in relationship with other disciples of Jesus; therefore, God’s people should seek community to discuss and then make application.
If one discusses a particular topic in isolation, there are a variety of perspectives on a particular resolutions that likely remain unconsidered. No one person knows all possibilities to their contextual situation. Also relationship and community help us to understand our own contextual bias or perspectives. The hope is that community helps us maintain humility regarding the final answer! Regarding the femur flute and its context: The kangling was being discussed within community, of which I was a privileged member; however, another community existed in which we would later have to consider their perspectives. As we discussed the issue of the femur flute, I asked them to consider how their church, the other church leaders, their families, and their non-Christian community would perceive using and not using the instrument. This inclusion of others beyond our own small group helped to enlarge our regard for what all was involved in our own perspectives and especially in any application decided upon.
Contextualization reflects God’s good news of grace and love through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and return; therefore, God’s people need to consider the impact of an issue upon their ability to witness to the good news of Jesus.
This aspect of contextualization might receive thought in a discussion of Soteriology above, but we have separated out a focus on the gospel mission. Issues of contextualizing how we live according to the reality of the gospel. Regarding the femur flute and its context: The final thought on this particular issue was to think beyond the impact on a particular gathered church to how this instrument might impact non-believers. We discussed ways that using the kangling in the Christian churches among Himalayan peoples might hinder sharing the gospel as God’s unique message of salvation. Also we thought through how using this instrument might enable sharing God’s gracious gift of self-sacrifice and redemption from sin to eternal life with him. Thinking through hindrances and helps to the gospel witness to the lost was only an initial aspect of the impact upon the gospel. This also impacts the gospel in making disciples who live according to the truth of who is Jesus and what is it he has accomplished for people who put their faith in him. As these brothers leave this discussion, how will they better be able to disciple their people?
So what about the femur flute?
As you think through this framework, how would you decide upon the situation of the femur flute as a church worship instrument? Why would you decide in favor or possibly against the use of this traditional instrument in worshiping Jesus? What other questions might be relevant to this Framework?
Let us know how you apply the “Framework for Approaching Contextualization”: we’d love to hear about it!