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The Necessity and Limit of a Contextual Theology

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Contextual theology is a necessity, but it also has limits. This is the thesis of Craig L. Nessan in this article. It is a necessity because of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and the sacramental nature of Christian life. God is always revealed in particular times and places. Nevertheless, argues Nessan, contextual theology is limited by the consistency of God's character and activity. "While it is vital to pay attention to the particularity of God's revelation within a given context, it is equally necessary to affirm the coherence of God's characteristic way of becoming revealed." Careful reflection on the development of Christian doctrine demonstrates the value of attending both to its contextuality and its consistency. Doctrinal expression of faith provides the particularity of contextual expression (a certain language, culture, period) on the one hand, and provides the parameters of orthodoxy (the church's faith) on the other.

Affiliations: 1: Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, USA


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