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2008 Mid-America Conference on Preaching, Conclusion

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Dave Doran’s First General Session
Part 3 – Horn and Conley’s General Sessions
Part 4 – Dawson on Culture
Part 5 – Snoeberger on Culture
Part 6 – Doran’s Second General Session
Part 7 – McCune on Mars Hill
Part 8 – Snoeberger on Carson

Conclusion and Evaluation

The issue of cultural “contextualization” is a hot one today, and as usual, Dr. Doran and the professors of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary provided very helpful instruction on this issue at the 2008 Mid-America Conference on Preaching. The general sessions and workshops that I attended each supplied helpful biblical principles for consideration of the believer’s posture toward culture.

The highlights of the conference for me were Dr. Doran’s two general sessions and Mark Snoeberger’s workshop on defining culture. As Dr. Doran pointed out in both of his sessions, there are probably as many definitions of “contextualization” as there are people talking about it. But he helpfully pointed out that most discussions of “contextualization” today are really an attempt to alter or package our message in such a way to make it more “palatable” to contemporary culture. This not only places man as a higher priority than God in our evangelism, but it also flies in the face of a biblical understanding of human depravity and God’s work of regeneration in enabling a person to apprehend the beauty of the Gospel.

Dr. Snoeberger rightly defined culture as expression of values. He also rightly pointed out than many, if not most, Christians today view culture as merely a neutral vehicle for the transport of truth. In contrast, Dr. Snoeberger advocated the careful parsing of meaning in all cultural expressions so that we may be discerning in what elements of culture we may or may not adopt.

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Other helpful emphases of the conference included an insistence that Scripture must be our supreme authority in making cultural evaluations and that we must move beyond discussions of mere externals and evaluate the values that undergird given cultural expressions at a given time.

I’m very thankful for Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and, in particular, the Mid-America Conference on Preaching. The professors of DBTS have had significant influence upon my theology and philosophy both directly and indirectly, and this conference was no different. I would encourage any pastor, student, or other church leader to seriously consider attending next year’s conference. It will be well worth your time.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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