«Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization. by Dean Frederick Sieberhagen submitted ...»
In-Vivo codes are applicable to this study as they involve the use of terms which carry significant meaning. These terms may be used in a question with the assumption that everyone knows the meaning behind them. In the interviews time was taken to ‘unpack’ these terms in order to produce a common understanding. For example, ‘burial ceremony’ in the Kazakh language is a term full of specific meaning, its depth dependant on whether the person is a Traditional, Modern, or Russified Kazakh. ‘Globalization’ and its accompanying terms do not exist in the Kazakh language and so in the interviews their meaning had to be discussed and at times a term ‘borrowed’ from Russian or English. Each pastor’s experience and life-setting influenced the breadth and depth of their understanding of globalization.
Some confined the understanding to economics, some added cultural adjustments, and a few linked the concepts of worldview and philosophy. To promote the detailed gathering of data from each pastor, the questions to do with globalization were designed using the ideas proposed by Tobias Faix (2007:113-129) in his model of the Empirical - Theological Praxis cycle. The processes of deduction, induction, and abduction he argues can be applied to the data generation process and produce questions that will result in detailed and diverse data. In deduction then, a question proposes a general idea with the resultant discussion applying this to specific situations within the interviewee’s experience. Induction results in a question that poses a specific case with the discussion then moving to the general principles that arise from it. Abduction attempts to look at a situation and allow the discussion to reveal new knowledge without any pre-conceived ideas as to what will result. Inferences are then made from this new knowledge. By definition this agrees with the basic premise of grounded theory which is allowing theory to emerge from the data without a pre-conceived hypothesis.
In Ground Theory as categories are refined and compared, again inductive and deductive reasoning are used so that theory begins to emerge from the data. At this stage of Grounded Theory, as Charmaz (2006:188) suggests, by means of induction the researcher looks at the range of concepts and categories, looking for patterns that will help to form theory. Deduction here involves looking at some of the general categories that have emerged and then considering how they inform the development of theory as they are applied to specific situations. Glaser and Strauss (1999:38) point out that the concepts have two essential features. They must be general enough so that they can be used for analysis outside of the specific context in which they arose, but at the same time meaningful enough that they can be usefully applied to a specific situation.
Additionally, as Charmaz (2006:103) also proposes, this 'reasoning about experience for making theoretical conjectures and then checking them through further experience' is known as abductive reasoning and is integral to this stage of the Grounded Theory analysis.
Abduction helps to keep all possible explanations of the concepts and categories in mind.
Various theoretical explanations are considered in analyzing the data so that the most reliable emerge and are then pursued even further. Paradoxically, this broad analytical pursuit is constrained by relevancy in terms of the core concepts which in this study involve Kazakh church planting, globalization, and contextualization. This relevancy however is provided by the analysis of the data and not the preconceived hypotheses of the researcher.
Constantly comparing concepts and categories leads to theoretical interpretations that begin to build theory. Variation emerges as the experiences and opinions of the interviewees differ, so that one Kazakh pastor has a different view of an issue to that of other pastors. The emerging theory then reflects the variances that have arisen from the data. Glaser and Strauss (1999:35) speak of two elements of the theory that is generated. Firstly, there are the conceptual categories and their properties and then the resultant hypotheses that come from the relations between the categories and their properties. This then results in theory that has both emerged, and remains open to development through new perspectives.
1.4 The Limitations of Grounded Theory Grounded Theory whilst offering much potential in social research, nevertheless has to deal with what are seen as its limitations. Firstly, it is seen as being too positivistic. As Charmaz (2000: 510) explains it suggests that there is somehow an objective, external reality from which a neutral reasearcher gathers data and does research. In a postpositivist world where conflicting views of reality exist does this make grounded theory redundant? Charmaz argues for a constructivist grounded theory that “ assumes the relativism of multiple social realities, recognizes the mutual creation of knowledge by the viewer and the viewed, and aims towards interpretive understanding of subjects’ meanings” (: 510).
Conrad (in Charmaz 2000: 521) argues that grounded theory limits the understanding of a situation by breaking it down into small data components and thereby ignores the overall meanings that may be present, as well as the perspective that the subject brings. In essence it makes the research situation too clinical, reducing the people being interviewed to subjects rather than participants. In an interview discussion, both the specific words and terms that are used carry meaning, but so does the discussion as a whole.
Charmaz (2000: 521) points out an additional limitation where grounded theory presents the researcher as an expert observer so that their observations in the gathering of data overwhelm all else. How sensitive the researcher is to the complexity of the research context and the diverse viewpoints within it, will then determine how limited grounded theory is in terms of this critique. The researcher needs to be self-conscious about the assumptions and attributions that they bring and how these may differ from others involved in the research context.5
1.5 The Missions and Contextualization Debate Contextualization has become both such a widely used and controversial term in Christian missions, that Hesselgrave describes it as “already been defined and redefined, used and abused, amplified and vilified, coronated and crucified” (Moreau 2012: 35). It seems inconceivable that anyone engaged in missions would not try to be contextual, as the corollary suggests an approach that is irrelevant and inappropriate. After all missions begins with God turning towards the world (Bosch 1991: 426), and if Jesus would leave heaven and enter our context then how can we do any less. Careful consideration then must be given to how this term is defined and used.
Pocock defines Christian contextualization as follows:
In this study the theory produced by grounded theory is limited by the evangelical worldview that the researcher/ author brings to it.
Such a definition is full of implication for the church planter. Darrell Cosden (2002:321) explains that contextualization can be used to describe the total re-invention of Christianity within a receiver culture or the mere translation of a specific form of Christianity into another culture. Paralleling some of the approaches used in Scripture translation, contextualization as used in church planting does not seek a literal translation of the New Testament church into another culture, but rather a dynamic equivalent so that the timeless, universal elements are embedded into a culture in such a way that the church is seen as relevant. In this study, the implication is not that the majority of Kazakhs will therefore quickly embrace Christianity, but rather that it appears Kazakh, even if they reject it.
Louis Luzbetak states that “contextualization assumes there is a God-purposed basis in the culture that is available for the growth of the Gospel” (1988:72). Ruy Costa (1988) believes that in a world of change there is no set context and so the Gospel can never be fully contextualized but must continually be involved in the process of contextualization.
Hesselgrave and Rommen (1989: 128) argue that in any definition of the term, contextualization must consider both the study of the message and the audience with whom it is shared. Martin Gannon (2001) describes culture as a framework of norms and values and so to contextualize the gospel is to lay aside our expatriate framework and examine the framework of the culture we have moved into.
Schreiter (1997:26) suggests that in today’s globalized world we need to think of three ways in which the idea of context has changed and therefore impacted the way we do theology in a new culture. Firstly, challenges or boundaries with other cultures were seen as being related to geographic distance whereas now they are more related to cultural differences and how to do theology where such difference exists. Secondly, globalization has led to one culture going through various degrees of blending and intrusion with other cultures.
The result is that individuals within a culture have a sense of belonging to multiple cultures.
The third effect is that pure cultures no longer exist but rather hybrid ones, even if at a very low level. It is therefore fair to say that both church planting and its aspect of theology are becoming increasingly complex in the cultural contexts of today.6 Theology without contextualization is no longer valid argues Bevans (2002:15). It is important that Theology “takes seriously human experience, social location, particular cultures, and social change in those cultures” (Bevans 2002:15). In the light of contextualization, theology involves a multi-interaction with traditional culture, the changes the culture experiences, the new identities that develop, and the tension that globalization brings. It is not just looking back, but also forward and all around as the church planter tries to make the Gospel relevant. Harley Talman argues for a contextual theology that moves out
of the classroom:
Perhaps the most crucial issues of a contextual theology would be identifying and confronting unbiblical worldview assumptions, values and allegiances, as opposed to items of doctrinal belief. Theologizing in Islamic contexts also demands that we speak to issues of social relationships. (2004:11) An examination of Stephen Bevans’ models of contextual theology will help to expand on the ideas and definitions involved in contextualization. Bevans suggests six models of contextual
theology that are summarized briefly as follows:
a. The Anthropological model seeks to establish and preserve as much of the receiving culture’s identity, including the religious aspect. The Gospel message is seen as already present in the culture even though it may be hidden and so the primary task is to uncover it within the culture. Robert Hood, a theologian in the Episcopal tradition, has raised the issue that by and large theology has been developed from a Western (and Greco-Roman) point of view, ignoring the rich contribution that the local culture has to make (:62). An illustration of this is his contention that the rich presence of the Robert Priest (2006:195) argues that as churches are planted the believers need a systematic theology that is universal in nature but that to that must be added a “missional theologizing”. He describes this as being conext sensitive and experience-near so that it is able to have a relevant voice into each culture.
spirit world in African tradition is able to help with a deeper understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Using this argument we would then propose that the traditional Kazakh culture with the religious priority on ancestor spirits can be used as a reference point and analogy to develop Kazakh theology regarding the Holy Spirit as well as the concepts of angels and demons. This model shows how the local Kazakh context must be the priority and starting point in developing theology and becomes even more significant if we consider the sub-cultures of the Russified, Modern, and Traditional Kazakhs.
b. The Praxis model emphasizes that theology arises in the receiving culture through a constant dialogue between Christian truth and its being acted out in the culture.
in the theology of Virginia Fabella, a Catholic sister in the Philippines (cited in Bevans 2002:84). As with Kazakh women, she lives in a context that is dominated
who Jesus is” (:85). This model urges that Kazakh Christianity must make a Rolf Zwick (2004:138) argues that we need a theology of transformation in response to all the negative influences of the globalized world in which we live. He sees promoting the message of the gospel as intimately linked to social change. In the overall Kazakh context this is a challenge on the macro level where the church is yet to gain full recognition as a valid expression of religion. Influence however can be made on the micro level, engaging the negative elements in a specific context and so effecting a more grassroots transformation.
difference in society, seeking out the marginalized and offering them a faith, hope and love that are seen in action.
c. The Synthetic model sees God’s activity in one context has making a valuable contribution to his activity in another context. Theology arises by constantly comparing God’s activity in one culture and context with that in other cultures and contexts. There are then universal, common elements in the Christian faith shared by all cultures, and at the same time unique aspects to each culture. Both the message and the local context are important even to the point that the message may need to be shaped by the context as much as the context is shaped by the message. The two are synthesized with each other as well as with other situations where this has taken place. Each context has something to give to another, as well as something that can be transformed by the other. Bevans uses the example of Asian theologian Koyama who has lived and taught in various countries and cultures (:96). Koyama begins with the details of the context in which he finds himself, so that when he calls the Gospel into this context it is able to come alive.