"The split between the Gospel and culture is without doubt the drama of our time," wrote Paul VI in 1975. Since that time there has been an increasingly urgent awareness that inculturation is an indispensable task of the church. But inculturation, the dialogue between church and cultures, demands first of all that we who would enter into the dialogue understand what "culture" itself means and what dialogue entails. To that end, cultural anthropologist Father Gerald Arbuckle gives us this important volume.
- He traces the history of the development of the concept of culture, and the too-often negative, rarely positive effects of encounters between church and culture.
- He explores how Jesus Christ approached the cultures of his time, and outlines the current treatment of culture and inculturation in church documents and in Catholic theology.
- He shows that modest progress in understanding has recently stalled, and there are even forces working to turn that progress into regress.
- He concludes with a description of inculturation as it needs to happen’and a sharp critique of those who resist. With a sense of prophetic hope, Arbuckle seeks to help us bridge the lamentable split between Gospel and culture, the drama that continues to unfold in our time.
Gerald A. Arbuckle, SM, PhD, is codirector of Refounding and Pastoral Development, a research ministry, in Sydney, Australia. He is internationally known for his expertise in helping church leaders minister effectively in a postmodern world. Arbuckle’s most recent books include: Laughing with God: Humor, Culture, and Transformation; Confronting the Demon: A Gospel Response to Adult Bullying; Violence, Society, and the Church: A Cultural Approach; and Healthcare Ministry: Refounding the Mission in Tumultuous Times (2001 Catholic Press Association Award), all published by Liturgical Press.
Combining his immense learning in anthropology and theology with his deep concern for the Christian faith Arbuckle again puts all of us scholars and church leaders in his debt with this splendid volume. With his characteristically limpid prose and thought-provoking insights our prolific author forces us to rethink entirely the relation between faith and culture in our postmodern age. This is a landmark book and the future of Christianity and Christian mission may well depend on how its proposals are taken seriously and put into practice.
Dr. Peter C. Phan, The Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Theology Department, Georgetown University
Only a master could write a book like this. Gerald Arbuckle brings together his vast pastoral experience, expertise as an anthropologist, and theological savvy in a way that is an absolute MUST read for pastors, theologians, and ministerial students. This book could bring efforts of inculturation to a new level.
Steve Bevans, SVD, Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD Professor of Mission and Culture, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
Gerald Arbuckle has done theologians a great service by bringing together a comprehensive picture of where the discussion now is on understandings of culture and cultural processes. This will greatly aid the theological task of inculturation that still lies ahead of us as efforts continue to engage theology and cultures in a world church.
Robert Schreiter, CPPS, Author of Constructing Local Theologies
The question that underlies everything in this superb book, accordingly, is: What use can churches make of the welter of conflicting anthropological insights? And beneath that: What is the Gospel? . . . . In Arbuckle's view, the church's role is one of helping human beings embrace the paschal mystery of death and life as Christ did, not to struggle to restore or create an imaginary, pristine Eden. God's call is into an increasing intercultural drama and being light in darkness.
International Bulletin for Mission Research
Inculturation, the dialogue between church and cultures, demands first of all that we who would enter into the dialogue understand what `culture' itself means and what dialogue entails. To that end, cultural anthropologist Father Gerald Arbuckle gives us this important volume. . . . With a sense of prophetic hope, Arbuckle seeks to help us bridge the lamentable split between Gospel and culture, the drama that continues to unfold in our time.
Comboniane.org, website of the Comboni Missionary Sisters