Book Review: “Cultural Contextualization of Apologetics” (Matt W. Lee)

Ad fontes might be a call by the Reformation to go back to the Scriptures to find affirmation of what doctrines we should live by. As our culture goes farther and farther from the Judeo-Christian influence, we need to guard and defend it. I think ad fontes should and with much gusto that we apply this also in apolgetics. Cultural Contextualization of Apologetics authored by Matt Lee, helps us get into this matter by going back to the Scriptures and zooming in with the Apostle Paul’s apologetic approach.

Half of the book is establishing Paul as a communicator of his time. Here Lee focuses on Paul not just on his apologetics but who he is in front of his listeners. Lee dives in great detail on this apostles rhetoric armament that he can be placed with other great philosophers and orators. Yes, in this book you’ll get to know Paul as you might say (and he might not want to be called) a super apostle and Christ picked up the best that he can mold for the purpose of spreading the Christianity. This will blow away the notion that he’s greatness is bound within the Biblical times or for the Christian audience but he and his apologetics can stand for his time and for today. This is a great encouragement for us Christian who may not be in academics but those in the pew. If you ask who is the greatest apologist of the church, without a doubt, with this book, you’ll answer will be Paul.

If this is just a book for those verses that confronts his audience with the rhetoric of Christianity then this will be a short book. In fact, Lee made a brief run down of it. After that, I feel this book is done however, there is more (and I’m glad) that needs unpacking. Lee helps the readers see more and want more on how the apologetic speeches Paul can resonate from the original hearers to our own pluralistic culture. The author really ensures the reader that it wouldn’t miss anything on the impact of these speeches and why it matters on making a case for Christianity.

If you find half of this book an excellent excursion which is enough to end it and call it a day, you’ll get even more depth of this topic as it shifts to chapters 5 and 6. For me these chapters could have been another book or this could have been a series. Nevertheless, this solidifies what has already been established by the previous chapter. For me chapter 5 was a treat because Lee brings the criteria that established a culturally contextualized apologetics that Paul has delivered through his speeches and is now emulated by early apologists of the church. I only know Justin Martyr in the list but as you look at these defenders of the Christian faith, you’ll see that they’re at step with what Paul has delivered and gives you without a doubt how culture is always to be considered when we share or defend our beliefs.

This is an academic book and has a bit of difficulty along the way. There are lots of things going on in this book that you might feel are getting lost. If you are tangled, then a little back reading will do the trick. You’ll get a whole lot of references and quotes from other works along the way. Lee really got hold of great books to present a good case of culture contextualization. This book is much about those works gathered in one place for everyone to enjoy rather than Lee’s take on the topic. You’ll rarely hear the author’s voice here. However, this only reveals how excellent the painstaking research Lee has done on this volume. So if you don’t want the hassle of getting through those books, you’ll only need this book.

The letdown of this book is that as much as it has concentrated with Paul, the succeeding early church apologist and how this apologetic approach branch out to different apologetic methods today, it didn’t give much examples of modern or case studies of relevant issues. If that is what your waiting for and of that’s the reason why you picked up this book, well you’ll be disappointed. It’s up to you to apply what you have read to pressing issues that you want to answer.

Cultural Contextualization of Apologetics is an excellent choice if you want to dive on how we can present our belief to a non-Christian culture. This is a rediscovery of this essential approach that is already in every apologetic speech by Paul in the New Testament.

My verdict:

4.5 of 5

Read my favorite quotes from the book here.

Purchase the digital or physical copy of the book here.

(Did you enjoy what you read? Did this article helped you? If yes, you can say “Thank you” by sharing 10 Pesos or more at my G-Cash or Paymaya account: Marianito Gonzales – 09163315535. For international friends, head over this link to buy me a coffee.)

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