Telling Vikings About Jesus: A Tremendous Example of Evangelistic Contextualization

f4667738369c2e5533e0bbc4ad93ad3cIn Stephen Lawhead’s novel Byzantium, the Irish monk Aidan has a conversation with a group of Vikings in which he explains who Jesus is and what He has done.  In this, Lawhead has provided a great example of what contextualization should look like when evangelizing those who inhabit a different thought world than our own.  Note carefully Aidan’s terminology as well as how he carefully responds to the Vikings’ assumptions about manhood and deity.  While fictional, this is quite helpful and moving.  Here is the conversation:

Stephen Lawhead’s Byzantium

{AF69E42D-194C-4D93-A9E9-ACA6A30DDDAB}Img400In general, I would say my feelings towards modern Christian fiction could best be described as embarrassed if not hostile.  That is because…well…have you ever read Christian fiction?  Dostoevsky it ain’t.  However, I have long had a soft spot for the works of Stephen Lawhead.  His writing is so good (usually) and the depth of his historical research is so impressive, insightful, and skillfully employed that I am loathe to group him under the title “Christian fiction” at all.  Lawhead is a Christian who writes very good fiction.  There is indeed often in Lawhead’s writings an evangelistic bent, one might say, and a sufficient enough one to have his works sold on the shelves of LifeWay.  (This is not a criticism, I hope I need not say, nor is it a suggestion that this is disingenuous on Lawhead’s part.  It is not.)  Even so, there is a stark difference in Lawhead’s works and most of these other works in terms of quality.

Mark 1:21-28

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21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Mark Dever’s Discipling

41QnGBxrsYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Mark Dever’s Discipling is another publication in Crossway’s 9Marks series of books that serve as primers to the nine marks as outlined in Dever’s ministry:  preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship, leadership.  This is, like all of the books in this series, a small book but one that is rich in content.  This will likewise be a relatively brief review.  In short, Discipling is a winsomely written, very accessible, well-organized introduction to the meat and potatoes of building disciples, which Dever helpfully and memorably defines as “deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ” (Kindle Locations 140-141).

Mark 1:16-20

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16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.