Culture: When to Bend, When to Break—Kenneth Nehrbass Explains

Everybody talks about “engaging culture.” Culture is a slippery concept. When should missionaries break from their host culture, and when should they bend with it? Is missions mainly about creating countless contextualized Christianities across various cultures, or is it also about assimilating believers into one overarching Christian culture? We discussed these issues with Dr. Kenneth Nehrbass of Biola University, author of multiple books including God’s Image and Global Cultures.

Kenneth Nehrbass was a pastor before he and his wife Mendy joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 2000. In 2002, they moved to the island of Tanna (in Vanuatu) to translate the New Testament with a team of nationals. In 2012 they moved back to the USA, and Nehrbass became assistant professor of International Studies at Belhaven University. In 2014, he moved to Biola to teach and direct the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs in intercultural studies. He continues to volunteer as a translation and anthropology consultant with SIL and the Seed Company. His research focuses on contextual theology and missiological anthropology. He and his wife have four children. Visit his site to learn more.

You can also read Scott Dunford’s review of Nehrbass’ book on the ABWE blog.

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Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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