Paul Hiebert was one of the most significant missiological thinkers of the 20th century among evangelicals. Hiebert's work as both an anthropologist and missiologist set categories that are still employed in evangelical contextualization practices today.
In his work, Hiebert called for "critical contextualization." In a series of classic articles from the 1980s, Hiebert argued for this approach in opposition to twin errors which rest on either side. The first was the error of noncontextualization, which he based on a naive realist epistemology. The opposite error was that of uncritical contextualization, which grew from a structuralist epistemology and postmodern worldview.
According to Hiebert, true, biblical contextualization rests within a critical realist epistemology and avoids either ditch by making the Scriptures the primary authority in contextualization while not overlooking the important role of culture and worldview in cross-cultural communication.
Below are the three articles published by Hiebert which unpack fully this concept of critical contextualization.
Hiebert Articles on Contextualization
- Hiebert, Paul. “Critical Contextualization.” Missiology: An International Review 12.3 (1984): 287–96.
- Hiebert, Paul G. “The Missiological Implications of an Epistemological Shift.” Theological Students Fellowship Bulletin 8.5 (1985): 12–18.
- Hiebert, Paul G. “Critical Contextualization.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research (1987): 104–12.