does context matter (and denying the humanity of Jesus)

I was over checking out Tall Skinny Kiwi and came upon the latest discussion…it happened to be about context (interesting considering some of my more recent posts too)…apparently there are those who doubt the importance or significance of this in terms of living into God’s mission.

Ton’s of interesting comments there–go over and check it out…

Here’s my comment:

I can’t help but wonder if the same crowd that denies context also has a hard time holding the tension of Jesus being fully God AND fully human.  Certainly there’s the liberal scholarship (like Chilton and Crossan) crowd who would deny the deity of Christ…but the evangelical fundamentalist world seems to go to the opposite extreme and denies the humanity of Jesus.  This really isn’t a new thought I know…but…God in Christ is the ultimate contextualist.  I mean, isn’t the hymn in Phil. about “emptying himself…taking the form…” and then the proclamation in Hebrews “…becoming in all ways like us…”, all about incarnate contextualization?  His humanity is then all about coming to a specific time, a specific place, with a specific way of dress, way of life, cultural understanding…it begins with God.  This isn’t the missionary method of Paul–it’s the Missionary method of God. So…there’s that…

And the thing is that other folks have commented on this as well with their lives.
I think of CT Studd and the Cambridge 7 who went to China.  They were mocked by the other “white” missionaries for adopting Chinese customs and apparel–but in the end have been recognized as the  inspired approach.

Unfortunately the examples don’t go on and on positively…there is a much greater history in the West of refusing to adopt and adapt.  We have refused to “imitate Paul as he imitated Christ”.  We fail (generally speaking) to take seriously the humanity of Jesus and because of it will always imagine our teacher, savior, Lord, and friend as a “disembodied floating head” (thanks Mike) without touch or smell or vision or…well…completely unrelatable to me and you…and maybe that’s what we want out of our God…someone who’s NOT like me…Because if he was–well–then I’d have to get more comfortable with my own skin…eek–that’s a terrifying thought.


So…here’s a question…and I’m really serious about this…does context change behavior?

Take for example a student in the ghetto. Quite often parents who dream of their children “amounting to something more” will pay extrordinary amounts to bus them out of their present reality and into another–where they will be more exposed to new thought, new stimulation, and new opportunities. And there’s a some controversy about this–but generally speaking it’s accepted. New context can PROMOTE (but not guarantee new behavior).

The topic comes up in my Learning Theory class quite often. And I wonder. How far do we take this notion? What about “growing where you’re planted”? I don’t know…truly…what do you think?

Oh…and let me throw this in…are some spiritual contexts more condusive to applying God’s Good Dream than others? Or are contexts neutral?