The Rev. Dr. Paul G. Hiebert, missiologist and missionary to India, has died of cancer on March 11, 2007 at the age of 74. After six years of service as a missionary under the Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions, Hiebert earned a doctoral degree in cultural anthropology, and taught for some years in secular universities. Subsequently, he taught missions and anthropology at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California (1977-1990) and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Highland Park, Illinois (1990-2007).
A prolific writer, Hiebert has published more than 150 articles and 10 books. His colleagues will remember him for his efforts to bring the insights and skills of anthropology to the theory and practice of Christian mission, and for his contribution to the critical realist approach to epistemology. His students will remember him for his generosity, and for his care and concern for them as people.
Paul Hiebert has been of seminal influence to me. His critical contextualization methodology undergirds much of my own contextualization work, and his books on cultural anthropology, most especially "Understanding Folk Religion," have tremendously deepened my understandings of religious ritual, symbolism, worldview and the art of communicating the way of Jesus across cultures and subcultures.
Only yesterday I was commenting on John Smulo's blog about models of contextualization with reference to Hiebert. I owe a great debt to him. His legacy will live on in many.
For examples of books by Paul G. Hiebert look up:
- Cultural Anthropology
- Anthropological Insights for Missionaries
- Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues
- Incarnational Ministry : Planting Churches in Band, Tribal, Peasant and Urban Societies
- Understanding Folk Religion: A Christian Response to Popular Beliefs and Practices
- Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts: Affirming Truth in a Modern/Postmodern World
- Ripening Harvest: Mission Strategy for Mainland Chinese Intellectuals in North America
- Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues. (Book Reviews): An Article from: International Bulletin of Missionary Research
- Konduru: structure and integration in a South Indian village
- Case Studies in Missions
- Wonders and the Word: An Examination of Issues Raised by John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement
For an example of some articles by Paul G. Hiebert see:
- Conversation and Worldview Transformation
- Spiritual Warfare and Worldviews
- Healing and the Kingdom
- Cultural Differences and the Communication of the Gospel
For those unfamiliar with Hiebert's critical contextualization model I would commend them to read Mike Frost's summary that you will find on the Morling College's Centre for Evangelism and Global Mission site: