The folks at Grace to You frequently condemn the concept of “contextualization” and do so by defining it in light of those who abuse the term. John MacArthur and Phil Johnson in particular have portrayed contextualization as watering down the message so people aren’t offended by it.
Ed Stetzer correctly defines contextualization and the need for it on his blog today:
I have said it many times, but it always seems to bear repeating — contextualization is not watering down the message. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. To contextualize the gospel means removing cultural and linguistic impediments to the gospel presentation so that only the offense of the cross remains. It is not removing the offensive parts of the gospel; it is using the appropriate means in each culture to clarify exactly who Jesus was, what He did, why He did it, and the implications that flow from it. Oftentimes, it is unclear communication (and a lack of contextualization) that contributes to some rejecting something they do not understand. If the feet of those who bring the gospel are beautiful upon the hills, it is at least partly due to the fact that those who hear the gospel understand and appreciate its life transforming truth. This often occurs through critical contextualization.
My often-used definition of contextualization: communicating in a way so as to make the offense of the gospel most clear.