The nation of France has become a wealthy, powerful and sophisticated world leader in human rights, technology, and medicine. France is also known around the globe for its keen interest in art and its significant influence upon the art world. At the same time, in spite its Christian heritage, France has shown very little interest in spiritual concerns for many generations. There are signs that this is beginning to change. This document seeks to explore a missional approach for the changing French context today, one that draws on the arts as a primary means of communicating the Christian Gospel. To evaluate this approach, a model of contextual theology is proposed which encourages the exegesis of both French culture and the texts of Scripture.
The contextual model used in this project, developed by Dr. C. Rene Padilla, uses what Padilla describes as a hermeneutic circle, composed of four parts; the historical/cultural context, the interpreter’s worldview, Scripture, and theology. The model begins by exploring the French historical/cultural context and next, evaluating the lens of the French worldview. In light of these findings the questions which are raised are then asked of Scripture. The responses which are indicated then lead toward the development of a theology which is responsive to the needs of French culture and artistic sensitivity. The practice of art with missional intent in French culture is explored and some of the implications evaluated. The multicultural French church, if it were to become engaged in the arts, would very likely be both attractive and effective in opening cultural doors in France that have been locked for generations, and lead toward cultural transformation.