Contextualization and Christianity in a Changing Traditional Society: Maritime Redemptive Analogies in Hula Culture

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Christianity as practiced in many Seventh-day Adventist churches in Papua New Guinea reflects inherited Western forms which are now considered the norm for church life. There is little motivation to use local cultural contexts to facilitate gospel communication. This dissertation seeks to assist Irupara Adventist church in redressing this situation. It explores the Hula seaside culture to discover parallels with Biblical themes that can act as cultural bridges for sharing the gospel message.

This study engaged participant observation as a research methodology, including individual interviews, focus groups and case studies. Coded data analysis elicited cultural themes, from which redemptive analogies emerged using nondiscursive processing, aided by cultural bridge, redemptive analogy and critical contextualization theoretical models.

The research found that the ocean is an integrating motif within Hula culture and identified six maritime redemptive analogies. Three were related to survival issues (the sea as a provider, cleanser and protector); two focused on Hula identity (fishing and canoe-racing); and one involved community relationships (sea-house building).

Ongoing application of the redemptive analogies in the “Fishers of Men” coaching project at Irupara Adventist church will empower it to embrace Christianity from a Hula perspective. Familiar – not foreign – forms will more effectively convey the spiritual truths of the gospel within the delightful setting of the Hula seaside context.

Mentor: Alan Ray Weaver

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Weaver, Alan Ray

Document Type





Cultural anthropology, History of Oceania, Pacific Rim studies


Missions and World Christianity


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