Have you ever tried to share your faith with someone froma different culture? Did they seem confused by some of the concepts you were sharing? Have you ever wondered if you could be communicating more clearly or in a way that connected better with their cultural background and heritage?
Jayson Georges' newly released book, The 3D Gospel – Ministry in Guilt, Shame and Fear Cultures, suggests three cultural lenses that impact our view of the world around us.
- Guilt/Innocence – Western, Individualistic cultures
- Shame/Honour – Asian, Middle East, North Africa and/or Collectivistic (group) cultures – very relational
- Fear/Power – Animistic (controlled by spirits) cultures – typically tribal or African
He writes – we all tend to have one of these as our primary lens but we can also be impacted by the others. Georges suggests that as Western Christians we primarily use words like guilt, punish, judge, forgive, innocent and sacrifi ce when we share the gospel. But those from a Shame/Honour culture are likely to share the same message using words like dishonour, disgrace, alienation, worth, face, humiliation and family. And those from a Fear/Power culture will use words like authority, blessing, curse, freedom, captive, kingdom and deliverance.
These cultural lenses don't change the gospel message but they can change the words we use to communicate it.
A gospel presentation from a Guilt/Innocence culture could sound like this:
1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
2. People are sinful and condemned by God. Our transgressions create a barrier between us and a holy God.
3. Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifi ce for your sins. On the cross Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
4. You must receive Jesus as your personal Saviour to have your sins forgiven.
But the same presentation for a Shame/Honour culture could sound like this:
1. God wants to honour you as His child. He created us with glory and honour to live in His family.
2. But, our disloyalty disrespects God and brings disgrace. We are now spiritual orphans, separated from our Father.
3. Jesus' disgraceful death covers our shame. The cross reconciles us back to God. We are adopted as His worthy children with a new inheritance.
4. So, to have harmony with God you must give allegiance to Jesus. Receive God's gracious welcome into His family and live under His name. Stop boasting in your own honour, and receive God's honour.
And for a Fear/Power culture presentation could sound like this:
1. God is the sovereign King. He created people to rule his entire creation and experience His spiritual blessings.
2. But we rebel against God's rule, so live in bondage to Satan. We are weak, and afraid.
3. Jesus is the warrior who conquered evil powers to release the captives from Satan's dominion. Jesus restores God's power and blessings to us.
4. You must know Jesus to access the Divine Spirit and overcome the power of sin and Satan. Jesus alone, not rituals or magic, provides us peace and protection.
The book is a quick and easy read that opens up a relatively new area of thinking. There appears to be a growing interest in the ideas raised in the book with a number of similar articles appearing in the mission community. Georges himself has a website https://honorshame.com/ where he is posting articles and videos and also passing on information about other articles and authors who are addressing this subject. The book has a number of charts that help to explain the difference between the three cultural views of the world.
I would recommend this book to anyone who desires to more effectively communicate the gospel message to those from a different culture. It is also an interesting read for those who want to understand the cultural context from which the Bible was written – Shame/Honour playing a much greater role then than it does in our Western context.
The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges is available from Amazon.