Why would Christians use The Father’s Love Booklet—presenting the Gospel of Christ in the “language of honor and shame”?
COMMON FEATURE TO MAJORITY WORLD. Some mission and culture experts recognize that the majority of the world’s unevangelized peoples are from societies for whom the pivotal cultural value is “honor and shame”. This may be distinguished from the primary cultural value of the West, which is “justice/guilt” or “innocence/guilt”.
RESISTANCE TO A “WESTERN” GOSPEL. Many of the unreached peoples are also highly resistant to the Gospel. Christianity is perceived by many as a Western religion—an American-style religion—opposed to their own cultural values.
EVER-INCREASING ETHNIC DIVERSITY, ESPECIALLY IN CITIES. Because of megatrends such as globalization and the migration of peoples, most North American cities have growing communities of Latin American, Middle Eastern, East Asian, South Asian, and African peoples for whom a primary cultural value is honor and shame. Our cities now include individuals and families who have settled into communities here in North America; many are from among unreached, unevangelized and even unengaged people groups.
CLASH OF CULTURES. In North American cities there is a clash of cultures between the “new residents”—peoples who are largely from the East/South—and the “old residents”—peoples who are more Western in their orientation. This clash of cultures is, in part, the result of misunderstanding between immigrant peoples who hold primarily to an honor/shame value system versus a justice/guilt value system.
UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY. The increasing diversity of North American cities represents a huge opportunity for Christians to share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ with their neighbors.
FEAR PREVAILS. Despite the amazing opportunities to share Christ and the blessing of the Gospel with new neighbors from distant lands—the vast majority of evangelical churches and their members are afraid, untrained and unprepared to share the Gospel of Christ with people from other cultures.
THE BIBLE A BOOK OF HONOR AND SHAME. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is a book which arose out of Eastern societies. It is God’s truth for salvation; it is God’s truth for every aspect of faith and practice for God’s people, the Church. And because the Bible was written by people with the particular culture values of the ancient Middle East, the Bible also has as its pivotal cultural value—honor and shame.
THE CROSS A REMEDY FOR GUILT AND SHAME. The common way for evangelical Christians to present the Gospel message is to focus on the salvation work of Christ as an answer to the problem of guilt. But the fall of humankind also resulted in the problem of shame. This common way is a truncated way—it is true, but it is not the whole truth. The Bible, being a book which arose out of an ancient Middle Eastern context, has much, much more to say about the problem of shame than what the vast majority of Christians realize. While the Bible certainly does address humanity’s problem of guilt before Almighty God, the Bible also addresses the problem of humanity’s shame before Almighty God.
SHAME HURTS MORE. Social science research indicates that shame has far more negative effects on people than guilt. (See my blog post about this.) More than 40 years of research has consistently found that shame motivates people to “hide, escape, or strike back”; in striking contrast, guilt motivates people to “confess, apologize, or repair.” Could it be that the cure for guilt is not nearly as urgent and transformative as the cure for shame? Could it be, that when God’s Word is taught with a focus on guilt while ignoring shame, Christians are—by omission—withholding that which most deeply heals the human soul?
SIMPLE AND UNIQUE. There is a vacuum of resources for Christians to learn a simple way of sharing the Gospel of Christ with people from honor/shame cultures. We are aware of no other currently-available Gospel tracts, books, or resources to make it easy for ordinary believers to share the Gospel of Christ in this way. “The Father’s Love Booklet” is unique.