Nine reasons why Christians need to learn how to present the gospel of Christ in the “language of honor and shame”

The following nine assumptions sum up a complex problem that must be addressed:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. In our 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 deep misunderstanding between immigrant peoples who hold primarily to an honor/shame value system versus a justice/guilt value system.
  5. The increasing diversity of North American cities represents a huge opportunity for Christians to share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ with their neighbors.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. There is a standard way for Christians to present the Gospel message; it is to focus on the salvation work of Christ as an answer to the problem of guilt—not the problem of shame. This standard 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 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.
  9. 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 currently-available Gospel tracts, no books, no resources to make it easy for ordinary believers to share the gospel of Christ in this way.

We intend to address this problem—through the soon-to-be-released Gospel booklet, “The Father’s Love.”

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