“We can easily forget that Scripture is a foreign land
and that reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience.”
If you are a Christian from North America (or Northern Europe and Australia or elsewhere)—and you consider yourself influenced primarily by Western values, consider this:
Culturally speaking, the Bible does not “belong” to you; it’s not your book.
It was the people of the ancient Middle East—characterized not by the individualistic guilt-based values of contemporary Northern Europe and North America and the West, but by the group-oriented values of honor and shame—to whom this book was originally written.
It was in the culture of the ancient Middle East—characterized not by the equality-oriented values of the West, but by the hierarchical values of honor and shame—that men inspired by the Holy Spirit authored the sixty-six books of the Bible.
It was the ancient Middle East—characterized not by the direct communication style of the USA and Northern Europe, but by the indirect communication style of honor/shame cultures—where God chose to call out for himself a man named Abraham, so that through his descendants all the peoples of the earth would be blessed.
It was into Greco-Roman culture at the height of the Roman Empire—characterized not by the individualistic values of the West, but by the family-based, hierarchical values of honor and shame—that Jesus Christ was born and grew up, worked and lived, proclaimed the gospel of his kingdom, called and taught his disciples, suffered a humiliating death, and victoriously rose again.
It was through the kingdom and story of Israel—characterized not by the fast-paced lifestyle and risk-oriented values of urban America, but by the slow lifestyle, the cautionary traditional values of honor and shame—that Christ called his newly formed people, the church, to extend his gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Indeed, “reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience.”
Excerpted from the forthcoming book, THE GLOBAL GOSPEL: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World. If you would like read or review the pre-published manuscript write to Werner Mischke at email@example.com.
1. E. Randolph Richards; Brandon J. O’Brien: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible (Kindle Locations 74–75). Kindle Edition.