Is the Honor-Shame Conference about evangelism and discipleship in America?

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Yesterday I received an interesting email from a missiologist/author/trainer. His question was about the Honor-Shame Conference, June 19–21, 2017 at Wheaton. He asked:

“… what percentage of the June conference will deal with the application of honor-shame thinking to evangelism and discipleship in America, and which presenters will be hitting it?”

As Coordinator of the Honor-Shame Conference, here (below) is how I responded to his question; the text has been edited for clarity in this blog post.


Overall, I think about 50% of the conference—and maybe more—is applicable to “evangelism and discipleship in America”. Of course this also depends on your context in America. There are so many different cultural contexts, so to generalize about “evangelism and discipleship in America” is fraught with the risk of over-generalizing and subjectivity. Having said that …

First of all, there is the hermeneutical grounding of honor-shame. The honor-shame paradigm is first of all about hermeneutics (Scripture interpretation)—and second of all about anthropology (better understanding of ourselves and other peoples).

We believe that through honor-shame, we are getting closer to the way the original authors and hearers of Scripture understood the Word of God. So this is first of all about good interpretation of Scripture; you might even say we are grounded in the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. It is secondly about better contextualization.

The double-benefit of honor-shame

This points to a double benefit—better hermeneutics and better understanding of non-Western peoples. The double-benefit is inherent in the principle, “The gospel is already contextualized for honor-shame cultures”, quoting Jackson Wu. But even in saying this, I grimace a little, because it is not merely non-Western peoples who will better grasp the gospel through honor-shame; I so firmly believe that Western peoples also really benefit from a gospel that is infused by the Bible’s own honor-shame dynamics. We could discuss sometime the range of books that point to this reality.

So concerning the hermeneutical priority, let’s consider first the plenary sessions. In my opinion, about 80% of the content in the plenary sessions is about hermeneutics enhanced by honor-shame—how this is part of theology, how it relates to the gospel and to church life in America. (Click here to see the six plenary sessions in the Honor-Shame Conference.) If you look at these plenary sessions in totality—in my opinion—you are seeing an overall emphasis on the role of honor-shame in theology, Scripture interpretation, and the gospel. Also, in the list of workshops, one of the workshops seems to focus exclusively on hermeneutics—Dr. E. Randolph Richards: “Honor-Shame in the Gospel of John”.

Now let’s get beyond hermeneutics to whether the presentations address an “American” or Western audience:

Here are the workshops which I think which will relate specifically to an “American” or Western audience:

  • DJ Chuang: “Towards Erasing the Shame of Mental Illness”
  • Steve Hong: “Unlocking Evangelism in our Cities with an Honor-Shame Framework”
  • Jeff Jackson: “Honor-Shame as a Crucial Component of a Local Church’s Ministry to Current or Former US military Members and Their Families”
  • Mako A. Nagasawa: “How to Bring About Personal Healing and Social Justice Using Medical Substitutionary Atonement”
  • Robert Walter: “Grace in the Face of God: ‘Seeking God’s Face’ in Prayer as Cleansing for Toxic Shame”

The next list of workshops, in my opinion, are mostly rooted in cross-cultural ministry in overseas, non-Western communities. But I believe the relevance of these workshops is significant for many Americans and Westerners. There is cross-over impact here:

  • Sam Heldenbrand: “Honor, Shame, and the Gospel: Reframing the Messenger”
  • Dr. Katie J. Rawson: “A Gospel that Reconciles: Teaching About Honor-Shame to Advance Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation”
  • Randall Spacht, Lacides Hernandez, Juan Guillermo Cardona: “The 3D Gospel in Latin America”
  • Joyce Jow: “From Pollution to Purity: The Restoration of the Hemorrhaging Woman”
  • Dr. Steve Tracy: “Abuse and Shame: How the Cross Transforms Shame”

Because of the fact that there are so many non-Western peoples in the USA, there is a need for preaching, evangelism, and discipleship that is conducted without a Western theological bias (see this post about theological bias and contextualization). This makes all of the workshops relevant, because we have so many Asians, so many Latin Americans, so many peoples from Africa and the Middle East living among us.

I also suggest you read the 14-page Workshop Descriptions document to get a fuller understanding of the 28 workshops offered at the Honor-Shame Conference.


Conclusion

How do I summarize the points in my email to my friend the missiologist?

  1. America is increasingly a land of diverse peoples and cultures—and this represents a major Great Commission opportunity for the church. Understanding the double benefit of honor-shame—1) better Scripture interpretation, and 2) better contextualization of the gospel for people in honor-shame cultures—may represent a strategic advance for the Church. This is valuable for all Americans—whether their background is Christian, nonreligious, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other.
  2. Come to the Honor-Shame Conference, June 19–21, 2017 at Wheaton!

The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet in Japanese—FREE copies available

Good news—200 copies of the Japanese version of The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet are available for free.

This is the booklet based on the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11–32) which allows you to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Bible’s own “language of honor and shame”.

Click here to visit The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet website page, to learn more about this resource. Note: you won’t see anything here about the Japanese version. But you will see all the pages, the drawings, the questions designed for interaction—and how we make a bridge to the atonement of Christ.

  • 20 pages, 4.125 x 3.5 inches, fits into a shirt pocket
  • Designed for interaction and easy conversation
  • Lovingly designed for people whose pivotal cultural value is honor and shame—to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ

My friends at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville have been involved in blessing many Japanese in Middle Tennessee. They took the English version of The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet … had the translation work done … had the new page-layout work completed in Adobe InDesign … and got it printed. From their print run, an extra 200 copies were left over—and these were recently given to Mission ONE. Many thanks to Mike McClanahan and the missions department at FBC Hendersonville!

So for the cost of shipping, you can get these 200 gospel booklets for no additional cost. Interested? Write to me at werner@mission1.org.

Available now—200 copies of The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet in Japanese.

Christmas is good news about a King and His Kingdom

christmas-king-and-gospel-of-the-kingdom

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’”
–Luke 1:30–33 ESV

We are joining Christians all over the world in celebrating the miracle of the birth of King Jesus.

Christmas is a time to wonder. It was a divine miracle that Mary, the Jewish teenage virgin, conceived a baby boy who the angel said “will be called the Son of the Most High”. The little baby Jesus is none other than the King and Savior of the world. How can it be?!

Christmas is a time to celebrate. It is the fulfillment of Israel’s ancient story and the prophesy given to Israel’s King David (2 Sam. 7:16–17). This “Son” will reign forever, “and of his kingdom there will be no end”. All other kingdoms and earthly powers are under the ultimate rule of God. Therefore, no matter the social, political, or economic circumstances, by faith we as believers celebrate that our eternal honor and salvation is secure in King Jesus and his kingdom. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Christmas is a time to worship. Jesus embodies beautiful humility—and regal eternal power. He is exactly the kind of Savior we need. He is the One we can relate to because of his humanity and vulnerability. He is also the One we worship—He is our Creator King and Savior—absolutely worthy of our loyalty. O come, let us adore him!

Christmas is a time for mission. As followers of Jesus, we serve in many ways with our various gifts and talents to extend the “gospel of the kingdom” to all the peoples of the earth. In fact, preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” is essential to fulfilling God’s global purpose (Matt 24:14). We want to be part of this unfolding drama—this great mission—of sharing the good news that Jesus is the King who fulfills the Bible’s ancient regal story! He is our Savior! He is the Lord!


NOTE: If you want to look up verses about the “gospel of the kingdom”, you can start here: Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16; Acts 8:12; 28:31.

Save the date for the 2017 Honor-Shame Conference

Honor, Shame and the Gospel conference banner

Don’t miss the first Honor-Shame Conference!

Honor-shame networkYou are invited to the inaugural conference of the Honor-Shame Network—a community to learn and work together for the sake of the gospel. Professors and educators, pastors and thought leaders, cross-cultural workers and creatives, professional practitioners and others will gather at Wheaton College in June 2017.

Can the gospel of Jesus Christ better engage today’s world—from unreached people groups to secular postmoderns to global refugees? Could the gospel receive a better hearing with people caught in a world of sin and shame … cynicism and alienation … violence and displacement … defilement and exclusion … consumerism and emptiness … lostness in all its dimensions? 

How might we reframe the gospel in a way that is both biblically faithful and culturally meaningfulThis is why our conference theme is, “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry”.

Mark your calendars: June 19–21, 2017

HS conference pageWhat are the aims of the conference?

  • Facilitate a networking and learning environment with leaders from a variety of disciplines and nations.
  • Seed new teams and projects around the world—to engage in research, experimentation and the development of new ministry resources.
  • Move toward normalizing honor-shame as an essential component of theological and missiological discourse—and gospel contextualization. 

Join us to reflect upon and explore what “honor-shame” means for a range of Christian disciplines—from theology to missiology, from pastoral ministry to orality, from counseling to the worship arts. The network conference will feature plenary sessions, round-table discussions, workshops, and collaborative learning experiences.

“In order to truly reflect the promises of Christ in a contextualized manner, we must use the keys to each culture in our gospel witness. Honor/Shame cultures are all around us. The more we understand those who embrace this worldview, the better we will become at engaging them with the hope of the gospel in ways they will most respond to. This conference is very timely as our world becomes more globalized and pained under the weight of sin.” –Laurie Nichols, managing editor, EMQ; communications director, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism

Learn more at the conference website:
» honorshame-conference.com »

Jesus Makes Us Clean

I’ve just redesigned my blog. I wanted a new look, and also wanted it to be easier for readers using tablets and smartphones. Hope you like the new design. The banner photo comes from our trip to Spain in May; it was taken on a country road between Malaga and Ronda. Loved the ancient arches from the Roman Empire—and the symbolism of a modern road that leads you toward the ancient.    This post originally appeared at Gospel-Life.net. It has been slightly modified. —Werner


I had just preached a sermon on how God covers our shame and restores our honor based on the Prodigal Son story. Afterward, a smiling elderly Christian woman came to me and shared how the sermon had blessed her. Wonderful!

But I was especially startled when she said. “You know, when I was a little girl, something happened to me, and I’ve never been able to get rid of it. Until today.”

It seems she knew she was forgiven of her sins, but because of the sins of another against her, she had felt defiled—literally for decades.

Sexual abuse has always been with us, but it seems more rampant and ubiquitous today. In fact, one in four women and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

In May I had the privilege of speaking at an international Baptist church in Spain. My sermon was “Jesus Makes Us Clean.” At the end of the service, an individual was crying. Like me, she had grown up with a mentally-ill father. For years, she and her sister had been deeply embarrassed and ashamed. They felt defiled.

She was involuntarily stained by the effects of a sinful fallen humanity by a father who involuntarily suffered from schizophrenia.

Is relational pollution getting worse and worse? Maybe it’s just always been this way.

What is sin to a post-Christendom world?

Alan Mann Atonement for a Sinless SocietyIn our postmodern secular world many people no longer believe in the reality of sin. Alan Mann writes in his book, Atonement for a Sinless Society, that “geneticists, sociologists, and psychologists increasingly … allow us to live in the confidence that we do no wrong.”[1]

And as for the death of Christ, “To twenty-first-century sensibilities, the crucifixion of Jesus [is] nothing more than a primitive, barbaric, pointless death.”[2]

Part of Mann’s thesis is that the best way for secular peoples to come to terms with sin is to be presented with this: Sin is relational defilement, uncleanness, pollution.

Consider the relational defilement that most secular peoples readily acknowledge: poverty of all kinds … racism and bigotry … sexual trafficking … an epidemic of addictions … the persistence of slavery … institutional greed and corruption … violent nationalism … honor-killings … bloody culture clashes.

What does it all add up to? A dirty, traumatized, defiled, relationally polluted world!

In this world of sin, I am unclean. Isaiah observed: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and dwell among a people of unclean lips …” (Isa. 6:5).

Sin is personal—for I am an agent of sin having fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

And sin is social—for I am also a victim of the sins of others. I’m defiled by living in a world-nation-community-family of fallen humanity. Am I “playing the victim card”? No. I’m describing the complexity of the effects of sin. When it comes to sin, we are all both agents and victims.

Is Christ’s death sufficient to cleanse us from being both agents and victims of sin?

agent and victim of sinThe Psalmist David reveals this agent-and-victim duality about sin: “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions” (Ps. 65:3).

On the one hand, I am the victim of the sins of others (“iniquities prevail against me”). On the other hand, we are all responsible agents of sin (“our transgressions”). But David’s song to God contains good news concerning his sinfulness both as an agent and victim of sin: “You atone for our transgressions” (Ps. 65:3). There is an atonement-remedy for both!

The writer of Hebrews said of the death and atonement of Christ: “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order that he might sanctify the people through his own blood” (Heb. 13:12). In his death, Jesus became unclean—he “suffered outside the gate.” Why?  “…in order that he might sanctify the people”—in order to cleanse the people. Through His death, Jesus became unclean in order to make believers clean forever.

“When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions” (Ps. 65:3). When Jesus made “purification for sins” (Heb. 1:3), He made provision to cleanse us from sins committed by us—and from sins committed against us.

Hallelujah, what a gospel! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

For more about the power of the gospel to make us clean—and how this relates to ministry among Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim peoples, see my article, The Gospel of Purity for Oral Learners: Bible Dynamics for Blessing the Unreached. See other articles at my Resources page.


1.  Mann, Alan (2015-12-18). Atonement for a Sinless Society: Second Edition (Kindle Location 121–122). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

2. Ibid., Kindle Location 94.

Quick video: Body language


right hand and feet

Here is a quick description of the honor-shame dynamic that I call “body language”.

In the world of the Ancient Near East and Roman Empire the most honorable parts of the body were considered to 
be the head, face and hands. One of the most shameful body 
parts was considered to be 
the feet.

One of the most significant theological expressions of this honor-shame dynamic relates to a psalm of David in which he prophesies of the future reign of Israel’s Messiah-King. .

The LORD says to my Lord: 
“Sit at my right hand, until 
 I make your enemies your 
 footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

This verse speaks of the supreme honor of Jesus Christ—and is referenced in the synoptic Gospels, in Acts, in four of Paul’s letters, four times in the book of Hebrews, and 1 Peter. The sheer frequency of the reference signals to us its theological weightiness. Click here to watch the video on Vimeo.

Learn more—free chapter from The Global Gospel on the honor-shame dynamic of “body language”

Free resource1The free resource available with this post is an excerpt from The Global Gospel—Chapter 2.6: Honor/Shame Dynamic #6: Body Language. The chapter is four pages long. Explore how “right hand” and  “feet” speak of the supreme honor of King Jesus and his conquest over his enemies.

Enjoy the next quick video: “Body language.

Free article, free chart: Five levels of awareness of honor-shame in cross-cultural ministry

H-S-1 to H-S-5.a
H/S-1 to H/S-5: Levels of awareness of honor-shame in cross-cultural ministry

In April 2015, Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) published my article H/S-1 to H/S-5: Levels of Awareness of Honor/Shame in Cross-Cultural Ministry.

A year has passed since the article has been published. So now it is freely available outside of the EMQ online environment. (CLICK HERE to download 3,000-word article.) The article is still available at EMQ’s website, of course.

Levels of awareness of honor-shame chartThe article is based on a diagram-chart of the same title which is Addendum 2 in The Global Gospel. The article examines five levels of awareness of honor-shame:

  • H/S-1: Unawareness
  • H/S-2: Ethical
  • H/S-3: Functional
  • H/S-4: Evangelical
  • H/S-5: Teleological


“H/S-1 to H/S-5”
—in the forms of both the article and the diagram/chart—are intended to help Christian leaders 1) examine default attitudes about honor/shame relative to the Bible, and 2) consider alternative beliefs and practices in the light of the Bible’s negative and positive! renderings of honor/shame dynamics.

Quick video: Challenge and riposte


Fencing

Here is a quick description of the honor-shame dynamic called the “challenge and riposte”.

“Riposte” is a term used in the sport of fencing, meaning “a quick return thrust following a parry.” Socially it means, “a quick clever reply to an insult or criticism.” There are four steps to this protocol or social code of challenge and riposte—or “push-and-shove.” These four steps are:

  1. Claim of worth or value
  2. Challenge to that claim or refusal to acknowledge the claim
  3. Riposte or defense of the claim
  4. Public verdict of success awarded to either claimant or challenger[1]

There are numerous examples of honor competition in the Bible. The honor competition between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders in the Gospels frequently follows the four-step sequence referred to above. Learn about this honor-shame dynamic—“challenge and riposte”—in the next in our series of quick videos about honor and shame. Click here to watch the video on Vimeo.

Learn more—free chapter from The Global Gospel on the honor-shame dynamic of “challenge and riposte”

Free resource1The free resource available with this post is an excerpt from The Global Gospel—Chapter 2.4: Honor/Shame Dynamic #4: Challenge and Riposte. The chapter is eight pages long. NOTE: This chapter helps you understand the seemingly unending cycle of conflict and violence in some honor/shame societies. The honor-shame dynamics of the love of honor, the image of limited good, and challenge and riposte—work together in a dark synergy to support a greater propensity for violence.

Enjoy the next quick video: “Challenge and Riposte.


1. Jerome Neyrey: Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 20.

Quick video: Two sources of honor—ascribed and achieved


Two sources of honor graphic copy verticalIf you want to gain an awareness of honor-shame in the Bible and what it implies for the gospel, there is nothing more important than understanding this:

There are but two sources of honor—ascribed and achieved.

Both the ascribed and achieved honor or Jesus Christ are elaborately described in Scripture. Why? In order to make the case for his supreme honor; Jesus is worth believing in, following, obeying, and worshiping—as God.

Ascribed honor of Jesus: Consider just a few of the titles given to Jesus in the Bible—Emmanuel, Savior, Son of Man, Son of David, Son of God, King of kings, Lord of lords, Alpha and Omega. These titles conveying his ascribed honor carried tremendous weight in ancient Palestine, both among the Jews and among the Gentile peoples of the Roman Empire.

Achieved honor of Jesus. We see Christ’s achieved honor beautifully declared in Philippians 2:8–11. And in Hebrews 1:1–14 we find an elaborate description of Jesus Christ, incorporating both his ascribed and achieved honor.

Learn about this honor-shame dynamic, “two sources of honor—ascribed and achieved”, in the next in our series of quick videos about honor and shame. Click here to watch the video on Vimeo.

Learn more—free chapter from The Global Gospel on the “two sources of honor”

Free resource1The free resource available with this post is an excerpt from The Global Gospel—Chapter 2.2: Honor/Shame Dynamic #2: Two Sources of Honor—Ascribed and Achieved.  The chapter examines how this dynamic is prominently represented in the Bible. The chapter is four pages long.

Enjoy the next video: Two Sources of Honor—Ascribed and Achieved

New series of short videos on honor and shame


Some quick videos on honor-shame

During my last week in New Zealand (I was there March 4–20), my host Russell Thorp of GC3 said, “Let’s do some quick videos about honor and shame.”

So Russell and I set up my iPhone on a tripod with a good external microphone and shot a few videos at his house near Auckland.

Russell’s idea was to create some quick videos—and then ultimately connect these to the longer videos of my teaching sessions on honor and shame. (These longer videos are currently in production in New Zealand.)

Well, these quick videos that Russell and I did turned out pretty good. And so I thought, Why not also use them on my blog?

So I’m producing a series of quick videos about honor and shame (on Vimeo). These videos will be three to five minutes in length. Each quick video includes a few discussion points at the end. My plan is to introduce a short video in this series about every other day, and announce each one on my blog.

Free resource related to the video—to learn more

Free resource1Each post in this series will include one free written resource—an article I have written or a chapter from The Global Gospel. The free resource for this post is a chapter excerpt from my book: Chapter 1.3: “Why Our Blind Spot about Honor and Shame?”

Enjoy the first video: “Quick intro: Honor-shame in the Bible”


Other free honor-shame resources are available at my Resources page,
and many more are available from our friends at HonorShame.com.