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!

Will you join us for the inaugural Honor-Shame Conference?

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Registration is open!

You can now register for “Honor, Shame, & the Gospel“—the Honor-Shame Network Conference at Wheaton College, June 2017! The price of $309 is all-inclusive—the conference, lodging, meals and snacks. Register soon because the price increases every 50 registrants!

Workshops

We recently finalized the conference workshops. Along with 6 plenary sessions (David deSilva, Jayson Georges, Bobby Gupta, Jackson Wu, Steven Hawthorne, and Brent Sandy) there will be over 20 outstanding workshops from professors and practitioners from around the world! (Note: workshop list below is subject to change.)

  1. DJ Chuang: “Towards Erasing the Shame of Mental Illness”
  2. Rico Cortez: “The Function of the Day of Atonement in the Letter to the Hebrews”
  3. Sam Heldenbrand: “Honor, Shame, and the Gospel: Reframing the Messenger”
  4. Steve Hong: “Unlocking Evangelism in our Cities with an Honor-Shame Framework”
  5. Jeff Jackson: “Honor-Shame as a Crucial Component of a Local Church’s Ministry to Current or Former US military Members and their Families”
  6. Joyce Jow: “From Purity to Pollution: The Restoration of the Hemorrhaging Woman”
  7. Dr. Mark Kreitzer: “The Underlying Nakedness-Shame Motif in Scripture: Implications for Cross-Cultural Proclamation of the Gospel”
  8. Arley Loewen: ““Must Honor Clash With Humility?”
  9. Werner Mischke: “The Gospel of the Kingdom for a World of Violence”
  10. Martin Munyao, David Tarus: “Tribalism and Identity: Tracing ‘From Shame to Honor’ Theme in Africa’s Identity Theology to Reframe the Gospel for Kenya”
  11. Dr. Larry Persons: “Clothing the Gospel in the Language of ‘Face’”
  12. Dr. Wilson Phang: “The Other 2/3rds of the Gospel: Good News for All People”
  13. Dr. Katie Rawson: “A Gospel that Reconciles: Teaching About Honor-Shame to Advance Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation”
  14. Dr. E. Randolph Richards: “Honor-Shame in the Gospel of John”
  15. Nolan Sharp: “Samuel as a Narrative Resource for National Reconciliation in Honor-Shame Cultures”
  16. Dr. Sheryl Takagi Silzer: “How the Honor-Shame Dynamic Works in East Asian Cultures”
  17. Randall Spacht, Lacides Hernandez; Juan Guillermo Cardona: “The 3D Gospel in Latin America”
  18. Randall Spacht, Lacides Hernandez; Juan Guillermo Cardona: “Honoring Students of Honor-Shame Workshops through Empowerment”
  19. Dr. Tom Steffen: “A Clothesline Theology for the World: How A Value Driven Metanarrative of Scripture Can Frame the Gospel”
  20. Lynn Thigpen: “Redeeming the Poverty-Shame Limited Education Cycle through Gracing”
  21. Russell Thorp: “Filling Gaps in Ministry in Melanesia through Understanding Honor and Shame”
  22. Dr. Patty Toland: “Redeeming and Strengthening Honor and Shame Practices in Church Relationships”
  23. Dr. Steve Tracy: “Abuse and Shame: How the Cross Transforms Shame”
  24. Robert Walter: “Grace in the Face of God”
  25. Robert Walter: “Four Dynamics for a Harvest in Honor-Shame Societies”
  26. Jerry Wiles: “Honor, Shame and the Gospel in the Orality Movement”
  27. Dr. Dan Wu: “Wrestling with Honour: Clarifying What Honour Is through the Concept of the Public Court of Reputation”
  28. Richard Yaqoub: “The Good Shepherd and Arab Patronage: Using the Biblical Motif of God as Shepherd to Help Form a Christology in the Language of 21st Century Arab Patron-Client Relationships”

Please join us for the inaugural Honor-Shame Conference––a community to learn and work together for the sake of the gospel.

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 »