Jayson Georges and Mark D. Baker. Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures: Biblical Foundations and Practical Essentials. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. See here to purchase the book.
Jayson Georges and Mark Baker both have extensive experience in missions and exposure to honor-shame cultures. In Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures,
Georges and Baker contrast honor-shame, communal cultures with the more
individualistic and guilt-focused (or judicial-focused) Christianity of
the West. What Georges and Baker discuss is not only relevant to
overseas missions, but also to how Westerners can better interact with
those who immigrate to the West from honor-shame cultures.
Georges and Baker are honest about the social faux pas that they have
made in their own interactions with people from honor-shame cultures,
and they tell stories of other Westerners’ faux pas, as well. I can
picture myself making the same faux pas! This book is not only about
social faux pas, however, but it is also about approaches that can
contribute to better social interaction between Westerners and people
from honor-shame cultures. In order to serve and communicate with
others, one needs to know what they value. This book has failure
stories, but also success stories.
Georges and Baker are not just concerned about minimizing social faux
pas and honoring people by respecting their values, but they also
criticize the historical tendency of Western missionaries to impose
Western ideas on non-Western countries, as if those Western ideas are
biblical ideas. Georges and Baker contend that the Gospel can be
explained within an honor-shame framework that speaks more clearly to
people from honor-shame cultures. Also, they believe that the Bible
itself reflects honor-shame presuppositions.
At the same time, Georges and Baker maintain that the Bible diverges
from honor-shame presuppositions, in significant areas. Jesus said and
did things that went against the honor-shame culture of his day. Within
the New Testament, there is an acknowledgment that Christians may find
themselves dishonored by the surrounding culture. In such cases, the
New Testament does not completely repudiate honor-shame presuppositions
but rather emphasizes that Christians are honored by God, even if others
In some cases, Georges and Baker argue, a Westerner may want to avoid
obligations of reciprocity that can occur in honor-shame cultures,
since such obligations can become burdensome. They offer practical
advice on how to go about this in a tactful manner. They also appeal to
the apostle Paul, who dodged obligations of reciprocity with the
Thessalonian church that helped him by telling them that God honors
This book is excellent on account of its lucid description of
honor-shame cultures, its contrast of honor-shame cultures with Western
culture, its illustration of honor and shame in Scripture, its stories,
and its practical advice.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest!
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