As you saw on my last post, I have a very large list of books that I want to read and I am quite happy about it. so, I thought that while I do this, I would post Book Reviews of the books that I read. Not a full on dissection, or any award winning anything, but something to help me remember the key points, share them, and promote the books that I think rock (or warn against the ones I don’t.)
So, here’s the first one.
Honor & Shame
by Roland Muller
This book was first suggested to me by my friend V when I shared my love for Muslims and sharing truth with them. It has been a book that has been on the back burner for a while, and before I came on this trip I decided it was time to finally read it.
This writer outlines three main world-views in which people filter their beliefs and views. These are broken up amongst three main cultural divisions, guilt-based, fear-based and shame-based. The books then explains each of these world-views and provides a means of effective sharing the Gospel in a way that best connect with individuals in this culture.
We, as Americans, tend to live in a predominantly guilt-based and view things based on a legal model that tends to focus on right vs. wrong. When applied to the Gospel, we tend to focus on our guilt before the Lord and how Christ took our judgement and declared us not guilty and we stand innocent before God. There are aspects of the Bible that speak very VERY clearly to this, Romans for example, because it was written to Rome, which pretty much ushered in the whole legal/guilt-based trend (and Greece too). But this is not true for all cultures.
The book then takes a look the other two forms, starting with fear-based. Fear-based cultures tend to be those we would see in areas that have heavy spiritualism and heavy involvement with the supernatural world. These people believe “that gods and spirits exist in the universe and they must live in peace with these unseen powers, either by living quietly, or by appeasing their powers” (p.42). This is common is jungle areas of Africa, South America, Borneo and other places where fear of the spiritual world reigns. Christian Missionaries have been pretty effective in these areas because having power in Christ is something that we understand well and is easier for us to understand fear.
Next, and for the majority of the book, Muller looks at shame-based cultures. This is much harder for western-minded individuals to understand because it defies the right vs. wrong mentality we cling to. People within shame-based cultures do not focus on the rightness, or correctness, of an action, rather they look at if the action will bring shame. Also, when shame in given, it does not simply affect the individual, but their family and their tribe. We are highly individualistic in western cultures, so this focus on the group mentality and setting a higher priority on the groups shame and honor, rather than our own happiness and comfort is beyond our sphere of knowledge. In order to understand shame-based cultures, it requires intentionality that not all westerners are willing to put forth. In shame-based cultures, shame is more than a feeling or emotion, but rather a position within society,
Muller then goes into depth about Islam and how Shame and Honor play pivotal roles in their culture. He looks at what brings shame, and what brings honor. He then address the roles of honor and shame in the Bible and how clearly the theme of God removing shame and restoring honor is within scripture (Lev 26:13 for one). Finally, He shows how each of these elements, guilt, fear and shame, are a result of the sin and that the Lord does not address just one of these aspects as he restores us to Himself, but He addresses all of them and this is how we are fully restored before the Lord, free of guilt, free of fear and free of shame, because God takes out guilt and leave us innocent, takes our fear and gives us power and removes our shame and bestows us with honor! That is the Gospel. All elements are important to understand, but some resonate with our world-view and culture better.
Muller ends the books with the following quote “The church of Jesus Christ has the message and the methods to relate to ever worldview and every culture in the world. In this book I have simply attempted to unlock the door to our understanding of guilt-, shame-, and fear-based cultures… It is now your duty, as a servant of the Lord Jesus, to open the door” (Pg 110-111).
[Note: This book does not say that any one of these cultural world-views is right or wrong, just different. When we begin to understand how people see things different, we can better love, communicate and know others.]
I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I have!
[Also, don’t worry! I will be posting an update on life things either today or tomorrow!]