I had thought I had finished my Sabbatical posts but here is one last one before I write up a report for the LT at church. Two books have both referred to a helpful framework about worldviews in mission across the globe. Brian Nelson leant me The 3D Gospel before I left for Sri Lanka and recently Matt McNulty recommended Roland Muller’s book to me.
The Messenger, The Message, The Community by Roland Muller, Fourth Edition 2015
The 3D Gospel, Jayson Georges, 2014
Essentially human civilisation is divided into three main ways in which people tend to view the gospel:
- Guilt-Innocence = particularly in the Western world people have a highly individualistic sense of self. Life decisions will be made on the basis of right and wrong -> leading to a strong sense of personal guilt when the person does the ‘wrong’ thing.
- Shame-Honour = e.g. in Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic cultures there is a far stronger sense of community. Therefore decisions are made on the basis of building or protecting honour to the family/community or avoiding shame. Hence I act according to how others would think about me.
- Fear-Power = especially in animist cultures decisions are made to placate powers that cause fear. In religious terms that may mean seeking help from a witchdoctor to heal a snake bite or sacrificing a bull to appease spiritual forces so that it will rain.
I have found this framework very helpful. All cultures involve all three worldviews but will tend to emphasise one or the other. So, in the UK, we tend to explain the gospel in terms of Jesus taking away personal guilt. In India or Sri Lanka, people like to hear that Jesus has removed corporate shame and how the gospel impacts on family and wider communities. Similarly in rural India or Africa people live in terror because of demonic powers. As always with tools like this the danger is that the tool takes over (for a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail!) and that we end up with three gospels – one each for Western, Eastern, and Tribal cultures. Nevertheless, as long as we remember that everybody needs to hear the whole gospel, this is a useful tool.
As London (and the UK) becomes more multi-cultural it is important that we show how the gospel applies to all three of these worldviews. It is not a case of one being ‘more right’ or ‘better’ than the other – they are all Biblical. Rather we need to point out that different Bible passages speak into all three frameworks in different ways.