Mission ONE, 2015.
—Reviewed by Soojin Chung, PhD student, Boston University.
Werner Mischke utilizes his extensive experiences in the Middle East to construct a biblical paradigm of “honor and shame” to better minister to the Majority World. He begins by asking, “How can the honor/shame dynamics common to the Bible and many Majority World societies be used to contextualize the Christian faith in order to make it more widely understood and accepted?” (p. 19). While the Western cultural value of guilt and innocence is prevalent in Western theological language, the notion of honor and shame has been largely ignored not only in the theological education but also in everyday church life.
The problem occurs when trying to communicate and translate the gospel to the majority of the world where the honor and shame culture dominates. Furthermore, Mischke argues that the primary culture in the Bible was based on honor and shame, more so than the notion of guilt and innocence. It is commonly known that the Majority World cultures have strong underpinnings of honor and shame. While this information is not new, Mischke brings a fresh perspective in that he directly finds evidence of honor/shame culture in the Bible and relates it back to the present-day mission.
Using statistics, Mischke thoroughly and comprehensively covers nine honor/shame dynamics found in the Bible. He covers topics such as love of honor, two sources of honor, image of limited good, and challenge and riposte. He delves into the Bible and finds clues that point to the notion of honor/shame. His main argument is that the motif of the Bible is the “honor-status reversal.” He then applies the nine concepts to formulate nine models to translate the gospel to Majority World cultures. In his last section, he talks about the honor/shame dynamics in the World Christian Movement.
Both theoretical and practical, this well-researched volume is a fine addition to the study of cultures based on honor and shame. It also serves as a practical guide to missionaries, pastors, and lay leaders in providing crucial information regarding cross-cultural communication. What differentiates this book from other anthropological or missiological studies on honor and shame is its direct exegesis on biblical texts. While previous books provided a firm foundation on the culture of honor and shame, the primary source was not the Bible itself. In that regard, Mischke contributes immensely to the field of mission studies and mission practice.
Ironically, in attempting to teach us about Majority World cultural norms, Mischke employs a series of exhaustive charts, graphs, and diagrams, which is predominantly a Western way of presentation. With this minor criticism aside, the volume is an excellent resource that provides a fresh insight to the phrase “global gospel.”
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EMQ, Vol. 52, No. 1 pp. 104-105. Copyright © 2016 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.