Recent Insights into Chinese Culture

Two recent articles well illustrate some important dynamics within contemporary Chinese culture. They further show how how honor-shame (e.g. an emphasis on relationships, concern for reputation, etc.) shape various aspects of daily life. These snapshots should alert us to the need to approach ministry in China in different ways that are used in the West. [Read More…]

It’s okay to cry. You’re a Christian.

Being a pastor is hard. Crossing a culture as a missionary is hard. Being a parent and a Christian in this world feels impossible some days. Theology and missiology concern more than the mind. They require a lot of heart if we are to grasp the significance of God’s calling for his people. This is [Read More…]

The Yin-Yang of Contextualization

The male students in my class agreed, “The Bible says that men are more important than women.” In Chinese culture, one never wants to provoke a teacher, but that is exactly what they did that day. Of all people, my Chinese students should grasp the interdependence of maleness (yang) and femaleness (yin). The yin-yang symbol [Read More…]

The Latest Issue of Themelios (August 2016)

Here are a few highlights from the latest issue of Themelios for those interested on doing theology while thinking about mission.   Book Reviews In the Mission and Culture section: Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch. The Trinity Among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in [Read More…]

Review of Ten Elshof’s “Confucius for Christians”

If you want to see an example of good contextualization, read Gregg Ten Elshof’s Confucius for Christians: What an Ancient Worldview Can Teach Us about Life in Christ (Eerdmans, 2015). It’s short, practical and very substantial. A book like this could be polarizing. So, let’s begin by clarifying what Ten Elshof does and does not [Read More…]

Can we be Confucian Christians?

This post introduces you to Gregg Ten Elshof’s Confucius for Christians by responding to (what I feel is) an unfair review of the book in the recent issue of Themelios. (For full disclosure, I recently become the new book reviews editor for Themelios’ Mission and Culture section.) I am so glad to finally read this [Read More…]

What the Gospels Teach about Contextualization

The Bible not only gives us our message; it should shape our methods. In One Gospel for All Nations, I suggest that the biblical writers have a distinct pattern of presenting the gospel. In effect, they provide us with a firm and flexible model for contextualizing the one gospel in any culture. I know that [Read More…]

The Ethics of Missionary Strategy

Do you have an ethical ministry strategy? I’m guessing most people have never asked this sort of question. What does strategy have to do with ethics? What’s strategy to do with ethics? A few months ago, I heard a book survey different ethical approaches (e.g. utilitarianism, virtue theory, etc.). It dawned on me that the [Read More…]

Understanding Honor and Shame (Training Video)

This short video explains the meaning of “honor and shame,” highlighting key themes are mark all human cultures. It clarifies certain impressions and misunderstandings about how honor and shame work within a cultural context. The above video is the third in a series that provides a short introduction to a number of topics. In Part [Read More…]

Honor among Southern Evangelicals

How did honor shape evangelicalism in the American south before the civil war? Robert Elder answers this question in his new book The Sacred Mirror: Evangelicalism, Honor, and Identity in the Deep South, 1790-1860.  Readers can gain a better grasp how honor-shame work in various cultures. More importantly, I think his book will equip the church [Read More…]