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The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures

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To enhance your ministry among the nations, learn how the Bible speaks to cultures of guilt, shame, and fear. Western theology emphasizes forgiveness of sins, but people in the Majority World seek honor or spiritual power. In today’s globalized world, Christians need a three-dimensional gospel of God's innocence, honor, and power. Is your gospel 3D?

Drawing from the author's mission experience and research, The 3D Gospel is a practical guide explaining many aspects of guilt, shame, and fear cultures:
The main cultural characteristics
How people function in everyday life
The biblical narrative of salvation
Doctrines of original sin and the atonement of Jesus
Definitions of 40+ theological categories
Key verses from scripture
Two separate evangelistic approaches
A contextualized form of Christian witness (truth, power, or community-encounter)
Practical tips for relationships and communication

80 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 23, 2014

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About the author

Jayson Georges

17 books4 followers
Jayson Georges (MDiv, Talbot) has served crossculturally for over fifteen years in Central Asia, a refugee community in the United States, and now in the Middle East. He is the coauthor of Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures and the author of The 3D Gospel and The Honor-Shame Paraphrase series. Georges has taught about honor-shame and patronage around the world and is the founding editor of honorshame.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 161 reviews
211 reviews10 followers
July 8, 2019
This book expanded my view of God in 80 little pages. Having grown up and responded to the gospel in the Western culture, I am very familiar with interpreting the gospel through the lens of guilt/innocence. While I know the gospel also addresses fear/power and shame/honor, these are not lenses I often use to view the gospel. This book helped clarify these for me and enlarge my vision of God's work.

I have had experience with Turkish, Azeri, and Chinese cultures, and struggled to understand the way they interpret things or act certain ways in certain situations. This book helped me to put those cultures into perspective. I have realized that my guilt/innocence lens just makes their behavior blurry and hard to understand. Things make a lot more sense if I view people's behaviors through the appropriate reference of shame/honor or fear/power.

Loved the different metanarratives expressed for each of the three cultures.

Loved the chart provided that summarizes the differences.

Loved the suggestions for how to effectively minister to the three cultures.

And REALLY loved the way Georges ties all three together as a whole: guilt, shame, fear ALL being the result of sin; different cultures emphasize different aspects of this; God's work through Christ's incarnation, death, resurrection provide the innocence, honor, and power that answer all of these needs.

Profile Image for Tim Casteel.
162 reviews46 followers
January 11, 2019
Good, very short, introduction to understanding the gospel through 3 lenses: guilt/innocence, honor/shame, power/fear. For someone (like me) who has very little understanding of honor/shame and power/fear world views, it was a helpful starter book. Probably could have been a long article instead of a book. But gave me some good book suggestions to learn more.
Profile Image for Brandon Chan.
19 reviews
April 21, 2023
Well written, organized, and illuminating. Definitely recommend to anyone looking to do ministry overseas or wanting to have a greater understanding of the fullness of the Gospel.

By categorizing culture types into Guilt-Innocence, Shame-Honor, and Fear-Power, it becomes apparent that different aspects of the Gospel are naturally emphasized more than others. For example, in a Guilt-Innocence Western culture, the need for legal forgiveness through Jesus is stressed much more heavily than the freedom from shame that would be more important in Eastern Asian cultures where honor and community standing is held in the highest regard.

Jesus is so much more than just a payment for a debt that we incurred and could not pay. He is the freedom from the shame, dishonor, and disgrace through adoption into His family. He is conqueror for the oppressed who gives power to the meek and puts the last first. A well rounded understanding of the Gospel is essential to having a full perspective of God’s character.

I think a natural argument for non believers would be that this book is essentially a guide on how to twist Christianity to make it more attractive to potential believers. However, the impetus of this book that comes straight from the Bible can be summarized in Paul’s prayer in the letter to Ephesus: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope (freedom from guilt)to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance (freedom from shame) in the saints, and his incomparably great power (freedom from fear) for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19). The contents of this letter has remained the same for thousands of years. Instead of arguing the Bible is being manipulated to be more convincing, I would say that over time, man has shrunk their view on the Gospel and through restoring the Gospel to its original message, it has always been meant for all people and all nations. Another argument could be that Christianity was just a random religion with no basis that someone came up with that built its message to gain as many followers as possible. It seems like creating a message that carries the same weight across cultures worldwide 2,000 years from invention is a task much easier said than done, especially framing it in a way that strikes relevancy in cultures like Guilt-Innocence that had yet to be fully developed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very applicable for my upcoming trip!

Profile Image for Rick Dugan.
132 reviews6 followers
January 16, 2016
Sin is experienced differently in different cultures. Individualistic cultures often view sin through the lens of guilt/innocence. Those who break the law - sin - are guilty. The guilty are dealt with according to justice or forgiveness.

But collectivist or communicable cultures usually understand the consequences of sin in terms of shame/honor. "People shamed for not fulfilling group expectations must restore their honor before the community."

And yet other cultures experience the consequences of sin through a fear/power lens. People fear evil and seek power to protect themselves from such evil.

The gospel actually speaks to all three, and it is vital for a missionary to understand his own gospel-worldview as well as the worldviews of those with which he is sharing the gospel.

This is illustrated in Ephesians, where the gospel is applied to guilt, shame and fear.

Guilt/innocence: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Shame/honor: "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ." "You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household."

Fear/power: "That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion."

Too often missionaries from the West focus on guilt/innocence because it's the only gospel they know. However, the people that they're trying to share the gospel with may come from a shame/honor or fear/power worldview. A guilt/innocence gospel will fall on deaf ears.

These three paradigms not only effect one's understanding of the consequences of sin, but also the remedy. Those who are unaware of such differences will miss hidden clues for effective service, leadership, and communication.

There is a wealth of wisdom and insight for those working in cross-cultural contexts in this book. It should be required reading for those seeking to serve cross-culturally.

More importantly, it can help us see in the multifaceted glory of the gospel treasures that have been hidden by our blind spots.
Profile Image for Cody Sensenig.
2 reviews7 followers
October 19, 2021
Challenged me to really think outside the box when approaching discipleship with people from alternate cultures. Since I grew up in China it really opened my eyes to the difference between cultures that felt hard to out my finger on.
Profile Image for Jen Kelsey.
12 reviews7 followers
September 6, 2018
This is the best kind of book! It helps us understand God, people, culture, and the good news of Jesus in a way that makes the swirling cultural milieu a little easier to comprehend and to engage. Georges scholarship is thoughtful, his vision is revolutionary, and I am eager to see how this thin book changes the way we engage with people and cultures. It is already changing my understanding of my own past and the parts of the New Testament that have always seemed a bit culturally confounding. Highly recommended for church planters and people ministering across cultures.
Profile Image for Sydney Wilson.
27 reviews
November 12, 2022
“The gospel is truly a multi-faceted diamond capable of rescuing humanity from all aspects of sin. Our task as Christians is not merely to marvel at the glorious splendor of the diamond, but to spread the knowledge of God’s salvation so all nations know the abundant life of God found in Jesus Christ.”

Very practical book!
Profile Image for Elsa K.
384 reviews5 followers
February 3, 2019
This was a nice succinct book. Basically, Westerners view the Bible in the narrative of guilt/innocence as that fits with our culture. We talk about God paying our debt, being just, forgiving us etc. Other cultures and parts of the world fit into other worldviews- like guilt/shame and fear. If we aren't aware of these differences, we won't share the Gospel or explain the Bible in a way that will make sense to them. The charts and references are handy to summarize.
Profile Image for David.
115 reviews2 followers
July 12, 2017
This is pretty much a shorter version of his other book "Ministering in Honor and Shame Cultures". While I do believe there is good in these books, I fear people could see Jesus as a means for honor, power, or forgiveness, and not to have fellowship and union with God. In other words The gospel becomes a tool to get something. Which is true, but it is dangerous to only love God for what he can do for us verses simply loving God.

I also do not agree with some of the ministry aspects of the book. He highlights how forgiveness and apologies do not need to be verbal. I think If sin is not confessed and discussed it cannot be truly dealt with. He considers sharing a meal to be a sign of restoration but what i have seen it can simply be a cover to avoid an issue, move on, while one group feels superior and the other grows bitter. I have also noticed that people are just simply too prideful to admit they were wrong and cover it by doing something for someone (meal or gift). But we cannot confuse pride and honor nor shame for a need to be humble.

Despite these few things, these books are full of help and should be read by all people working with other cultures.
Profile Image for Breanna Chov.
27 reviews2 followers
May 14, 2019
Great thoughts to consider about ministering in guilt, shame, and fear cultures.
Profile Image for Nathanael Ayling.
76 reviews2 followers
June 24, 2021
Wish I'd read this sooner

As a Brit serving in Japan with OMF, I was aware that Japan is a shame-honour culture, but if I'd read this book it would have really helped me understand more fully what that means and how to use that knowledge to more effectively the gospel in culturally appropriate ways.

This short book has also given me a deeper understanding of how looking at the gospel through a 3D lens is vital for a full-orbed grasp of biblical truth and relationship with God. It is not a case of choosing one of the 3 paradigms as your favourite or most culturally relevant; we need all three. We need honour to cleanse our shame, power to overcome fear, as well as innocence to clear our guilt.
Profile Image for Briar Cochran.
4 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2023
Short read. Read for class and it lead to come great discussion.

I think once you get the understand of the 3 cultural frameworks (Honor/Shame, Guilt/Innocence, Power/Fear), then you’ve gotten all you need from the book.

The best thing about this book is that it teaches you three things (the frameworks above) and it knows that it’s only teaching you three things. It doesn’t turn into a 200+ page book about these three things. Short, simple, powerful. A gifted author knows when to get writing.

If I were suggesting this book, I would suggest a power skim with slowed down study around the understanding of the 3 frameworks, then discuss it with a close friend and be ready to apply it to your life when it’s time.
Profile Image for Ben Moser.
35 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2018
This book is essential for anyone in cross-cultural ministry. It has opened my eyes to realities you cannot ignore. This book helps guide you as you share the gospel in cultures significantly different than our own.

It helps us communicate all of God's grace to those with whom we share rather than just some facets. The gospel frees us from guilt, shame and fear. How do we effectively communicate each of those freedoms? Read this book to find out
Profile Image for Tyler.
11 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2020
Excellent primer on how the Bible speaks to all people and cultures. This book is brief and to the point which I really appreciate. It provides perspective especially for western Christians on how we may view the gospel with our particular cultural background and how there are other dimensions to that same gospel which are valuable for our own sanctification and for missions. I recommend this quick read for all who are interested in the Bible and culture.
Profile Image for Hannah Rodriguez.
82 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2019
-lots of charts and lists outlining the differences between guilt/innocence, shame/honor, and fear/power cultures.
-really helpful for people seeking to understand how to share the gospel cross-culturally.
Profile Image for Jory Bayne.
41 reviews
July 28, 2020
This is a great introduction to the topic of understanding/communicating the Gospel through cultural lenses. I highly recommend this book for every Christian who desires to understand and communicate the Gospel more deeply and holistically.
Profile Image for Andy Schmidt.
51 reviews
September 8, 2020
Forgot I'd read this but very good. Gives a great understanding of different cultures around the world and how they may or may not be receptive to the Gospel, and also how to put the good news in terms of their worldview.
Profile Image for Erin Berkey.
20 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2021
Excellent explanation of the Gospel as it relates to the three main ways to share it depending on what culture you're investing in. Either guilt/innocence (Western cultures), honor/shame (Eastern cultures) or power/fear (animism/tribal). Very helpful in ministry!! Also a quick read--took about 1.25 hours!
Profile Image for lyndzelizabeth.
59 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2023
4.5 stars rounded up to 5 on goodreads!

quick, 80 paged read about how to share the gospel in three different types of cultures found around the globe - guilt, shame, & fear cultures. very eye opening & helpful for people interested in pursuing missions!
Profile Image for Grace Gamache.
22 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2020
Absolutely necessary if you are thinking of going into cross-cultural work or ministry. This book starts our journey of understanding other world views. It gives practical tools on communicating the gospel to each worldview. It also expands our own understanding of the Gospel by allowing us to see it from other lenses. A great starting point!
Profile Image for Jonathan Downing.
186 reviews
April 19, 2021
Short and concise. Makes great reference material to have for when I need a refresher on different cultural values.
Profile Image for Luke Hillier.
341 reviews22 followers
April 17, 2019
A friend sent this to me and, given the short length and noticeably large font of this book, I'll confess my expectations where a little low...but I trusted my friend and am so glad I set aside an afternoon to read through it! In one sense, it's an articulation of three cultural paradigms (Guilt-Innocence, Shame-Honor, and Fear-Power) and the ways that the Gospel speaks uniquely towards each of them. However, given that Georges' intended/expected audience is Western Christians already entrenched within the first paradigm, it also acts as an important corrective against the ways we have fallen into an ethnocentric conceptualization of the Gospel, its implications for our lives, and how to best share it. I also really appreciated Georges' note in the conclusion that his intention isn't only to equip Western Christians to do better contextual ministry, but also to move them towards greater healing and wholeness by offering a three-dimensional approach that responds not just to our guilt but to our often repressed shame and ignored fears (although that's not a central focus of the book). In that way, it reminded me a lot of some of what Rah shares in The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.

I'm a pretty categorical thinker, so I really enjoyed reading through the intersecting nuances of each cultural paradigm. It was really interesting to see how well it worked across a number of angles, from associating atonement theories (penal substitution to Guilt-Innocence, satisfaction to Shame-Honor, and ransom to Fear-Power) or responses in the Garden of Eden (shifting blame, covering nakedness, hiding in fear). I also really loved his point around the paradigm not just shifting the metaphors and language used but the entire misseological approach, emphasizing the ways that while G-I is oriented around rational comprehension and articulation, S-H demands a more holistic welcome into a community of faith that engages with honor and F-P is most compelled by lived experiences of power over the forces in their lives.

Of course, as with any categorical approach like this, Georges paints with broad strokes that can simplify complexities and fail to articulate important nuances that exist. He acknowledges this, and even briefly notes that there are shifts happening within cultures, and I would have loved to hear more insight around that. For example, I've definitely been reared in a culture that's predominantly shaped by the Guilt-Innocence paradigm, however I've never personally resonated much with it and was actually really drawn to the Shame-Honor perspective. I would have loved to read an exploration around why that might be. Of course, the length of the book is a hindrance to that kind of deviation from its focus, and I think it offers a compelling and succinct description of the diversity of cultural paradigms and their implicated theological perspectives and misseological approaches.
Profile Image for Daniel.
9 reviews3 followers
March 8, 2021
I really struggle with this book. On the one hand, the framework Georges presents is biblically grounded and I know it can provide helpful context for those who wish to share the gospel more effectively with others. It also helps to see God more fully through different lenses from which we are unaccustomed, and see others with more complexity, and appreciate their struggles and the beauty of their backgrounds and stories. I think these three continua are differences that make a difference not just for sharing the gospel, but sharing life with one another. On the other hand, Georges vastly oversimplifies these categories both culturally, geographically, socially, and historically, at the risk of stereotyping. He provides a caveat about halfway through the book, but I think he should do more to lay out that this is a theoretical model based on scripture and his own personal experiences, not on any scientific research. Overgeneralizing cultural differences can lead to confusion and polarization, even with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, his linked assessment (The Culture Test) only reinforces my feeling, since it is a very unscientific opinion-based survey that is highly predictable.
Profile Image for Hannah Rasmussen.
Author 5 books7 followers
July 20, 2018
Essential read for any Christian who lives in a culture. We’ve narrowed the gospel to fit a single cultural lens and it’s prevented us from seeing the richness and depth of the freedom and salvation we have in Christ. Get excited about your faith all over again. Especially relevant for people who work with people of a non-Western/ European culture... and I wonder if millennials in the West are noticing this gap too as our culture shifts.
Profile Image for Tim Norman.
99 reviews3 followers
December 1, 2020
Quick read. Helpful introduction into how values work in cultures in 3 major dynamics (guilt/innocence, shame/honor, and fear/power). Also, provides some rough insights into how the gospel speaks to each of these value quests. If you someone communicating the gospel cross-culturally, this may be a helpful primer.
Profile Image for Myrissa Webb.
18 reviews3 followers
January 25, 2023
This book simply explains the different worldview and how they see and receive the Light of the gospel. Also, I think everyone should read this book because it’s so short and concise.
June 5, 2021
While the book provides an outstanding new view for practical evangelism, I removed one star because I felt it was lacking in recommended resources to expand on ideas in this book. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend it.

The 3D Gospel is about the three cultural worldviews that undergird all the cultures of the world. The way you understand these cultures will help you evangelize in these specific cultures. These worldviews are guilt/innocence, shame/honor, and fear/power.

The first culture is the predominant one in the Western world, guilt/innocence. These people see the world as black and white. They think “if a majority of what I do is good, then I am a good person.” What this worldview misses is that all humans are condemned under the law. Because of the fall, we are all unrighteous before God. However, Jesus came for us and paid that penalty. We deserve death and to go to hell, but Jesus did that for us instead.

The second worldview is honor/shame, which is common in Arab and Asian cultures. The predominant view is that we want to bring honor to our community by being successful, being a decent human being, etc. By doing these things, we bring honor to our families and our communities. The gospel addresses this by saying all honor rightfully belongs to God. When we try to take honor for ourselves, we are bringing shame to God, which is worse than bring shame to our family or community. However, Jesus bore our same, and invites us into His family. We get to share the honor and glory of God by being part of His royal family.

The third culture, which is predominant in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, is the fear/power culture. They rightly see a layer of spiritual forces behind the world, and therefore do things in the visible world to manipulate the unseen world to gain favorable outcomes for themselves. What they miss is beyond the unseen realm is the heavenly realm of God, who is in control of everything. When Jesus came to the world, He was the warrior-king who destroyed the stronghold of the unseen realm. We now have a direct relationship with God who controls everything, so we no longer need to try to manipulate the unseen realm.

As I reflect on The 3D Gospel, I think of the mixture within each culture. As the author Jason George notes, not every society is pegged to the extreme of any one of these three ends of the 3D Gospel. In America, we have a broad-brush stroke connecting all three of these. In my own family, despite their Indo-European heritage, I notice they are closer to fear and honor than guilt. For example, my parents are superstitious about wearing the same clothes for a sports game, anticipating it will bring that team victory.

The 3D Gospel’s illumination of these three dimensions is useful for my evangelism purposes. Traditionally, my apologetic method focuses on rationality and logic, best suited for the guilt-based cultures. However, this book shows me I need to handle certain people, such as my unbelieving parents, in a unique way due to their undergirding philosophical framework.

Further this book provides a new dimension for looking at the spiritual realm. Being a Presbyterian, I often ignored Eastern Christian mystic practices and the spiritual gifts. Some theological authors introduced me to the concepts of the spiritual realm, but this book serves as an even stronger awakening that I need to pay attention to the spiritual dimension. I often ignored stories of miracles in modern life and dismissed such accounts as fantastical or fake. Moving forward, I need to devote equal attention between knowledge, character, and spiritual power to have a more comprehensive understanding of God and His work in the world.
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