Restoring What Was Lost
From the Editor
I want to start out by thanking the four guest editors who filled in for me during my recently completed sabbatical. They all did a great job for which I am very thankful. Thank you also to those MF readers who remembered me in their prayers during my absence. It is good to be back.
IN THE BEGINNING: AN HONORED POSITION
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in the earth. God said it was good. God then created mankind in His image. “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky.…(Genesis 1:26-27) So God created mankind in his own image. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31) We were created to rule the earth as God’s exalted representatives. In Psalm 8:5 it says, “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Clearly we were created with the intention that we would walk with God and live lives of honor, reflecting the glory that God had given to us. But then came the Fall.
Adam and Eve dishonored God by disobeying Him and we have been on a desperate search ever since to reclaim the lost honor and glory we had with the Father in the beginning. But God’s plan is to restore that glory and honor through our relationship with Jesus Christ. So the world has a choice, a futile effort to gain and maintain honor—to make a name for ourselves—or to pursue the honor that God alone can restore to us. The first path leads to sin and destruction, the other to salvation and a restored relationship with God. As it says in Psalm 62:7l, “My salvation and my honor depend on God.” For more on this see Steve Hawthorne’s article starting on page 26.
The history of mankind is one of people seeking to gain honor, power and glory for themselves and to jealously guard whatever honor or position they hold. Some, like the Pharaohs of Egypt or the Caesars of Rome, have actually commanded that they be worshiped as deity. Even when people don’t go this far, there seems to be a driving desire in the hearts of people from most cultures to seek honor and to avoid shame. Everyone seems to want to make a name for themselves. Even in the West many want to be a celebrity, thinking this will bring meaning and satisfaction to their lives.
These are powerful cultural forces that dominate the world and its peoples. The Islamic cultures are well known to be centered around honor and shame. The Asian cultures are well known for trying to “save face.” But as we highlight in this issue, most cultures around the world are affected by the issues of honor and shame.
The critical question then arises, “if honor and shame is such a powerful dynamic in the thinking of people in a myriad of cultures, why does our presentation of the Gospel not reflect this cultural and biblical reality?
PRESENTING THE GOSPEL THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR
We all come to scripture with the cultural lenses that have been provided to us by our pastors, theologians and systematic theologies. In the West we come from a legal/guilt perspective on the gospel. We have our “Four Spiritual Laws,” through which we are declared righteous because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. This is a true and accurate understanding of the gospel. But as we have seen, it is also biblically true and accurate to understand the gospel from an honor and shame perspective.
The world is prepared and waiting for an honor-based gospel that will communicate to their hearts more effectively than the legal/guilt gospel that we have most often taken to them. How much more responsive will the world be if we present a gospel that addresses their dominant concerns? We will never know until we try.
THE T4T (TRAINING FOR TRAINERS) PROCESS AND THE DISCOVERY BIBLE STUDY METHOD: HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
For years now we have been featuring stories in MF on both the T4T Process and the Discovery Bible Study Method. Both have been actively used by various mission agencies to great effect in fostering the development of Church-Planting and Disciple-Making Movements around the world. They have many things in common because they both follow principles of training disciples to obey all Jesus commanded. But there are some differences as well.
Our regular Kingdom Kernels columnist and author of T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, Steve Smith, joins Stan Parks in laying out the common elements and the important differences in part one of their two part series on this topic starting on page 36. Whatever method you choose to use, our focus must be clear. Our job as followers of Jesus is to make disciples who disciple others and plant new churches—and to do so in every people on earth. These two methods of ministry have been fruitful around the world in turning ordinary believers into disciple-makers and church planters. As we mentioned in the March April 2014 issue of MF, these methods are having a similar effect in the U.S. in fostering emerging movements. So there really is no good excuse for us not to start doing it ourselves. We must all break free from our church culture of passivity and move forward on mission with God.
A NEW DAY IS DAWNING
Four years ago we featured the growing influence of David Platt, author of the best selling book, Radical, which went on to sell over 1 million copies. We featured him in the Nov-Dec 2010 issue because he is the most effective and eloquent spokesman I have seen for reaching the unreached peoples since Ralph Winter. Now he has been elected President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I congratulate him on this new position. I will be watching with great eagerness to see how his passion for the unreached will transform the IMB and their mission efforts around the world. This is a highly strategic position from which he can have great influence in mobilizing millions to be on mission with God. The IMB has a rich heritage of innovation in mission on behalf of the unreached peoples. They have been key players in fostering growing movements around the world. It is my hope and prayer that the Southern Baptists under David Platt’s leadership will continue to press forward boldly with well-researched best practices and innovative approaches to reaching the unreached. Please join me in praying for David as he seeks to lead the IMB to even greater achievements. See page 40 for an interview where David shares his thoughts about the future of Southern Baptists on mission with God.
A THREE-FOLD CORD
For this issue of MF we have tapped into a conversation among three prominent blogger/authors who have contributed significantly to this issue. One has produced an on-line culture test, and each has produced a complementary gospel presentation that is “honor/shame” sensitive, a rich list of resources on their blog for further study, and one or more new books.
Gospel: The Father’s Love
Book: The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in our Multicultural World (2015) Honor/shame dynamics in the Bible and how these inform our interaction with honor-shame cultures around the world, especially unreached peoples. Available on GlobalGospelBook.org, and on Amazon.com
Gospel: How does God seek “face”?
Books: Saving God’s Face: A Chinese Contextualization of Salvation through Honor and Shame (EMS Dissertation Series) (2013) How honor-shame should influence our understanding of salvation. Available on wciupress.org and Amazon.com
One Gospel for All Nations: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization (January 2015) A practical, biblically faithful and culturally meaningful method for contextualizing the gospel in any context. Soon to be available on MissionBooks.org and Amazon.com
Gospel: Back To God’s Village
Online culture type test: HonorShame.com/theCultureTest
This issue of MF also is also indebted to Dr. Steve Hawthorne, whose article is undergirded by his PhD Dissertation: Let All the Peoples Praise Him: Toward a Teleological Paradigm of the Missio Dei