Jayson Georges. Self-published, 2014.
—Reviewed by Rick Kronk, scholar-practitioner, Christar, Inc.; adjunct professor of Missions, University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Just as people assume the cultural orientation of their context, (so) Christians often assume forms of Christian ministry in which they learn the gospel” (p. 55) are the only correct or valid forms of Christian ministry. For Jayson Georges, these forms of Christian ministry which inevitably limit gospel effectiveness are related to a failure to understand how cultures differ in their worldview orientation and in particular, cultural differences as manifested by guilt-innocence, honor-shame, and fear-power worldview orientations.
In the first couple of chapters, Georges sets out the basic understanding of what he refers to as the “guilt-shame-fear trichotomy” (p. 16), which is generally exhibited in a given culture by the dominance of one worldview orientation over the others. He then argues how this conceptual model serves to simplify the complexities of differing cultures and, when understood correctly, can be exploited for the sake of gospel witness.
In the following chapters, he argues that this tripartite model provides a framework for interpreting scripture and contextualizing theology. Georges’ primary contribution to the discussion of these worldview categories, which was initiated by Eugene Nida (Customs and Cultures, 1986) and later popularized by Roland Muller (Honor and Shame, 2001), lies in the multiple comparative charts which he uses throughout the book to assist the reader in envisioning global realities (p. 32), systematic theology (p. 53), and evangelism (p. 57) in light of honor-shame, fear-power, and guilt-innocence categories. In so doing, he suggests a helpful culture-based framework (a new ‘set of glasses,’ if you will) which one can use to look at scripture, theology, and ministry.
As a critique of The 3D Gospel, I suggest that the book’s brevity is both its main strength as well as its main weakness. On the one hand, Georges provides a fairly clear summary of the salient issues related to cultural and biblical aspects of honor-shame, fear-power, and guilt-innocence worldview contexts. In response, he offers some helpful, if brief and generalized, suggestions for improved gospel witness. But on the other hand, he is unable to give adequate treatment to some very complex issues that he introduces (i.e., culture, worldview, and contextualization), which leaves the reader with the impression that these issues are less complex than they really are.
In this book, Georges makes clear that his intent is to assist the Church (and especially the Church in the West) in its gospel task by clarifying certain cultural differences which stand in the way of successful gospel ministry. Despite the overly simplistic treatment of some complex topics, I believe this book can serve as a starting place to explore the dynamics of these very real issues which, if taken seriously, will indeed enhance gospel witness to those embedded in a different worldview.