The recent edition of Themelios journal (The Gospel Coalition) published Jackson Wu’s article “Have Theologians No Sense of Shame? How the Bible Reconciles Objective and Subjective Shame.” This article clearly sets forth a biblical theology of honor and shame. I recommend this article because it is:
- free, no paywall!
- biblical and comprehensive, filled with biblical citations
- accessible and clear, easy to grasp
- a major corrective of the half-biblical misconceptions of honor and shame
Here is the article abstract:
Everyone agrees shame is a pervasive problem; yet, in book and articles, we find writers often talk past one another. Missionaries and anthropologists speak of “honor-shame” cultures. Psychologists describe shame as an individual, emotional experience. Strangely, theologians typically say little about the topic. Christian scholars tend to treat guilt as “objective” and shame merely a “subjective.” This misunderstanding undermines our ability to develop a practical theology of honor and shame. Therefore, this article demonstrates how the Bible helps us have an integrated understanding of shame in its theological, psychological, and social dimensions.
The article explains 6 biblical problems that concern honor-shame…
- People have shamed God.
- People are shameful
- People feel shame.
- People shame others.
- People suffer shame from others.
- God will put people to shame.
…then explains the 6 aspects of biblical salvation in honor-shame terms.
- God glorifies himself.
- God gives us a heart to honor him.
- God in Christ removes shame and restores honor.
- We get a new identity and belong to the Church.
- Because of a new identity, we no longer feel ashamed.
- We are able to honor God and others.
I suggest you print out this article, sit down with a pen, and dive into Scripture with this article.