Western theology sounds like a scratched DVD at times—it get stuck repeating the same words, and has a hard time telling the whole story. When the guilt-innocence meaning of theological terms is hard-wired into many us, we struggle to imagine alternative explanations of key Christian doctrines.
Many see honor and shame in passages of the Bible, but as a whole we do not convert those biblical truths into functioning theology. We must overcome this theological speech impediment. Honor-shame is not just some cultural or hermeneutical rubric, but a theological reality that informs all facets of God’s character and mission.
This series “Honoring Theology” will examine key theological terms and concepts for honor-shame contexts, such as:
- Glory (by Dr. Ken Bailey)
Imagine if Millard Erickson was born in Uzbekistan! Or, Wayne Grudem in Malaysia! Or, John Piper in Kuwait! Or, Tim Keller in Ethiopia! What would their theology look like? (I have no idea honestly, but just like the questions.)
Theological Methodology–2 Quick Words
One, these theological terms were originally used in an honor-shame context. An honor-shame reading frames biblical concepts within that cultural logic. So our task is not so much “contextualizing” the Bible as “de-contextualizing” our theology. For this reason, we’ll focus on what theological concepts meant to original authors and readers.
Two, all of the terms carry a broad range of theological meaning. A post of 500 words cannot explore the full meaning of any theological word/concept. So I’ll only highlight those facets most germane to honor-shame contexts. My aim is not to replace contemporary theological definitions, but enrich and expand them. Even then, we must remember the honor-shame dimensions are central to the biblical meaning of theological ideas, not merely a contemporary application on the periphery.
Past posts have explored an honor-shame theology of sin and Christ. At some future point we’ll explain more theological topics from an honor-shame vantage point, such as: joy, righteousness, justice, savior, sinner, judgment, forgiveness, heaven, truth, love, peace, grace, baptism, holiness, the Kingdom of God, repentance, faith, the Holy Spirit, etc. For those eager to jump the gun, these ideas are briefly explored on the final page of this SJT article.
And yes, the series title “Honoring Theology” is meant to be read both ways—I’m attempting to honor the subject of theology and proposing a theology which explains God’s transformational honor.
Read more in this series, “Honoring Theology“: