What do the words “honor” and “shame” mean? What is their theological meaning? These questions are surprisingly complex, for the several reasons listed here. This post explains 7 challenges with defining “honor” and “shame.” Honor and shame are invisible. The terms …

7 Problems with Defining “Honor” & “Shame” Read more »

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“Watch out! Honor and shame can lead to unbalanced extremes!” At least this is the concern of some people when they hear about honor-shame. They worry that emphasizing honor-shame might lead Christians to neglect essential tenets of orthodox, biblical theology. …

CAUTION: Honor-Shame is “Unbalanced” and “Extreme”!! Read more »

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People often assume Africa is a “fear-power” culture. The animistic and magical practices of African Traditional Religions (ATRs) reflect the values of fear-power. Although Africa ranks higher in the fear-power category than other regions of the world according to The …

Is Africa ‘Power-Fear’ or ‘Honor-Shame’? Read more »

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The label “fear-power culture” has various meanings, depending on the perspective of the speaker. This posts explains the three ways people have defined “fear-power culture.” 1. Religious: Fear-Power as Spiritual Control The worldviews of Majority World cultures, especially tribal religions, …

The Meaning of ‘Fear-Power’—3 Options Read more »

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The idea of “guilt vs. shame” has a long history in 20th-century scholarship (see previous post). But how did the cultural model of guilt-shame-fear develop? Here is a super short history of the cultural trichotomony.  In 1954, Christian anthropologist and …

The Model of Guilt-Shame-Fear—A Short History Read more »

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Where do these categories of “guilt-shame” or “shame-honor” come from? Like all ideas, the notion of “shame” has developed over time. This post summarizes the main currents of shame research in the 20th century. The Beginning: Ruth Benedict The binary …

The Meaning of ‘Shame’—A Short History Read more »

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People often voice the concern that reducing cultures down to “guilt,” “shame,” or “fear” is oversimplifying reality—“Aren’t cultures a combination of these factors?” Most certainly. Cultures are too complex to be isolated into just three boxes. These are not three …

3 In 1: Integrating Guilt, Shame, and Fear Read more »

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Honor and shame are innately social and cooperate realities. For this reason, an honor-centric morality prioritizes relational harmony and communal edification, as seen in Pauline theology. John Barclay says, “Paul’s redefinition of honor thus gives prestige to such traits that …

Paul’s Honor Ethic in 1 Corinthians Read more »

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When I wrote The 3D Gospel and developed www.TheCultureTest.com in 2014, I thought that the concept of guilt/shame/fear cultures was unique to Christian missiology. But recently, I encountered a very similar cultural model by a secular psychologist. Richard Shweder is a …

Guilt, Shame, and Fear in Secular Research Read more »

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The post is adapted from chapter #3 of  The Bridge to Racial Unity: Discussion Guide 2.0 from Be the Bridge ministries. A personal awareness of racism and racial injustice can generate uncomfortable feelings of shame and guilt. In America’s individualistic …

Shame and Guilt in Racial Reconciliation Read more »

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Jackson Wu (Ph.D., SEBTS) teaches theology and missiology to Chinese leaders. He blogs at www.JacksonWu.org. Honor and shame are essential for being and making disciples. They are more than mere labels used to describe culture and improve cross-cultural communication. To …

6 Ways Honor and Shame Make Disciples (Not Converts) Read more »

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