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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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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Western theologians and missionaries often assume that “guilt-based” morality is ethically superior. This, I believe, is a dangerous assumption. A guilt-based approach to ethics has several shortcomings that limit its moral effectiveness, particularly in collectivistic contexts. These limitations do not …

4 Problems with Guilt-Based Morality Read more »

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All Bible translations face a problem—the cultural gap between the Bible and contemporary readers. English words evoke Western assumptions and values that are unlike those of biblical writers. The word “grace” (Greek: charis) is a good example of this problem of …

The Problem of “Grace” in English Bibles 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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Anyone who reads the Bible today faces an unavoidable fact—Scripture was originally written in and for a culture different than our own culture. This makes the Bible difficult to understand. Consider the meaning of these words: He whistled at her, …

The Problem with Bible Translations: Your Culture Read more »

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Anselm’s satisfaction theory (explanation here) has shaped Western atonement theory. Unfortunately, Anselm’s theology “went wrong” in two ways: (1) Anselm himself overlooked key parts of biblical theology, and (2) then latter theologians misinterpreted Anselm.  Making Anselm More Biblical Anselm’s Cur …

Improving Anselm’s Atonement Theory Read more »

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Last year Christian publishers released 4 books titled “Unashamed.” These are Christian efforts to speak to a popular topic in Western culture—the longing to be free of shame and to “be myself.”  While inspiring and encouraging, these books assume the distorted, Western …

Super Duper “Unashamed” Read more »

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“Cultures of honor and shame are violent.” This common assumption is a myth rooted in a pejorative cultural bias. Westerners often define honor-shame cultures by their violent retaliation against personal slights. People in honor-shame cultures are sensitive about their reputation, …

A Western Bias: “Honor-Shame Cultures are Violent” Read more »

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“Transforming Honor” is a new training video about biblical ethics, morality, and discipleship in honor-shame cultures. My aim with this video is to (1) transform Western misconceptions about honor cultures and (2) transform honor into a positive source for moral change. The 33-minute resource is …

New Training Video about Ethics and Discipleship Read more »

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“Young people these days are becoming more shame based.” The previous post showed how data from TheCultureTest.com collaborates this common observation. But this observation naturally evokes the “why?” question. Why is Western culture becoming more shame based? Here I identify are …

5 Reasons the West is Becoming More Shame Based Read more »

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A new moral system has emerged in America. It is shaped by the language of privilege, class, bias, inequality, tolerance, and inclusion. This new moral system has taken definitive expression in the issue of microaggressions.Microaggressions are “brief, everyday exchanges that …

Microaggressions and “Reverse Honor”: America’s Latest Moral System Read more »

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