Theology for Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures – Free Resource

How can we reframe Christian theology for cultures of guilt, shame, and fear? I developed a  “Theology Guide” which  systemically charts 40+ theological categories in the language and values of each culture type. For example, the section about God reads:





Lawgiver & Judge

(sinless, perfect, just)

Father & Patron

(glorious, superior, faithful)

Ruler & Deliverer

(sovereign, transcendent)

God’s Holiness

He alone perfectly keeps the absolute moral standard

He alone is infinitely glorious, deserving all reverence

He alone created and stands above all things and beings

God’s Sovereignty

Forgives transgressors and enacts our future salvation

Honors lowly mortals and humbles the falsely proud

Defeats spiritual opposition and rules the world

God’s Righteousness

Punitive justice

Covenantal Faithfulness

Cosmic Power

The complete chart covers prolegomena, God, sin, Jesus, and salvation. To receive the free download link, sign up for the blog. I hope to make available multiple translations of this theology chart: Chinese version available here, with Russian, Arabic, Turkish, French, and Spanish forthcoming.  I believe it is vital for all Christians to have a robust language for theology conversations. Would anyone be able/interested to help with Arab and Hindi translations? 3D Gospel- Cover copyThis theology chart could form the basis for teaching or preaching lessons in your ministry. If you plan on teaching or preaching about God’s salvation for guilt, shame, or fear, I’d be delighted to give you a free .pdf copy of The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Culturesso you can prepare well. Just email the event details (i.e., when, where, who) to Do you have an idea for another theological category framed for guilt, shame, and fear cultures? Write it in the comment section below.

resources for Majority World ministry

16 Comments on “Theology for Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures – Free Resource

  1. Thanks for the chart. I think at least some Messianics use what you refer to as the Shame/Collectivistic theology.

      • I think Messiah speaks to all types of cultures.

        By Messianic I meant those groups of Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles that follow Jesus.

        • Yes, Don, thanks for pointing that out. It is always helpful to realize the many groups and cultures that are highly collectivistic, beyond just “Arabs” and “Asians” as people commonly think.

          My previous was highlighting how one particular Messianic–the Messiah himself–was also inclined towards an honor-shame/collectivistic theology. What is interesting to observe about Messianic culture is that, though it is a contemporary culture, it is rooted in the biblical world. Though we must not be anachronistic with our hermeneutic, your comment suggests biblical culture/theology is more shame-based than we often realize. Just thinking out loud about this connection.

  2. I am more interested in the subjective experiences of shame and guilt than in the theological effort to make objective definitions. What happens when we accuse ourselves of wrongdoing? The Christian model in our culture is that repentance comes first and that grace follows. Isn’t it also an act of grace to know I have done wrong? I think guilt and shame are widely confused in our culture, to the point that people are ashamed to admit we are victims, and when we accuse people of doing wrong to us we are criticized for shaming them.
    I think guilt, shame and fear cultures are different manifestations of our realization that people are imperfect, and we should begin there. Do we celebrate joy, creativity, life and accept that negatives come with them, or do we focus on how to avoid doing wrong?
    My experience is that guilt is corrosive and unproductive, like hate. We either wallow in guilt or deny wrongdoing.

  3. during LENT 2016 a group of us in town are preaching on the culture of shame dominant in our small town. From what it looks like, your book may be helpful. We are going to look at the Gospels and in particular, the interactions Jesus had with “unacceptable”/guilty people and how that should shape or interactions with one another. I look forward to your input, if you are willing! Thanks… In Christ our Redeemer, Don Ridder

  4. I am a Counselor Educator that is constantly dealing with individuals, families and cultures where mental,emotional problems are the focus of care, counsel and healing. I developed a chart to depict a fallen Nature from different perspectives. I learned from Dr. James Kallas about the three main theological ideas of fallen nature and how each impacts cultures that develop from them. He says all three are true. Bondage Based Cultures: Rebellion based Cultures: Guilt based Cultures: I added Shame Based Cultures.

    With each I placed the impact of each theology on human activity, its emphasis in Christianity, and what happens if we overemphasize one or two without the balance of all four. I also point out the biblical response to each area.

    Then I train Pastors and Counselors how to deal with people and families that suffer from emotional problems by dealing with God’s answer to all four points of view. Rarely does a Guilt and Punishment approach help people from a Bondage, Rebellion or Shame Culture. For example, most Scandinavians are in a Shame Culture with a Lutheran German Guilt Religion. No wonder so few respond to it.

  5. I’m finding this all so interesting! It amazes me how God (through His Word) speaks to each of us, right where we are. I would truly appreciate a pdf. of the 3-D Gospel.

  6. My concern about the chart and approach is simple. The needs of humanity are left off. The ways we perceive God, salvation, atonement, sanctification, etc are all seen differently according to the needs of the recipients, us

  7. In other articles you point out that Bondage is another category but it is left off most of the charts and left out of most articles. It is clear that we are “Dead in our trespasses and sin” and dead men/women tell no tales. We must be reborn before anything else. The deadness or Bondage continues throughout our lives in illnesses, unruly, irrational behavior, interpersonal woes, etc. It seems to me that Guilt and Fear arise from the same forensic roots that demand punishment for failures.

    If we are left only with Guilt and Shame there is no way to deal with imperfect behavior, the long, hard road through sanctification or growth into maturity. It is, IMO, the reason why so many reach a works/righteousness life that leads to depression and anxiety or worse after rebirth than before.

    Classic theology along with Calvin and Luther all focused on Bondage as the key factor that requires the redemptive acts of God to allay.

  8. I want to ask Jayson, does your book include suggestions for “3D Gospel sermons?” Or can you provide links that would be helpful along those lines?

    • Kurt, the book does not sermon outlines or drafts. But the book’s content is applicable and accessible, so it would be easy to turn into a sermon for your audience. Or better yet, pick one a story from the list of “biblical narratives” for each culture type and preach from that biblical passage. -Jayson

  9. In shame-based cultures, is theology done with an eye toward saving face for all parties rather than proving who is right? This would work toward more synthesis and less anathema. Acts 15 seems to be a case in point.

  10. Hi Jayson,

    Many thanks for your excellent book & blog! Such a wealth of fascinating & useful material! I’ll be using your material (and some from Jackson Wu) to do a workshop “Discovering Worldview” at The Christian Storytelling Conference June 28-30, 2018 in Columbia, MO. More info is available at My workshop is Friday at 3pm.

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