Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures book review

Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures book review
10 Point Rating9
9Overall Score

Date read: 04.01.2017. How strongly I recommend it: 9/10.

Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures: Biblical Foundations and Practical Essentials, by Jayson Georges & Mark D. Baker on Amazon.

See my Kindle highlights here.


This book targets Christian individuals who seek to contextualize the Gospel in relevant ways in the Majority World. But that does not mean that one must be an overseas missionary to benefit from this book. I believe that every Christian who reads this book will gain a better understanding of the overarching context of the Bible, namely, God’s honor a central theme from Genesis to Revelation. The authors state that “from genealogies to Jesus’ confrontations with Pharisees, from the exile to the crucifixion, from Ruth to Romans and from the psalms of lament to Jesus’ parables, honor and shame are presupposed furniture in the minds of biblical authors and their original audiences.” This book enlightens the Western believer to perceive the Gospel through a fresh paradigm.


This book is an essential read for anyone seeking to share the Gospel in a relevant manner among honor-shame societies. It articulated what I have long experienced but did not have words for. I have lived in honor-shame cultures for nearly two decades and could therefore easily understand the themes expressed by the authors. Over the years, I have had conversations about honor-shame cultures with certain friends and family members, and I wondered whether or not they might begin to comprehend through this book the cultural differences that they have never personally experienced. “Just as Westerners fail to adequately observe cultural underpinnings of honor and shame in today’s world, Western Christians also often overlook the prominent role of honor and shame in the Bible, though it comes from an honor-shame context.” The authors did an incredible job of clearly explaining honor-shame biblical contexts. I am confident to share this book with those whom I have discussed honor-shame themes with, knowing that the thorough explanations in this book will communicate with clarity a fuller depiction of the Gospel.


With such a narrow focus, there might have existed the tendency to be redundant in the writing of this book. I did not find this to be the case at all. Instead, each chapter broadened the perspective of the biblical themes of honor and shame, both so that the reader was encouraged to understand honor and shame and so that he/she might be able to articulate the Gospel in relevant manner to Majority World listeners. This book not only queries the validity of the one-sided guilt-innocence version of the Western Gospel message but also augments this narrative with a more holistic approach of honor and shame themes. “To articulate the gospel in guilt-innocence terms is true, and often appropriate, but it is not the only facet of God’s salvation.” The authors boldly explain the fuller realities of salvation through the honor-shame worldview.


This book is filled with enlightening stories and testimonies both from the Western World and from the Majority World. I felt that these stories gave a broader picture of the Gospel’s mighty power to transform lives in every region of the globe. The use of storytelling paired with theological research was a compelling medium to reinforce such a difficult topic. The content of this book was beautifully arranged and the message came across loud and clear. Each chapter seemed to reinforce the previous one. The many references and endnotes invite one to further study the honor-shame themes in biblical texts, should the reader so desire.


I am happy to report that the text and terminology (as I mentioned above) was not redundant. A weaker author might have been compelled to revisit such similar language that the reader might grow weary. Instead, the authors utilized fresh terminology and sophisticated vocabulary to express each point in a more poignant manner. This I appreciated greatly.


Living in an honor-shame environment myself, this book has already began to enhance my understanding of holistic evangelism. I will most certainly be putting into practice the techniques and styles for sharing the Gospel to honor-shame communities. I have never before come across such a well-articulated book on the topic of honor-shame cultures. I would even state that this book should be required reading for every cross-cultural missionary serving in honor-shame contexts. I believe that this book will impact my ministry for years to come.


I give Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures a 9/10.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global

David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.

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