Chapter 5: COMMUNICATION AND WORLDVIEW DIFFERENCES

 

Anticipated outcomes:

On the completion of this chapter the reader should be competent to:

·   outline, differentiate and compare the key characteristics of the various worldviews
    presented;

·   articulate a biblical worldview perspective;

·   identify key worldview issues that can become barriers or bridges in communicating
    the gospel;

·   consider various solutions to the issues raised for communicating the gospel in the
    contexts of different worldviews.

 

 

Exercises

1.      Case study: Paul Hiebert, ‘A Word for God.’  In Case Studies in Missions, edited by Paul and Frances Hiebert (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), 155-157.

2.      Reflection: ‘Bruce Thomas’ writes, ‘I have never heard a presentation of the gospel which addresses man’s defilement and shame as well as his guilt and sin’.[1]  Have we failed to see the full biblical dimension of the Fall?  Should we proclaim a different gospel when communicating within a ‘defiled-shame’ culture than we do for a ‘sin-guilt’ culture?

3.      Prepare an outline of a gospel message for a ‘defiled-shame’ people (see ‘Bruce Thomas’ article: ‘The gospel for shame cultures’, Evangelical Missions Quarterly 1994).

4.      What biblical theme relates to the following Dani myth? What differences do you see in the myth compared with the biblical theme?

When one of the first men died, the people did not know what to do, so they decided to go and ask the snake how it shed its skin (representing immortality).  While following the snake through the forest, the cheerful song of a wren distracted them.  As they stopped to look up at the wren, the snake slithered away, leaving them without advice.  Therefore, the people decided to imitate the decorations of the wren (the Dani decorate themselves for funerals by coating parts of their bodies with white clay); but this failed to re-establish immortality because birds die.  This left the Dani devastated and hopeless.[2]

5.      Reflection: James Packer in his book, Knowing God, writes that some Christians like to think of God as being like….  But he states that the Second commandment ‘... forbids us to dream up mental images of him…. We cannot know him unless he speaks and tells us of himself’.[3]  The Scriptures reveal that he is the Trinitarian creator of all, and is perfectly revealed in his Son.  We are not free to imagine God as we like.  Considering this, are our images of God idolatry?  Are Allah and the Jewish God the same as the one revealed in the Scriptures?  Is the ‘high god’ of Africans one and the same as the God revealed in the Bible?



1.  Bruce Thomas, 1994, 289.

2.  Doug Hayward, quoted by Tom Steffan, ‘Foundational Roles of Symbol and Narrative in the (Re)construction of Reality and Relationships’, Missiology: An International Review,  XXVI(4)(1998):477-494.

3.  James Packer, Knowing God (London, UK: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973), 47-49.