By: E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien Published: July 31, 2012 Pages: 241 Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0830837825
Ted’s Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
I am reminded of a story from my days living in Eastern Europe. An old Baptist church-attending woman received a copy of Decision magazine from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. While she couldn’t read the English text, she did look at the pictures and was horrified by the women – Christian women – wearing makeup. She thought, “The Bible teaches us that we should not adorn ourselves!” She was cut to the heart and a tear welled up in her eye. It rolled down her cheek and plopped right into her beer!
That little joke (not taken from the book) is the essence of this book’s thesis. Not only do we have our own culture but the Bible has its own as well. We must learn to understand the areas of our own cultural blinders and be able to see the Bible in its context. Simple enough but rarely do I see this sort of analysis by Western theologians.
Richards served as a missionary in Indonesia, which colors the illustrations in a very helpful way, and O’Brien is an editor at Leadership Journal. They lead the reader through nine areas of caution in regard to understanding the Bible mono-culturally. The book is filled with excellent examples highlighting the arguments being made using both real life experience and Biblical texts. I highly recommend that you read the account of David and Bathsheba found in chapter 5.
This book is not an attack on Western values or a defense of them. It also avoids the politically correct position that “all things non-Western are noble.” It simply points out the ways that Westerners can assume their worldview into the Bible. It is a timely book; the immigrant push into the USA is forcing American Christians to look seriously at cross-cultural ministry regardless of geography.
This is a balanced, concise and well written treatment of the topic. I would actually say that it is “bravely written” because the people that will take exception are those who fall prey to the traps described therein.
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