Monday, 16 November 2020

Book Review: The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges


The 3D Gospel: Ministry in guilt, shame, and fear cultures, Jayson Georges, Timē Press, 2017, 80 pages, £5.73 (amazon), ISBN: 978-0692338018


This short introductory book is well worth the small price tag.  Whether planning on sharing the gospel with people from different cultures (at home or abroad) or simply wanting to see more of the glory of the work of Christ this book is a must read.  Simple, to the point, and easy to read it is the kind of book which can be read in a single session or slowly and pondered upon at length—in this latter regard I felt it could have perhaps benefitted from some discussion group questions being added at the end of each chapter. 


The book begins by outlining the three different kinds of culture which anthropologists have broadly identified, namely guilt-innocence, shame-honour, and fear-power.  Whilst the book takes care to point out that these often overlap and no culture is wholly one or the other it does break things down sufficiently to be able to see how these apply across the world in a general sense.  In the first chapter we also come across a biblical passage in which the 3D gospel—the gospel which addresses the concerns and needs of all these three cultures—is drawn out.  Throughout the book Georges grounds what he is teaching in Scripture and helps us to see the connections to these different cultures within the text.  The “key verses” sections for each of the three cultures is a goldmine for the evangelist. There are also personal anecdotes and stories scattered across the chapters which help to personalise the theology and break up the pacing in a helpful and engaging way.  Perhaps one of the most challenging sections comes on pages 59-59 where the words used to describe the gospel in each culture are listed. The book encourages the reader to try and tell the bible story of salvation in each of the three cultural languages using only the word listed for them.  I personally found an equally useful and more impacting exercise to be trying to write my own testimony using only the language of other cultures—seeing afresh just how vast and great and deep the salvation Christ won for me was and the myriad of changes it made in my life.


If there were any criticism of the book it would be three-fold.  Firstly the book feels like it majors on the guilt-innocence and shame-honour cultures.  The fear-power sections are at times noticeably shorter and feel less fleshed out.  Secondly, the section dealing with historical theories of atonement, whilst helpful, is perhaps too simplistic.  It leaves many questions such as why was the Ransom Theory (labelled as fear-power) so dominant in the shame-honour based early church and still today in Eastern Europe?   Georges lists Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory under shame-honour but this theory was and is strongly repudiated by the Eastern Orthodox who culturally come from much more shame-honour based societies.  Likewise implying that Penal Substitutionary Atonement only emerged from “reformed legal scholars in the mid 1600’s” is well off the mark historically.


These faults do not detract though from a superb book which every pastor should read—and to be honest which every Christian would benefit from reading.  The only thing which could have made it better is my final issue with the book:  It is called the “3D Gospel” but “guilt, shame, and fear” do not begin with the letter D.   Surely the 3D Gospel is one which deals with “damnation, dishonour, and dread!” 





Tuesday, 19 May 2020

With the heaviest of hearts but trusting still...

Today was supposed to be my first day in Japan. I was going to be spending eight weeks working through OMF with a church in Hirosaki City. I can't think of anything in my life I've been more excited by. Living in Japan has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember—from a year 9 school project where I wrote about what life would have been like if I had grown up in Japan, to starting Japanese lessons at university due to my desire to do missionary work there. Eventually life and other ministry priorities smothered that dream; but then God opened so many doors and powerfully relit the fire that had never fully stopped burning.

Now, of course, I am not going to Japan—at least not yet. I don't know when it will be possible to go either. It's fair to say I am devastated, my spirit is heavy, and my heart aches. In the past five years I've had so very many setbacks, so many doors closed, but none have hurt anywhere near as much as this. It finally felt like all those setbacks and closed doors had a purpose, had a goal—God had been saving me and my ministry to actually give me what was a hope I dared not hope and a dream I could barely put into words it seemed so fantastical.

Now I'm back in the mud and the mire.

I know that God is sovereign. I trust in what He is doing and His purpose—even as I feel crushed I submit knowing full well that whatever He is doing is ultimately good and perfect. But that doesn't make it taste any less bitter in the present. An old friend recently described me as a "tank." He meant it as a complement! He said that all the bullets and rockets of the enemy, all the landmines of life, I've faced haven't stopped me moving forward towards the goal or killed my deep-seated joy—and they won't now. That was something I sorely needed to hear.

One thing is sure—I'm not giving up on this mission; on this dream. I will go and test this calling and ministry as soon as I can, and I will put on hold everything else for as a long as I can in doing so. Even if, ultimately, long term mission work in Japan is not my God-given destiny, exploring this call—and the growth that exploration will bring to all aspects of my life—is something I am not letting go of.

But as for me, LORD,
my prayer to you is for a time of favor.
In your abundant, faithful love, God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the miry mud; don’t let me sink.
Let me be rescued from those who hate me
and from the deep water.
Don’t let the floodwaters sweep over me
or the deep swallow me up;
don’t let the Pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, LORD,
for your faithful love is good.
In keeping with your abundant compassion,
turn to me.
Don’t hide your face from your servant,
for I am in distress.
Answer me quickly!
Come near to me and redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies.
But as for me—poor and in pain—
let your salvation protect me, God.
I will praise God’s name with song
and exalt him with thanksgiving.
That will please the LORD more than an ox,
more than a bull with horns and hooves.
The humble will see it and rejoice.
You who seek God, take heart!
For the LORD listens to the needy
and does not despise
his own who are prisoners.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them,
for God will save Zion
and build up[a] the cities of Judah.
They will live there and possess it.
The descendants of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will live in it.

Psalm 69. 13-18, 29-36

Saturday, 18 April 2020

(SERMON) God is Sovereign: Hope, Peace, and Mourning in God's world

The book of Job is fantastic in so many ways. One of the main themes that it addresses is the utter and complete sovereignty of God over our lives.  In a time when the world and our lives are being turned upside down by a "natural disaster" it is important to take a step back and ask where is God in all of this?  How can I respond faithfully to this tragedy?

In Scripture we see that God is utterly sovereign in many ways.  He is
- Sovereign in creating
- Sovereign in sustaining
- Sovereign in ordaining
- Sovereign in allowing

Through all of this we can discern many reasons why God does what He does, but it would foolish to point to one and proclaim it alone to be the cause behind the movement of God's hand.

As Christians we are uniquely equipped to respond to the tragedy around us, whatever it may be, with hope and peace -- but this hope and peace does not diminish nor relativise the real weeping and mourning we express and feel when calamity comes.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

(SERMON) Matthew 22.1-14 You're invited: the Invitation to the Feast

In this parable we learn that the call of God, the invitation to an eternal life of joy, feasting, peace, and health goes out to all people.  However, many simply don't care, some are openly hostile, some appear to accept but then don't truly follow through, and a chosen few enter into eternal joy.

This teaching should lead to our lives being marked by two priorities:

1.) The dailing repenting of sin and clothing ourselves in the robe of Righteousness Divine -- the robe that Jesus alone can give us.
2.) Doing our part to spread the call and invitation to the Feast to anyone and everyone across the globe.

Monday, 30 March 2020

(SERMON) 1 Corinthians 15.50-58 "We believe in the resurrection of the dead"

In this last sermon on the Nicene Creed we look at the wonderful hope given in the truth of the promised resurrection of the dead; the fulfilment of the work and life of Jesus.

The unbreakable promise of the resurrection should change how we live our lives today:

1.) We should live during this life sacrificially knowing what is to come.
2.) We should live steadfast and immovable in our faith, our doctrine, and war against sin.
3.) We should be always seeking to excel in all that we do. Christians above all others should strive for excellence in all of our life.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

(SERMON) Matthew 11.25-30 Giving rest and finding rest

Life is exhausting. Between the stresses of the world and life, the pressures we place on ourselves and others force upon us, the weight of shame and guilt from sin and darkness, we all desperately need a holiday.

Jesus says to everyone and anyone "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I WILL give you rest."  He can make this promise because He is Lord of all and He can give us this rest because He died for our sins in our place and rose again.

Once we receive this peace we offer our whole selves to Him and place our lives in His hands.  There we find peace for our souls -- the kind of peace which makes Christians do and survive extraordinary things.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

(SERMON) Mark 4.26-29 Both Outward and Inward God gives the growth

In this simple parable Jesus teaches us two great truths which should lead to changes in how we live our lives.

Firstly, He teaches us to not be afraid or daunted by the task of evangelism and mission whether in our local neighbourhood or on the other side of the globe.  What little we sow He can use and in the end it is always Him who gives the growth, Him who changes the hearts of people to accept Him through faith.

Secondly, He teaches us that inward spiritual growth is something we all must go through and in which, though we should seek to give every opportunity for growth, all growth ultimately rests at the feet of Jesus our King.  This means that we should neither become disheartened looking at those who are more mature than ourselves in the faith nor look down and despise those who know less than we ourselves or have travelled as far along the way.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

(SERMON) John 14 -- Our common purpose and mission, a Mother's Union service of New Beginnings

Life is full of new beginnings, great and small, temporary and long term.
We should use such new beginnings to re-dedicate ourselves to our purpose and mission.

As individuals, and as the Mother's Union, our purpose and mission is

1.) to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth - we were saved by Jesus and must tell others about this.
2.)to be united with other Christians in prayer, in worship, and in service.

If these are not the things for which we are known in our communities then perhaps the need to rededicate ourselves to them is all the more urgent.

Monday, 24 February 2020

(SERMON) Matthew 25.14-30 The Mission of the Church

The parable of the talents not only contains the words we should most long to hear but also tells us about three grand truths

1.) The nature of true faith
2.) The relationship between Creator and Creation
3.) The mission of the Church and our role in it

Monday, 17 February 2020

(SERMON) Matthew 18.21-35 "Revenge might make a good film, but forgiveness makes the greatest story"

"Revenge might make a good film, but forgiveness makes the greatest story"

Revenge and Forgiveness are key themes in Scripture.  Here Jesus shows us that Christians are to turn the natural way of things upside down and in the place of unlimited vengeance offer unlimited forgiveness.

This isn't easy -- it can even seem impossible.

What we need to have is new hearts; hearts which recognise how much of a debt of sin we owed to God, how great His mercy was in Christ, and  that because we have been so miraculously and undeservedly forgiven we too are moved to forgive.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

(SERMON) Luke 16.1-13 Christian Giving: Generosity, Faithfulness, and Service

The Parable of the Dishonest Manager is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible: but often the simplest reading is the right one.  Jesus' teaching on worldly wealth is never easy because He pulls no punches.  Here Jesus tells us that we should be ashamed of how the world uses its wealth to seek after temporary happiness with greater skill and zeal than we do our eternal joy.  The answer given is to serve God first, above all else, through generosity and faithfulness.

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