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!”