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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must for missionaries
While living in the Middle East I did a survey among missionaries living in a muslim environment, asking them what book had been most helpful in their preparations before coming over. This book was mentioned many times and had a great impact in their lives! As a teacher in a mission department of a christian seminary this book is a must for all students who consider...
Published on August 31, 2000 by mklaver

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3.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for a class
I haven't gotten all the way through the book yet, but it's an okay read thus far. I may be a little biased as it was a required reading for a class.
Published on December 17, 2012 by corrinn01


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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must for missionaries, August 31, 2000
By 
"mklaver" (AMSTELVEEN Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
While living in the Middle East I did a survey among missionaries living in a muslim environment, asking them what book had been most helpful in their preparations before coming over. This book was mentioned many times and had a great impact in their lives! As a teacher in a mission department of a christian seminary this book is a must for all students who consider going into missions. The book gives very good insights on the problem of cultural differences and shows clearly how your own faith has been effected by your culture. It also gives a very good model of contextualization which is applicable in all times and places. The examples Hiebert gives are practical and illustrate well the points he wants to make and make the book lively and accessible. Just read it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful advice for those considering foreign mission work, April 2, 2008
By 
Matthew Gunia (Justice, Illinois) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
Christian missionaries often are required to go through extensive theological training so that they know their doctrine and how to apply it. They also go through various psychological and personality tests so that they might gain a better understanding of themselves (e.g. strengths, how they react to stress). But they rarely receive adequate training on how to adapt to, live in, and thrive in a foreign culture in such a way as to gain a hearing for the Gospel. This book, by missionary, anthropologist, and professor at Biola University (La Mirada, California) seeks to apply anthropological insights to the work of foreign mission work in order to make the missionary more healthy (spiritual, mental) and effective in his work.

"Anthropological Insights for Missionaries" begins by presenting a base of information. Anthropology is described and various terms are defined and interrelated Overarching theories of intercultural interaction are presented and Hiebert describes his basic anthropological and theological assumptions. One of the most important arguments for the purposes of the book is Hiebert's contention that the Gospel is compatible with any culture as each culture is able to understand and apply the Gospel in a unique, Holy Spirit-led way.

The second part places the focus on the missionary himself. It is certainly a stressful task for the missionary to pack up everything and move to a remote, unfamiliar land. Issues of culture shock and ethnocentrism are examined as well as cultural assumptions. Hiebert provides paradigms and practical advice for acclimating to a new culture and (beyond that) to becoming incarnational within that culture (adopting it as best as one is able). Hiebert provides a brief-yet-accurate list of Western cultural assumptions and contrasts them with differing cultural assumptions in real communities.

Part three places the focus on the Gospel message itself. He emphasizes that cultures will view the Gospel through their own cultural filter and thus the missionary may have difficulty determining whether the host culture is gaining an orthodox or heterodox understanding of the Gospel. While becoming a thorough understanding of the language and culture is helpful in this regard, Heibert continually argues that the missionary should work toward allowing the (new) Christian leaders of the host culture take the lead in determining authentic practical applications of the Gospel (after all, they know the cultural significance of their community better than a missionary will be able to). Indeed, one of the major tasks of the missionary is to develop a new Christian community to maturity both in leadership, resources, ability to evangelize others, and theological application. While recognizing the difficulty of this task, Hiebert reminds the reader of its long-term importance for the Church.

The final part examines what it means to be bi-cultural. Any time two cultures interact as closely as is the case when long-term missionaries (and their families) evangelize and disciple Christian nationals (and their families), a new hybrid culture is developed. People who become bi-cultural face unique challenges as they fully comfortable in their host culture, nor are they comfortable in their home culture. A missionary should be prepared for this inevitable change.

The book is well structure and well written. Hiebert presents a balance of theory, practice, and anecdote (from his own personal experiences and the experiences of fellow missionaries). The information is presented in a logical and straightforward manner, advice and principles are given to the reader, but the reader is often left to figure out how to apply this information/advice in his own context.

Recommended to those engaged in cross-cultural ministry, especially those considering serving as a foreign missionary.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthropological insights are for missionaries!, January 19, 2006
This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
Missionaries should learn and understand culture of the people to whom they want to preach the gospel. I agree with Hiebert that without all that knowledge their message may be irrelevant and meaningless in cultural enviroment that is different from the cultural background of missionaries, especially if they came from the West. Missionaries must be tolerant for other cultures and keep interest in their own ways of being and believing, but they must resent the popular concept of cultural relativism. Christian missionaries may lost the meaning of the gospel and ministry if they only reflect the culture of people around them or ignore the native culture.

Hiebert accents that the preaching of gospel may reflect the background of missionaries but he in his book helps to avoid trap of culture shock, how to make bridges between cultures, and lay good foundation for native Christian churches. Especially interesting is Hiebert's analisis of trends what will and may happen in the new native Christian church later after three and four generations.

I recommend this book not only for missionaries but also for pastors and gospel workers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Insight, March 11, 2008
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This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
"Anthropological Insights for Missionaries" should be required reading for anyone involved in short or long term missions. While well researched, this book also comes from an insider. Mr. Hiebert's years of mission experience shine through in the practical applications. As you read answer questions like, "What are my cultural assumptions?" or "Where does the culture not meet the people's needs?" This would make a great supplemental textbook for any missionology class.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Academic, yet insighful, January 23, 2004
This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
This is a good reference book for missionaries who are going overseas. It helps you understand different cultures around the world. It is a good read for those who do not understand other cultures and want to get a good grasp on why people do what they do. It introduces you to various ways of life many of which I had never heard before. This book is academic, not light reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book for Missionaries to Read, August 5, 2014
This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
Anthropology is the study of humans. This book about missionary anthropology examines how missionaries interact with, understand, and impact different cultures. It is important for missionaries to move beyond Western culture and to be sensitive to the traditions and cultural traits of different societies. Far too many missionaries, still stuck in a colonial mindset, try to impose their own culture on their converts. It is important to get back to a kingdom mindset instead of a Western cultural mindset.

Hiebert launches his first chapter with a story about how a church in India featured Santa Claus in their Nativity drama. He makes the point that first one must understand the historical and cultural setting of the Bible and second one must interpret the Bible into the historical and cultural setting of the people one is ministering to. He lists four benefits of anthropology to missions. First, it helps the missionary understand cross-cultural situations. Second, it helps with Bible translation. Third, it helps the missionary understand the process of conversion. Fourth, it helps the missionary make the Gospel relevant to the listeners. Finally, it helps the missionary relate to different cultures and build bridges of understanding.

In the second chapter, culture is defined as “the more of less integrated system of ideas, feelings, and values and their associated patterns of behavior and products shared by a group of people who organize and regulate what they think, feel, and do.” Every culture has its own cognitive, affective, and evaluative dimensions. These work together to form a worldview, or assumptions and expectations about reality. Worldviews provide one with cognitive foundations, give one emotional security, validate one’s deepest cultural norms, integrates one’s culture, and monitors cultural change.

When missionaries arrive on the field, they are confronted with a new culture. They often feel cultural shock which is caused by dealing with a different language, changes in routine, changes in relationships, loss of understanding, and emotional and evaluative disorientation. This can cause stress, illness, and depression. The cycles of cultural shock are the tourist stage, disenchantment, resolution, and finally adjustment.

The missionary should strive to be incarnational. The tendency is to think one’s culture is civilized and that other cultures are primitive. The missionary needs to get beyond ethnocentrism and learn to judge a culture based on its own standards and the Scriptures. One can respond to the challenge of living in two different worlds by rejection, compartmentalization, or integration.

It is important for the missionary to study the assumptions of his own culture so that he can better understand a foreign culture. Americans believe they live in a real, rational world that is subject to natural laws. Americans value history. They believe there is a dualistic separation between the natural and the supernatural. They believe humans are unique and have great value. They are materialistic. They often judge success by the amount of stuff a person owns. They believe in private ownership. Americans believe in progress. They analyze situations. In America, people usually have either/or, black/white, right/wrong thinking. They place a great emphasis on work. They keep their public and their private lives separated. They like to plan. They are pragmatists. Americans often view nature as a machine. They believe in productivity and making a profit. They value youth over age and value individualism and self-reliance. Americans need to be liked. They believe in private ownership and equal opportunity. Americans love to compete. They are direct and confrontational in our approach to business. They value time and assume that time is linear and uniform. They feel we only have a finite amount of time. Americans put an emphasis on sight. They read, appreciate abstract knowledge, and think systematically. All of these cultural biases affect the message the American preaches as a missionary.

In chapter seven, Hiebert discuses three approaches missionaries have tried when confronted with cultural traditions. First, some missionaries have completely rejected the culture of the people and tried to replace it with their own culture. Second, some missionaries have allowed the people to keep practicing their cultural rituals. Third, some missionaries have carefully picked (in consultation with the converts) which cultural practices are based on religious beliefs and which ones can be kept. This third option is best. The missionary should work with local believers to form practices and theological interpretations of the Bible that will fit the local culture. Eventually, a transcultural theology should be above all individual cultural practices. The final section of Hiebert’s books deals with the various roles a missionary is called on to fill when working in a society and returning to his home society.

Ultimately, love overcomes a multitude of sins. If people within a culture know that the missionary really loves their people, they can forgive many different cultural mistakes. No missionary can completely join another culture, but he can learn to appreciate and understand the culture he is called to work in. By showing respect, being patient, and allowing the love of God to be revealed in his actions and words, the missionary can manifest kingdom culture in the midst of a foreign culture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, February 16, 2014
By 
Todd (Contoocook, NH, United States) - See all my reviews
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Hiebert is absolutely one of the best. I have enjoyed this resource and use it all the time. If you are a missionary this is a must read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars powerful! a must read for both young and old missionaries!, August 4, 2013
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The author goes through every stage at a missionary encounters and explains how the gospel can be practically communicated cross-culturally. He gives strategy and wisdom to loving people of different faiths, yet not compromising but fulfilling the biblical mandate to reach the nations for the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a must read for anyone inspiring to reach their neighbor or a nation for the glory of The Lord.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, December 23, 2012
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This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
This book is highly reflective of its title. I used it for a class at school and it was VERY helpful.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for a class, December 17, 2012
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This review is from: Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Paperback)
I haven't gotten all the way through the book yet, but it's an okay read thus far. I may be a little biased as it was a required reading for a class.
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Anthropological Insights for Missionaries
Anthropological Insights for Missionaries by Paul G. Hiebert (Paperback - January 1, 1986)
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