- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (October 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801026474
- ISBN-13: 978-0801026478
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships Paperback – October 1, 2003
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From the Back Cover
Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is provost and senior vice-president at Fuller Theological Seminary. Marvin K. Mayers (Ph.D., University of Chicago) has taught for many years in the intercultural studies department of Biola University.
About the Author
Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is senior professor of anthropology and provost emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary. Marvin K. Mayers (Ph.D., University of Chicago) has taught for many years in the intercultural studies department of Biola University.
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There is a helpful diagnostic inventory at the center of this book that is helpful in discovering one's own cultural preferences (ways of looking at things.) The rest of the book is about the specific cultural lenses we use and how they can trip us up in relationships with people who are using another lens. For example, one lens is that of time-orientation vs event-orientation. If we see time as a finite resource that must be fully used, we can be put off by someone who marks time passage by events rather than clocks. If we are task-oriented, we can feel that those who are person-oriented are less committed or even lazy because they don't appear to get as many tasks accomplished. By discovering where I am on the continuum of each pair of lenses, it becomes possible to see beyond my own mental programming and begin to appreciate the value of other cultures.
Finally, the first chapter posits that we must become "incarnate" in the second culture in order to gain competency. For Lingenfelter, this means learning from those served as a child humbly learns and grows. While we will never become 100% fluent in the new culture, we will be much more effective in our service.
He says we should in a similar way leave our culture to embrace the culture we are reaching out to. So for a missionary to Taiwan from America, it means leaving Americanisms behind and embracing Asian culture as a baby would. The problem with this analogy that I'm still mulling over is precisely this: Jesus did not leave heavens culture to embrace our culture only. Yes he embraced our culture, but then He specifically called us to Heaven's kingdom (repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand). He came as one of us to call us to heavens culture. But missionaries who are called to leave their own country like America to Taiwan are not supposed to call Taiwan to American culture but to heavens culture. If his analogy was pushed in that direction the equivalent would be Americans saying change because America is here. Unfortunately we might actually be doing this in more instances than we realize. Anyhow, we are really supposed to be processing three cultures (not two). We have our old culture, heaven's culture and the culture of the people we are called to minister to. I didn't see him deal with this at all in his foundational premise for this book. the entire thought process was quite a distraction for me and I really wonder what the author thinks about this. So the analogies break down to a degree.
I also kept thinking that Romans 6 would preach well with some of the concepts he was laying out. I would like to see the principles of Romans 6 developed as another chapter in this book. I believe Romans 6 would strengthen the authors points quite powerfully.
Still this book is highly challenging. I think ya gotta read it! It's a great book. It made me think deeply and confronted selfishness in my soul. How many books actually do that?
If you prayerfully read it with an open heart you will probably be rocked to the core. Especially if you are in missions or going on a missions trip or focused on another culture for ministry within your community.
Interesting labels helped me remember his concepts. He takes the theological concept of the God-man (Jesus) and calls it 200% person. He then drives the point of a 150% person home...someone in two cultures 75% each. His ability to make a point stick in a few sentences or paragraphs is superior to most other authors I've read. Well done!
If you are a missionary or considering it as a career, you ought to spend the few dollars and get this book. I recommend you start a notebook on it as I have to take copious notes for future study and teaching. It's that good of a book. I found the criticism leveled at this book in one rather harsh review to be unwarranted.
One element I think ought to be explored more than this book does is how we are called to maintain a distinction between our native culture and the Kingdom of God's culture while embracing some elements of our target culture AND still calling them to personal abandonment of that culture to enter the Kingdom of God's culture. All of this while helping each culture 'culturalize' the gospel! That's a bit complicated, but isn't it what we are doing if we claim to bring the ancient truths of the faith in cultures around the world in a culturally relevant way?
For those who are into the Insider movement, this book lays an interesting track down that you might find very interesting. Although I'm not involved with your movement, I do appreciate the balanced approach you must continually wrestle with and this book may help you stay focused on Christ in that process. Although I may not be in agreement with all the elements of the Insider movement, the concepts in this book ought to help you no matter where you stand on those issues. It is rooted in a very strong Christological focus which is my favorite topic in all theology. Perhaps that's precisely why I love this book.
So I heartily recommend this book and am already asking other people I know to read it. I hope you do too.