“Missionaries who enter other cultures may be compared to actors who have spent their entire lives learning the script for a Shakespearean play only to find that the stage they’re on is presenting The Phantom of the Opera,” Charles H. Kraft in Anthropology for Christian Witness.
Out of love and mutual respect for all people, recognizing that we are all created in the image of God, we value the diversity of other cultures, worldviews and belief systems. We do this in order to effectively communicate the Gospel and to have a more fully-orbed understanding of the Gospel through the culture’s impact on our own lives.
In many ways, cultural diversity can be transformational in our understandings of all of Scripture. A. Scott Moreau has said, “The Bible is so rich and multifaceted that we need insights from people who are different than us if we are to see truths more fully,” Discovering the Mission of God, page 410. Whether we realize it or not, we all understand the Bible through our cultural lenses. Consider how ludicrous it is to consistently interpret ancient Scripture of middle eastern culture through our 21st century western mindset. No wonder we have a plethora of fallacies and quirky understandings of the Word. Culture will always open our eyes to deeper realities of truth in the text.
Our value, however, goes beyond this, challenging us to actually understand the cultures we’re in so that our communication of the gospel can be many times more effective. The apostle Paul did this regularly as he planted churches across Asia minor. He declared, “I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some,” 1 Corinthians 9:22.
Consider a few MARKERS we have identified to measure how well we are actually doing in this value:
- Mutual trust is evident in all our relationships
- We joyfully accommodate diverse cultures without violating Scripture
- We leverage the distinctives of other cultures when communicating the gospel
We love the rich depth of the thousands of cultures around the world. We want to leverage those for even greater effectiveness in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are committed to “being sensitive to other cultural points of view.”