Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally, Second Edition: An Introduction to Missionary Communication / Edition 2

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Overview

This revised edition of Dr. David Hesselgrave's great work Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally updates the original edition and interacts with the most recent literature on this increasingly important topic. The original edition went through fifteen printings and, very deservedly, has come to be one of the most widely used textbooks on Christian cross-cultural communications. The revisions in this new edition are extensive and carry on the high level of discussion maintained throughout the original edition, taking into account, for example, the current discussion on the relationship between form and function and the enormous body of literature that has sprung up recently on contextualization. To enhance the volume's usefulness for students, Dr. Hesselgrave has added an extensive bibliography of twenty-five pages on various aspects of cross-cultural communications. This revision of Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally is superb. It raises a great book into a unique category, undoubtedly the finest book on this topic available today.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310368113
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 5/20/1991
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 955,761
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author

David J. Hesselgrave served as a missionary in Japan for twelve years. He is now professor of mission and director of the School of World Mission and Evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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Read an Excerpt

Part I

COMMUNICATION AND MISSION

Chapter 1

Communication, The Missionary Problem Par Excellence

John listened intently as the chapel speaker repeated his basic thesis with arresting cogency and conviction. In his message the speaker had demonstrated that world evangelization is not only commanded in the Scriptures but is also logically possible. "We can evangelize the world--now!" he declared. To John it seemed so forceful, and even simple, really. If thousands would be willing to go--right now! There seemed to be no doubt. We could evangelize the world if we would just "go and tell."

Thirty years later John boarded a plane en route to a missionary convention for Christian young people. In anticipation of counseling inquiring youth, he reflected upon his own experience on the field. He recalled how eager some of the people--especially the young--had been to hear his message. He recalled the frustration of trying to get his message across, first through an interpreter and then, haltingly, by speaking the new language himself. He remembered how complicated his task had become as he settled in one place to instruct the believers and, with God's help, mold them into a church. Name after name, face after face, crisis after crisis came to his mind: the struggle to understand the personal problems of those people, problems at once so similar and so very different from those of his experience; the emergence of Christian leaders and viable congregations; the hours in the study, with small groups, in the pulpit and platform, and behind a microphone; the furloughs and research at the university to master materials relevant to his target culture.

Time passed quickly. After a few minutes with a book on missionary strategy and a brief conversation with an affable seat partner, John arrived at his destination.

That night John found himself in a youth rally that was fairly bursting with youthful enthusiasm. After some rousing songs and a series of five-minute reports from the fields, the speaker began his message with carefully articulated words: "Young people, we can evangelize the world now, by the end of this decade...."

Although it is obvious that we must pick and choose according to our purpose, any one-word or one-phrase summary of our missionary task in the world runs the risk of reductionism. However, the question we must face is this: Do we hasten the accomplishment of our mission by repeatedly referring to it in terms of its narrowest dimension?

Let the reader not misunderstand. The word evangelize (euangelizo) is used some fifty-four times in the New Testament; evangel or gospel (euangelion) is used seventy-six times; and evangelist (euangelistes) is used three times. These are good words. They are biblical words. And we are to evangelize the world. We can evangelize the world. We must evangelize the world. The world will be evangelized. But more must be said about the matter.

The danger of reductionism is seen in the English theologian C. H. Dodd's resort to another primary word, proclaim (kerysso), and its related forms proclamation (kerygma) and herald (keryx), in order to sum up the New Testament mission and message. Michael Green rightly takes issue with Dodd and insists that kerysso is but one of three great words used in the New Testament in this connection, the others being the previously mentioned euangelizo and martyreo (bear witness). Green urges a careful consideration of all three terms in order that a "broader-based understanding of the early Christian gospel" might emerge.

Green's point is well taken. But in order to understand the scope of the task it is instructive to examine still other New Testament words used in connection with the apostolic ministry of the church:

Syncheo (confound)--Acts 9: 22 8. Noutheteo (admonish, warn)--Acts 20: 31 2. Symbibazo (prove)--Acts 9: 22 9. Katecheo (inform, instruct)--Acts 21: 21, 24 3. Diegeomai (describe)--Acts 9: 27 10. Deomai (beg, beseech)--2 Cor. 5: 20 4. Syzeteo (argue)--Acts 9: 29 11. Elencho (reprove)--2 Tim. 4: 2 5. Laleo (talk)--Acts 9: 29 12. Epitimao (rebuke)--2 Tim. 4: 2 6. Dialegomai (reason with)--Acts 18: 4 13. Parakaleo (exhort, urge)--1 Peter 2: 11 7. Peitho (persuade)--Acts 18: 4

We will return to some of these words at various points in our discussion. I list them here to support my contention that if we desire to succinctly summarize our missionary task, one of the best words available to us is the word communication. In view of the challenges and questions currently facing the church, this is the term Hendrik Kraemer settles on in order to put the task in a "wider and deeper setting":

One of the most important effects of this trend set in motion by the attempt to rediscover the marching orders of the Church is the new awakening of evangelistic responsibility to the world in many Churches. But here bewilderment begins. At the very moment a Church commences to turn away from the introversion in which it is steeped by its acceptance of being primarily an established institution, and looks at its real field, the world, a new realism awakens. Innumerable questions immediately assail such a Church, such questions as: What am I? To what purpose am I? Am I fulfilling this purpose? Where and how do I live? In a ghetto, or in living contact with the world? Does the world listen when I speak to it, and if not, why not? Am I really proclaiming the gospel, or am I not? Why has such a wall of separation risen between the world and what I must stand for? Do I know the world in which people live, or do I not? Why am I evidently regarded as a residue of a world that belongs irrevocably to the past? How can I find a way to speak again with relevancy and authority, transmitting "the words of eternal life" entrusted to me?

Amidst the welter of such questions, engendered by a newly awakened apostolic consciousness, communication has become a problem with which the Churches everywhere are wrestling. Apparently one could express it as well in a different way and inquire after the best and most appropriate methods of evangelism. But that is not right. In that case we would have done better by giving to our discussion the title "The Problem of Evangelism." The word "communication" puts the problem in a far wider and deeper setting.

I too want to explore the missionary "problem" in its larger dimensions. As a matter of fact, even the word "communication" does not do justice to biblical prescriptions and descriptions having to do with the missionary task, but it does get nearer to the heart of it. Let me say, then, that in this book we will concern ourselves with communicating Christ across cultural barriers to the various peoples of the world. I will assume a commitment to Christ, the Holy Scriptures, and world evangelization. The primary focus will be on the relationship between Christian communication and world cultures.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS
Figures
Foreword to First Edition
Foreword to Revised Edition
Preface
Part I Communication and Mission
1. Communication, the Missionary Problem Par Excellence
2. Man, The Communicating Creature
3. The Legacy of Rhetoric to Christian Communication
4. Perspectives From the Science of Communication
5. The Problem of Meaning
6. Why Do Missionaries Communicate?
Part II Communication and Culture
7. The Role of Culture in Communication
8. Christ and His Communicators Confront Culture
9. Contextualization – Its Theological Roots
10. Cross-Cultural Communication – Classic Categories and Paradigms
11. Cross-Cultural Communciation – Contemporary Categories and Paradigms
12. Respondents of Other Cultures
Part III Worldviews – Ways of Perceiving the World
13. Worldviews and Cross Cultural Communication
14. Communicating Christ Into the Naturalist Worldview
15. Communicating Christ Into the Tribal Worldview
16. Communicating Christ Into the Hindu-Buddhistic Worldview
17. Communicating Christ Into a Chinese Worldview
18. Communicating Christ Into Other Monotheistic Worldviews
19. Communicating Christ Into the Worldviews of Syncretism and Multireligion
Part IV Cognitive processes – Ways of Thinking
20. The Importance of How We Know What We Know
21. Cultural Differences and the Cognitive Process
22. Conceptual Thinking and the Western Missionary
23. Communicating Christ in Cultural Areas Where Intuitional Thinking Predominates
24. Communicating Christ in Cultural Areas Where Concrete Relational Thinking Predominates
Part V Linguistic Forms – Ways of Expressing Ideas
25. The Importance of Language
26. Why Bother to Learn the Language?
27. Learning About Language Learning
28. What Can We Learn From Languages?
Part VI Behavioral Patterns – Ways of Acting
29. From Plato and Aristotle to Edward T. Hall
30. The Missionary and Behavioral Norms
31. Seven Aspects of the “Behavioral Dimension”
32. Where the Action Is
Part VII Social Structures – Ways of Interacting
33. Communicating and Social Orientations
34. Status and Role
35. Kinship: Kindred and Lineage
36. Nonkinship Groupings
37. Urban and Rural Societies
38. Free and Totalitarian Societies
Part VIII Media Influence – Ways of Channeling the Message
39. Media Have Their Own “Messages”
40. Using Simple Media
41. Using Syndetic Media
Part IX Motivational Resources – Ways of Deciding
42. From Persuasion to Elenctics
43. Psychology, Ethnopsychology, and Mission
44. Motivation, Decision Making, and Conversion
45. Receptivity and Missionary Response
Bibliography
Index of Persons
Index of Subjects
Index of Scripture References
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First Chapter

Part I
COMMUNICATION AND MISSION
Chapter 1
Communication, The Missionary Problem Par Excellence
John listened intently as the chapel speaker repeated his basic thesis with arresting cogency and conviction. In his message the speaker had demonstrated that world evangelization is not only commanded in the Scriptures but is also logically possible. 'We can evangelize the world---now!' he declared. To John it seemed so forceful, and even simple, really. If thousands would be willing to go---right now! There seemed to be no doubt. We could evangelize the world if we would just 'go and tell.'
Thirty years later John boarded a plane en route to a missionary convention for Christian young people. In anticipation of counseling inquiring youth, he reflected upon his own experience on the field. He recalled how eager some of the people---especially the young---had been to hear his message. He recalled the frustration of trying to get his message across, first through an interpreter and then, haltingly, by speaking the new language himself. He remembered how complicated his task had become as he settled in one place to instruct the believers and, with God's help, mold them into a church. Name after name, face after face, crisis after crisis came to his mind: the struggle to understand the personal problems of those people, problems at once so similar and so very different from those of his experience; the emergence of Christian leaders and viable congregations; the hours in the study, with small groups, in the pulpit and platform, and behind a microphone; the furloughs and research at the university to master materials relevant to his target culture.
Time passed quickly. After a few minutes with a book on missionary strategy and a brief conversation with an affable seat partner, John arrived at his destination.
That night John found himself in a youth rally that was fairly bursting with youthful enthusiasm. After some rousing songs and a series of five-minute reports from the fields, the speaker began his message with carefully articulated words: 'Young people, we can evangelize the world now, by the end of this decade....'
Although it is obvious that we must pick and choose according to our purpose, any one-word or one-phrase summary of our missionary task in the world runs the risk of reductionism. However, the question we must face is this: Do we hasten the accomplishment of our mission by repeatedly referring to it in terms of its narrowest dimension?
Let the reader not misunderstand. The word evangelize (euangelizo) is used some fifty-four times in the New Testament; evangel or gospel (euangelion) is used seventy-six times; and evangelist (euangelistes) is used three times. These are good words. They are biblical words. And we are to evangelize the world. We can evangelize the world. We must evangelize the world. The world will be evangelized. But more must be said about the matter.
The danger of reductionism is seen in the English theologian C. H. Dodd's resort to another primary word, proclaim (kerysso), and its related forms proclamation (kerygma) and herald (keryx), in order to sum up the New Testament mission and message. Michael Green rightly takes issue with Dodd and insists that kerysso is but one of three great words used in the New Testament in this connection, the others being the previously mentioned euangelizo and martyreo (bear witness). Green urges a careful consideration of all three terms in order that a 'broader-based understanding of the early Christian gospel' might emerge.
Green's point is well taken. But in order to understand the scope of the task it is instructive to examine still other New Testament words used in connection with the apostolic ministry of the church:
Syncheo (confound)---Acts 9:22 8. Noutheteo (admonish, warn)---Acts 20:31 2. Symbibazo (prove)---Acts 9:22 9. Katecheo (inform, instruct)---Acts 21:21, 24 3. Diegeomai (describe)---Acts 9:27 10. Deomai (beg, beseech)---2 Cor. 5:20 4. Syzeteo (argue)---Acts 9:29 11. Elencho (reprove)---2 Tim. 4:2 5. Laleo (talk)---Acts 9:29 12. Epitimao (rebuke)---2 Tim. 4:2 6. Dialegomai (reason with)---Acts 18:4 13. Parakaleo (exhort, urge)---1 Peter 2:11 7. Peitho (persuade)---Acts 18:4
We will return to some of these words at various points in our discussion. I list them here to support my contention that if we desire to succinctly summarize our missionary task, one of the best words available to us is the word communication. In view of the challenges and questions currently facing the church, this is the term Hendrik Kraemer settles on in order to put the task in a 'wider and deeper setting':

One of the most important effects of this trend set in motion by the attempt to rediscover the marching orders of the Church is the new awakening of evangelistic responsibility to the world in many Churches. But here bewilderment begins. At the very moment a Church commences to turn away from the introversion in which it is steeped by its acceptance of being primarily an established institution, and looks at its real field, the world, a new realism awakens. Innumerable questions immediately assail such a Church, such questions as: What am I? To what purpose am I? Am I fulfilling this purpose? Where and how do I live? In a ghetto, or in living contact with the world? Does the world listen when I speak to it, and if not, why not? Am I really proclaiming the gospel, or am I not? Why has such a wall of separation risen between the world and what I must stand for? Do I know the world in which people live, or do I not? Why am I evidently regarded as a residue of a world that belongs irrevocably to the past? How can I find a way to speak again with relevancy and authority, transmitting 'the words of eternal life' entrusted to me?
Amidst the welter of such questions, engendered by a newly awakened apostolic consciousness, communication has become a problem with which the Churches everywhere are wrestling. Apparently one could express it as well in a different way and inquire after the best and most appropriate methods of evangelism. But that is not right. In that case we would have done better by giving to our discussion the title 'The Problem of Evangelism.' The word 'communication' puts the problem in a far wider and deeper setting.

I too want to explore the missionary 'problem' in its larger dimensions. As a matter of fact, even the word 'communication' does not do justice to biblical prescriptions and descriptions having to do with the missionary task, but it does get nearer to the heart of it. Let me say, then, that in this book we will concern ourselves with communicating Christ across cultural barriers to the various peoples of the world. I will assume a commitment to Christ, the Holy Scriptures, and world evangelization. The primary focus will be on the relationship between Christian communication and world cultures.

Read More Show Less

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