Rewriting the Gospel for Oral Cultures: Why Honor-Shame are Essential to the Gospel Story

Bibliographic information:

Wu, Jackson. “Rewriting the Gospel for Oral Cultures: Why Honor-Shame are Essential to the Gospel Story” in Beyond Literate Western Contexts: Honor & Shame and the Assessment of Orality Preference. Edited by Samuel Chiang and Grant Lovejoy. ION and Capstone Enterprises, Hong Kong. April 2015.



This essay demonstrates the intrinsic relationship between the gospel and an honor-shame worldview. In short, the gospel is framed by honor and shame. This point is important not only for theology but also for missions, particularly in oral cultures. In the first section, I will show how biblical authors explain the gospel in ways that make sense to oral learners, who are often characterized by an honor-shame worldview.

Drawing from this thesis, I will then highlight a few implications for both theological education and contextualization. The discussion raises a few questions. What previously has prevented people from seeing the gospel through the lens of honor and shame? What might this indicate about contextualization? I suggest the problem we face is systemic but solvable.

If an honor-shame worldview is inherent to the gospel, we have reason to rethink certain theological priorities. Accordingly, I will propose a “theological agenda,” listing a number of themes that are especially relevant for ministry within oral cultures. We will find that an honor- shame worldview enables us to read Scripture in an integrated fashion.


ION and Capstone Enterprises (website:

Leave a Comment