Book Review: The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges

This is a review of The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges. Released in 2017 through Time Press, The 3D Gospel explores frameworks and paradigms for ministry in guilt, shame, and fear cultures. Throughout The 3D Gospel, Jayson Georges explores the way that our Western context has largely emphasized legal and courtroom language in our evangelistic and missional efforts, which may inhibit our efforts in cultures that are largely fear and shame-based. Additionally, in a globalized society, Jayson Georges also argues that even in the West we need a three-dimensional gospel that speaks of forgiveness for guilt, honor for the shamed, and power for the fearful.

Throughout The 3D Gospel, Jayson Georges challenges that our incarnational, missional, and evangelistic efforts require a holistic “three-dimensional gospel of God’s forgiveness, honor, and power.”[1]  In our Western World, we have traditionally looked at the gospel through a guilt-innocence culture. Jayson Georges explains guilt-innocence cultures are “individualistic societies (mostly Western), where people who break the laws are guilty and seek justice or forgiveness to rectify a wrong.”[2] However, the guilt-innocence culture is not the only worldview, specifically, and culturally it is mostly a Western worldview. In other cultures, we find shame honor, or fear-power cultures. Out of his experience, Jayson Georges explains that shame-honor cultures are “collectivistic cultures (common in the East), where people are shamed for fulfilling group expectations to seek to restore their honor before the community.”[3] Additionally, Jayson Georges unpacks fear-power cultures as “animistic contexts (typically tribal), where people afraid of evil and harm pursue power over the spirit world through magical rituals.”[4] These three worldviews are important for us to be aware of in our incarnational, missional, and evangelistic efforts. I encountered all three even in our Western society.

I appreciated Jayson’s reflections on these three overarching worldviews. In The 3D Gospel, Jayson does a good job of explaining that “these three types of culture are like group personalities defining how people view the world.”[5] In fact, he mentions that “just as individual people have a person-ality, cultural groups share a group-ality.”[6] For him, a “groupality refers to an “organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of a group...[that] shapes their worldview, ethics, identity, and notion of salvation.”[7]  In our globalized world, no culture is all one of these three cultural worldviews, rather the book points out that “each cultural worldview is a unique blend of guilt, shame, and fear.”[8]  Rather, the book points out that “A group’s cultural orientation…depends on how strongly each dynamic pulls upon the group.”[9] I think group-alitys in the United States are increasingly globalized, but also deeply regional.

Another author on honor and shame cultures, Roland Muller, points out that “the three dynamics are like the basic colors from which artists create thousands of colors. How much of each color is used determines the final type of culture that emerges.”[10] For this reason, we must not take the trichotomy presented in this book as a legalistic or formulaic lens, but as a fluid reality, because “Human complexities defy simple, either-or categories.”[11]

Through a short book, Jayson Georges unpacks these three cultural worldviews extensively throughout The 3D Gospel. It is helpful to understand that “the notions of right and wrong are foundational pillars in guilt-innocence cultures. Society creates rules and laws to identify what actions are right and wrong. These rules and laws define acceptable behavior.”[12] On a different scale, “Shame-honor societies assume a strong group orientation. Honor is a person’s social worth, one’s value in the eyes of the community. Third, “in fear-based cultures, it is not important to genuinely believe in certain truths or follow ethical standards.”[13]  In each of these cultures, there are gatekeepers that re-enforce these worldviews, and “the three primary gatekeepers controlling resources in life are (1) formal institutions, (2) human communities, and (3) unseen spirits. Unless a person can survive entirely alone, he or she must ensure a good relationship with at least one of the gatekeepers” and this is why people accept these worldviews. [14] God’s gospel has a lot to speak to all of these worldviews and “the guilt-shame-fear trichotomy additionally serves as a framework for interpreting Scripture and contextualizing theology.” [15]

We see an example of the theological framework of the trichotomy clearly in Acts 26:18, with notes from Jayson Georges, that help show how “Paul describes his mission to the Gentiles in 3D terms.”[16] Paul wrote that the gospel was about God’s work “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (power), so that they might receive the forgiveness of sins (innocence) and a place among those who are sanctified by faith (honor) in Jesus.”[17] This certainly is a great example of using the three-dimensional gospel in a globalized society. Theologically, Jayson also mentions what symbolisms, verbiage, and atonement theories each of these cultural realities is likely to associate with or gravitate towards. Jayson Georges also attempts to share the gospel narrative through each of these cultures, by highlighting the significant parts of each culture and more. There are a few times that I think Grayson makes some theological and idealogical errors, generalizations, and overreaches. This is especially evident in his approach to the guilt-innocence worldview. In his goal to prioritize the other three, I think he errs in under-priotizing the view of guilt-innocence. Missing from the book is also an explanation of the practical and hybrid spaces. I think it would have been helpful to have the book talk about the practical ways of doing ministry in the hybrid spaces of these three worldviews because that is increasing the reality in which most of us are invested and ministering.

I read this book as part of my graduate work at Fuller Seminary a few years ago. Though, recently I revisited it, after passing it on my shelf. Though it is a short and simple read, despite a few overreaches, Jayson Georges's book is essential for us doing ministry in an increasingly globalized society or in cultures that are secondary to the one we grew up in. In working with those suffering from homelessness, I have found aspects of a power-fear and fear-shame worldview at play that cannot be ignored in my incarnational, missional, and evangelical endeavors.  The benefits of The 3D Gospel show us that “the gospel is truly a multi-faceted diamond capable of rescuing humanity from all aspects of sin.”[18] As a result, “our task as Christians is not merely to marvel at the glorious splendor of the diamond, but to spread the knowledge of God’s salvation, so all nations know the abundant life of God found in Jesus Christ.”[19]

In our ministry, we must know that “each culture type accepts a particular conceptual metaphor as most plausible,” and then what “language and values from one area of life (i.e., courtroom, community, or combat) are used as metaphors to organize their worldview and spiritual life.”[20] The challenge is not just repackaging our message, which we do too often in a consumeristic, market-driven society. Jayson mentions that intentionally “making disciples among shame-based and fear-based cultures involves more than just repacking evangelistic presentations. The channels through which we proclaim the gospel must also be adapted to the cultural context.”[21] This book calls for us to make sure we do not have theological tunnel vision, “that only sees one facet of the diamond shackles our own relationship with God.”[22] Even better than just having a more holistic theological approach, this book reminds us that “a one-dimensional gospel threatens the veracity and integrity of the Bible.”[23]

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Highlights & Quotes

Take 'The Culture Test'

[1] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 10.

[2] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 11.

[3] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 11.

[4] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 11.

[5] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 11.

[6] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 11.

[7] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 11.

[8] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 15.

[9] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 15.

[10] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 16.

[11] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 15.

[12] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 17.

[13] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 25.

[14] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 27.

[15] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 35.

[16] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 60.

[17] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 60.

[18] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 55

[19] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 55

[20] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 58.

[21] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 60.

[22] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 73.

[23] Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures (Unknown: Time Press, 2017), 74.


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