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Missionaries and Shame

Author: Harriet Hill
Published: 2020

MD 11

Article Type: Text Article

Missionary life offers many unique opportunities for shame. In this article, after defining shame briefly, I examine unique sources of shame for missionaries and discuss how to overcome shame and the role-playing and isolation it brings. This increased attention to shame will help the missionary, the community, and the ministry flourish. To be witnesses of Jesus Christ, we must live authentic lives—true incarnations of God with and in us.

In 1979, our church sent me and my young family out as missionaries. The church highly honored us for our willingness to sacrifice a comfortable life in our home country to bring the gospel to others. Arriving in Switzerland for a year of French study, we were again highly honored by the local church for our commitment to Christ. As we set off on our missionary life, the victory song of our mission organization rang in our ears:

“Faith mighty faith the promise sees

and looks to God alone.

Laughs at impossibilities

and shouts, ‘It shall be done!’”

Soon, the challenges of daily life in a different culture set in. One way to learn French, I was told, was to join the church choir, so off I went on a cold January evening for choir practice. By nature an extrovert, I was at a loss in a social context where I was unable to understand or speak a single word. Although it was illogical, I felt covered in shame for not knowing French. I felt naked and vulnerable. I knew less than a small child and could not even ask for the restroom.

A year later, we arrived in West Africa, speaking French but now needing to learn the local language. We were first put in a village so remote they had never seen white women or children. The women loved nothing better than to surround my husband and me and get us to repeat the simplest of phrases in their language. Each time we attempted, they howled with laughter. We were the best show in town. We laughed, too, a self-deprecating cover-our-shame laugh.

Several years and many incidents later, we were back in the US for furlough. Tasks as ordinary as filling my car with gas had me stumped. Although illogical, I felt ashamed for not knowing things that were common knowledge. When a church member commented that he would love a job that gave him a year of vacation, I felt ashamed that I was not working hard like everyone else. (But why didn’t the church member become a missionary if he envied the lifestyle so much?) More injurious was the offer by a family to adopt our oldest daughter so she could have a good life.

Missionary life offers many unique opportunities for shame. In this article, after defining shame briefly, I examine the unique sources of shame for missionaries and finally how to overcome shame and the isolation it brings.

What is Shame?

Shame is a universal phenomenon, not limited to specific cultures.1 We see it early on in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve want to hide from God. It is the falling short of Romans 3:23, the assessment—by self or others—of not being good enough, the feeling that there is something wrong with me.

Shame rarely appears alone, instead traveling with guilt, anger, fear, or other strong negative emotions. It is an emotion of self-assessment that can have profound internal impact. I not only did something bad; I am bad. I was not only afraid; I am a coward. Because shame defines us, it is hard to overcome.

We can feel different degrees of shame, from a slight discomfort for a social faux pas to overwhelming feelings of complete wretchedness for betraying a friend or committing a heinous crime. We can feel shame for a specific incident or in a chronic way that permeates our whole life.

Shame is an indicator that something is not right, much like the nerve endings that tell us when our hand is too close to the fire. It is important to pay attention. In some cases, we may not have lived up to our values and so experience feelings of shame. The pain of shame can lead us to correct our behavior so that we avoid unpleasant feelings in the future. Shame can be a gracious call to repentance.2

Societies use external, social shame as a means of social control. As David deSilva points out, “A society upholds its values by rewarding with greater degrees of honor those who embody those values in greater degrees. Dishonor represents the group’s disapproval of a member based on his or her lack of conformity with those values deemed essential for the group’s continued existence.”3 This human sense of shame can help us live appropriately in society showing, as Marilyn McCord Adams suggests, “sensitivity to communal norms and social reputation both of which the shameless person ignores.”4 The Bible repeatedly refers negatively to people who feel no shame.5

Shame often results from differences between people—from simple matters to the values we hold most deeply. For example, I observed one of my children being mildly shamed by an American friend for making our own Q-tips—a practical skill for living in an African village. In itself, this was a small matter, but it cast fear on the rest of life: what else might people think to be strange and open to mockery?

Cultural differences may lead to shame. For example, our culture may have guided us to value relationships more than hard work, which others may shame as “being lazy.” Religious differences may lead to one group shaming the other. Much of the epistle to the Hebrews is an exhortation to marginalized Christians to despise the shame that society was placing on them and recommit to their Christian values.6

Sometimes, our feelings of shame may be illegitimate. Victims of trauma and abuse can absorb the shame that is logically due to the perpetrator. Rape victims, child sexual abuse victims, domestic abuse victims, and displaced people often feel the shame that ought to be borne by their abusers.7 Alternatively, we may feel shame for things nature has imposed on us: being short in a culture that prefers tall people, or stocky in a culture that prefers thinness, or handicapped, or poor, or from a particular ethnic or racial group. And the list goes on. Finally, we may be overly sensitive and feel shame when there is nothing to be ashamed of—like pulling our hand away when there is no danger of getting burned.

Illegitimate shame is especially devastating because we have done nothing to deserve it. We can only work to manage our response to limit its effects on our lives.

What Sources of Shame Are Particular to Missionaries?

Missionaries have a special set of shame possibilities available to them because of the nature of their work.

Shame from the Missionary Economy

Missionary shame can be rooted in the calling itself. While our friends and loved ones are earning good salaries and “moving up in the world,” we have accepted the call to live modestly and—even worse—to ask our friends and loved ones to support us. We can talk about financial support as an opportunity for them to participate in God’s work, but in our hearts, it feels a lot like begging. It is the social price we pay, hoping God will provide in one way or another, to continue with our ministry. We welcome used cars, old furniture, and secondhand clothing. All this limits our ability to be trendy and fashionable. Missionary kids, especially teenagers, are vulnerable to feeling shame even more than their parents.

In societies where the dominant culture values a person’s work by rewarding it with a commensurate salary, this intentional choice of the missionary economy can, from time to time, be a source of underlying shame. Moreover, this economy may be incomprehensible to others. My father-in-law’s question until his death was how it was that we did all this work and did not receive a salary. On a field visit to us, another family member was amazed at the meticulous attention given to share costs among missionaries—accounting for each cup of coffee taken at coffee breaks, each hour of air-conditioning, each load of laundry, and each kilometer driven. Limited funds led to unusual practices that seemed laughable to those not trying to do so much with so little.

Shame from Not Knowing the Culture

As missionaries, we may have advanced degrees, but we begin life in a new culture knowing less than a small child. Language and culture learning are such humbling tasks. Furthermore, we do not typically learn these things quickly. We learn how to say the simplest of phrases and repeat it a hundred times only to forget it two minutes later. We stammer and search for the right expressions only to get them upside down and backward.

Most missionaries have put their foot in their mouth more than once, saying something inappropriate by using the wrong tone or mixing up some grammatical feature of the language. For example, a Swiss friend took me along to visit a respected elderly pastor. During the visit, I realized I had been using the familiar “tu” pronoun when I should have used the more respectful “vous” pronoun. When we left, I apologized to my Swiss friend. She replied, “Oh, you mix those up all the time!” Our dignity takes a beating day after day, time after time. While this common type of shame experience is actually illogical and unwarranted, we can still feel ashamed of not knowing a language and culture all the same.

Returning to our home countries, we face new shame possibilities. The culture has changed since we were last “home,” and it has left us behind. Some of the simplest transactions betray our ignorance. On one furlough, I invited the pastor and his wife to our house for dinner. In the course of the evening, he let me know that people just meet at restaurants these days. True or not, this being “out of the loop” in one’s own culture can lead to increased feelings of inadequacy. How did I not know? (And how could we possibly afford that?) Returning to our home country, we may speak other languages and have learned to enjoy life in another culture, but we do not know how to check out at a grocery store. These things can be learned, of course, but there are so many of them, and they pop up when we least expect them.

In the host culture, our shame sensors may get confused. We may not feel shame for things others consider profoundly shameful. For example, it took me years of concentrated effort to stop using my left hand in Africa. This involved clever maneuvers to pay for things with my right hand, take the item with my right hand, and then shake the vendor’s hand with my right hand, all the while leaving my left hand hanging limply at my side unemployed. Alternatively, we may be irritated by behavior we consider shameful, but the host culture does not. Adioukrou etiquette directs people to spit fishbones out of their mouth on to the floor as they eat. I understood it was acceptable in my head but continued to consider it “bad manners” in my heart.

Our hosts may shame us unintentionally. Coming back to our village after a time away, my village friends would greet me with exclamations of “My, how fat you are now!” While I knew they meant it as a high compliment, and I used “cautious interpretation,” I still felt some level of shame.8

Back in our “home” culture, we may find that we have absorbed some values while abroad. For example, while in airports returning home from Africa, I was incensed with Western young people, their arms swinging freely while their parents and grandparents were burdened down with handbags. How could they be so self-centered and shameless!

This confusion of the cross-cultural experience of shame may interfere with our capacity to feel shame naturally. On one furlough to Southern California, I found there was very little that the church members talked about that I was interested in, and vice versa. I complained to a family member, “I just don’t fit in! I don’t belong here.” He replied, “In Southern California, no one belongs!” At least I was in good company in my isolation.

Whether we are in the host culture or our home culture, we are different, and people may not know how to relate to us. In the host culture, this is understandable: we are different! In many cultures, being accepted is the work of decades, not years. At home, however, being different is a force to be reckoned with. The most typical conversation starter asked of missionaries far too often is, “How long will you be here?” While well-intended, it betrays the perception that missionaries appear and then disappear. This lifestyle of being different can result in an almost permanent state of feeling excluded from community.

Shame from Not Measuring Up to the Missionary Image

Even if missionaries accept their modest lifestyle and the stress of being different both at home and abroad, at least we can live up to our aspirations of being totally committed to God, being spiritual superstars. The disappointing reality dawns sooner or later that we have conflict in our marriages, conflict with our co-workers, and conflict with local leaders. We may be angry and impatient. We may not like feeling sweaty day and night or being stared at through every window. The work on the ground may not be as glamorous or adventuresome as we had imagined. We may be discouraged and want to give up. Our children may bring us shame. We may be ashamed that we fall short of the ideals we have for ourselves and have announced to the world. We fear our supporters may abandon us if they knew, so we might hide this part of our reality from them. If we decide this is not the lifestyle for us and go home, we usually do so under the guise of the need to care for our aging parents or a health concern rather than telling the full truth. This frequent camouflaging of real motives can make all missionary home-goings suspect, even those that are legitimate.

Shame from the Colonial Legacy

Before the 1970s, many churches in the United States had a strong tradition of sending missionary families abroad. As I prepared for missionary service, there were more and more calls of “missionary, go home.”9 Missionaries were perceived by some as working hand in glove with the colonizers. As political independence swept across Africa, many people wanted independence from missionaries, as well.

This feeling of shame of missionary association with the colonial heritage persists today, especially in some places. While speaking in a European country recently, a gasp of horror went through the room when I used the term “missionary.”10 Missionaries can feel shame inherited from the colonial era and because of ongoing exploitation of the world by their home countries. Modern mission agencies may still smack of paternalism. Who is not guilty of at least some moments of ethnocentrism?

Shame from not Measuring Up in Productivity

With the call for the three-self-church—self-supporting, self-governing, self-propagating11—many began to compare the cost of supporting national church leaders with that of supporting missionary families. The verdict: missionaries were not cost-effective—unless, of course, they proved to be extremely productive. So, regularly, missionaries needed to show supporters that they were worth the investment. Gathering testimonies and photographs and making it all sound successful became a major preoccupation. Missionaries who are honest, however, know the work of the Spirit is not up to the missionary. They know it takes time for societies to make substantive changes. Meanwhile, to survive financially, missionaries need to communicate that they bring about enough change fast enough to warrant the high cost of their livelihood. Shame can result: if I were a better missionary, I would have more to show for my work! And so, we work even harder.

The short-term mission strategy gave another blow to the missionary’s honor. If people with little or no cross-cultural training who did not invest in language and culture learning or building relationships could accomplish great things for God in a matter of weeks, why support missionaries year after year? On one visit to a supporting church, short-term “missionaries” who had held babies in an adoption agency in South Africa for a week were given all the time they wanted during the service to report on their adventures. In that same service, after three years on the field, I was given three minutes to report to the congregation. I felt angry and shamed by the pastor. The next visit was even worse: I was acknowledged by name from the front and allowed to wave to the congregation from where I was seated. This lack of appropriate opportunity to report was a far cry from being honored like we were when we were first sent out.

How Can Missionaries Overcome Shame They May Feel?

Given the many possibilities for shame inherent in the missionary lifestyle, becoming skilled at dealing with shame is imperative.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

Through the centuries, many have considered emotions irrational, fickle, unreliable, uncontrollable, suspect, and dangerous. They were to be avoided or intellectualized.12 Pattison argues that such views have their roots in Greek philosophy: “Plato contrasted emotion with rational thought . . . Aristotle, on the other hand, believed the emotions are based on intellectual assessment and beliefs. According to Aristotle, a man does not become angry when he feels anger in his senses; rather anger is felt with an intellectual realization that one has been wronged or slighted.”13 Many biblical scholars and church leaders embrace this perspective. For example, they do not consider love to be an emotion. C. H. Dodd writes: “It [love] is not primarily an emotion or an affection; it is primarily an active determination of the will.”14 Wolfgang Schrage, speaking of Paul’s use of love, says, “Human love, like God’s love is not an attitude or an emotion but an act.15

Denying our emotions, however, does not work. We can try to hold them inside or convince ourselves we do not feel them, but holding them inside takes a lot of concentration and energy, like trying to hold balls under water. Eventually, they re-emerge in larger, unexpected ways. We may resort to working harder to not feel the pain, like turning to an addiction, but then our ministry becomes self-serving and, consequently, ineffective.

Rather than denying emotions, we need to pay attention to them and listen to what they tell us. They give us essential feedback. Pattison notes, “Emotions inform us about ourselves, our goals and values, and our relationships with other people and the world. They help us to shape priorities and actions and also provide the impetus and motivation to pursue it vigorously.”16 People who do not feel emotions are considered psychopaths or inhuman. As Matthew Elliot argues, rather than suppressing our emotions, we need to work with them-“Emotions are not primitive impulses to be controlled or ignored, but cognitive judgments or construals that tell us about ourselves and our world. In this understanding, destructive emotions can be changed, beneficial emotions can be cultivated, and emotions are a crucial part of morality. Emotions also help us to work efficiently, assist our learning, correct faulty logic, and help us build relationships with others.”17 Shame can be more challenging to identify than other feelings like anger, sadness, happiness, or guilt. It can be a nebulous emotional nausea. To overcome it, we need to become familiar with what it feels like. Whenever we want to hide something from others, we can suspect shame is involved. Whenever we feel like we are not good enough, we can suspect shame is involved. Curt Thompson suggests keeping inventory of our experiences of shame, even small sensations of it, so that we can improve our ability to pay attention to it and so not be overcome by it.18 Once we have identified it, we can trace it back to its source and reflect on an appropriate response. Have we not lived up to our values? Is there something we should do differently? Or is the shame illegitimate and something we should disregard and disdain, and not grant entry into how we define ourselves?

Be Vulnerable with People You Can Trust

Shame isolates us from one another and God. As Curt Thompson writes: “Shame can keep us from becoming vulnerable with others. We fear that if others knew our dark secret, they would abandon us. One of shame’s most prominent features, and one that provides the emotional fuel of terror at the prospect of living vulnerably, is the threat of isolation, of abandonment. Our brains are wired with a deep suspicion of anything that might leave us alone in the ultimate sense. Thus, we are reluctant to expose ourselves, fearful that in doing so we may, once connected, be left.”19 We may feel it is safer to hide parts of our lives from others than to risk being abandoned. Missionaries face particular challenges in this regard. With supporters, we risk not only being abandoned emotionally but also financially. With national colleagues, we may feel the need to be model Christians and feel it inappropriate to let down our mask. With teammates, vulnerability in a small, closed missionary community may result in loss of position or respect. So we stick to superficial interactions and begin to live double lives: what we show the world and what we believe about ourselves. This all takes a lot of energy and yields stress and worry. Moreover, as Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”20

Choosing to wear masks, role play, and isolate ourselves from others, however, does not work because God lives in community, and God has created us in his image: “Let us make humankind in our image” (Gen 1:26). In Gen 2:18, God speaks of our need for community, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Neuroscience helps us understand that God designed our minds to require community. Dan Siegel defines minds as “‘embodied relational processes’ emerging from within and between brains that regulate the flow of energy and information.”21 Thompson expands on this idea, noting “that the very emergence of the mind’s capacity to do what it does is crucially dependent on the presence of relationships. From the day we enter the world, our neurons are firing not only out of the depths of genetically influenced patterns but also in response to the myriad of social interactions we sense and perceive when we encounter other people.”22

We need others to integrate the parts of our minds and experience into a coherent whole. We cannot function or flourish without others. Because God created humankind for community, when we are known by others, we feel joy. Thompson aptly notes this ultimate goal: “The natural progression, then, of the development of integrated minds, relationships and communities is fully realized in the experience of joy— joy even in the presence of very hard places.”23

When we experience shame and isolation, this fellowship of being known is especially necessary. The good news is that our minds are continually changing, referred to as “neuroplasticity.” When we tell a shameful experience to someone who listens and cares, the neural networks in our brains gradually become fused to the new pleasant experience of being heard and understood.We can remember what happened without feeling the painful emotion. We cannot change what happened, but we can change our memory of it and how we define ourselves as a result.24 As Thompson reminds us, “Every time we remember something, the memory itself changes, for the neural networks that are associated with that mental image are either reinforced to fire in a similar but slightly different fashion, or they are shaped and altered to fire differently.”25

Relationships can heal painful and shameful memories, but it is risky business. We need to proceed with care and courage and find people who know how to listen without causing further pain, such as the pain caused by correcting and reproving us, exhorting us, minimizing our pain, or leaking our story to others. I have risked honesty with some supporters and found that, rather than being abandoned, our relationship became more intimate. I became more human to them and they to me. We connected deeply, unlike the superficial relationship role-playing brings. Missionary Joe Holman’s blog post “Ten Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You” provides a model for missionaries to break the silence and speak honestly.26

Even being known a little bit more brings joy. As fellowship grows, joy deepens. For, as Thompson argues, “To be fully loved— and to fully love— requires that we are fully known. Absolute joy comes not just in my having some random joyful engagement with something or someone. Rather, absolute joy must eventually include my being completely known, especially those parts that in subtle, hidden ways have carried shame, often without my conscious awareness.”27 The more we share, the more we are known. The more we know ourselves and can integrate our experiences into a coherent narrative, because this is done in community, the more both the individual and the community benefits. This is because, as Thompson notes, “I need the community in order for my mind to be integrated, and with a more integrated mind I will be more able to work toward a more integrated community, which reinforces the cycle.”28

To work through the isolation shame imposes, we need to take the risk and share our story honestly with people we can trust. This risk-taking is for our own good, the good of our missionary community, and for the good of our ministry. To be authentic witnesses of Jesus Christ, we must live authentic lives. Wearing masks and role-playing obstructs the flow of the Holy Spirit in and through our lives.

Reaffirm Your Values

Missionaries place a high value on following Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel. They are willing to forego many of the comforts and the security of home to do so. The relocation is not only geographic; it is social, as well. Society may not honor those who have embraced alternative values and may shame them through steady social pressure, without the need for any dramatic events. Small shame messages accumulate.

Over time, the enthusiasm of the missionary commitment can wear thin, especially when facing slow progress in ministry goals, physical discomfort, illness, and minimal income. Missionaries are not immune to enjoying life’s comforts and can hanker for the life they have left. “Giving up” is not a one-time decision.

The missionary situation is a lot like the situation of the early Christians. DeSilva explains that the Christians addressed in the Epistle to the Hebrews had forsaken all to follow Jesus, but their zeal was waning (Heb 10:32–34):

As people sensitive to honor and shame, and as time passes without improvement of their status through God’s intervention, they begin to feel the inward pressure again for the larger society’s affirmation and approval. Their earlier fervor has cooled and their earlier certainty has been eroded by their prolonged exposure to their neighbors, the agents and witnesses of their degradation, who probably continued to disparage the believers as subversive and shameful. Though they were able to resist their neighbors’ attempts to shame them for quite some time, the machinery of social control is beginning, in the long run, to succeed in wearing down the deviants’ resistance.29

We all have significant others whose values we embrace and whose approval we seek. Scholars refer to this as a “court of reputation.”30 In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer reminds the Christians of their court of reputation: people who were aliens and strangers on this earth—Abraham, Moses, the martyrs, and Jesus. They all endured the shame of this world to receive more lasting honor (Heb 10:10; 12:2). “They set aside their sense of shame before the worldly court of opinion, and so were not moved to return from their marginal relationship with society to a place of honor in society’s eyes. Rather, they seek only the honor of a better citizenship before God and God’s approval, which they receive in the form of association with God’s name.”31 Being marginal requires not only committing and recommitting to an alternate set of values; it also requires a group that shares those values, restates them, and celebrates them. Peter Berger reminds us, “It is not enough to have a plausible model of the cosmos, how it works, and where it is going (if anywhere); one must also have a social body that will keep creating and re-creating this image of the world for one another.”32 Thus the exhortation in Hebrews not to abandon assembling together (Heb 10:25). As deSilva suggests, without the group, the Christians would not be able to sustain the pressure from the larger society: “As long as the interaction between group members remains frequent and vibrant, its members will seek approval primarily in the community’s estimation. The author’s hortatory thrust pushes strongly in the direction of the maintenance of this alternate court of reputation, seeking to strengthen the social base of support for the Christian worldview and for the practices and investments that are based upon that worldview.”33 Missionaries need to surround themselves with others who share the same values. My lifeline during one furlough was Fuller Theological Seminary, where radical following of Jesus was highly honored. What a joy and encouragement that was to me.

Beyond overcoming their shame, missionaries can serve a prophetic role, causing others to question the certainty of their values and lifestyle, similar to how first-century Christians affected their communities.34 If missionaries are authentic human beings, not playing roles or wearing masks, without a word, they can invite others to deepen their commitment to Christ.

Bring Your Pain to Jesus

Missionaries may feel legitimate or illegitimate shame. They may feel shame in different degrees—from slightly uncomfortable to utterly overwhelmed. They may feel shame in their home country and their host country. The good news is that, regardless of the source or degree of our shame, Jesus died on the cross to take away our shame and restore us to a relationship of honor with God. DeSilva suggests such is at the core of the argument in Heb 9: “To the eyes of the unbeliever, Jesus dies a shameful death in a place of uncleanness, outside the lines of society; in the eyes of God, Jesus’ journey outside the margins of the camp is a ritual act of sacred power, his death becoming a purification offering, his blood serving to cleanse the conscience of the worshipers who wish to approach God” (Heb 9:13–14).35 We can pour out our shame and pain to God and ask that he heal us. We can base our identity on the bedrock of his love for us. The freer we are of shame, the more we can flourish and be better witnesses of what it means to be human in God’s wonderful world.


Missionaries are particularly vulnerable to shame, due to the nature of their cross-cultural and sacrificial vocation. Such shame often results from an image they may fall short of or by comparison to other ministry models thought to be more “cost-effective.” We need to pay attention to our feelings of shame, understand their source, and reconfirm our commitment to our values. We need to risk taking off our masks and being vulnerable and honest with supporters, national colleagues, and team members. Role-playing and wearing masks are what the Bible refers to as hypocrisy; these are not among the traits Jesus was looking for in his followers. Speaking the truth sets us free and allows the Holy Spirit to flow in and through us. To be witnesses of Jesus Christ, we must live authentic lives—just like Jesus did.

Harriet Hill serves as an adjunct Assistant Professor of Bible Translation and Missionary Self-Care at Fuller Theological Seminary. She served with SIL International and Wycliffe Bible Translators in Bible Translation and Scripture Engagement from 1979–2010 and with American Bible Society from 2010–2020, where she worked in trauma healing. She received her PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2003.

1 See Christopher L. Flanders, “There Is No Such Thing as ‘Honor’ or ‘Honor Cultures’: A Missiological Reflection on Social Honor,” in Devoted to Christ: Missiological Reflections in Honor of Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2019), 145–79.

2 Steve R. Tracy, Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 75.

3 David A. deSilva, “Honor and Shame,” in Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, edited by Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000), 519.

4 Marilyn McCord Adams, Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 108.

5 E.g., Jer 6:15, 8:13; 1 Cor 6:5.

6 See David A. deSilva, The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective, Cascade Companions (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2012).

7 Diane Langberg, Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores, (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2015), 120–29.

8 Harriet Hill, The Bible at Cultural Crossroads: From Translation to Communication (Manchester, England: St Jerome, 2006), 148.

9 See Pius Wakatama, Independence for the Third World Church: An African’s Perspective on Missionary Work (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1976).

10 Lamin Sanneh counters this widespread viewpoint persuasively, pointing out that missionaries preserved rather than destroyed cultures through the work of Bible translation. See Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2009).

11 See Henry Venn and Max Warren, To Apply the Gospel: Selections from the Writings of Henry Venn (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971).

12 Stephen Pattison, Shame: Theory, Therapy, Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 22.

13 Matthew Elliot, Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006), 19.

14 C. H. Dodd, Gospel and Law: The Relation of Faith and Ethics in Early Christianity (New York, NY: Colombia University Press, 1951), 42.

15 Wolfgang Schrage, The Ethics of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), 211–12.

16 Pattison, 30.

17 Elliot, 14.

18 Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 93–94, 139–41.

19 Ibid., 124.

20 Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1878), 266.

21 Curt Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships (Chicago: Tyndale, 2010), 29.

22 Thompson, The Soul of Shame, 40.

23 Ibid., 53.

24 Thompson, Anatomy, 78.

25 Ibid., 76.

26 Joe Holman, “Ten Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You,” Joe Holman Live from Bolivia, August 24, 2014,

27 Thompson, Anatomy, 126

28 Thompson, The Soul of Shame, 32.

29 DeSilva, Letter to the Hebrews, 66.

30 Ibid., 140.

31 Ibid., 76.

32 Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy (New York: Doubleday, 1967), 48.

33 DeSilva, Letter to the Hebrews, 143.

34 Ibid., 48.

35 David A. deSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2000), 308.

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