Notes from "Anthropological Insights for Missionaries" by Paul G. Hiebert

"When we go abroad, we assume that once we learn the local language we can preach, and the people will understand us. It comes as a shock that this is not so, that the task of communicating effectively in another culture is far more difficult than imagined." (14)

"We must know the biblical message. We must also know the contemporary scene. Only then can we build the bridges that will make the biblical message relevant to today's world and its people everywhere." (14)

How anthropology assists us in missions:

  1. "First, anthropology can bring understanding of cross-cultural situations." (15)

  2. "Second, anthropology can provide us with many insights into such specific mission tasks as Bible translation." (15)

  3. "Third, anthropology can help missionaries understand the processes of conversion, including the social change that occurs when people become Christians." (15)

  4. "Fourth, anthropology can help us make the gospel relevant to our listeners." (16)

  5. "Finally, anthropology can help us relate to people around the world in all their cultural diversity and assist us in building bridges of understanding between them." (16)

"We may be involved in many things--programs of preaching, teaching, giving of relief, healing, and development--but these are not a true part of Christian missions if they are not rooted in the Word and do not give expression to the gospel." (17)

"A Christian theology has one foot in biblical revelation and the other in the historical and cultural context of the people hearing the message." (19)