Theological Foundations of Intercultural Communication

The following is an excerpt from Effective Intercultural Communication, edited by A. Scott Moreau, Evvy Hay Campbell, and Susan Greener .

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Cover ArtIntercultural communication for Christians rests on three primary theological foundations. First, since we are made in the image of the God who reveals himself to people and listens to their prayers, we are by nature communicating creatures. Second, we serve a Creator who has communicated himself to us by revealing himself to people who recorded the revelations they received. Finally, we are commanded to communicate the message of the good news with others.

Although we are made in God’s image, there are realities that impact our ability to communicate. First, we are physical and therefore limited. We are creatures of our environment, but because we are made in God’s image we can rise above the constraints our environment places on us.

Second, our knowledge of ourselves and our own culture is finite, even more so our knowledge of the new cultures where following the evangelistic task and God’s call may bring us. Thankfully, we are creatures created to grow and learn, so we always have the opportunity to reach a better understanding of what we face and to learn how to communicate Christ in more effective ways in those settings.

Finally, we are categorizers. As humans, we see the world around us and want to make sense of it. Our families and societies offer us “maps” of the world that make sense to them, and we grow up learning how to see and read those particular maps. We use them to make sense of what happens around us, but each culture has unique approaches to this map-making and map-reading process, so there is an almost infinite flexibility in the ways we approach life, even though life is based on certain universals (such as the need for food and water, shelter, relationships with others, and social organization).

©2014 by A. Scott Moreau, Evvy Hay Campbell, and Susan Greener. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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