Intercultural Communication 101: Part 4

Effective Christian Intercultural Communication must be aware of the Meta-Culture in order to appropriately deal with the receptor’s response to the Communicator’s message.

According to Louis Luzbetak, “Culture is a design for living. It is a plan according to which society adapts itself to its physical, social, and ideational environment…Cultures are but different answers to essentially the same human problems” (Perspectives, p. 392). The Meta-Culture referred to here in this principle, is the Culture beyond all other cultures in this visible world. This Culture transcends all other cultures. It is God’s Culture, his design for living, and his answer to the same human problems that other cultures attempt to remedy.

God has communicated, and continues to communicate to us about himself. He wants us to know something about himself. “God made the world that He might communicate…his glory” (Jonathan Edwards). “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19.1). Psalm 19.7-11 speaks of God’s special revelation. Moreover, “In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son (who is the radiance of his glory)…[and] through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1.2-3). So, God has given his creatures (receptors/perceivers) two books to communicate about himself: the Book of Nature (natural revelation, as found in the World), and the Book of Scripture (special revelation, as found in the Word).

The communicational interaction between a believer and nonbeliever is an intercultural interaction in this sense. The communicational interaction happening between them is mainly intercultural because their culture of citizenship is different spiritually. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4.4). Because of this, the Christian Intercultural Communicator should have the ability (in the strength that God supplies) to engage with the receptor’s response to his or her own message.

“The missionary may well find that his foreignness is at once an asset and a liability, but he should never forget that it set him apart. He is on trial. His message is from the outside” (Hesselgrave, p. 461). The apostle Paul tells of the foreignness of the message, and the receivers’ response to that message, “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing” (1 Cor 1.18). As well, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God…he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2.14).

God’s remedy to this problem of non-acceptance and inability to understand the Christian communicator’s message is to shine his supernatural light into the hearts of unbelievers to give them the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4.6). So, in the process of the intercultural communication between believer and nonbeliever, the believer must depend on the Spirit of God, and pray that the Lord would give the light of the knowledge of himself to the unbeliever.

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