Crossing Cultures in Scripture: Biblical Principles for Mission Practice, By Marvin J. Newell alt

Crossing Cultures in Scripture

Biblical Principles for Mission Practice

by Marvin J. Newell
Foreword by Patrick Fung

Crossing Cultures in Scripture
  • Length: 302 pages
  • Published: October 02, 2016
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 7333
  • ISBN: 9780830873333

*affiliate partner

  • 14th Annual Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year, Cross-Cultural Category

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a crosscultural book. Scripture is full of narratives of God's people crossing cultures in pursuit of God's mission. Biblical texts shed light on mission dynamics: Sarah and Hagar functioning in an honor-shame culture, Moses as a multicultural leader, Ruth as a crosscultural conversion, David and Uriah illustrating power distance, the queen of Sheba as an international truth-seeker, Daniel as a transnational student, Paul in Athens as a model of contextualization, and much more.

Missionary and missions professor Marvin Newell provides a biblical theology of culture and mission, mining the depths of Scripture to tease out missiological insights and crosscultural perspectives. Unlike other such books that are organized topically, this text is organized canonically, revealing how the whole of Scripture speaks to contemporary mission realities.

Comprehensive in scope, filled with biblical insight and missional expertise, this book is an essential resource for students and practitioners of crosscultural ministry and mission.

"This unique book engages us in a fertile dialogue between the double voices of Scripture and culture (worldviews and beliefs, values and behaviors) from Genesis to Revelation. The theoretical aspects are valuable, but Newell has done a singular job to craft a very practical resource for us all—whether we serve primarily within our culture or crossculturally. Pastors will gain new insights for their preaching, missionaries will be encouraged as they apply the book to their own situations, and all of us will be enriched as global citizens of Christ. I recommend this gift without reservation."

William D. Taylor, senior mentor, Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance, president, TaylorGlobalConsult

"Finally we have a thorough collection of biblical insights into the varied dynamics of cultural realities. It is instructional, richly illustrative, and infused with practical applications. This book profoundly equips anyone sojourning in another country and culture as well as those who interact with diaspora peoples in their communities."

Leiton Chinn, Lausanne Catalyst for International Student Ministries

"In Crossing Cultures in Scripture, Dr. Newell gives the church and its crosscultural workers a rich synthesis of biblical and crosscultural encounters and principles. These should guide both the crosscultural worker and churches in general as they engage other cultures with the gospel. While this book strongly instructs the Westerner in crosscultural work in non-Western cultures, it will serve non-Western crosscultural workers well. It will challenge them to better appreciate rich parallels between their own and other cultures in the light of biblical narratives. This book should be required reading for all crosscultural workers of all nationalities, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. It should also be required for pastoral students who, in the course of their work, will instruct such workers. I highly recommend it."

Joshua Bogunjoko, international director, SIM

"Lifting up Scripture as our ultimate authority and teacher on culture, Newell offers insightful principles on missions practice as well as a multitude of practical takeaways for anyone crossing cultures. A must-read for anyone hoping to serve in crosscultural contexts!"

Tom Lin, president/CEO, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

"Marv Newell has given the global mission community the much-needed gift of a one-stop reference book of key crosscultural principles drawn from Genesis to Revelation. Because opportunities abound for crossing cultures abroad and at home, it is imperative that we know what the Bible says on how to think, behave, and live among people who are different from us. Newell has masterfully gleaned insights and provided us with practical guidelines in navigating a different culture. His honesty is refreshing and will serve both the novice and the veteran well in crosscultural ministry. This book will definitely be in my top ten mission books!"

Lisa Espineli Chinn, ministry coach, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, crosscultural trainer, global mission consultant, author of Crossing Cultures

"What I love about Crossing Cultures in Scripture is this: it magnifies the Word of God. Newell shows that the whole Bible is not just the foundation but also our most practical everyday guidebook for ministry in our multicultural world."

Werner Mischke, author of The Global Gospel

"Another book on culture and mission? Yes, but not just another. From the late nineteenth century onward, more and more ethnologists and anthropologists have been focusing on the relationship between human culture and Christian mission. However, far and away the primary emphasis has been on the contribution that studies of culture make to effective missionizing. Now, out of his intensive study of the Bible and extensive crosscultural experience, missiologist Marvin Newell has provided another perspective: the place of culture in biblical history and theology. Christian missionaries of course, but also all globally minded Christians, should read this book. It's a breath of fresh air!"

David J. Hesselgrave, emeritus professor of mission, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"I love Marv's purpose of bringing us back to the Bible to learn everything we can about crosscultural encounters. The Christian and mission world is in danger of minimizing Scripture in favor of trends, techniques, and strategies. The Bible is our greatest teacher, meant to inform and provide clarity and understanding in all spheres of life and ministry. Marv brings attention to the great extent (often overlooked) of crosscultural emphasis throughout the biblical narrative and how we apply this emphasis toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I highly encourage the careful reading of this book by all who sincerely love Jesus and want to see his kingdom come in all the world."

Ryan Shaw, international lead facilitator, SVM2

"Rather than examining the Bible through missiological lenses, Marv Newell rightly reverses the binoculars. Viewing crosscultural ministry through the lens of Scripture, Newell carefully examines a full spectrum of biblical texts to glean key principles. More than simply illustrative, Crossing Cultures in Scripture is instructional, providing additional rich insights from anthropology, missiology, and experiences both historical and personal. Salted with practical helps for understanding and praxis as well as suggested topical resources and chapter takeaways, this volume is a valued resource for preaching and teaching as well as training for effective gospel communication across cultural divides."

Wes Taber, executive director, Life in Messiah International

"The clarity of the principles presented, the continuity regarding crosscultural mission from the Old through New Testaments, and the comprehensive nature of the book—taking you all the way from Eden to eternity—make this not only a compelling read but also a convicting call to God's people everywhere to take up the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus to make disciples in every culture on planet Earth."

Luis Bush, international facilitator, Transform World Connections

"This book is a wonderful gift to young adults who desire a biblical foundation for living faithfully and fruitfully in a culturally complex world. It also provides insights for congregants of all ages who want answers for addressing significant issues in the world that are based on Scripture rather than prevailing political ideologies. For these reasons I highly recommend it!"

Mary Lederleitner, author of Cross-Cultural Partnerships

"In this era of increasing globalization and multiculturalism, Crossing Cultures in Scripture provides a greatly needed biblical theology of culture. Newell weaves together biblical narratives and personal insights to present the Bible as a textbook for ministering and flourishing across cultures. The case studies of biblical figures who cross cultures address the main issues every missionary inevitably faces. If you are a Christian engaging the nations, this book is an ideal guide for you."

Jayson Georges, missionary, author, founding editor,

"The Bible is rich in stories of cultures—the good, the bad and the ugly. In this book, Dr. Marvin Newell helps us look at the Scriptures from the lens of cross-cultural encounters. . . . This book helps us to both decode the Bible stories from the biblical cultures and encode the Bible stories for different cultures today so that God's message always remains relevant and universal. All the stories point to one greater story—the story of Jesus Christ."

From the foreword by Patrick Fung, general director, OMF International

"The Bible is filled with numerous crosscultural stories. Few people realize this. Taken together, these stories communicate the metanarrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. I am so thankful Marv Newell has drawn attention to many of these stories and has led us to ask, what can we learn from them when it comes to crossing cultures today? While other disciplines are helpful with such kingdom labors, Marv challenges us to start with the best resource."

J. D. Payne, pastor of church multiplication, The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Alabama

"In addition to showing that the Bible is a cross-cultural book from Genesis to Revelation, Newell shares scriptural and name indexes as well as a sermon series guide and a cross-cultural encounter guide. The extensive volume is summarized by the 'Crossing Takeaway' section at the end of most chapters. It is an essential guide for students and those who need to be aware of cross-cultural ministry in the mission fields."

Donna Watson, Christian Market, December 2016

"Cross-cultural ministry is not for wimps. Yet, as proclaimers of Jesus' gospel in today's multicultural milieu, how can we escape the responsibility? Marvin J. Newell helps us navigate the uncharted turbulence of our ever-changing society. With Genesis-to-Revelation insights, mixed with missional expertise and ruthlessly practical examples, Newell stirs us to be more effective innovators of the good news. As a globally minded Christian, read it and be inspired."

Robert L. Gallagher, 14th Annual Outreach Resources of the Year, March/April 2017

"I recommend Crossing Cultures in Scripture without reservation. Newell has succeeded in helping us to both decode the Bible stories from the biblical cultures and to encode the Bible stories for different cultures today, so that God’s message remains relevant and universal."

Joao Mordomo, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2017


Topical Guide
Foreword by Patrick Fung

Part I: Foundational Cultural Considerations
1. Introduction to Culture
2. Eden: The Beginning of Human Culture
3. The Tower of Babel: Beginning of Cultural Diversity
4. Abraham: The Father of Blessing for All Cultures

Part II: Crossing Cultures in the Old Testament
5. Sarah and Hagar: Honor and Shame
6. Abraham and The Hittites: Needing a Favor in a Foreign Land
7. The Marriage of Jacob: Consequence of Crosscultural Ignorance
8. Joseph: A Victim of Crosscultural Human Trafficking
9. Moses: A Multicultural leader
10. The Israelite Community: Tribes, Clans and Families
11. Rahab: The Informed Pagan Prostitute
12. Ruth: A Crosscultural Conversion
13. David and Uriah: The Interplay of Power-Distance
14. Solomon and Queen of Sheba: Crosscultural Truth Seeker
15. Naaman: Dilemma of Conflicting Religious Obligation
16. Jonah: Ethnocentrism to a Fault
17. Jeremiah: Instructions for Living in a Foreign Land
18. Daniel: Staying True to God As a Transnational Student
19. Esther: Saving Her People from Genocide
20. Nehemiah: Leading a "Despised" Cultural Minority

Part III: Crossing Cultures in the New Testament
21. Jesus: His Crosscultural Encounters
22. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: Contrasting Worldviews
23. The Lord's Prayer for Missionaries
24. Jesus' Seven Marks of Crosscultural Success
25. Pontius Pilate: The Clueless Crosscultural Interrogator
26. Acts 1:8: The Crosscultural Mission of the Church
27. The Jerusalem Church: Crosscultural Conflict Management
28. Philip: Reaching the "The Second-Class"
29. Peter's Encounter with Cornelius: Crossing the Great Divide
30. Paul in Athens: Contextualizing the Message
31. Crosscultural Advance: Luke's One Last Word
32. The Self-Contextualizing of the Messenger
33. 1 Corinthians 13: A Guide to Crosscultural Awareness
34. The Incarnational Missionary
35. Crosscultural Pilgrimage: Sojourning Like Abraham
36. Eternity: Doxological Diversity

Appendix A: Sermon Series Guide
Appendix B: Crosscultural Encounters in the Book of Judges
Appendix C: Crosscultural Encounters in the Book of Acts
Appendix D: Frequency of the Quadruplet Terms for Humankind in the Book of Revelation
List of Figures and Tables
Name Index
Scripture Index


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Marvin J. Newell

Marvin J. Newell (DMiss, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior vice president of Missio Nexus, a network of evangelical mission agencies, churches and training centers in North America. Previously, he was the executive director of CrossGlobal Link (formerly IFMA) and he served with TEAM as a missionary to Indonesia for twenty-one years and then as the Asia-Pacific regional director. Following that he was professor of missions and intercultural studies at the Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. He is the author of A Martyr?s Grace, Commissioned: What Jesus Wants You to Know as You Go and Expect Great Things: Mission Quotes that Inform and Inspire.