Item description for Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective by Stephen A. Grunlan & Marvin K. Mayers...
Overview This important resource covers such topics as anthropology and missions; man, culture, and society; verbal and nonverbal communication; technology and economics; and anthropology and the Bible. It is designed for classroom use with diagrams, discussion questions, and suggested readings.
Publishers Description This volume on cultural anthropology presents a Christian perspective for Bible school students of conservative evangelical backgrounds. The hope is that a sympathetic approach to the problems of cultural diversity throughout the world will help young people overcome typical North American cultural biases and bring understanding and appreciation for the diversities of behavior and thought that exist in a culturally heterogeneous world. Grunlan and Mayers take the position of 'functional creationism'; and though they discuss some of the problems implied in traditional interpretations of the age of the world and especially of the creation of the human race, they do not attempt to deal with either physical anthropology or the origins of man. They do, however, attempt to deal meaningfully with the problems posed by biblical absolutism and cultural relativism, and their practice. Concluding chapters with a series of thought-provoking questions should prove to be of real help to both the professional and nonprofessional teacher of anthropology.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.18" Width: 5.28" Height: 0.77" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Mar 18, 1988
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310363810 ISBN13 9780310363811 UPC 025986363819
Availability 0 units.
More About Stephen A. Grunlan & Marvin K. Mayers
Stephen A. Grunlan (DMin, Luther Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Fellowship, an Evangelical Free church in Overland Park, Kansas, and adjunct instructor in sociology at Grossmont College. He is coauthor of Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective, and co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Sociology.
Reviews - What do customers think about Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective?
A Christian Perspective Oct 9, 2005
Cultural Anthropology is an introductory book written by two Christian anthropologists for Christian missionaries and pastors. The sub-title declares after all that it is a "Christian Perspective." Grunlan and Mayers have taken various insights which they have learned from studying anthropology and have applied it to the Christian context. They have correctly noted the usefulness of anthropological study for the task of missions in particular and any cross-cultural encounter in general.
One of the most helpful contributions this book provides is its discussion of Cultural Relativity in relation to Biblical Authority. Cultural relativity is achieved when one recognizes that no two cultures are alike and that those differences do not necessarily constitute matters of validity or non-validity. The rightness of wrongness of culture cannot be determined solely by comparing it with another culture. This recognizes that every culture has problems and no culture is superior to the other. Yet, if one held only to cultural relativity than one would slide deep into a morass of relativism. Everything in every culture would become acceptable and right.
It is here where it becomes necessary to recognize the authority of the Bible. Biblical absolutes help ground cultural relativity. In fact, biblical authority is the bedrock foundation upon which cultural relativity is built. Biblical authority shows that there are some things within culture and transcending culture which are wrong. Scripture is the ultimate authority in matters of right and wrong. Every culture and every cultural practice must be weighed by the teaching of Scripture. Therefore, "each culture defined the situation (cultural relativity), but it was on the basis of the biblical principles (biblical authority) that the action was evaluated" (260). Such recognition of biblical authority keeps cultural relativism in check.
Unfortunately, the book suffered from what I thought were some basic shortcomings which affected its usefulness. First, throughout the book, there is a quiet tendency to drift more toward cultural relativism than toward biblical authority. Of course, this is after all a fine line and I am sure that no one can walk it without falling, yet I do believe that Grunlan and Mayers were in danger of falling off in numerous places. While for the most part I agree with their understanding of cultural relativity and biblical authority I don't think we should hold to it to tightly. There are many times where the Bible may not specifically speak to an issue and yet one culture may have a better way than the other. Cultural relativity can tend to smack of arrogance in saying that both cultures are right. What actually needs to be done is for both cultures to have a willingness to listen and learn from each other. There may be some things that are "culturally relative" but should none the less be changed for the better of the culture.
One of things that what most annoying in reading this book is that for most chapters it read like a dictionary with examples. They would define a term and then provide a few examples from some preliterate culture and then define another term along with more examples. There didn't seem to be much of a critical evaluation of the terms they were borrowing from secular anthropology. Maybe the inclusion of more in-depth case studies would have proven more helpful than just brief illustrations of the definitions they provided. One can quickly get bogged down in trying to remember what endogamy, proximic communication, sororate marriage, and phratry are. Thankfully they at least provided a glossary of terms at the back.
Despite a lot of the profuse vocabulary the book remained rather readable. The illustrations helped move the book along, but after a while they grew tiresome. I would have enjoyed them using more illustrations from western and Middle Eastern countries along with the smaller tribal communities which they primarily used.
This book is written for a selective audience. Those interested in tribal missions in particular and those who have an interest in other cultures would benefit from reading this work. I honestly question its usefulness for pastors who already know the culture in which they minister. Yet, for the missionary it does help awaken their eyes to be prepared for what they are about to step into when they first get off that plane and enter into a new culture.
Nothing like anthropology Jul 17, 2003
Anthropology entails 3 perspectives: (1) cross-cultural, or looking at other cultures than our own, (2) holistic, or looking at all parts of culture in relation to each other, and (3) relativistic, or looking at each culture as its own standard of values and meaning. Notice there is no "Christian perspective." Anthropology is not about judging other cultures, and it is certainly not about changing them. This book should not be called "Cultural Anthropology." What it suggests is nothing like anthropology. It should be called something like "Destroying Other Cultures with Your Culture" or "Destroying Anthropology by Misusing It." No real anthropologist would read this book, other than to learn about the mind of the true believer.
Horrible misuse of anthropology Dec 27, 2001
This book is a horrible, almost criminal, misuse of anthropology. If the author understood anything about the discipline, he would know that it is about relativism and respect for differences, not about trying to use cultural concepts to invade and indoctrinate other societies. There is no way we can control how our tools are used, but to employ anthropological knowledge and methods to overthrow another culture's religion is a betrayal of anthropology and cultural genocide against that culture. This book disgusts me, like all missionization.
A Introductory book Apr 9, 2001
It's a good introductory book to who wants to know something about anthropology, or cross-culture communication. The book provides each aspect of anthropology study, very easy to understand. It may also help Christian to understand the human behavior. Open your mind to a new vision about the world. The book emphasizes the importance of anthropology for missionaries, is a very correct vision. Evangelism is also communication. It exposes whom the culture may influence faith and bible interpretation. There books indication at the end of each chapter should be very helpful, but major of the book are very difficult to find because they are too old. A basic book, but can help.