Missions and World View
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Different people of different cultures perceive the world differently because they make different assumptions about reality. Our basic assumptions about reality are in fact conditioned by our view of the world, our attitudes, our beliefs and values system. This is called 'world view'. To challenge our basic assumptions of what we perceive as natural, would therefore mean to be considered crazy, heretical, or criminal (Hiebert 1985:41-45).
What is 'natural' in one culture, however, may not be seen in the same way in another. Different behaviors in different cultures are actually organized around a system of beliefs, which is a social construct associated with individual cultures, closely linked to ideas, feelings, and values that lie within its people (Hiebert 1985:37-45).
For example, most North Americans avoid sleeping on the floor because they perceive it as 'dirty', and if caught in an airport at night, would rather face discomfort and slump in a chair than stretch out on the carpet floor, as it would be considered undignified. People of a different culture, on the other hand, may see the need for a good night's rest as simply having a sheet of material to keep them clean and a flat place to lie down, whether it be on airport lounges, train aisles, side walks or parks (Hiebert 1985:42-43).
Understanding that different cultures view things differently, we must all learn not to be judgmental over the differences in practices and beliefs of other cultures, and by understanding the cultural dimensions of cognitive, affective, and evaluative assumptions, adapt and make sense of these differences.
Hiebert, G. Paul (1985), Anthropological Insights for Missionaries. Michigan: Baker Book House.
For the complete e-book of this article, please read Introduction to Christian Missions.
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