Cross-Cultural Missional Partnership: Mediating Relational, Cultural, and Hermeneutical Tensions for Mutual, Faithful Missional Engagement

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Cedarville University School or Department

Biblical and Theological Studies


Catholicity, contextualization, cross-cultural, Emic, Etic, missional, partnership


Cross-cultural partnerships in today’s global environment are both challenging and necessary. Misunderstanding and miscommunication often lead to conflict between culturally diverse groups. Christians must understand and evaluate their own culture, the culture of others, and the text of Scripture itself, while remaining faithful to Scripture and relevant to culture. Unmediated cultural, relational, and hermeneutical tensions combined with relational isolation lead to a myriad of problems.

This study proposes cross-cultural missional partnership as a relationship that mediates cultural, relational, and hermeneutical tensions, thereby encouraging mutual, faithful engagement in the mission of God. Cross-cultural tensions may never disappear, but within a healthy partnership, partners can assist one another in understanding and responding faithfully to Scripture within unique and diverse contexts.

Chapter one introduces the topic of partnership, defines terms, and surveys related literature. Chapter two defines challenges present because of cultural diversity as well as one-sided isolated perspectives. This chapter reviews some of the historic and contemporary problems present because of poor or missing cross-cultural relationships. Chapter three describes likely negative outcomes from unmediated tensions in these relationships. Using a diagram, chapter three emphasizes the errors of foreign control, doctrinal isolation, cultural isolation, and foreign accommodation.

Chapter four proposes catholicity as the mark of the church that provides a theological rationale for cross-cultural missional partnership today. Missional partners committed to catholicity not only defend the gospel, but also mutually encourage one another to take the whole gospel to the whole world. Chapter five defends a definition of cross-cultural missional partnership and emphasizes the positive benefits of this type of relationship.

This study concludes with a sixth chapter showing how partners’ mutual theological and cultural reflection can lead to more faithful understandings of God’s Word in particular contexts. Cross-cultural missional partners help one another more faithfully interpret and apply Scripture, thereby leading to obedience to God’s will and engagement in God’s mission.


© 2019. Joshua Stephen Bowman