Cultural Relativism in Missions with Gary Brumbelow

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At a Glance
Our good friend, Gary Brumbelow, was a missionary working with indigenous peoples in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary saw churches planted and many come to Christ. By traditional missionary standards, his work was successful. But Gary was plagued with a nagging question: “Shouldn’t the Gospel going into a community bring about a change?” What was wrong? Is the Gospel not a powerful change agent? Next, Gary read a book that changed his life and his concept of missions. Listen to this special episode for the complete story!
What You'll Hear

Chapter 1: Introducing Gary Brumbelow (0:54)

  • Gary came to faith at a young age in a Baptist Church.
  • Gary had another defining moment for his faith when he was 17.
  • He struggled with the idea that so many people could be wrong about religion, but he realized it is in God’s hands, not his.

Chapter 2: Jesus, the Great Evangelist (12:38)

  • Jesus is the great evangelist who saves.
  • It is his responsibility to save, and our responsibility to be open to whatever plans he has for us.
  • Gary didn’t become an evangelist immediately, but spent some time exploring different careers before he was led to become a pastor.

Chapter 3: The Importance of Genesis 1 and 2

  • The Evangelical world has lost a lot of the significance found in Genesis 1 and 2.
  • The Bible started with God’s good creation, and it ends with God’s good creation, too.
  • In contrast to the Bible, we tend to think of history as starting in Genesis 3 with the fall, and we miss all the richness in Genesis 1 and 2.

Chapter 4: Discipling Nations (28:35)

  • Gary went to a conference where he heard for the first time that people are not poor because of their surroundings, but because of the way they think.
  • Gary was given a copy of Discipling Nations, which exposed him for the first time to many of DNA’s ideas.
  • Gary learned just how destructive cultural relativism can be, and how we need to disciple cultures rather than act like all cultures are equal.
  • Gary shared stories of how missionaries weren’t able to address the lies of the culture because they bought into the idea of cultural relativism.

Chapter 5: Who is Discipling the Culture? (52:33)

  • All cultures have good and bad aspects.
  • We have to be careful that we only take what is good in cultures and don’t spread the bad.
  • If the Bible is not discipling the culture, something else negative will, and it will hinder cultural development rather than spur it.

Chapter 6: What Makes People Able to See the Truth? (1:05:29)

  • Dwight asked Gary what helped him really understand the truth DNA teaches.
  • Gary responded that it was the providence of God, but that being an inquiring, questioning person also helped.
  • We have to be willing to think critically and ask tough questions, or we won’t grow.

Using the link above, you can read the transcript, listen along, and adjust the speed of the podcast while you listen.

And so it's the idea that if the church isn't discipling the nation, these ideas that aren't Christian are going to come into the church, into our theology, in our thinking.

Scott Allen (36:19)

Go Deeper

Discipling Nations by Darrow Miller

Have Christians underestimated the power of God’s truth to transform entire societies? In Discipling Nations, Darrow Miller builds a powerful and convincing thesis that God’s truth not only breaks the spiritual bonds of sin and death but can free whole societies from deception and poverty.

Completely revised and updated for the third edition, Discipling Nations will challenge, reenergize, and equip Christians everywhere who labor to see His kingdom come, His will be done.

Coram Deo – The Basics Course

Somebody is actively impacting culture. We can look at our societies and ask a very simple question: Do we see more and more of the kingdom of God coming into our communities and our nations, or do we see more and more of our societies coming into our churches?

This course was developed by Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt, co-founders of the Disciple Nations Alliance, who have trained Christians in more than 80 nations, helping them to identify and cast off false beliefs and practices, and to live their entire lives “Coram Deo” – In the presence of God, under the authority of God, and to the glory of God.  


I was not quite four; I didn’t know very much, but I knew two things. I knew that I was naughty. And I knew that I needed what Jesus had done for me. -Gary Bumbelow (4:46)

I think most people who have come to Christ, there’s a moment in which they realize the gospel is about me. -Gary Bumbelow (6:24)

The fact is, Jesus himself says, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me. All I have to do is hold up Jesus to folks, I don’t have to say, hey, you know what, you’re wrong, and I’m right! I just need to introduce them to Jesus, for there is no other name given among men under heaven by which we must be saved. -Gary Bumbelow (12:12)

What I was understanding is that the first two chapters of Genesis are enormous in their implications, and characteristically, so much of the evangelical world just act as if they aren’t even there. -Gary Bumbelow (23:03)

And for the first time, I heard things like people are not poor because of a lack of money. People are poor because of the way they think. -Gary Bumbelow (29:21)

And so it’s the idea that if the church isn’t discipling the nation, these ideas that aren’t Christian are going to come into the church, into our theology, in our thinking. -Scott Allen (36:19)

As Christians, we aren’t just stewards of a message of salvation, as essential as that is. We’re stewards of a comprehensive worldview. It’s a worldview that changes everything, not just souls or spirits, but it changes everything. And it’s just a different way of understanding our ministry. -Scott Allen (43:00)

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