Cultural Identity and the Purposes of God: A Biblical Theology of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Race

By Steven M. Bryan

... Show All

Cultural Identity and the Purposes of God: A Biblical Theology of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Race

By Steven M. Bryan

... Show All

Understanding God’s Design for Cultural Diversity

Humanity’s diverse nationalities, ethnicities, and races were intended to be a blessing from God. However, due to sin and rebellion, these differences often result in alienation, hatred, and even violence, becoming one of the most urgent problems facing the world. Cultural divisions are unfortunately common in the church, too. How can Christians embrace God’s purposes for diversity and experience renewal and unity as his people?

Steven Bryan presents a biblical framework for thinking about cultural identity and experiencing cultural diversity as a positive good that God intended. Writing from more than 20 years of experience in cross-cultural mission work in Ethiopia, Bryan examines historical and political aspects of nationality, ethnicity, and race. This practical examination of cultural ideologies—including multiculturalism, nationalism, and intersectionality—helps readers move from asking, Who am I? to Who are we? as God’s people.

Read Chapter 1


Steven M. Bryan

Steven M. Bryan (PhD, Cambridge University) is professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He also served as a theological educator in Ethiopia for more than twenty years and as director of SIM Ethiopia for six years. He and his wife have three sons and a daughter-in-law.

Product Details

Title: Cultural Identity and the Purposes of God
Subtitle: A Biblical Theology of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Race
Published: July 26, 2022
ISBN-10: 1-4335-6973-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-6973-9
Category: Culture & Social Issues
Retail Price: $19.99
Binding: Paperback
Trim: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Page Count: 288

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Ethnicity, Nationality, and Race: The Problem of Cultural Identity
Chapter 2: The Divine Vision: God’s Intention for a World Teeming with Peoples
Chapter 3: Children of Cain, Heirs of Babel: Cultural Identity in Rebellion
Chapter 4: One for All: The Restoration of Blessing in a People of Peoples
Chapter 5: Articles of Separation: Desecration, Dissolution, and the Death of Nations
Chapter 6: Bread for Dogs, Bread for the World: Privilege and Hospitality in the Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 7: Holy to the Lord: The Destruction and Renewal of Cultural Identities
Chapter 8: The Open Temple: Worship and the Unity of All Peoples
Chapter 9: Paul and the Practices of Belief: The Gospel and Cultural Diversity
Chapter 10: The Unity of All Peoples: Parody, Reality, and the Wealth of Nations
Chapter 11: A Purpose for Peoples: The Dilemma of Cultural Identity and the Hope of a New Humanity

Questions for Study or Discussion
General Index
Scripture Index


Cultural Identity and the Purposes of God is one of the most practical books I have read in recent years on the subject of God’s original intent and ongoing purposes for cultural identity. Bryan’s insightful exegesis of dozens of biblical passages reveals new understandings behind stories ranging from Genesis to Revelation, including the account of the flood, the life of the nation of Israel, events in the Gospels, conflicts in the early church, and the visions in Revelation. These biblical insights, combined with commentary on today’s issues, illuminate pervasive blind spots, demystify certain passages (such as the apparent genocide of Canaan), and equip us to act on principles that align with God’s call to spread the gospel in ways that both destabilize and renew cultures. I recommend this book to all mission workers and all believers who seek greater self-awareness about their own cultural identity and the dynamics of culture. I recommend it to all who desire to act with greater clarity, compassion, and redemptive impact in contexts where we face unprecedented cultural, ethnic, national, and racial conflicts.”
Joshua Bogunjoko, International Director, SIM

“This book does not provide simple answers, based on a few proof texts, to the complex issues surrounding ethnicity, nationality, and race. Instead, Bryan harvests the rich biblical theology behind the portrayal of diversity in the Bible and provides teaching that is vitally needed for our confused generation.”
Ajith Fernando, Teaching Director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka; author, Discipling in a Multicultural World

“Among the heated arguments and rancorous debates that characterize much Western conversation, expressions such as culture, ethnicity, race, cultural identity, assimilation, individualism, and diversity are dropped into live discussions like grenades. It takes a few minutes to grasp how these words mean different things to different people, and are often deployed with more zeal than insight—the purpose being to score points, not win arguments. What a pleasure it is, then, to read Steven Bryan’s learned and evenhanded book and to listen in on presentations that are mature, reasoned, and convincing. Better yet, the stances Dr. Bryan adopts are grounded in careful exegesis and wonderfully refreshing biblical theology. It could have been written only by a faithful and competent biblical scholar who has spent many years in fresh study of Scripture while being immersed in more than one culture. This is not a book to skim, it is a book to ponder.”
D. A. Carson, Theologian-at-Large, The Gospel Coalition

“In this book, Steven Bryan helps us to see culture holistically and redemptively by weaving biblical theology into this all-important study. We travel together, surveying cultural identity in the beauty of creation, the tragic results of the fall, and the hope reignited in the winding path of redemption and the new creation. This fresh approach leaves us appreciating the differences in the variety of cultures and how God’s plan will finally make us one people, with Christ being our ultimate identity. This tour de force is worth putting your teeth into. It will certainly mature and enrich you!”
Conrad Mbewe, Pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia; Founding Chancellor, African Christian University