Selective Missiological Implications of Bunkhun for Ministry Among the Khon Muang
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Northern Thai (Southeast Asian people)--Missions
ABSTRACT SELECTIVE MISSIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF BUNKHUN FOR MINISTRY AMONG THE KHON MUANG Thomas Lowell Bohnert, Ph.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018 Chair: Dr. George H. Martin The purpose of this dissertation is to examine a socio-cultural barrier to the gospel among the Khon Muang of Northern Thailand. The thesis of this dissertation is that bunkhun is an essential cultural factor that missionaries must understand to build and maintain healthy relationships among the Khon Muang. Chapter 1 introduces the problem and the methodology for analyzing the problem was described. Chapter 2 contains an ethnographic description of the Khon Muang people along with an examined of the salient literature about bunkhun. The examination of the salient literature revealed that bunkhun relationships are established by two means: they are established either because a client recognizes the ascribed status of a patron, or because individual acts of graciousness overwhelm the client with gratitude. Chapter 3 examines the function of bunkhun among the Khon Muang. A matrix for characterizing bunkhun relationships was developed and presented. A theory for understanding bunkhun was described. Bunkhun is a cultural system that maintains social smoothing values and skills, reinforces traditional ideas about the ideal character qualities of both a patron and a client, and regulates the relationships between a patron and a client among the Khon Muang. Chapter 4 surveys the Bible to define and describe the patron titles of God. The obligations of the client were also presented. Finally, a short survey outlining the biblical concept of grace was detailed. Bunkhun has similarities to grace, but the two are different. Chapter 5 deals with several missiological implications of bunkhun. First, bunkhun is a form of patron-client system thus, it is incumbent upon missionaries to understand the cultural context so that clear communication occurs. Second, honor and shame themes are embedded in the bunkhun system. Learning to utilize skills good intercultural communications skills is necessary for missionaries serving in Northern Thailand. Finally, several suggestions were offered to address implications related to evangelism, discipleship, fellowship and leadership development. These thoughts are all offered tentatively as more research is needed to verify their veracity. Chapter 6 provides an overall summary for the project.