Lesslie Newbigin has been characterized by a leading church historian as “probably the most influential British theologian of the twentieth century.”[1] He spent 40 years in India as a missionary. When he returned to Europe, he had fresh eyes to see Western culture in a new way. In the last decades of his life, he insisted that “the most urgent task facing the universal church at this time” is to recover a missionary encounter with Western culture.[2]

The Urgency of a Missionary Encounter Between the Gospel and Western Culture

Why did he believe this task was so urgent? Western culture is the most powerful global force at work in the world today. In the process of globalization Western culture now “has more worldwide influence than any other culture, including that of Islam.”[3] It is the most pervasive cultural force in today’s world. It has spread through the process of globalization to dominate all the urban areas of the world. Western culture is the most dangerous foe the church has faced in its long history. “The church is awakening slowly to the fact that modernity is the most powerful enemy it has faced in its two thousand years of history.”[4] Wherever “it goes it becomes the controlling doctrine for public life and drives religion into a smaller and smaller enclave.”[5] It is also “precisely this powerful culture which is most resistant to the Gospel.”[6] The long association of Western culture with the Christian faith appears to make it immune to the critique of the gospel. And finally, the church in the West is living in a state of syncretism with this culture. Instead of challenging its idolatry, it has been content to live in a “cozy domestication with the ‘modern’ worldview.”[7]

And so Newbigin does not primarily address his challenge to the unbelieving world, but the church so they might again gain confidence in their own gospel — “everything depends on a recovery of confidence in the gospel.”[8] The only way anyone will believe the gospel is if there is a church that believes and lives by it.

Liberating the Western Church for a Missionary Encounter

Martin Luther has said “the gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, just released.” Newbigin brings insight from the cross-cultural missionary experience to the task of releasing the gospel and the church from its cultural captivity. There are at least three tasks that will equip the church for a missionary encounter: cultural, theological, and ecclesiological.

Cultural Task: Uncovering the Hidden Credo

The first task of any missionary is a diagnosis of culture. This task is a matter of life and death if the church is not to be unwittingly seduced into a syncretistic alliance with the reigning religious vision of the culture.

Incomparably the most urgent missionary task for the next few decades is the mission to ‘modernity’… It calls for the use of sharp intellectual tools, to probe behind the unquestioned assumptions of modernity and uncover the hidden credo which supports them. …[9]

The task is difficult because we hold unquestioned assumptions. A Chinese proverb says, “if you want to know about water don’t ask a fish.” If you want to know about Western culture don’t ask a Western person. We are swimming in cultural water and that is all we know.

For the church the problem is far more serious since the waters in which we swim are polluted by idolatry. Yet we are seduced by the myth that our culture is not religious. If the church is to be freed from its cultural captivity to the idolatry of Western culture, one of the first tasks is to expose the deeply religious nature of our culture’s public doctrine.

Religion is not one more cultural expression alongside others but a directing power at the root of culture that integrates and shapes all other areas. It is a hidden credo, “a whole worldview, a way of understanding the whole of human experience”[10] and a “set of beliefs, experiences, and practices that seek to grasp and express the ultimate nature of things, that which gives shape and meaning to human life, that which claims final loyalty.”[11]

The problem in the West is that there is the dangerous myth that we live in a neutral culture: “modernity pretends to have no creed. … It applies to itself the adjective secular, with the implication that it is neutral in respect to beliefs that come under the name ‘religion.’”[12] Thus, it conceals its own religious nature.

These religious beliefs that enslave Western culture, and sadly often the church, lie hidden below the surface level of culture like tectonic plates, unseen, yet shaping all that is above. It requires sharp tools to dig below the surface level of our lived culture to uncover the hidden credo that gives form, unity, and significance to the inhabitants of Western culture.

Unmasking the Religious Story of Our Culture

Newbigin employs two digging tools: historical and epistemological analysis. One way to gain critical distance on your culture is to tell the story of just how this particular vision of the world came to be historically constructed. The illusion of self-evident truth can be unmasked by telling the story.

There is an African proverb that says: “Until the lions have their historians the hunter will always be the hero of the story.” The way we tell our cultural story is not simply a neutral recording of the facts, but a way of understanding the story that gives meaning to human life. It offers a soteriology and an eschatology. It is a religious narrative.

Like the biblical story, the metanarrative of Western humanism offers a comprehensive vision of life that demands ultimate allegiance. There is a clash between two religiously ultimate and comprehensive, yet incompatible, stories. “The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is part? … In our contemporary culture … two quite different stories are told.”[13] The first is the humanist story of our culture and the second is the biblical narrative. These are two incompatible narratives.

Seminal to the Western master-narrative is the notion of progress which interprets the purpose of universal history. We hear how humanity might be saved and there is an eschatological vision of the end of history. The Western story is progress toward the paradise of freedom, prosperity, and peace created by humanity.

It is humanistic in the deeply religious sense of confidence that human beings can save themselves. In this “metanarrative” of modernity, the way humanity builds this paradise and so save themselves is by science, technology, economics, and politics. Universal reason is emancipated from dogma and superstition, and disciplined by the scientific method to conquer all the evils that enslave men and women. This happens as science is translated into technology to subdue nature, and into economic and political social organization to control human culture.

This vision of universal history came to maturity in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The religious nature of this story is signalled by noting the term ‘enlightenment.’ There is a “collective conversion” as Europe is converted to a new religious vision.[14] “Light had dawned. Darkness had passed away. … ‘Enlightenment’ is a word with profound religious overtones. It is the word used to describe the decisive experience of Buddha. It is the word used in the Johannine writings to describe the coming of Jesus: ‘The Light had come into the world’ (John 3:19).”[15] What we call modern Western culture is a whole way of organizing human life that is shaped in the light of this religious vision.

What happens in the Enlightenment is a profound conversion. It is “the substitution of one credo by another. It is a conversion. … of one creed to another.”[16] And so the “long period of the Christianization of Europe was now seen as the dark ages, or — at best — the middle ages between two periods when reason reigned, the ancient classical world and the present.”[17]

While the Enlightenment is the focal point of Newbigin’s analysis, his writings abound in clues for the way he would construct the whole Western narrative. He refers to the source of Western culture in terms of two incompatible streams — classical rationalistic humanism and the biblical story.[18] The difference between these streams is the location of reliable truth. In the humanist vision truth is timeless ideas, while in the Bible truth is found in a story of historical events centered in Jesus.

These two streams are brought together in Augustine and, for the better part of one thousand years, it is the biblical story that provides the context for the operation of reason. These two traditions begin to be pried apart in the work of Aquinas and the scholastics when Aristotle is introduced into Western European culture.[19] The humanist vision begins to grow in cultural power as a flood of classical ideas that pour into Europe during the Renaissance,[20] in the religious wars following the Reformation that discredit the Christian faith,[21] and especially in triumph of the new physics of the scientific revolution.[22] All of this leads to the conversion of the West in the Enlightenment.

He also offers much on the way the Enlightenment vision develops after the Enlightenment, especially in the 20th century. The events in 20th century Europe led to a growing loss of confidence in promises of Enlightenment progress since it “failed disastrously to deliver what was promised.”[23] In one part of our culture – the private sphere – there is the collapse of modernity into postmodernity: a growing relativism, pluralism, and the reduction of truth claims to power.[24] However, the bigger threat is that the public life of Western culture still embodies the modern vision of life, albeit in a new global and economic form. And therefore, modernism is still the major challenge the world faces.[25]

This economic form of modernity has its roots in the 18th century: it is in economics that “the Enlightenment was to have perhaps its most far-reaching consequences.”[26] The “new economics” of the Enlightenment would “create unlimited material growth” and “higher levels of fulfilment and happiness” through the operation of the free market. This economic idolatry reshapes all of cultural life and becomes a global culture under globalization. This is modernization on a global scale, and to understand it we must dig to a level deeper than political and economic systems, down to “the level of fundamental beliefs, of ultimate commitments, in fact of idolatries.”[27]

Economic modernity has produced in the latter 20th century the “meaningless hedonism of a consumer society.”[28] We are dealing with the “depth and power of a religion whose cathedrals are the great shopping malls and supermarkets where families come week by week for the liturgy of consumerism.”[29] This religious vision is creating a growing divide between rich and poor and destroying the environment. Global economic modernity and consumerism — this is the central idolatrous threat to the church today.

There may be much to quibble about in Newbigin’s analysis of Western culture. However, to understand what he is doing, we must recognize that he sees himself as a missionary attempting to expose the roots of a culture that is enervating the church’s witness. He wants the church to gain confidence to embody and tell the gospel as the true story unencumbered by the debilitating idols of the West.

Unmasking the Idol of Reason

The real issue is whether the gospel is true. If so, the church needs confidence that it is so. So, the myth of neutral reason needs to be exposed. The public doctrine of Western culture was the march of autonomous reason to master the world and build a paradise on earth. But our confidence to build paradise is based squarely on our trust that scientific reason tells us the truth that gives power. The enthronement of reason challenged the truth of the gospel, and Christians succumbed, becoming timid and losing confidence in the gospel. That confidence had to be recovered if there was to be a missionary encounter.

Why does a missionary spend so much time on epistemology? Because we live in a culture that “has prized above all the autonomy of reason.”[30] This idol must be exposed to liberate a church that has become captive to this vision. A misunderstanding of the nature of knowledge has constructed a cage which imprisons the gospel and confines the church’s mission. Epistemological analysis may help to remove those bars.

Newbigin’s removes the bars first by challenging the unquestioned epistemology that lies at the heart of western culture. The hero of his story is Augustine, for whom reason worked in the context of faith. And the primary villains are Rene Descartes, John Locke, and Francis Bacon who turned that around. His analysis also draws on the insights of post-empiricist philosophy and history of science to show the naiveté of assuming neutral reason. Second, he offers a more truthful model of the way we know the truth, drawing on such philosophers as Michael Polanyi, Alasdaire MacIntyre, and Nicholas Wolterstorff.

In the work of the Enlightenment philosophers, scientific reason is extracted from its proper creational place amidst the faith commitments of a communally embodied tradition. It is crowned the final arbiter of all truth claims. This set up artificial dichotomies: reason and revelation, knowing and believing, fact and value, doubt and dogma, public and private, truth and opinion, and objective and subjective. In each case, the first term represents scientific knowledge and the second the gospel.

These are not simply the theoretical dualisms of scholars, but deep-rooted assumptions at the foundation of our culture. Only truth claims validated by reason may play a role in the public square. All others must be relegated to the private realm of values and opinion. They are mere tastes, like chocolate ice cream, that are subjective but have no claim to universal validity.

The idol of autonomous reason has been masked by a false claim to objectivity. Disciplined by the scientific method, it rises above our subjectivity to gain objective knowledge. It judges all traditions and beliefs with an air of invincible authority. Yet this is simply not how scientific knowledge works. Rather, post-empiricist history and philosophy of science makes it clear that scientific knowing operates within a communally embodied tradition. Autonomous reason is an illusion; even scientific reason works in the context of the authority of some tradition with its own beliefs and assumptions.

Newbigin draws an analogy between the scientific and the Christian tradition.[31] In both cases, reason makes sense of the world within the context of a continuing socially embodied tradition; the tradition is shaped by a faith commitment which functions as the ultimate light in which the community works and lives; and the tradition continues as that community brings light to bear on new contexts and situations. The only questions are: Which community? What tradition? Whose light? Is it the light of scientific reason shaping the Western cultural community? Or the light of the gospel shaping the Christian community?

Not only are these dichotomies false; they are dangerous and destructive. When we put our “trust in the findings of science” we may well gain insight into the structure of our world but will be “left with no answer to the question of ultimate meaning.” Thus, the way is open “to develop a pantheon of idols”[32] that guide our public life. Moreover, critical doubt engendered by scientific rationality is destroying Western culture. We are being led inexorably to a nihilistic relativism and subjectivism that threatens our society. Descartes inevitably begets Nietzsche.[33]

Newbigin wants to return to the insights of Augustine: credo ut intelligam (I believe so that I may understand). There is a need for a new starting point or arche, and the church offers this in the gospel. Religion has been wrongly imprisoned within the bounds of reason for two centuries. This must be reversed: reason must be liberated to rightly function within the bounds of true religion.

Theological Task: Gospel as Public Truth

If there is to be a missionary encounter with Western culture, there is an “urgent need for the development of a coherent and intellectually tenable doctrine of Scriptural authority.”[34] The Bible has been part of the culture for so long that it has accommodated itself to the fundamental assumptions of the culture and appears unable to challenge them.

Newbigin tells the story of biblical authority in the West to give a perspective on the problem. For a one-thousand year period, the Bible was read and interpreted “from within the Christian tradition.”[35] This means that Jesus must be the key to understand the biblical story and the biblical story must be the context to understand Jesus.[36] For a millennium, Scripture was interpreted within the commitment that it is the true story of the whole world that finds its climactic point in Jesus Christ.

This all changed in the 18th century when a new creed took hold of Europe with a faith commitment to scientific reason. The Bible was interpreted now from within another belief-system, another creed, another dogma.[37] The Bible moved from the church to the university, from ordinary Christians into the hands of scholars who could deploy this scientific method in interpreting Scripture.[38]

The new world of biblical scholarship claimed the high ground of truth by distinguishing “a scientific approach to the Bible from the confessional approach.” But “this move is misunderstood if it is seen as a move to a more objective understanding of the Bible. It is a move from one confessional stance to another, a move from one creed to another.”[39] This is unbelieving scholarship, a decision to not believe the gospel and embrace a rival credo.

And scholars were faithful to their new credo. “Modern scholarship, following the models of modern science, has worked by analysing and dissecting the material into smaller and smaller units and then re-classifying and re-combining them — obviously on the basis of a modern understanding of ‘how things really are.’”[40] And when you break the big story into bits, those bits are absorbed into the modern worldview. There is no authoritative Scripture, and no missionary encounter with modern idolatry.

The triumph of the Enlightenment’s religious vision split the church into liberal and fundamentalist camps. Liberals reduced the Bible to a mere “collection of records and religious experience … having … no unique authority which sets it apart from all other books.”[41] This brought forth the rightful reaction of conservative Christians who want to preserve the Bible’s authority. They did so, however, with the very Enlightenment tools that produced the liberal tradition. The conservative churches defend the truth of Scripture by reducing it to an account of timeless dogmas about God, nature, and humankind. Both undermine the given narrative unity, instead producing their own construct: a historical-critical construct or a systematic-apologetical one.

Newbigin offers a threefold response if there is to be a missionary encounter. The Bible has been relegated to the private realm but must be recovered as truth; the Bible has lost its comprehensive authority and must be recovered as public truth; the Bible has been reduced to either a record of religious experiences or a collection of theological propositions and must be recovered as narrative truth.

Newbigin does not want to cast aside all the gains in post-Enlightenment biblical scholarship. Much has been gained in this history. Yet the way forward is to recover the Bible as public truth in its narrative and comprehensive authority so that there might be a missionary encounter with the religious vision of Western culture.

Ecclesiological Task: A Missionary Church Beyond Privatization and Christendom

Newbigin often concludes his analyses with the question to the church: “What must we be?”[42]

Neither Privatization Nor Christendom

There are two paths barred for a faithful church: privatization and Christendom. Privatization is not an option. Newbigin believes the gospel and the church had been consigned to the private realm of values. However, the gospel is not a private religious message, but a public announcement of what God is doing for the whole world. The church is not a private religious community. but a new humankind called to embody the comprehensive sovereignty of God in all of life.

There are three reasons that the church has accepted its relegation the private realm, and each must be challenged. The first is that the church has often misunderstood biblical eschatology. The biblical vision of the restored humanity inhabiting resurrected bodies in the new creation has been replaced by a Greek one of souls returning to heaven. Only the biblical vision of restoration of creational life gives meaning to the church’s engagement with public life.

Moreover, privatization arises when the gospel is misconstrued as simply a message of individual salvation rather than the kingdom. The gospel declares the revelation and accomplishment of God’s cosmic purpose in Christ for the entire life of humanity. Thus, the gospel calls the church to a far-reaching mission that engages all cultural life.

Finally, privatization emerges when the church does not rightly understand the religious nature of Western culture. The spiritual power of secularism has led the church to accept the presumed neutrality of the public square. But, of course, the “truth is that, in those areas of our human living which we do not submit to the rule of Christ, we do not remain free to make our own decisions: we fall under another power.”[43] The shrine of the public square is neither empty nor neutral: it has fallen under the power of other gods.

Privatization is not a legitimate option, but neither is a return to Christendom. Newbigin’s primary concern with Christendom is that the church lost its critical relationship to culture. The church has two relationships to its culture: solidarity in cultural involvement and dissent from its idolatrous direction. While the Christendom-church takes responsibility for cultural development, it forgets the antithetical tension that comes with it. When it loses its prophetic-critical stance, it accepts a role as the “protected and well decorated chaplaincy in the camp of the dominant power.”[44]

Unlike many, Newbigin is not entirely negative about Christendom. He believes that the church was right in taking responsibility for the cultural, social, and political life of mediaeval Europe.[45] Christendom was the “first great attempt to translate the universal claim of Christ into political terms”[46] allowing “the Gospel [to be] wrought into the very stuff of [Europe’s] social and political life”[47] and “we still live largely on the spiritual capital it generated.”[48] Yet we cannot go back. The challenge for us is to “learn how to embody in the life of the church a witness to the kingship of Christ over all life – its politics and economics no less than its personal and domestic morals – yet without falling into the Constantinian trap. That is the new, unprecedented, and immensely challenging task given to our generation.”[49]

Distinctive People: Alternative Social Order and Callings in Public Life of Culture

As the people of God living in Western culture today, we ask ‘what must we be?’ We must be a people … who believe the gospel of the kingdom and live in the Bible as the true story of the world; … whose lives, deeds, and word bear witness to the gospel of the kingdom both nearby and far away; … whose worship, leadership, and structures nourish a comprehensive obedience; … who understand the religious core and the controlling story of our culture to joyfully affirm God’s creational gifts and resolutely reject our idolatrous way. All of this answers the question “what must we be?” But there are at least two emphases in Newbigin that deserve mention when discussing a missionary encounter with Western culture.

If the church is to tell and embody the gospel as public truth this will take two forms: the church as an alternative social order and its callings in the public life of culture. Both stress the importance of the church being distinctive in the public square and emphasize the comprehensive breadth of the gospel’s authority across the spectrum of human life. This is the way beyond privatization and Christendom.

In a lecture on speaking the truth to Caesar, he sketches what it means to embody the gospel as public truth. The church must take responsibility “to equip its members for active and informed participation in public life in such a way that the Christian faith shapes participation.”[50] And “if such training were widely available, we could look for a time when many of those holding responsible positions of leadership in public life were committed Christians equipped to raise the questions and make the innovations in these areas which the gospel requires.”[51] But “the most important contribution which the Church can make to a new social order is to be itself a new social order.”[52] These two things — being a distinctive community and our vocations in public life — enable the church to speak the truth to Caesar.

Does stressing the distinctiveness of the church in its gathered and scattered life really move us beyond Christendom? Three things may be said.

First, Newbigin offers the notion of “committed pluralism” as a way of thinking about participation in the public life of culture. This acknowledges a plurality of religious communities called to cooperatively live together to build a just society, yet without surrendering their truth claims in the process.

Second, Newbigin sees potential in the Dutch neo-calvinist notion of sphere sovereignty, which interprets the problem with Christendom not as Christians exercising power in their particular vocations but the institutionalized church coercively exercising power. Individual Christians may rightly exercise cultural power aligned with the gospel in the various cultural spheres.

And finally, the story of the Bible that the church is called to embody in the public realm has as its center the cross of Christ. The cross pictures for us that God does not coerce but gives freedom for rejection and opposition. The metanarrative of the Bible does not look for an intrahistorical triumph for the church. God’s victory is beyond history, and until then, suffering love is the way power is exercised.

Conclusion

In C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair from the Chronicles of Narnia series, the Lady of the Green Kirtle, the Witch-Queen of the Underland, begins to seduce and hypnotize Rilian, Eustace, and Jill. With soothing words and music, and with magic smoke produced by the powder she throws in the fire, she begins to gradually take them under her spell. As they listen to the music and inhale the smoke they are slowly enslaved and drawn under her power. They stop believing in Aslan, forget their mission, and turn to serve the Witch-Queen. The Marshwiggle Puddleglum realizes what is going on. He rouses himself from his own enchantment and attempts to foil her plan by stomping his webbed foot on the fire to put it out. The children come to their senses and are awakened from their enchantment. They rise up and slay the Queen whose true self is revealed to be a serpent.

Newbigin is like Puddleglum.[53] With the fresh eyes of someone who has lived in another culture for decades, Newbigin sees how the Western church has been seduced and enslaved by cultural idolatry. He has awakened many of us to see ways in which we have come under the spell of other gods. But this is only a small beginning. Surely Newbigin was right: the most powerful, pervasive, and dangerous culture to the gospel is the West, which has now spread its seductive gospel to every part of the urban world. The church is called to rouse itself from its enchantment, and rooted in Christ and empowered by the Spirit, show what it really means to be human.

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Footnotes

  1. Andrew F. Walls, ‘Newbigin, James Edward Lesslie (1909-98)’, in: Davie Marin, et al., New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, Second Edition (Downers Grove: IVP, 2016), 615.
  2. Lesslie Newbigin, “Culture of Modernity,” in Karl Muller et. al. eds., Dictionary of Mission: Theology, History, Perspectives (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1997), 98. For an extended elaboration this article, see Michael W. Goheen, The Church and Its Vocation: Lesslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2018), 163-196.
  3. Newbigin, “Culture of Modernity,” 98-99.
  4. Lesslie Newbigin, Living Hope In a Changing World (London: Alpha International Holy Trinity Brompton, 2003), 83.
  5. Lesslie Newbigin, “Gospel and Culture – But Which Culture?” Missionalia, 17, 3 (1989): 213.
  6. Lesslie Newbigin, Mission and the Crisis of Western Culture (Edinburgh: Handsel Press, 1989), 1.
  7. Lesslie Newbigin, “Pluralism in the Church,” ReNews (Presbyterians for Renewal), 4, 1 (May): 1.
  8. Newbigin, A Word in Season: Perspectives of World Missions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1994), 187.
  9. Lesslie Newbigin, “Gospel and Culture – But Which Culture?” Missionalia, 17, 3 (1989): 214.
  10. Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 172.
  11. Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 3.
  12. Newbigin, Word in Season, 194.
  13. Newbigin, Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 15-16.
  14. Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 23.
  15. Newbigin, Other Side of 1984, 7.
  16. Lesslie Newbigin, The Bible: Good News for Secularised People (1991), 2. Unpublished speech, Eisenach, Germany, April 1991.
  17. Lesslie Newbigin, Mission Agenda (Unpublished lecture, 1992), 3-4.
  18. Newbigin, Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 1-3; Proper Confidence, 3.
  19. Newbigin, Gospel and Culture (1995), 6; The Gospel and the University (1993), 2. Unpublished sermon at the Chapel of Royal Holloway, 27 June 1993.
  20. Newbigin, Other Side of 1984, 6-7.
  21. Newbigin, Proper Confidence, 30.
  22. Newbigin, Other Side of 1984, 10.
  23. Lesslie Newbigin, Truth and Authority in Modernity (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996), 73-74.
  24. Newbigin, Proper Confidence, 27; “Religious Pluralism: A Missiological Approach,” Studia Missionalia 42 (1993): 231-234; Truth and Authority in Modernity, 7-9, 82.
  25. Lesslie Newbigin “Modernity in Context,” in John Reid, Lesslie Newbigin and David Pullinger ed., Modern, Postmodern and Christian. Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 27 (Carberry, Scotland: Handsel Press, 1996), 8.
  26. Newbigin, Other Side of 1984, 11.
  27. Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel as Public Truth: Swanwick Opening Statement (1992), 6. Unpublished address.
  28. Lesslie Newbigin, “It Seems to Me,” Transmission (Spring 1997): 4; cf. Foolishness to the Greeks, 30-31.
  29. Newbigin, Gospel as Public Truth: Swanwick, 6.
  30. Newbigin, Other Side of 1984, 51.
  31. Newbigin, Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 52-65.
  32. Newbigin, Word in Season, 150.
  33. Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel and the University, 3.
  34. Newbigin, New Birth Into a Living Hope, 7.
  35. Newbigin, “Good News for Secularised People,” 1.
  36. Newbigin, Biblical Authority, 2.
  37. Newbigin employs various terms – belief-system, creed, dogma, worldview, and credo – to describe the Enlightenment approach to biblical studies.
  38. Newbigin, “Good News for Secularised People”, 1.
  39. Newbigin, Proper Confidence, 79-80.
  40. Newbigin, “Bible and Our Contemporary Mission,” 14. Cf. Lesslie Newbigin, Notes of a Contribution on the Role of the Bible in Our Church, 1. Unpublished speech given for URC Forward Policy Group, April 1985.
  41. Newbigin, “Good News for Secularised Man,” 6; cf. Truth to Tell, 43-44.
  42. Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 124-150; cf. also Other Side of 1984, 55-62; Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 222-232.
  43. Newbigin, Other Side of 1984, 39.
  44. Lesslie Newbigin, Christ, Kingdom, and Church: A Reflection on the Papers of George Yule and Andrew Kirk (1983), 4. Unpublished paper.
  45. Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 100-101.
  46. Newbigin, Sign of the Kingdom, 47.
  47. Newbigin, Household of God, 1. Cf. Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 124.
  48. Lesslie Newbigin, Priorities for a New Decade (National Student Christian Press and Resource Centre, Birmingham, 1980), 6.
  49. ewbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 102.N
  50. Newbigin, Truth to Tell, 81.
  51. Newbigin, Truth to Tell, 84.
  52. Newbigin, Truth to Tell, 85.
  53. I borrow this analogy between Newbigin and Puddleglum from my wife Marnie, who once suggested it to him much to his great amusement.

 

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Posted by Michael Goheen

Michael Goheen is director of Theological Education at Missional Training Center, scholar-in-residence for the Surge Network of Churches (Phoenix), and professor of missional theology at Covenant Theological Seminary (St Louis).

One Comment

  1. This is wonderful missional theology for 2015 and before. Its implications must be updated for the current situation in all its aspects.

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