Lovin’ Lesslie

<%image(20050404-Open Secret.jpg|40|60|open secret)%> One of my favorite authors is Lesslie Newbigin. He is best known for his dense work The Gospel in a Pluralist Society that advances his concept of election. In short, we are elected by God not only to know him, but to also make him known. My latest foray into the world of Newbigin is The Open Secret. I have been taking notes on it and thought that I would share a few of his gems. Enjoy!

The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission by Lesslie Newbigin.
Revised edition. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, 1995.

Christ and culture in our Gospel:
“They may be honestly convinced that they are simply preaching Christ, but the Christ whom they preach will be seen to reflect the kind of values they cherish. Even in preaching Christ they will be, knowingly or unknowingly, advocating their own beliefs about what is good and true and desirable. And if their beliefs are such that they fail to take account of the real powers at work in society, their preaching of Christ will be – to that extent – irrelevant to the real ethical choices to which God is calling humans.
And yet again, our limited and distorted images of Christ do not destroy his sovereign freedom and power” 138.

Culture and Christianity:
Individual conversion vs. tribal conversion 141-142. We can convert individuals, but many tribes must be converted at one time in order to preserve the unity of the group and to communicate the Gospel to all of the people, not marginalizing it unnecessarily.

“In fact the Christianity that the missionary brings is already conditioned by his or her own culture, and the community to which Christianity is brought is a changing entity exposed to contact without and tension within” 149.

“It is the urgent need of the hour that the ecumenical fellowship of churches should become so released from its present dependence upon one set of cultural forms that it can provide the place wherein we are able to do theology in the only way that it can be done properly – by learning with increasing clarity to confess the one Lord Jesus Christ as alone having absolute authority and therefore to recognize the relativity of all the cultural forms within which we try to say who he is” 159.

Truth and Authority In Modernity By Lesslie Newbigin

“The Cartesian program proves to be inherently self-destructive for the simple reason that doubt, if it is to be rational, must rest upon something that is believed to be true” 7.

“We can know without doubting, but we cannot know without believing. The Cartesian invitation to make doubt the primary tool in the search for knowledge was bound to lead to the triumph of skepticism and eventually of nihilism, as Nietzsche foresaw. That kind of demand for a kind of indubitable certainty that does not depend on faith has led inexorably to despair about the possibility of knowing anything” 8.