Book | The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin

The-Gospel-in-a-Pluralist-Society-9780802804266Newbigin, Lesslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans; WCC Publications 1989.

newbiginThe Author – Lesslie Newbigin

Key Quotes

“If the gospel is to challenge the public life of our society, if Christians are to occupy the “high ground” which they vacated in the noontime of “modernity,” it will not be by forming a Christian political party, or by aggressive propaganda campaigns. Once again it has to be said that there can be no going back to the “Constantinian” era. It will only be by movements that begin with the local congregation in which the reality of the new creation is present, known, and experienced, and from which men and women will go into every sector of public life to claim it for Christ, to unmask the illusions which have remained hidden and to expose all areas of public life to the illumination of the gospel. But that will only happen as and when local congregations renounce an introverted concern for their own life, and recognize that they exist for the sake of those who are not members, as sign, instrument, and foretaste of God’s redeeming grace for the whole life of society.” (pp. 232-233)

“To be chosen, to be elect, therefore does not mean that the elect are the saved and the rest are the lost. To be elect in Christ Jesus, and there is no other election, means to be incorporated into his mission to the world, to be the bearer of God’s saving purpose for his whole world, to be the sign and the agent and the firstfruit of his blessed kingdom which is for all. It means therefore, as the New Testament makes abundantly clear, to take our share in his suffering, to bear the scars of the passion. It means, as Paul says elsewhere, to bear in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of the risen Jesus may be manifest and made available for others. It means that this particular body of people who bear the name of Jesus through history, this strange and often absurd company of people so feeble, so foolish, so often fatally compromised with the world, this body with all its contingency and particularity, is the body which has the responsibility of bearing the secret of God’s reign through world history. The logic of election is all of one piece with the logic of the gospel. God’s purpose of salvation is not that we should be taken out of history and related to him in some way which bypasses the specificities and particularities of history. His purpose is that in and through history there should be brought into being that which is symbolized in the vision with which the Bible ends — the Holy City into which all the glory of the nations will finally be gathered. But — and of course this is the crux of the matter — that consummation can only lie on the other side of death and resurrection. It is the calling of the Church to bear through history to its end the secret of the lordship of the crucified.” (pp. 86-87)

“We have to conclude that [Bertrund] Russell’s account [the scientific method] does not do justice to the way science actually works. If we attend only to the textbook writers and the popularizers of science we get the impression that all this is “fact,” quite different from the worlds of imagination and intuition in which poets move and from the world of faith in which religious people move. But if we look at the way scientists actually work, we see that this is a false impression. There are not two separate avenues to understanding, one marked “knowledge” and the other marked “faith.” There is no knowing without believing, and believing is the way to knowing. The quest for certainty through universal doubt is a blind alley. The program of universal doubt, the proposal that every belief should be doubted until it could be validated by evidence and arguments not open to doubt, can in the end only lead — as it has led– to universal scepticism and nihilism, to the world which Nietzsche foresaw and which Allan Bloom and other contemporary writers describe.” (32-33)

 

 

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1 {Newbigin, 1989 #111@232-233}

2 {Newbigin, 1989 #111@86-87}

3 {Newbigin, 1989 #111@32-33}