Lesslie Newbigin – An Important Voice
If you care about proclaiming the gospel in a secularized, gospel-hostile culture, you should know some of the lines of reasoning of Lesslie Newbigin. A long term missionary to India, Newbigin returned to his home country of England and found it to be just as “lost” as the mission field in which he had served.
His insights about reaching post-Christian Britain hold numerous lessons for us.
For example, he was one of the first to blow the whistle on the pseudo-humble claims of pluralists who told us we can never be so arrogant as to have the truth.
In his The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, he wrote: “There is an appearance of humility in the protestation that the truth is much greater than any one of us can grasp, but if this is used to invalidate all claims to discern the truth it is in fact an arrogant claim to a kind of knowledge which is superior to [all others]…We have to ask: ‘What is the [absolute] vantage ground from which you claim to be able to relativize all the absolute claims these different scriptures make?'”
While Newbigin bought into some critical views of scripture that most evangelicals would reject, his voice is an important one as we seek to evangelize in the west at this moment in history.
You might enjoy tasting some of his writings in a recent collection, Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian: A Reader, published by Eerdmans.
I do believe that more and more of our non-Christian friends are giving serious thought to weighty matters. We should respond with thoughtful, weighty discussions about the gospel. It’s part of becoming all things to all people so that, by all means, we might save some.