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The Gospel in a Pluralist Society [Paperback]

By Lesslie Newbigin (Author)
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Item description for The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin...

How does the gospel relate to a pluralist society? What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? Should Christians encountering today's pluralist society concentrate on evangelism or on dialogue? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians' faith? These kinds of questions are addressed in this book by Lesslie Newbigin. A highly respected Christian leader and ecumenical figure, Newbigin provides a brilliant analysis of contemporary (secular, humanist, pluralist) culture and suggests how christians can more confidently affirm their faith in such a context.

Publishers Description
How does the gospel relate to a pluralist society? What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? Should Christians encountering today's pluralist society concentrate on evangelism or on dialogue? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians' faith?These kinds of questions are addressed in this noteworthy book by Lesslie Newbigin. A highly respected Christian leader and ecumenical figure, Newbigin provides a brilliant analysis of contemporary (secular, humanist, pluralist) culture and suggests how Christians can more confidently affirm their faith in such a context.While drawing from scholars such as Michael Polanyi, Alasdair MacIntyre, Hendrikus Berkhof, Walter Wink, and Robert Wuthnow, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society is suited not only to an academic readership. This heartfelt work by a missionary pastor and preacher also offers to Christian leaders and laypeople some thoughtful, helpful, and provocative reflections.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christianity Today - 06/01/2009 page 57

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   255
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2005
Edition  Reprinted  
ISBN  0802804268  
ISBN13  9780802804266  

Availability  1 units.
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More About Lesslie Newbigin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! (1909-1998) Lesslie Newbigin was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K., in 1909. He completed his undergraduate studies in Cambridge and then served as Staff Secretary of the Student Christian Movement in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied theology at Westminster College at Cambridge and was ordained by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, Church of Scotland in 1936. That same year Newbigin married Helen Henderson and the two of them left for India where he was to be missionary of the Church of Scotland In 1947 Reverend Newbigin was consecrated Bishop in the Church of South India, formed by the union of Anglican, Methodist, and Reformed churches. He also served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the main theme of the Second Assembly. Other members of the committee included famous theologians such as Barth, Brunner, and Niebuhr In 1959 Newbigin was called to be General Secretary of the International Missionary Council with offices in London and New York. He was responsible for carrying through final negotiations for the merger with the World Council of Churches. In 1962 he became the first director of the Division of World Mission and Evangelism, and Associate General Secretary of the World Council of Churches with headquarters in Geneva.

Lesslie Newbigin was born in 1909 and died in 1998.

Lesslie Newbigin has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Osterhaven Lecture

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel in a Pluralist Society?

must reading !!!  Jan 22, 2007
This is simply a must read for bible believing christians. This is not a book that rants and raves about "bad pagans". No, this book is a very thoughtful work on the subject of the biblical gospel of Jesus as related to the various societies and cultures in a modern/post-modern setting. An eye opening work that should be learned from.
Excellent theology.  Nov 13, 2006
I cannot recommend this book too highly. Newbigin shows us how to avoid the pitfalls of liberalism and fundamentalism, and how to express the Gospel unequivocally in today's language. My heart raced throughout the process of reading this book and, when done, I started over and read it again.
A Needed Challenge for Western Christianity  Mar 3, 2006
Though slightly pessimistic about the future of the church in the West, Newbigin provides a needed challenge to the modern church. The church in North America is in a new situation--there are a plurality of cultures represented in our major cities, and this plurality is spreading to smaller towns. How does the church reach out to and minister to their neighbor who is Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish--when the impression given is that some of these individuals of other faiths are more devout and holy than many Christians that we may know? What is a proper posture to take when standing for "the fact of Jesus?" How is the church to minister in a post-Enlightenment context, which has created a different worldview from that which dominated for the first 1800 after the coming of the Messiah?

This book is a good read--it provides challenges and a loose framework for how to move forward.
"Truth" and Missions  Jan 28, 2006
Lesslie Newbigin was (and is, through his writings) a celebrated missiologist. While on the surface of it, this book gives the impression of being an eclectic mix of ideas, there is a fundamental cohesion to the book. In fact it represents a fundamentally new approach to missiology.

The book may arguably be said to have one underlying theme: epistemology, or the theory of knowledge. That is, how can we know? How can we have confidence in the gospel "in the midst of a plurality of cultures and religions"? Newbigin, in his own words, has "relied heavily on the work of Michael Polanyi." Polanyi's epic work "Personal Knowledge" was published nearly fifty years ago, and reveals what might be said to be a coherence theory of truth. That is, if one's beliefs should cohere as a whole, this should be a good indication of truth. Polanyi, however, adds a radical twist to this. He writes about "the coherence of commitment". That is, once one has formed a responsible opinion about "truth", one needs to commit to it passionately, and publish. Only in this way can one both display integrity, and submit one's "truth" to the scrutiny of others -- to be affirmed, modified, or perhaps even overturned. It is not hard to see how this relates to missiology. In terms of this view, the gospel requires commitment and proclamation. This in turn leads to a confirmation of its truth in various ways -- or it may lead to a revision of Christian beliefs and practices.

Newbigin further applies Polanyi's epistemology to virtually every aspect of Christianity. He undertakes a broad task of synthesis, or reconciliation, within the Church. He suggests "a third way of understanding Christian belief" -- a method which seeks to take Scripture on its own terms, and which (he hopes) would be acceptable to Christians of virtually every persuasion. This represents, arguably, much of the drawing power of Newbigin's ideas.

However, Newbigin's epistemology is not without its problems. Not least, Polanyi himself considered that there would be "absurdly remote chances" of successfully applying his philosophy to Christianity, and that even a witch doctor "may gain a limited justification within a society" (p. 318, Second Impression 1962). Further, it seems doubtful that Newbigin gives adequate account of how a living God might find a place within an (apparently) closed theory of truth.

All having been said, Newbigin is intellectually agile, he writes with conviction, and his ideas have a considerable reach. He also shares many interesting insights gained in missions over nearly forty years, as well as important observations on the Church in the West.
Classic and Unsurpassed  Jun 21, 2004
There's little I can say about this book that will do it justice. This is, in my opinion, without doubt (a phrase that takes on a whole new meaning after reading Newbigin) the best treatment of contemporary religious pluralism ever written. Newbigin is theologically astute, writes with clarity and acumen, missionally informed and focused and touches on virtually all the relevant issues connected with the question of pluralism.

Some of the most rewarding things I have gleaned from Newbigin involve the issues of "faith" and "reason" and "science." Newbigin's engagement with Michael Polanyi and Alasdair MacIntyre treats these issues wonderfully well, showing how "science" does not have a privilaged position in the discussion of what counts as public truth. Science names a socially embodied tradition that relies on established doctrine, schooling, and ultimately, faith to function. There is, ultimately no contention between "faith" and "reason," but rather between different socially embodied traditions that each attempt to narrate their interpretation of the world from their own particular fiduciary-rational framework. This puts the whole issue of "science and Christianity" in a different light. After reading Newbigin, I was more conviced than ever the Christianity has no obligation or stake in attempting to justify itself on the basis of scular reason. Rather Christianity is an laternative form of reasoning based on different presuppositions. This ultimately calls for witnesses rather than lawyers, so to speak. Much of evangelical theology is intent on "prooving" that Christianity is true "beyond a reasonable doubt", not realizing that the role of the Christian is not that of the layer (if anyone is that it is the Holy Spirt), but rather of the summoned witness. Newbigin's work in this book yeilds so much fruit in relation to these questions.

This book also touches on other relevant themes that are far too many to mention here. Newbigin's treatment of the principalities and powers was excellent, and his work on the church is also superb. When he declares that the congregation is the hermeneutic of the gospel, all I can do in response is write "YES!!" in the margins.

This book should be required reading for any Christian attempting to think through the "tough issues" of religious pluralism, faith and reason, church and state and the like. Highly recommended.


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