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- Lesslie Newbigin and Edinburgh’s Common Call
- Lesslie Newbigin, Missionary Theologian - Lesslie Newbigin : Eerdmans
- Newbigin, J(ames) E(dward) Lesslie (1909-1998)
In he as national Moderator of the URC. More books followed, including several on the question of Christianity's public role and ability to engage with, critique and contribute to public life. Having spent so much time away from Europe, Newbigin was surprised to find that religion had retreated from the public square; it had become private.
Newbigin passionately believed that Christians have a right to speak on issues of national and global concern.
[PDF] Lesslie Newbigin: A Theological Life Download Online
Several books addressed this, some written for the British Council of Churches. As a result, a major initiative called The Gospel and Our Culture, which saw conferences, networks, newsletters, publications, some salaried staff and was soon exported across the Atlantic. The Church has a duty to stand over and against culture and the secular powers, to correct, to criticize and when appropriate to praise. The Church had lost its ability to engage with economics, the arts, the world of sport, the mass media because it knew little about these and failed to utilize the knowledge that many lay members, rather than priests, ministers and leaders, do have.
The same year, saw Newcastle University award him an honorary doctorate. He soon invited a colleague from India to join him in his work. Books still followed, including in the first edition of his autobiography, An Unfinished Agenda updated and in The Gospel in a Pluralist Society perhaps his most important work containing his mature reflection and thinking. After another five years, Newbigin finally retired. He returned to India in to join the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the IMC conference that had taken place at Tambaram, near Madras in In San Antonio, he was the older statesman of missions and gave two addresses, even though his eyesight had faded, that for many were the highlight of the proceedings.
In , Newbigin and Helen moved into sheltered accommodation in London. He remained active, still preaching and writing. He died January 30, and was buried at Norwood. A memorial service was held in Southwark Cathedral.
Lesslie Newbigin and Edinburgh’s Common Call
Lesslie and Helen had four children, one son and three daughters. He was survived by his wife and children. Newbigin is remembered especially for the period of his life when he had returned to England from his long missionary service and travels and tried to communicate the need for the church to communicate the Gospel anew to the post-Christian Western culture, which he believed had unwisely accepted the notions of objectivity and neutrality developed during the Enlightenment.
In his biography of Newbigin, theologian Geoffrey Wainwright assesses the bishop's influential writing, preaching, teaching, and church guidance, concluding that his stature and range is comparable to the "Fathers of the Church. Yet to label him "British" may miss the point; his theology was also very much a product of his years in India.
Although he went to India at a time when many missionaries retained attitudes of colonial superiority, despite India's independence. He remained in India because he believed that for some people to gain deep experience in another culture is ultimately enriching for others, when this experience is shared.
This was why he returned to Britain while still able to share what he had learned and experienced as a missionary. His Trinitarian emphasis, his insistence that the Gospel is "public truth" and his ideas about the shape and nature of Church unity represent seminal contributions to Christian thought. His legacy has been explored by several scholars, including Hunsberger, Stults, Wainwright and Weston.
A complete bibliography is available at an internet site dedicated to his life and writing. Newbigin was disappointed that while churches in India were uniting the CSI was later followed by the Church of North India, which involved even more denominations the old 'sending churches" lagged behind. He encouraged the British churches to followed the Indian lead. He criticized what he saw as acceptance of a type of federal unity represented by membership of the WCC. Most Protestant churches now allow intercommunion, which represents a de facto recognition of the validity of each others orders and sacraments.
This, though, is not visible unity; the church remains divided, he said. To "speak of a plurality of churches," he said "in the sense of denominations" is "absurd. The historical episcopacy serves as a "magnet" around which Christian from diverse backgrounds can unite. He spoke about three understandings of what it means to be "church"; there are those, typically Catholic , for whom Church is sacramental, being in communion with those ordained by bishops who stand in apostolic succession back to the primitive church.
There are those for whom belonging to the Church is a mater of responding in repentance and faith to the proclamation of the Gospel, a typically Protestant view. Then there are those for whom the Church is the community of those who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, the Pentecostal and Charismatic view. All of these can be argued from and justified by scripture.
The problem is that each emphasizes one aspect at the expense of others.
Lesslie Newbigin, Missionary Theologian - Lesslie Newbigin : Eerdmans
True unity balances these. True unity is a single, visible fellowship and a single, universal ministry. Newbigin did not intend one form of church order, such as an Episcopal system, to totally replace forms that other churches have developed, such as congregational autonomy and governance by elders or by elected synods but that aspects would be retained, as they were within the CSI, whose bishops are elected.
Inter-communion is not an end in itself but a step towards unity. He was saddened that the Roman Catholic Church would not permit this but understood that for Catholics this would compromise their understanding of what it means to belong to the Church, which is "sacramental participation in the life of the historically continuous church. He saw no contradiction between his view that episcopacy is God's will and recognizing the validity of non-Episcopal churches, because validity is experiential and spiritual and depends on God's grace, not on conformity to every aspect of God's will.
Newbigin's mature reflections on pluralism are found in his book. In this book, he famously critiqued the popular "three paradigms" of exclusiveness, inclusiveness and pluralism that have been used to categorize theologies of religion. The first says that only Christians are assured of salvation, that faith in Jesus is the only way to God.
The second says that salvation is indeed through Jesus. However, some who follow other faiths may still be included, by God's grace, in the salvation that is available through Jesus, even though they never make a confession of Christian faith. The third says that all religions are valid but different ways to achieve harmony with the Absolute. Newbigin said that his own position has aspects of all three; Jesus Christ for him is unique, and salvation is uniquely and exclusively through him.
However, other people may indeed be "saved" even though they remain outside the Church. This is because an individual's response to God's grace and to the Gospel is something over which Christians have no control; it is a work of God's spirit.
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His view is "pluralist in the sense of acknowledging the gracious work of Christ in the lives of all human beings but it rejects the pluralism which denies the uniqueness and decisiveness of what God did in Jesus Christ. Others respond in ways of which we have no knowledge, yet God's grace because of Jesus' redeeming death and through the Spirit yet operates in their lives.
Lesslie Newbigin was born in and was actively engaged in teaching and lecturing until shortly before his death in From a religious home in the North of England, Newbigin lost the piety of his youth at his Quaker prep school. Yet he continued to wrestle with the issues of faith and at Cambridge came under the influence of the Student Christian Movement.
As a volunteer, during a summer holiday, at a camp that provided relief and recreation for unemployed miners, Newbigin had a first-hand experience of the emptiness of a purely secular answer to the hopelessness of the men he was trying to help, and then a vision of the cross that spoke to him of a love that was able to comprehend the evil and suffering in the world and to offer a genuine word of hope. Shortly after this, Newbigin went into the tent reserved as a place of prayer and came out with the conviction that he had been called to ordination.
Newbigin, J(ames) E(dward) Lesslie (1909-1998)
After completing theological training at Cambridge. Newbigin was ordained by the Church of Scotland. He put himself forward for missionary work in India where he learned Tamil. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. He returned to these themes in his small volume Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship , published in , in the closing years of his life.
After he retired, Newbigin regularly had theology students come over from King's College London to read chapters of theological texts to him since his eye vision had diminished. Despite his fading eyesight, he continued preaching; he told parishioners at St Paul's Church in nearby Herne Hill that when he preached, he would prepare his entire homily in his head long before he was scheduled to give it, and preach from memory.
Sydney Carter was a regular attender of the services when he preached. At Newbigin's funeral service on 7 February his close friend Dr. Dan Beeby said, "Not too long ago, some children in Selly Oak were helped to see the world upside down when the aged bishop stood on his head! Not a single one of his many doctorates or his CBE fell out of his pockets. His episcopacy was intact.
Theologian and Lesslie Newbigin historian Geoffrey Wainwright commented that when the history of the 20th century church is written, Lesslie Newbigin should be considered one of the top ten or twelve most influential persons. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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The Right Reverend. Retrieved 15 August Lesslie Newbigin: A Theological Life. New York: Oxford Univ. Third Millennium 3 : 99— Retrieved 15 September Unfinished Agenda.