The Church: Bold in Witness, Patient in Hope

In my church planting days I read quite a bit of Lesslie Newbigin’s work.  Though I don’t always agree with him, I enjoy the way he talks about the gospel in the world.  While I was just looking through Foolishness to the Greeks, which I first read in 2009, I was reminded how helpful it was for me back then – and how much I still appreciate it.  Here’s one section I marked up quite a bit:

“The gospel is not a set of beliefs that arise, or could arise, from empirical observation of the whole human experience.  It is the announcement of a name and a fact that offer the starting point for a new and life-long enterprise of understanding and coping with experience.  It is a new starting point.  To accept it means a new beginning, a radical conversion.  We cannot side-step that necessity.  It has always been the case that to believe means to be turned around to face in a different direction, to be a dissenter, to go against the stream.”

“The church needs to be very humble in acknowledging that it is itself only a learner, and it needs to pay heed to all the variety of human experience in order to learn in patience what it means that Jesus is the King and Head of the human race.  But the church also needs to be very bold in bearing witness to him as the one who alone is that King and Head.  For the demonstration, the proof, we have to wait for the end.  Until then, we have to be bold and steadfast in our witness and patient in our hope.  For ‘we are partakers of Christ if we hold our first confidence firm to the end’ (Heb. 3:14).”

Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, p. 148-9.

Shane Lems

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