Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Proper Confidence by L. Newbigin

This is one stimulating stick of dynamite...and it's lit.
What? you ask.
Leslie Newbigin's Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship.

I've seen this little, yet potent book referenced on different blogs and I've had friends encourage me to read it.

What if we discover that with the syncretism resulting from the submission of the evangelical faith to the prevailing tenets of modernity, evangelical scholars, pastors and people have warped the Bible into a book that even Jesus wouldn't recognize? Newbigin, while not using those words, suggests that we've done just that. With the embracing of Decartes' "I think therefore I am," thinkers in the West elevated the human mind as the arbiter of truth (aka "indubitable certainty").

Many have endeavored to transform the Bible into a book about epistemology (how we know what we know) rather than God's Grand Story of soteriology (how we find deliverance from the tyranny of cosmic fallenness). I am indebted to my friend, Scot McKnight, for this observation. Newbigin stresses that the only "indubitable certainty" is a Person---the Three-in-One God. To shoe-horn the Bible into being a book with "scientific accuracy" is to commit an act of treason against the Christian faith. Trans-rational realities are at work in the faith and these supremely relational realities will always seem "moronic" or be "a stumblingblock" to those who need to live with the fantasy of "indubitable certainty."

Those committed to "indubitable certainties" scramble around in the problem passages of the Bible and invent ways to make the Bible hold its own in a culture worshipping at the feet of scientific "truth." Remember the noise and the dust and smoke of "the battle for the Bible"?

I like Newbigin's suggestion that Descarte could have offered, "I love therefore I am." Imagine the West if that idea had caught hold and shaped an epistemology. Knowledge puffs up, loves builds up. Hmmmm....where did that idea come from?



At 8/28/2007 2:18 PM, Blogger Rustin S said...

I agree. Compelling book! Newbigin's vision of the Christian Story always seems to ring true.

At 8/29/2007 7:21 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

rusitn s,
It was a compelling and for me unsettling book...it made me think more seriously about some theological issues.

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