Happy 107th Birthday, Lesslie Newbigin!

Today is the 107th anniversary of the birth of Lesslie Newbigin. He went from life to life in 1998. What wonderful and prophetic Christian; so much could be said. Better for us to hear it from the man himself. Here’s an abridged selection from “The Other Side of 1984.”

“Many Christians feel themselves to be in a position analogous to that which was a ground of complaint at the time of the Reformation. At that time the complaint was the Bible had been taken out of the hands of the laity and become the property of the clergy. Now it has to be asked whether it has not become the property of the guild of scholars in such a way that the ordinary lay person feels unable to understand it without the help of a trained expert.

“But the lay person knows also that the results of modern critical scholarship are by their nature ephemeral…

“Yet it must be said plainly that there is no way by which the Bible can be restored to the laity by taking it out of the hands of the scholars… And the layman and woman are themselves part of modern culture and cannot with integrity divide their mental world into two parts, one controlled by that culture and the other by the Bible. A much more exciting and costly move is called for, namely a genuinely missionary encounter between a scriptural faith and modern culture. By this I mean an encounter which takes our culture seriously yet does not take it as the final truth by which scripture is evaluated, but rather holds up the modern world to the mirror of the Bible in order to understand how we, who are part of modern culture, are required to re-examine our assumptions and reorder our thinking and acting. This is, I believe, our present task.” (46-47, italics added)

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