Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Newbigin on the Church's Anxiety Issues

Christianity is perceived to be a good cause which is in danger of collapsing though lack of support. Or - in a quite different manifestation of the same fundamental attitude - there is a strident summons to a more energetic efforts in evangelism and social action. But I do sense an underlying Pelagianism which lays too much stress on our own activities and is too little controlled by the sense of the greatness and majesty and sufficiency of God. I am saying that there can be a kind of Christian activity which only masks a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of God. . .

In a pluralist society there is always a temptation to judge the importance of any statement of the truth by the number of people who believe it. Truth, for practical purposes, is what most people believe. Christians can fall into this trap. It may well be that for some decades, while churches grow rapidly in other parts of the world, Christians in Europe may continue to be a small and even shrinking minority. If this should be so, it must be seen as an example of that pruning which is promised to the church in order that it may bear more fruit (John 15:11ff). When that happens it is painful. But Jesus assures, "My Father is the gardener." He knows what he is doing, and we can trust him. Such experience is a summons to self-searching, to repentance, and to fresh commitment. It is not an occasion for anxiety. God is faithful, and he will complete what he has begun.

Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, pp243-4

2 comments:

  1. That's something a Calvinist might say!

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  2. Well newbiggin is from the reformed tradition so fairly calvinisty. But believing in the sovereignty and sufficiency of God is not exclusive to calvinists - despite the propaganda to the contrary.

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