Monday, August 18, 2008

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society - intro.

Newbigin, Lesslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Cambridge and Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Here is a passage on page 9 that adjusted some of my own thinking:

In the famous story of the blind men and the elephant, so often quoted in the interests of religious agnosticism, the real point of the story is constantly overlooked. The story is told from the point of view of the king and his courtiers, who are not blind but can see that the blind men are unable to grasp the full reality of the elephant and are only able to get hold of part of the truth. The story is constantly told to neutralize the affirmation of the great religions, to suggest that they learn humility and recognize that none of them can have more than one aspect of the truth. But, of course, the real point of the story is exactly the opposite. If the king were also blind there would be no story. The story is told by the king, and it is the immensely arrogant claim of one who sees the full truth which all the world’s religions are only groping after. It embodies the claim to know the full reality which relativizes all the claims of the religions and philosophies.”

I move the rest of this post, Newbigin's bio and some introductory comments over to my blog for the sake of brevity. You can go there if you want to read the whole thing and come back here for comments.

ok -- my new copy of McLaren just arrived as I was writing this ...I'll hit it this week.


Bruce said...

I had browsed Newbegin's book about fifteen years ago, so when I saw this quote a few weeks ago, I remembered it. I made an entry to my own blog, which I'd appreciate you stopping over to see.

on the Friday August 1 entry, about the second or third one back.

Thanks guys.

smokin joe said...

nice blog Bruce! I'll try to get back later today to leave a comment. We are waiting for TS Fay to pass so we can leave for our trip to Gainesville...

smokin joe said...

hi - I just posted a summary of chapter 1 of Newbigin's book, The Gopsel in a Pluralist Society on my blog:

I'm not going to post it here because of the length.


Randy R. said...

Greetings, Gents! I am back from my three week GREAT adventure to Indonesia and Morocco. Chuck's wedding was fantastic! It was wonderful to be there with him and Cherie, and Gary and Sharrol. Gary delivered an outstanding homily during the ceremony.

While away, I first read "The Shack." I agree with John; it is outstanding! One of the ten best books that I have ever read! If you haven't read it, yet, I can't encourage you too much.

Also, as promised, I have been reading McL's book and am almost finished with it. Ironically, it appears that this discussion may be coming to an end!

If additional comments would be helpful, I would be glad to make them. I will make one now: Very early in this discussion I said that I felt that McL was full of ______. Having read most of his book, Everything Must Change, I humbly, retract that statement. I confess that I am sorry that I made it.

I wish I could sit down and have a face to face conversation with him. Since he lives so close, maybe that will happen some day. Some of what he says (in my opinion) is outstanding, some makes me wonder if he might be smoking something other than good cigars, and much leaves me feeling unsure about what he is saying . . . almost as though he is vacilating between two opinions. However, I am gald that I am reading the book. ERR

smokin joe said...

I know what you mean Randy ... his chapter 22 on war and violence gripped my heart ... but the chapter 24 on theocapitalism leaves me with very mixed feelings. At least he is really good at stirring people up ...

smokin joe said...

I said I was going to 'lay low' for a while didn't I? I guess I am a blogging addict.

I found this passage in N.T. Wright's book (Surprised by Hope) interesting in the light of our discussion.Speaking of the resurrection and the new creation Wright says,

"If what I have suggested is anywhere near the mark, then to insist on heaven and hell as the ultimate question--to insist, in other words, that what happens eventually to individual humans is the most important thing in the world--may be to make a mistake similar to the one made by the Jewish people in the first century, the mistake that both Jesus and Paul addressed.

How was God going to rescue Israel? What the gospel of Jesus revealed, however, was that the purposes of God were reaching out to a different question: how is God going to rescue the world through Israel ...?

Maybe what we are faced with in our own day is a similar challenge: to focus not on the question of whhich human beings God is going to take to heaven and how he is going to do it, but on the question of how God is going to rescue the world through human beings ... if we could reread Romans and the light of this reframing... I think we would find much food for thought" (p. 185).

Brian Emmet said...

New post is up!