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Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture Paperback – June 1, 1988
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--in Mission Focus
"This is an extraordinary book on contemporary missiology. Writing from four decades of experience in Christian mission, Lesslie Newbigin applies the same discernment involved in contextualizing the gospel in another culture to the issues involved in contextualizing the gospel in our Western culture. He lays bare the pervasive and subtle synergism that alters the gospel, and he calls us to a thorough critique of our culture and of the way in which we understand or misunderstand the gospel of Christ. . . Important reading for a stimulating perspective on the gospel and Western culture."
--in Christianity Today
"Newbigin's analysis is the best part of this stimulating book. I do not know of another such brilliantly comprehensive treatment of Western society."
"The central question posed by Bishop Newbigin in this stimulating book is: What would be involved in a genuinely missionary encounter between the gospel and Western culture? . . . The result is a very profound study. . . Newbigin has given us a masterful analysis of the essential features of Western culture and has pointed the way for an effective missionary encounter."
--in The Christian Century
"Newbigin's missionary enthusiasm and his experience in cross-cultural missions make this book far more invigorating than the usual disquisition on the problems of belief in the modern age. . . With his vast learning worn very lightly and, above all, with a deep commitment to the gospel, Newbigin pierces some holes in the secular plausibility structure that Christians have come in large part to accept."
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Top Customer Reviews
My purpose in these chapters is to consider what would be involved in a genuinely missionary encounter between the gospel and the culture that it shared by the peoples of Europe and North America, their colonial and cultural off-shoots, and the growing company of educated leaders in the cities of the world—the culture which those of us who share it usually describe as “modern” (Newbigin, Foolishness, 1).
Newbigin writes his book from the perspective of a missionary to India. He sets out to engage western culture on the basis of the way they perceive, think, and live. In chapter one, Newbigin argues that the cultural values of western society have so infused with the values of Christianity, that the two have often been confused. From his perspective as a missionary, Newbigin shows the dangers of this idea,
...It implied that what the missionary brought with him was the pure gospel, which had to be adapted to the receptor culture. It tended to obscure the fact that the gospel as embodied in the missionary’s preaching and practice was already an adapted gospel, shaped by his or her own culture (Newbigin, 2).Read more ›
Reviewed by Darren Cronshaw
Newbigin was a missionary in India for nearly 40 years and when he returned to England analysed modern Western culture from the perspective of an outsider using tools of cross-cultural communication. He urged treating the West as a mission field; 'a pagan society ... far more resistant to the gospel than the pre-Christian paganism with which cross-cultural missions have been familiar. ... the most challenging missionary frontier of our time.' (p.20).
Central to his discussion is how biblical authority can be a reality for those who are shaped by Western culture, and he goes on to consider the interaction of the gospel with science, politics, and economics. Since Newbigin the world has moved on, but he understood how the world had changed because of modernity and foresaw how it was changing with new trends. He articulated how the world is seen from a scientific framework, but also recognised the influence of new science. He commented on Augustine's relevance and Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions and paradigm shifts which are important to understand for our modern/postmodern transition. He argued the church should not be relegated to the private sphere, but neither is it a new political order. Although written twenty years ago and with only glimpses of postmodern thought, his conclusions are still worth hearing about the need for freedom, dialogue, "declericalized" theology, local ecumenical efforts, looking at cultures with the help of outside perspectives, and learning to proclaim truth with categories that ultimately can't be proved within modern frameworks.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Newbigin in his incredibly winsome and wise way has provided readers with a thorough assessment of culture. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John Zivojinovic
This is a good book for Christians that may not understand the conflict between modern society and a Christian lifestyle. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jesse Sandoval
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent. Excellent book. Should be in everybody's library.Published 10 months ago by K. A. Bailey
Heavy, but very challenging for evangelical Christians. The crux of the book is that we are drifting towards a culture / society that is comprised of public facts and private... Read morePublished 11 months ago by John
Had to read this book as part of a core curriculum at a Christian University. The book managed to be the driest, most boring, and yet most idiotic book I have ever had to read for... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Alex
Much like Hellenistic civilization at the zenith of its influence, modern Western civilization is the most pervasive and persuasive contemporary culture in the world today. Read morePublished on February 8, 2014 by Shawn Woo
Very enlightening way to spend a very cold day. Newbigin always has given me new ways of understanding old concepts.Published on January 5, 2014 by Amazon Customer
I highly recommend this book for any Christians who want to impact the modern Western culture in a significant way, yet have struggled to make effective progress. Read morePublished on December 22, 2013 by Joseph Dindinger