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The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission Paperback – February 28, 1995
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Leslie Newbigin (1909-1998) was a theological missiologist/missionary and a missiological theologian. There are over six decades worth of his writings on mission theology and practice. Thus, he is considered to have had one of the greatest influences on the theology of mission in the twentieth century. Furthermore, Newbigin was a scholar practitioner since his works were always rooted in his living relationship with Jesus Christ; after all, he modeled what he wrote. He was also a Western missionary to India from 1936-1974, and upon returning to Great Britain, his missionary focus turned to the West (Shenk 1998).
The thesis of this book is that Christian mission is an open secret. It is open in the sense that the gospel is proclaimed to all without any boundaries, but it is a secret in that "it is manifest only to the eyes of faith" (Location 2556). As a result, mission cannot be relegated as a side task of the church, but it is the central calling and purpose of the church, yet the church does not own the mission, the mission is God's (Location 256). Newbigin's prophetic call to the church is for it to reemphasize its missionary character "to bring all things to their true end in the glory of the triune God" (Location 2556).
In the first section (Ch.1-3), Newbigin presents a historical background of missions and what the church's current situation is in the West. Although, this book was initially published in 1978, Newbigin's assessment of the state of the church is still profoundly accurate today in the twenty-first century. The missionary character of the church needs to be rediscovered, particularly in the West, in order for the church to live out its mission (Location 89). In the second part (Ch.Read more ›
Newbigin artfully informs us that missions is truly Trinitarian: declaring the Kingdom of God the Father, glorifying the person of Jesus, and accomplishing the labor of the Holly Spirit. He develops his theology of missions within the truths of Scripture. He also critiques the church growth movement's view of missions, showing how it greatly limits the focus on the Bible, resulting in the limiting of God's glory.
He masterfully addresses the topic of election and missions. Why be a missionary if God has already chosen His elect? As we look at how the truth of Scripture fits in with the history of the world, it is mandatory to realize that the true meaning of the world is found only in the Bible. Because of this, we must proclaim this faith in a public way and not privatize our faith as if it is not part of God's world history.
Newbigin points out that, "God's reign concerns history in its unity and totality." It is imperative that we bow to His authority in our witness to the human race. Often we determine missionary and evangelistic tactics depending on our own thoughts and strengths, forgetting the most important thing about the missions experience. It is not our ability that counts, it is God's.
I'm always blown away by Newbigin's writing with how prophetic. This book was originally written a couple of decades ago, and it seems as though that even in 2009, there is a necessity to read this sort of book on mission beyond the "pop culture" of missional books in the Christian publishing world.
This book will challenge your thinking with regards to pluralism and God's justice in the world, and it seems as though at a time when those things are becoming somewhat overused and ambiguous, a fresh reminder with what God says is necessary.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Powerful timeless truth that is deeply needed in Christian culture today.Published 17 months ago by paulivar
Dr. Lesslie Newbigin mentions and uses the Tamil language multiple times in the book, which is my mother tongue. Dr. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Emmanuel R. Paulpeter
The first 90% was excellent, offers the student new and exciting understanding of Mission work. Absolutely changes the concept of what could guide the worker. Read morePublished on January 8, 2014 by Amazon Customer
Overall I was impressed with this book. Newbigin combines his practical experience in the mission field with his academic studies to create an introduction to the theology of... Read morePublished on July 13, 2013 by R McGladdery
A must read for pastors! Everything we do as Christians and leaders is at its best explained in this book. A good book for your reference library!Published on June 10, 2013 by Sandra F. Wright
Newbigin takes the doctrine of election and puts it smack in the middle of mission which is where I think it has always belonged. Read morePublished on April 14, 2013 by Barry L Wissler
Newbigin writes an introduction to the theology of mission. His title implies that God's gospel is open to the world but secret to people of faith. Read morePublished on February 21, 2011 by Commissionary