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The Gospel in a Pluralist Society Paperback – October 30, 1989
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From the Back Cover
How does the gospel relate to a pluralist society? What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? Should Christians encountering today's pluralist society concentrate on evangelism or on dialogue? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians faith?
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I did take exception at one point in the book, however. In chapter 14, Newbigin expresses his views on inclusivist, exclusivist, and pluralist views of the Gospel. He draws a line between all three on pages 182-183 that I find to be both untenable and incorrect based on Scripture. I felt, similarly to what he did in the chapter on election, that he sidestepped many of the major points of the arguments too much, and in the end missed the point. I failed to recognize how he could maintain a seemingly contradictory position, and particularly in chapter 14 felt like I disagreed with him. I found myself writing “Is this true?” and “I disagree here” in the margins, and in the end I may have to be content being an exclusivist as he defines it.
This book will be applicable to my ministry. I like the way that he redefines many core concepts, and I will work to incorporate his new definitions into my vocabulary. Additionally, his arguments in various debates will prove useful for future study and teaching.
"The cross of Jesus is the place where all human beings without exception are exposed as enemies of God, and the place where all human beings without exception are accepted as beloved of God, objects of his forgiving grace" (pg. 86).
However, I do have two disagreements with Newbigin: I grow weary of the pitting of God's story/truth as narrative against doctrine/propositional theology (pg. 12). The Apostle Paul did both, he told the story of salvation from Abraham through Israel to Jesus and taught doctrinal truths that should be accepted and believed by every Christian. Second, Newbigin's embrace of Karl Rahner's anonymous Christian idea I found rather curious. To think that a sincerely seeking Hindu is really an anonymous Christian is actually insulting to the Hindu and still does not adequately explain how God judges those who have never heard the Gospel.
*The Gospel in a Pluralist Society* was ground breaking when written in 1989 at a time when the West was accepting the presuppositions of the post-modern worldview and the book still maintains its relevance as our society fully embraces the mindset of a supposedly tolerant, pluralistic, non-judging culture.