Leslie Newbigin's book, a well-thought-out and well-intentioned attempt to relate the gospel to the postmodernist movement, brings to bear the hopes and frustrations of Newbigin fostered by three experiences and motivations: his work in missions in India, his leadership role in evangelism with the theologically deteriorating World Council of Churches in the 1950s, and his desire for a church united in the truth of the gospel. He correctly sees the weakness in modern Western culture that splits what we can know in terms of "facts" taught, for example, in the public schools, against doctrine, or what we can only hold as personal experience or belief that is "good for us," a personal decision. While there are scientific truths in postmodern culture on which everyone can agree, there are no moral rights or wrongs that are not completely personalized and therefore completely relative, mere internalized values instead of facts. As Newbigin says,
But what are facts? It is certainly not more than a hundred years since children in Scotland learned at an early stage that "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." This was as much a fact as the movement of the stars.... Today it is not taught as fact. It may be included in a syllabus of religious studies ... for it is a fact that some people do have these beliefs. (15)"The language of values has replaced the traditional language of right and wrong" (17). This is the basis for the radical religious and moral dualism, founded on the work of Descartes, that makes "ultimate reality unknowable" (18). "The unknown god is a convenient object of belief, since its character is a matter for me to decide" (21).
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Issue: "Faith A La Carte? The Emergent Church" July/August 2005 Vol. 14 No. 4 Page number(s): 26-27
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