Thursday, November 24, 2016
Thursday Thinking - Newbigin: Jesus & Scripture
When we read, and meditate on, and immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, we become aware of the basic tensions within the Scriptures.
Place, for example, the book of Joshua alongside the Sermon on the Mount. Place the exclusivist writings of Ezra and Nehemiah alongside the inclusivist writings of Jonah and Ruth. Put Paul and James side by side on the doctrine of justification, or put Romans 13 and Revelation 13 side by side in search of a doctrine of the state. Plainly, these are simple examples of an immense internal critique which is going on throughout the whole of the Bible.
And that critique is part of the very life of the church, because a tradition remains living when it is constantly wrestling with questions of truth.
And the hermeneutical key to which I have referred—namely, the actual incarnation and ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—is the point at which this internal tension is historically actualized, which at its very heart is the tension between the holy wrath of God and the holy love of God, the ultimate tension which has its final manifestation and resolution in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, is the key by which we can understand the great internal tensions within the Scriptures.
Which means that when we read the Scriptures, we do not simply read individual passages by themselves and take them as they stand to be God’s Word for us, but that take the Scripture always in its canonical wholeness and read the whole of it within the perspective of its canonical wholeness and with the hermeneutical key of the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
– Lesslie Newbigin, “Scripture at the Locus of Truth,” The Trinity Journal for Theology and Ministry 4.2 (2010): 43-44
From Boston University School of Theology...
Newbigin, J(ames) E(dward) Lesslie (1909-1998)
British missionary bishop in India, theologian, and ecumenical statesman
Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, Newbigin was educated at the University of Cambridge, where he was brought to Christian faith through the ministry of the British Student Christian Movement, which he later served for two years as secretary in Glasgow. In 1936 he was ordained by the Church of Scotland for missionary work in India. He served as a village evangelist (1936-1947), as an architect and interpreter of the Church of South India (CSI), and as a bishop of the CSI in Madurai (1947-1959). In 1959 he became general secretary of the International Missionary Council (IMC) and guided it in 1961 to integration with the World Council of Churches (WCC), which he served until 1965 as associate general secretary, with responsibility for the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. He then returned to India as CSI bishop of Madras until 1974. During his postretirement years in England, he [was] professor of ecumenics and theology of mission at Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham (1974-1979), moderator of the United Reformed Church (1978-1979), and pastor of a small inner city United Reformed congregation in Birmingham (1979-1989). In 1982 he organized the Gospel and Our Culture group to explore the form of Christian mission to pagan Britain.
Newbigin was preeminent as a theologian passionately devoted to the mission and unity of the church. The influence of his thought and style are found in countless ecumenical conference reports he wrote or edited, in articles, sermons, and biblical studies throughout his career, and in his books, especially The Household of God (1953) and The Open Secret: Sketches for a Missionary Theology (1978, rev. ed. 1995). At the same time, engagement of Christian faith with the spirits and worldviews of modern society was his constant theme. His Honest Religion for Secular Man (1966) foreshadowed the substantive theology and social analysis of his later works, Foolishness to the Greeks (1986) and The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (1989).