What a great book. There were definitely some dry spells there, but the last chapter was what the book was building to and it definitely paid off. I feel that Newbigin was very clear that our faith needs to be risked from time to time.
In the last chapter, “The Gospel Among the Religions” Newbigin reminds the readers that as enter into the religious dialogue with people, we are in essence risking our faith and our beliefs while still trusting the supremacy of Christ. If we are not risking our faith then we are not utilizing our faith.
One of the thoughts that jumped out at me was the need for kenosis, or self-emptying, whenever we go into this dialogue, it’s not about us. I think when we try to jump into the mission of the church, to often we try to go on our own knowledge or cleverness and end up with a one sided conversation. We can’t do this. We need to enter the discussion fully relying on Christ and the Holy Spirit, and we have to be willing to accept that our conversation with people who don’t believe, may end up changing us for the better. We may and can be transformed by an non-Christian, and that can be a good thing. We can learn about compassion, modesty, love, service, all from people who don’t follow Jesus. Is that so bad?
God is the father of truth, so if something is true and good, then it reflects God.
I’d like to add this paragraph from the book that I though was pretty powerful.
There is no substitute for the gift of discernment, no set of rules or institutional provisions by which we can be relieved of the responsibility for discernment. Dialogue cannot be “made safe for all possible risks.” The Christian who enters into dialogue with people of other faiths and ideologies is accepting the risk. But to put my Christianity at risk is precisely the way by which I confess Jesus Christ as Lord — Lord over all worlds and Lord over my faith. It is only as the church accepts the risk that the promise is fulfilled that the Holy Spirit will take all the treasures of Christ, scattered by the Father’s bounty over all the people and cultures of mankind, and declare them to the church as the possession of Jesus.
I read 1 John this morning, a book that is full of love and encouragement to keep serving God. And I think often what keeps us from serving God is this fear of risk.
But God is love and John reminds us that
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love.
Fear Not — Risk trusting God. If anyone wants a book that will remind them of the mission of the Church then The Open Secret by Leslie Newbigin is a great read.