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Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and…

Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Lesslie Newbigin

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Title:Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship
Authors:Lesslie Newbigin
Info:Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1995), Paperback, 105 pages
Collections:Your library, @Church
Tags:Non-Fiction, Religion, Theology

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Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship by Lesslie Newbigin (1995)



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There are great facts in this book. There is some truth. There is a great deal of equivocation over truth as fact versus truth as direction/moral reality/purpose (etc.). I'm not sure Newbigin even defines truth in one place. He dances around it, but his rampant equivocation makes extraction of a cogent definition nigh on impossible. Unfortunately, this problem lies at the core of his thesis.
  quakkelaar | May 15, 2013 |
Towards the end of a long missionary, ecclesiatical, theological (all those interlocking sub-worlds) life Newbigin revisited territory he had visited many times before. But he did so now with a brevity and clarity that he had never attained in his earlier wrestling matches with post-modernity, especially Foolishness to the Greeks and The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Tackling the Scylla and Charybdis (or perhaps the lovechild of Scylla and Charybdis) of post-modern liberalism and fundamentalism, and with a foray into 'the catholic tradition of natural theology' (a title that he uses in a manner different to my own expectation of the label) he argues that the logos of Christ, or the logos-Christ perhaps, must stand as the critic of all alternative bases of theological and philosophical enquiry.

Many years ago I read of the experience of feminist women gasping their amens and shedding their tears as they encountered feminist biblical hermeneutics. There is a sense of 'coming home' for all of us whenever we hear the words of those who speak our language: Newbigin spoke mine. I muttered my amens and came close to shedding my tears as Newbigin steered his course. Although he does not cite Barth there is this clear, ringing Barthian chant that the revelation that is and is in Jesus Christ is the criterion by which all statements are judged. Newbigin said this of course in Foolishness to the Greeks, even in that tender Johannine commentary The Light Has Come, but here he says it one last time, so succinctly. He lays down a hermeneutical gauntlet: post modern liberalism and fundamentalism alike stand challenged if not hoist by their cartesian petard.

My liberal friends and my fundamentalist friends alike will (and do) mutter dismissive imprecations. I, as one who holds to a deep-seated sense of the otherness of God and of Incarnation and of Revelation, I will simply weep my amens. But my life is enriched for a two or three day journey back into Newbigin's deep integrity and godward thought. He will persuade only the persuaded, I suppose, but thank God even for that. ( )
  zappa | Jan 31, 2012 |
Proper Confidence is the fruit of a lifetime. Lesslie Newbigin's bio blurb describes him as "an internationally esteemed British missionary, pastor, apologist, theologian, and ecumenical statesman." In this book, published three years before his death, he described his vision of true apologetics. Proper confidence cannot be found by imposing modern or even post-modern methods of inquiry on the question of God. No, we need to question the very worldview that informs our lives to find our way home. No doubt, Newbigin's lifetime of cross-cultural experiences gave him the perspective required to criticize and to transcend his own cultural presuppositions.

It's difficult to summarize Newbigin's argument since, at 105 pages, it's already quite dense. Nonetheless, here's what I understand as the core of his book: We find God and our confidence in his reality as we commit to following him. A good analogy is the relationship between husband and wife. You can learn a lot about your spouse by observing him or her from a distance—but you can not truly know the other person. True knowledge of the other only comes in relationship.

Newbigin doesn't waste any words here. Each chapter is pregnant with insight. Our worldviews are so deeply inset, this book is an antidote worth reading and rereading. This was my first foray into Newbigin's corpus. It will not be my last. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Jul 7, 2011 |
Basically a summary of his teaching that all knowledge has to be personal, and how this impacts the three different approaches to Christianity, the catholic, evangelical and liberal. You cannot have knowledge without a prior commitment of some sort. Ours is to the trust that God has committed himself to the world through his son Jesus Christ. Totally objective truth cannot be attained in any area that metters, mathematics is not enough. ( )
  oataker | Mar 27, 2010 |
Briefly mapping the intellectual history of Europe since Augustine, Newbigin sets a path towards an appropriate understanding of faith in a postmodern context. In the midst of this ambitious project, Newbigin also weighs the critiques and responses of liberal, fundamentalist and natural theologies in this intellectual climate. Newbigin provides a brief yet incredibly insightful overview of the place of faith within the postmodern milieu. A ( )
  bsanner | Jun 26, 2008 |
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