Review: Foolishness to the Greeks By Lesslie Newbingin

Book Review

Foolishness to the Greeks

By Lesslie Newbingin

1986. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Co.

 

 

I am an avid reader, and as such, I am not always reading the current fiction. As a Biblical Counselor and teacher, I often find gems that are not on the NY Times Bestseller list. I came across this book in the bibliography of another book I was reading on apologetics. I found this one to be a gem.

 

Foolishness to the Greeks, is an expansion of the Warfield lectures given at Princeton Theological Seminary in March of 1984. Even though it is an old book, I found it to be a refreshing commentary on today’s church.

 

Lesslie Newbigin writes from his experience as a missionary to India for over forty years.  His focus is on Western Culture, the gospel, and how in today’s world a Christian can present the gospel in a way that is relevant to the Post-Enlightenment world. 

 

Newbigin begins by looking at the Post-Enlightenment Western World as a cultural mission’s problem.  He shows how Western ideas have permeated the church and rendered it somewhat ineffective. His view is not pessimistic, however, for he explains how the gospel does not accommodate cultures and is different from what most folks in the West think. He paints the Biblical Worldview as iconoclastic; it has something to say to everyone, everywhere, in any time; usually in criticism. The reason is that all men are tainted with sin and cannot, in their own strength, ever develop a utopian society. Being men, they will always corrupt it. Newbigin also looks at both sides of the Christian spectrum and shows where they are off the page in seeking to “help” God bring in the Kingdom.

 

Readers need to be open to changing their cherished views, even in their own understanding of their particular denomination. Denominations, says Newbigin, were not in the original design and are in fact a Western concept.

 

Not only does he dialogue with science and politics, but he also articulates seven ways in which Christians can re-engage their cultures and restore Christianity’s place in the world. It is not going backward, only forward, for as times change and people change; the gospel needs to be presented in a relevant context for today.

 

While this is an older book, it speaks cogently and effectively to today’s issues.  As a quick read, it can get you thinking about how effective you are as a Christian. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to do his or her best as a 21st century Ambassador for Christ. To get your own copy, click here.

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