Saturday, January 30, 2010

Newbigin: asking the wrong question

Saturday, January 30, 2010
    Commemoration of Lesslie Newbigin, Bishop, Missionary, Teacher, 1998
    Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
    —1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
    If [instead of beginning with the fellowship,] we begin by saying that the Church exists where the Word is truly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, we are immediately involved in the attempt to answer the question, “What is correct doctrine and correct administration?” In fact, the latter question has tended to drop out of the centre of Protestant discussion, for the Word was really central and the Sacrament was conceived essentially as the Word made visible. “The Word,” says Luther, “is the one perpetual and infallible mark of the Church.” The natural result of this position is that the question of doctrinal correctness becomes the all important one. And, ex hypothesi, this question has to be discussed in isolation, apart from consideration of the character of the fellowship in which the doctrine is taught. The Church is defined in terms of agreement about doctrine, and this doctrinal agre! ement must be agreement on paper. A written theological statement becomes the one determinative centre of the Church’s life [instead of the unity of the believers in Christ].
    ... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), The Household of God, London, SCM Press, 1953, New York: Friendship Press, 1954, p. 51 (see the book)
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, grant us Your Spirit, that we may be united.
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