“The World’s Questions are Not the Questions that Lead to Life.”

Leslie Newbigin 2Monday Discussion

Here’s a quote from my weekend reading that underscores the need for gospel-formed people to both live out and preach the good news.

“In discussions about the contemporary mission of the Church it is often said that the Church ought to address itself to the real questions people are asking. That is to misunderstand the mission of Jesus and the mission of the Church. The world’s questions are not the questions that lead to life. What really needs to be said is that where the Church is faithful to its Lord, there the powers of the kingdom are present and people begin to ask the questions to which the gospel is the answer. And that, I suppose, is why the letters of St. Paul contain so many exhortations to faithfulness but no exhortations to be active in mission.”

[Leslie Newbegin in “The Logic of Mission” New Directions in Mission & Evangelism 2, edited  by James A. Scherer and Stephen B. Bevans, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1994), 19, bold emphasis added.]


If the world’s [natural] questions don’t lead to life, what does the world need to hear from and see in us, in order to ask the right questions?

4 thoughts on ““The World’s Questions are Not the Questions that Lead to Life.”

  1. I’ll need to further investigate the context of the Newbigin quote, but to say that there are “no exhortations to be active in mission is a stretch. Don’t you think? It was also Newbigin who said;

    “The Church is the pilgrim people of God…hastening to the ends of the earth to beseech all men to be reconciled to God, and hastening to the end of time to meet its Lord who will gather all into one.”

    I don’t think he’s saying that by implication we don’t need to be missionary-ish, is he?


    1. Yes, I agree. I don’t think that is what he is saying, or what he means. So I would agree, that the last line is a bit of a stretch, even for Newbigin.

      Of course, my focus is on the quandry that he poses. We can’t take our cues from culture on how we announce the gospel. The gospel is news that we herald not news that we spin for the spirit of the age. I think that is his larger point.


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