The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society


How does the gospel relate to a pluralist society? What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? Should Christians encountering today's pluralist society concentrate on evangelism or on dialogue? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians' faith?

These kinds of questions are addressed in this noteworthy book by Lesslie Newbigin. A highly respected Christian leader and ecumenical figure, Newbigin provides a brilliant analysis of contemporary (secular, humanist, pluralist) culture and suggests how Christians can more confidently affirm their faith in such a context.

While drawing from scholars such as Michael Polanyi, Alasdair MacIntyre, Hendrikus Berkhof, Walter Wink, and Robert Wuthnow, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society is suited not only to an academic readership. This heartfelt work by a missionary pastor and preacher also offers to Christian leaders and laypeople some thoughtful, helpful, and provocative reflections.


The witness of the church has always taken place within a pluralistic milieu. During recent years, however, new perceptions of this milieu have emerged, and pluralism is fast assuming the character of an ideology. Hence the need to understand afresh the nature and role of the church’s mission in today’s pluralistic world.

Lesslie Newbigin’s book is an important contribution to the ongoing search within the ecumenical movement for an authentic expression of the meaning of the gospel and the mission of the church in the midst of a plurality of cultures and religions. Newbigin identifies the danger of relativism evident in a good deal of current discussion. He rejects the dichotomy between the “world of facts” and the “world of values.” He regrets the consequent attitude of timidity or of anxiety on the part of Christians, especially in the West. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society is a call to renewed confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an attempt to see “how as Christians we can more confidently affirm our faith in the kind of intellectual climate” in which we find ourselves.

Newbigin has the courage to take up a position and the conviction to defend it against what sometimes appear to be impossible odds. What he has to say—and says with refreshing clarity—comes out of his background of long pastoral experience, missionary commitment, ecumenical vision, and unwavering confidence in the gospel.

There is no dearth of books dealing with the status of the Christian faith and the task of the church in a pluralistic context. Many of them are written for academic audiences. Newbigin addresses a much wider readership. At several points he suggests how Christian people may respond in practical ways to the issues raised by our pluralistic sit-

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