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Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt And Certainty In Christian Discipleship
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Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt And Certainty In Christian Discipleship

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Looking to end the divisive conflict that has raged between Christians who attack each other either as "liberals" or as "fundamentalists," Newbigin here gives a historical account of the roots of this conflict in order to begin laying the foundation for a middle ground that will benefit the Christian faith as a whole. What results is a perspective that allows Christians to ...more
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Steph Miller
At the risk of sounding fanatical, I will begin by saying I wish more Christians would read Newbigin! He is such a *deep* thinker, and has really helped me sort through my uneasiness about the fundamentalist focus on "certainty." He traces this back to Descartes and the West's resulting dependence on dualistic thinking, particularly where it comes to the objective vs. the subjective. I love how he so eloquently brought Michael Polanyi into the conversation, with an emphasis on his concept of "pe ...more
A very helpful book. Newbigin critiques Descartes' program to find absolute certainty in our knowledge, "certainty" here meaning validation of a truth claim beyond any conceivable doubt. He succinctly maps out many of the historical consequences of the Descartes' influence on western thought and culture, a culture which has largely and with deep irony abandoned the possibility of having absolute certainty in knowledge.

In place of exalting doubt as the key principle in a search for knowledge, Ne
2nd time through. This has become a favorite. There is more work to be done, but Newbigin lays the groundwork for a theological insistence on all of reality as personal revelation. Newbigin briefly outlines the Cartesian revolution, the so-called Enlightenment, and shows how Pure Reason necessarily ends in Nihilism. If the entire Cartesian experiment is called into question, then there must be another way. Ultimate reality is personal. Personal knowledge relies on faith, not sight. No trust in o ...more
Israel Ruiz
You can' afford not reading it.
Full of good insights on the lack of neutrality anywhere. In places he is weak on the authority of Scripture. Just because we must be humble in our approach to Scripture does not mean it lacks "indubitable certainties." We can be certain about the infallibility of Scripture while cheerfully acknowledging our personal fallibility. In fact, Scripture requires it.
Tim Hoiland
My interest in Newbigin was rekindled after hearing Michael Goheen speak recently about his personal and scholarly interest in bringing the best thinking of Newbigin together with the ideas of Abraham Kuyper as a cohesive framework he calls “missional Kuyperianism.”

With this in mind I recently read Newbigin’s Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Eerdmans). It’s a little book with big implications. Newbigin presents an alternative to both the theologically lib
Nate Walker
This book changed my life my first year of seminary. It taught me the humility to see my knowledge of God was not as a scientist mastering his subject, but as a person being mastered and encountered by a personal God. The fruit of this was it freed me to listen to others much better than I had. I will never have the level of control over the knowledge of God that modernity and fundamentalism seek. I have simply responded to Jesus call, "Follow me." There is no avoiding that my knowledge of him i ...more
This book is extremely helpful in understanding today's division between liberal/fundamentalist Christianity. Newbigin traces the path of secular ideas throughout modern history and shows that our understanding of "truth" is more bound by the psuedo-logic of Descartes and Enlightenment thinking than anything truly biblical. (For example, why start our foundational knowledge with "I think, therefore I am" instead of "I love, therefore I am"? It is an arbitrary starting point.) If our confidence a ...more
newbigin is brilliant in this volume, as always. however, this felt like a more condensed version of "gospel in a pluralist society". the only additions i really noticed were a more in-depth history on the development of enlightenment thought in europe and more direct reference and quoting of polanyi (whose epistemology newbigin rests on heavily). though i did enjoy it since it has been a while since i read gospel in a pluralist society, i'd save your money on this volume and just go for Gospel ...more
One of the best books I've ever read. Simple (I believe it's 100 pages or less) and applicable (deals with one of our current ways of thinking). It was wonderful for me because these were the questions I'd been having - what is the nature of knowledge? how does a person put down roots, into a belief, in such a complex world? and how should I think about certainty? - and no other book, or human being, had either addressed them or addressed them this well. Wonderful.
Robert Murphy
This is a dense, dense book that made me slow way down and consider what it was saying. The foremost impression I have is of a man who was an avowed liberal and had moved very much to the right, but wanted to reach colleagues of all theological stripes. Because it is a small book, he probably achieved his goal, but I'm not sure this book will help everyone. Personally, I find D.A. Carson more lucid and Van Til more insightful in picking an choosing a "proper" path between Modernism and Postmoder ...more
Theresa Pendant
Fascinating look at epistemology and theology. He criticizes both fundamental and liberal Christians saying that our faith is neither an objective truth (meaning divorced from context and relationship) nor something to be endlessly doubted. I might start it over and read it again soon. Lots to chew on.
So much to think about

After reading a biography of Descartes last year I am intrigued to hear the thoughts in this book; thoughts that question the foundations of modern culture. In many ways Earth shaking if you think about it. Humbly written, I consider myself indebted to the author. Definitely worth the read, it's quite likely you may decide at some page that you wish to throw the book across the room (if it's an electronic copy I wouldn't recommend this).
Still digesting this piece and will probably revisit it many times. Newbigin helpfully deconstructs the modernist epistemic project (or rather, points out how historically it has devolved into skepticism). Using the insights of Hungarian scientist Michael Polanyi, Newbigin attempts to reconstruct a Christian conception of knowing that avoids modern counterfeits (which are bankrupt) and embraces the biblical story as the true story of the world.
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
Newbigin was so important in my intellectual growth. This and "Foolishness to the Greeks" (which I liked more) give the Christian (and non-Christian) such an important understanding of how society has changed and developed since the Enlightenment. For the Christian it outlines how one should operate (or what the "Proper Confidence" they should have in today's age. Really fast read, if you like it you should aslo read "Foolishness to the Greeks."
This was a good introduction to Christian Epistemology. Really enjoyed his treatment on how to approach skeptics. All knowledge is built in trust, skeptics trust in their skepticism. I disagree with his take on Anselm subverting Augustine's "I believe to know" to "I know so I can believe." Anselm used logic to better understand what he believed, hence his "Why God became Man."
Dean P.
Newbigin does a good job approaching rationalism and the traditional Christian apologetics in this short book, arguing for a more appropriate view of certainty in regards to faith in modern life. His prose is a little over-academic at times and gets lost in the pages, but overall it is a short, helpful volume.
A book does not have to be long to be deep or "thick"!!

This is a five-star in the world of theology books. Newbigin challenges us to move beyond Enlightenment dichotomies and to understand things from a radically new starting point. There are some great quotes here that I might add.
Ryan Greer
Newbigin is a great writer with important lessons that need to be heard. I liked this book but found it a little tedious at times, if you're in to abstract thought and philosophy then I recommend it.
Parker Melvin
This book had a big impact on my faith.
Frank Peters
The content is worth 5 stars. Newbigin challenges the very way in which we approach our thinking. I am beginning to think he is correct.
Vintage Newbigin...taking the Gospel seriously and taking our culture seriously and helping us find our way as we navigate our journey.
One needs to wade through the philosophic history to get to Newbigin's major points... necessary but slow reading for me.
Dave Courtney
One of my favorite books on faith by a leading theologian. Highly recommended, and still relevant today.
Carlos Pellot
Este libro no es para ser leído. ¡Debe ser REleído! This book is not a must-read. It's a must-REread!
Jamie Lynn
I thought this was a tough read but over all it had a really solid message
Kevin Norman
One of the best - if not the best - "apologetic" books I've ever read.
Mike Bradham
re-reading this one right now (Feb 2011)
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What is Newbigin's approach to apologetics? 1 4 Jun 15, 2014 11:52AM  
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Bishop James Edward Lesslie Newbigin (8 December 1909 – 30 January 1998) was a British theologian, missiologist, missionary and author. Though originally ordained within the Church of Scotland, Newbigin spent much of his career serving as a missionary in India and became affiliated with the Church of South India and the United Reformed Church, becoming one of the Church of South India's first bish ...more
More about Lesslie Newbigin...
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture The Open Secret Truth to Tell: The Gospel as Public Truth A Walk Through the Bible

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“One does not learn anything except by believing something, and -- conversely -- if one doubts everything one learns nothing. On the other hand, believing everything uncritically is the road to disaster. The faculty of doubt is essential. But as I have argued, rational doubt always rests on faith and not vice versa. The relationship between the two cannot be reversed. ” 6 likes
“But if the biblical story is true, the kind of certainty proper to a human being will be one which rests on the fidelity of God, not upon the competence of the human knower. It will be a kind of certainty which is inseparable from gratitude and trust.” 4 likes
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