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Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship

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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 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 confidently affirm the gospel as public truth in our pluralistic world.


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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 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 confidently affirm the gospel as public truth in our pluralistic world.

30 review for Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 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 "personal knowledge." This book was recommended to me by a wonderful speaker, Jeff Adams, who lectured on this subject - certainty (among others), at a recent L'Abri conference. I was so encouraged to hear Christians recognizing and discussing this misguided notion of certainty, upon which the church has become so dependent. Adams' use of the alternative phrase "assurance" really captured Newbigin's concept (aided by Polanyi's ideas) of the personal relationship we have with the living word of God, the person of Jesus Christ. This is in stark contrast to the impersonal knowledge of "objective" facts. It is my prayer that Christians would cease to claim that they have an objective, factual certainty and would instead embrace their faith in the person of Jesus Christ as he reveals himself to us. We have "assurance in a person" not "certainty in facts." Heed the wise words from an old hymn: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!"

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily Jusuf

    This text was recommended by an IV staff member to a friend who at the time was struggling with, amongst other things, how we could know Christianity to be true, and how we could be sure that we were not just making a huge mistake. The friend and I bought the book to read together. In short, from what I understand, Newbigin’s answer is that we can’t, but that it is deeply wrong to think that only what is indubitable can be true. God has revealed himself to us not through incontrovertible evidenc This text was recommended by an IV staff member to a friend who at the time was struggling with, amongst other things, how we could know Christianity to be true, and how we could be sure that we were not just making a huge mistake. The friend and I bought the book to read together. In short, from what I understand, Newbigin’s answer is that we can’t, but that it is deeply wrong to think that only what is indubitable can be true. God has revealed himself to us not through incontrovertible evidence, but in the form of a person, Jesus, whom knowing, if we were to know him, would have to involve some personal relation—the way we can understand inert things through impersonal observation, but know another human being only by being with them, trusting on some level what they are saying, giving and receiving, opening ourselves up to being changed by them. I’m usually skeptical of apologetics because of the tendency to try to argue for Christianity in a watertight and logical manner (as much as I love you, I’m looking at you, C.S. Lewis). A quote from one from my favorite writers: “Nothing true can be said about God from a posture of defense” (Gilead). It is precisely this obligation in apologetics to justify faith by “objective” means that Newbigin is trying to take away. His main argument, from Michael Polanyi, is that there is no knowledge of reality, not even in science, which does not rest on some personal commitment of faith. Descartes’s insistence on separating thought from action is an error that still haunts us, since it shields us from the fact that truth cannot be discovered apart from actions and decisions on our part. The first half of the book was intensely and unnecessarily esoteric, but the overall line of argument was surprisingly compelling, in addition to being something I had not heard before. From his argument, Newbigin explains why knowing God is less a matter of belief than a matter of doing, and addresses the impasse between fundamentalist and liberal Christianity by mentioning what he thinks each has to learn from the other. Rather than embarking on the feeble quest to justify Christianity within the standards of reason and plausibility, he invites us to rework our conception of the universe from a basis of faith in the story of the gospel. To the question “How do we know?” Newbigin responds: it is by grace that we are invited to know; by faith that we respond, and afterwards come to know. “I am only a witness, not the Judge who alone can give the final verdict,” he writes. Because it is by grace that we know, we may not have definite proof, but despite the challenges of proceeding in its absence, we are “under obligation—the obligation of a debtor to the grace of God in Jesus Christ—to give [our] witness” (94).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joel Wentz

    Outstanding, and worth revisiting (which I plan to do regularly). Newbigin is conversant in broad streams of history, philosophy, and theology, and manages to weave them all together into a an argument with seismic implications: the West's worship of epistemological 'certainty' inevitably leads towards nihilism and disaster (a proposal that's hard to ignore in 2019). He systematically responds to thoughtful counter-arguments, ultimately leveling a significant critique at both liberal and fundame Outstanding, and worth revisiting (which I plan to do regularly). Newbigin is conversant in broad streams of history, philosophy, and theology, and manages to weave them all together into a an argument with seismic implications: the West's worship of epistemological 'certainty' inevitably leads towards nihilism and disaster (a proposal that's hard to ignore in 2019). He systematically responds to thoughtful counter-arguments, ultimately leveling a significant critique at both liberal and fundamentalist approaches to Christianity. And he manages to do all this in 100 pages.... I found this small book inspiring, challenging, and exciting, but the reader should know that Newbigin writes with a philosophical density that could be headache-inducing for those who aren't used to that style. The implications of his thought are also so far-reaching that grasping the enormity can be similarly headache-causing, but I would still recommend this to anyone interested in the state of the West, or post-Enlightenment Christianity.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    4.5 Stars. The following is not strictly a review but a brief reflection I wrote for a class at Regent College where this was required reading. Lesslie Newbigin’s essay on what constitutes a proper level of knowledge or confidence (‘with faith’) does an excellent job of making both the valuable insights and the fatal flaws of postmodern hermeneutics available to the church. He shows how the new paradigm or framework through which to interpret reality, made available in God’s self revelation in 4.5 Stars. The following is not strictly a review but a brief reflection I wrote for a class at Regent College where this was required reading. Lesslie Newbigin’s essay on what constitutes a proper level of knowledge or confidence (‘with faith’) does an excellent job of making both the valuable insights and the fatal flaws of postmodern hermeneutics available to the church. He shows how the new paradigm or framework through which to interpret reality, made available in God’s self revelation in both his written word and in the Word incarnate, is not the detached Cartesian objective certainty of modernism (21-25) and nor is it postmodernism’s hermeneutic of suspicion (83) through which to identify the leveraging of groups vying for power over those they would control. Rather, all knowledge is based on a faith commitment, presuppositions of how we know and what can be known, even what questions to ask, which comes prior to attempts or acts of knowing. Newbigin appropriates the insights of Polanyi on the philosophy of knowledge to show that all real knowledge is tacit knowledge, received from a tradition or passed on as though by apprenticeship, implicit in our cultural/societal context. This is true even for scientific knowledge which attempts to interpret or make sense of any data it observes (39-64). Polanyi’s insights also lead to the conclusion that knowing how something works is not the deepest level of knowledge about something. If a personal God created it with a telos, and all created reality together has a telos, then the deepest level of knowing is personal knowledge (58-62). Knowledge is moral, therefore. True knowledge is not merely the intellectual apprehension of facts. It is rather a relational orientation toward God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, Newbigin reminds us (96). True knowledge is to know things in their greater context of purpose and possibility, which are inherently connected to God’s will for them. We must be rightly oriented toward Jesus Christ, the one to whom history points and in whose hands the future lies. Jesus Christ is the loving self-giving revelation of the one who created and upholds the universe. The truest knowledge is only available in right relationship with Christ as revealed in the word and experienced in the church. It is the Christian mission to declare in word and deed the narrative of truth upon which and within which we are granted self-understanding and orientation to reality. It is our orientation relative to Christ’s question, “who do you say that I am?” and his command to “come, follow me” wherein humanity finds its true place. This must be embraced by faith, and yet it takes no less faith to reject Christ for some other paradigm of reality, which will no doubt often fit better within the plausibility structures of the present time, but which will ultimately accord less satisfaction because it is just not true. [*Newbigin makes essentially the same argument here about the nature of knowledge as Andrew Louth does in "Discerning the Mystery," where Louth draws on the insights of both Polanyi and Gadamer. While Newbigin’s book does not engage the concept of tacit knowledge (and other aspects of Polanyi and Gadamer) to the depth and extent Louth does in the context of biblical hermeneutics and liturgy/tradition, I am happy to have read this because it is a far more accessible book to recommend to non-specialists in theology or hermeneutics – a simple and easy to understand summary yet one based on no less thoughtful and critical reflection on the church as a witnessing community in the world.]

  5. 5 out of 5

    cindy

    A challenge to those who hold tightly onto the superiority of scientific objectivism (via Polanyi). Also compares/contrasts objectivism with the certainty Christians hold for the Jesus narrative. Quotations with page numbers from the Eerdmans 1995 print. In one of the most concise statements of his position, Polanyi, after speaking of “the personal participation of the knower in all acts of understanding,” goes on: But this does not make our understanding subjective. Comprehension is neither an arb A challenge to those who hold tightly onto the superiority of scientific objectivism (via Polanyi). Also compares/contrasts objectivism with the certainty Christians hold for the Jesus narrative. Quotations with page numbers from the Eerdmans 1995 print. In one of the most concise statements of his position, Polanyi, after speaking of “the personal participation of the knower in all acts of understanding,” goes on: But this does not make our understanding subjective. Comprehension is neither an arbitrary act nor a passive experience, but a responsible act claiming universal validity. Such knowledge is indeed objective in the sense of establishing contact with a hidden reality, contact that is defined as the condition for anticipating an indeterminate range of as yet unknown (and perhaps yet inconceivable) true implications. It seems reasonable to describe this fusion of the personal and the objective as personal knowledge. (Polanyi, Personal Knowledge). (43-44) The elimination of the concept of purpose from our efforts to understand the world has momentous consequences. With one stroke it creates the split between fact and value, a split which is such an important part of our culture. The reason why it causes this split is obvious. If one has no idea of the purpose for which a thing exists, one cannot say whether it is good or bad. It may be good for some purpose but not for others. It has been a central axiom of modernity that one cannot argue from a statement of fact to a judgment of value. (56) Cause is something that can be discovered by observation and reason. Purpose is not available for inspection because, until the purpose has been realized, it is hidden in the mind of the one whose purpose it is.. The modern antithesis of observation and reason on the one hand versus revelation and faith on the other is only tenable on the basis of a prior decision that the whole cosmic and human story has no purpose and therefore no meaning. It is possible to make this assumption, but it is not necessary. The question whether the cosmos and human life within it have any purpose other than the individual purposes we seek to impose on things is one that cannot be decided by observation. If we live with a prior assumption that human life has no purpose, then we shall act accordingly, and there will be no possibility whatsoever of discovering its purpose. As I have argued, only by an act of disclosure of the purpose of human life can we learn that it indeed has a purpose, and such an act of disclosure can only be personal, a revelation. (57-58) Buber brilliantly expounded the radical difference between two kinds of knowing: that in which I am the masterful actor handling inert material which I am free to interrogate, to manipulate, and to organize,and that in which I am seeking to know another person who can resist my efforts to know and who can interrogate me and make me the object of inquiry. (60) In The Tacit Dimension (1966), Polanyi addresses the question to which I have already referred: What is a problem? Scientific discovery begins with the recognition of a problem.. But what is a problem? To recognize a problem, says Polanyi, is “to have an intimation of the coherence of hitherto not comprehended particulars,” and the problem is good if this intimation is true. To recognize a good problem is thus to see something which is hidden, and not visible. (62) If we are to use the word “certainty” here, then it is not the certainty of Descartes. It is the kind of certainty expressed in such words as those of the Scriptures: “I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12). Note here two features of this kind of assurance which distinguish it from the ideal of certainty we have inherited from the Age of Reason. In the first place, the locus of confidence (if one may put it so) is not in the competence of our own knowing, but in the faithfulness and reliability of the one who is known. The weight of confidence rests there and not here with us. Secondly, the phrase “until that day” reminds us that this is not a claim to possess final truth but to be on the way that leads to the fullness of truth. I do not possess the truth, so that I do not need to be open to new truth; rather, I am confident that the one in whom I have placed my trust, the one to whom I am committed, is able to bring me to the full grasp of what I now only partly understand. (66-67)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan Bouchelle

    Essential Read This is Newbigin at his best. Helpful for responding to the new atheists, reductionist modern theological liberals, fundamentalists, and post-modern nihilists. He explains well that we cannot know anything with the kind of certainty that modernity tried to promise, but we can know with confidence the God who calls us into his story. He demonstrates well that the concept of objectivity is naive, but that does not mean we are only left only with subjective leaps of faith and arbitrar Essential Read This is Newbigin at his best. Helpful for responding to the new atheists, reductionist modern theological liberals, fundamentalists, and post-modern nihilists. He explains well that we cannot know anything with the kind of certainty that modernity tried to promise, but we can know with confidence the God who calls us into his story. He demonstrates well that the concept of objectivity is naive, but that does not mean we are only left only with subjective leaps of faith and arbitrary meta narratives. For people who can’t buy the false confidence fundamentalism but can’t accept scripture as merely an account of people’s experience of God, this is a God send.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    I enjoyed this in the same way I enjoyed a bowl of ramen as I read the final chapters. All together good and rich, but like the ramen had a floaty egg that I avoided...Newbigin too had a few things I would caution to avoid.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    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 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, Newbigin uses Biblical insights, Augustine's work on epistemology, and the philosophy of Michael Polanyi to give a role to both faith and doubt in our search to know the world. He is affirming personal commitment to knowledge which can be doubted. Proper confidence, not certainty, is available to the human knower. The book is also a confident assertion of the truth of Christianity. It is a book worth revisiting and pondering.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jaran Miller

    While providing a helpful critique of Descartes' epistemology, Newbigin has bolstered my confidence in Jesus and the appropriateness of my adherence to Christianity. Newbigin claims that possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge is far inferior to personal commitment. For Christians, this is a commitment to a relationship with Jesus. I've never before read a defense of Christianity as contained in this book, but I have found it to be truly helpful. While providing a helpful critique of Descartes' epistemology, Newbigin has bolstered my confidence in Jesus and the appropriateness of my adherence to Christianity. Newbigin claims that possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge is far inferior to personal commitment. For Christians, this is a commitment to a relationship with Jesus. I've never before read a defense of Christianity as contained in this book, but I have found it to be truly helpful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Simply put, this is essential reading for understanding the Western mind in relation to "faith, doubt, and certainty." Being only a little over 100 pages it is mostly introductory, but what a full introduction it is. Simply put, this is essential reading for understanding the Western mind in relation to "faith, doubt, and certainty." Being only a little over 100 pages it is mostly introductory, but what a full introduction it is.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Soren Johnson

    Fantastic! Newbigin beautifully argues that the postmodern critique of modernist epistemology (which has undergirded the supposed divide between science and faith) reveals the untenability of Cartesian certainty and the necessity of faith within any belief system.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Israel Ruiz

    You can' afford not reading it. You can' afford not reading it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Weston

    Clear, erudite, warm-hearted, and aside from a dig at inerrantists, full of inspiring confidence in knowing God. I particularly appreciated his appropriation of Polanyi and his critique of autonomous human reason. A couple of choice quotations: "The locus of confidence (if one may put it so) is not in the competence of our own knowing, but in the faithfulness and reliability of the one who is known." "No one who has been deeply immersed in the biblical narrative could ever again entirely escape fro Clear, erudite, warm-hearted, and aside from a dig at inerrantists, full of inspiring confidence in knowing God. I particularly appreciated his appropriation of Polanyi and his critique of autonomous human reason. A couple of choice quotations: "The locus of confidence (if one may put it so) is not in the competence of our own knowing, but in the faithfulness and reliability of the one who is known." "No one who has been deeply immersed in the biblical narrative could ever again entirely escape from the presence of that One, God, so tender and yet so terrible, so passionate in his wrathful love and his loving wrath, forever calling on those who turn their backs on him, forever humbling himself in tender appeal, forever challenging his children to the heights of utter purity, and finally accepting the shameful death of a condemned sinner in order to open for us the gate of glory. There is absolutely nothing in all the world's sacred scriptures that can be compared for a moment with this."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Burrell

    This book made me think, and helped me in defining the story of the Bible as my foundational supposition, rather than the Cartesian principles that we often unknowingly place underneath it. I'm not sure that I agreed with all his conclusions, especially in Chapter 6. He exposes the false "principle of analogy" that states that all historical incidents must be analogous to other historical examples (there is no "new thing"). He debunks this, and yet as he then describes his concerns with plenary This book made me think, and helped me in defining the story of the Bible as my foundational supposition, rather than the Cartesian principles that we often unknowingly place underneath it. I'm not sure that I agreed with all his conclusions, especially in Chapter 6. He exposes the false "principle of analogy" that states that all historical incidents must be analogous to other historical examples (there is no "new thing"). He debunks this, and yet as he then describes his concerns with plenary verbal inspiration, he seems to fall directly into to the trap he just exposed... saying that God had to reveal himself then in the same way that he always does now. Despite this, I understand what he's trying to establish and agree that it is possible to have a strong confidence in things that can still lack Descartes objective proof... things that can be doubted, and are built within our faith.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    This was an amazing read. Honestly, this is a book I will probably come back to again and again. It is full of incredibly thoughtful ideas that are important to consider, many of which I hadn't considered in the way that Newbigin articulates. I'm not sure I agree with everything he says, but he is clearly brilliant, and I really want to contemplate it some more. So, why not 5 stars? Well, It's very short. I like that, but he packs so much into it and covers so much ground, that it make for a very This was an amazing read. Honestly, this is a book I will probably come back to again and again. It is full of incredibly thoughtful ideas that are important to consider, many of which I hadn't considered in the way that Newbigin articulates. I'm not sure I agree with everything he says, but he is clearly brilliant, and I really want to contemplate it some more. So, why not 5 stars? Well, It's very short. I like that, but he packs so much into it and covers so much ground, that it make for a very dense book that requires a slow read. Every paragraph is dense and requires a lot of active thought to make it through. I had to reread several paragraphs as I made my way though, realizing that I wasn't really following it closely enough. Secondly, it is incredibly abstract. I don't mind that so much, but for people who do better with concrete thinking, this book will be a struggle. Honestly, if this book had added some good concrete examples, it could have been double or triple the length, and more accessible to a wider audience. As it is, it is incredibly intellectual and difficult. I'm reasonably wired for this kind of writing, so I still really enjoyed it. But I would be careful about who I recommend this book to because of it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annie Monson

    (4.5) The purpose of this book is “to commend the truth of the gospel in a culture that has sought for absolute certainty as the ideal of true knowledge but now despairs of the possibility of knowing truth at all, a culture that therefore responds to the Christian story by asking, ‘But how can we know that it is true?’” This book does not seek to fit Christianity into our post-Enlightenment framework to make it make sense, but rather to enter God’s framework by faith and there know the truth — a (4.5) The purpose of this book is “to commend the truth of the gospel in a culture that has sought for absolute certainty as the ideal of true knowledge but now despairs of the possibility of knowing truth at all, a culture that therefore responds to the Christian story by asking, ‘But how can we know that it is true?’” This book does not seek to fit Christianity into our post-Enlightenment framework to make it make sense, but rather to enter God’s framework by faith and there know the truth — and let post-modern despair dissolve at the heart of the gospel. I find philosophy very hard to read, and this book covers a lot of it. Brief but dense, and overall, crucial!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Abbott

    I know this book is supposed to be a classic theological book, but I had a very difficult time getting anything out of it. I had to read it for a theology class I'm taking. It was written in 1995. I guess they didn't use headings and sub- headings back then, or at least this author didn't. Each long chapter was just paragraph after paragraph of difficult concepts. If there were subheadings, I feel like I might have been able to focus and concentrate on all the subjects. As it was, it was a waste I know this book is supposed to be a classic theological book, but I had a very difficult time getting anything out of it. I had to read it for a theology class I'm taking. It was written in 1995. I guess they didn't use headings and sub- headings back then, or at least this author didn't. Each long chapter was just paragraph after paragraph of difficult concepts. If there were subheadings, I feel like I might have been able to focus and concentrate on all the subjects. As it was, it was a waste for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Well-written and balanced, the author discusses the role of faith and reason in ordering the human life and understanding. This is particularly relevant to apologetics. It's a short read, but it required concentration and thought. I do not know whether I agree with the author about the limits of reason and the role of faith, but I respect his argument and I am grateful for this book. I recommend it to any thinking person. Well-written and balanced, the author discusses the role of faith and reason in ordering the human life and understanding. This is particularly relevant to apologetics. It's a short read, but it required concentration and thought. I do not know whether I agree with the author about the limits of reason and the role of faith, but I respect his argument and I am grateful for this book. I recommend it to any thinking person.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Newbigin does a great job here of demonstrating the truth of this proposition. His discussion of Descartes and absolute certainty shows the important between certain knowledge and useful wisdom. He shows the bankruptcy of all non-Christian epistemologies and the supremacy of the Biblical meta-narrative. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Newbigin does a great job here of demonstrating the truth of this proposition. His discussion of Descartes and absolute certainty shows the important between certain knowledge and useful wisdom. He shows the bankruptcy of all non-Christian epistemologies and the supremacy of the Biblical meta-narrative.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Brilliant.... How have I never heard of Newbigin?! A bit heavy at times but often simple too. Newbigin works his way to an understanding of where we really can have our confidence. He deflates the self-confidence of the Post-Modernist and the Liberal and makes a great case for why we should have less confidence in ourselves and more confidence in he who said "Follow Me." Brilliant.... How have I never heard of Newbigin?! A bit heavy at times but often simple too. Newbigin works his way to an understanding of where we really can have our confidence. He deflates the self-confidence of the Post-Modernist and the Liberal and makes a great case for why we should have less confidence in ourselves and more confidence in he who said "Follow Me."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robin Seyfert

    This book should be read by every believer in the Bible and follower of Jesus. First so we can learn to think (I had a hard time following as my brain is so sloppy). Second so we know what questions we want to answer about our faith.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Everyone (with at least a high school reading level) should read this short book to understand their assumptions and misconceptions about knowing and, in particular, the unique nature of God's revelation. Newbigin's elegant phrasing makes a weighty subject enjoyable. Everyone (with at least a high school reading level) should read this short book to understand their assumptions and misconceptions about knowing and, in particular, the unique nature of God's revelation. Newbigin's elegant phrasing makes a weighty subject enjoyable.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The first half of this book hurt my brain. (I deal much better in the world of concrete thoughts and actions than I do in abstract thinking.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Mounce

    Very good with a few gaffes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Combs

    Newbigin was Tim Keller before Tim Keller was Tim Keller.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex Lomangino

    Fantastic read for those who struggle with doubt

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This is probably really good, if a little hard going! It just wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for. An entirely subjective 3 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lucas Freitas

    "Before we continue with our questions, we have to answer a question put to us from the heart of the mystery. We have to answer that anguish question: 'Adam, where are you?'" Newbigin explores the question of knowing in a brief, understable, moving, and profound way. It is hard to overstate what he has accomplished with this short book. Obviously, I was very persuaded by his exploration of Descartes' error as digested by modern and post-modern thinkers. To do so, he brings in Michael Polanyi's wor "Before we continue with our questions, we have to answer a question put to us from the heart of the mystery. We have to answer that anguish question: 'Adam, where are you?'" Newbigin explores the question of knowing in a brief, understable, moving, and profound way. It is hard to overstate what he has accomplished with this short book. Obviously, I was very persuaded by his exploration of Descartes' error as digested by modern and post-modern thinkers. To do so, he brings in Michael Polanyi's work on personal knowledge and shows how his insights have deep implications for professing Christians. To this he adds the perception that we are all living embedded in stories that shape our thinking, and points to the biblical story as the narrative that better accounts for all the data available to us. Therefore, faith is the basis of reason (cf. Augustine's "I believe in order to know"), and not the other way around. Those who operate under the cartesian structure, and those coming from a hyper/post-modern milieu, might find this book presumptuous and the argument unconvincing. However, I believe Newbigin was not interested in presenting a flawless argument, but to invite readers to entertain an alternative to those ways of thinking. After all, it would be against the whole point of the book - that knowledge requires prior commitment from the knower - to assume such argument even exists. I am revisiting this book after reading JKA Smith's "How (Not) to Be Secular", which offers a prime on Charles Taylor. It is a good book, but I was left wondering if there were any other short books that explore the subject of knowing and being AND were original in their formulation (Smith's book is a companion to/summary of Taylor's "A Secular Age"). Newbigin's "Proper Confidence" sprang to mind, and did not disappoint. Upon re-reading "A Proper Confidence", I can clearly see how much of my own thoughs and beliefs on the question of knowing and being were influenced by this book. It is only fair I give it full marks. I can't recommend it enough. -x-x-x-x-x-x-x- "True knowledge of reality is available only to the one who is personally committed to the truth already grasped. Knowing cannot be severed from living and acting, for we cannot know the truth unless we seek it with love and unless our love commits us to action. Faith is the only certainty because faith involves personal commitment." (Location 1195, Kindle edition) "The confidence proper to a Christian is not the confidence of one who claims possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge. It is the confidence of one who had heard and answered the call that comes from the God through whom and for whom all things were made: 'Follow me.'" (Location 1195, Kindle edition) "Proper Confidence" is a good Christian introduction to the concept of "critical realism", to the work of Polanyi, and to "apologetics" in general (though Newbigin does not necessarily believe in apologetics).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Reese Anderson

    Helpful in rearranging mental furniture shaped by enlightenment rationalism. Noticeable caricature of the doctrine of inerrancy and the role of reason in Christian assurance, but I was encouraged and challenged to rethink my sources of confidence.

  30. 4 out of 5

    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 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 liberal and fundamentalist understandings of faith and doubt, acknowledging that the dichotomy between the two camps is made clear in the very terms themselves: “The words ‘liberal’ and ‘fundamentalist’ are used today not so much to identify oneself as to label the enemy.” ... - See more at: http://tjhoiland.com/wordpress/2012/0...

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