>The Only Hermeneutic — A Congregation that Beleives


I have been pondering this small post over at J.R. Woodward’s “Dream Awakener” for the last couple of days since I found it.  The post has a great quote from Lesslie Newbigin.  The whole post is as follows:

This next paragraph by Lesslie Newbigin, though short and concise is deep, rich and worth considerable reflection – especially for those of us who live in the West.   It first appeared in an article, “Evangelism in the City,” written in 1987 for the Reformed Review.  I am taking this from Lesslie Newbigin – Missionary Theologian.

“How can this strange story of God made flesh, of a crucified Savior, of resurrection and new creation become credible for those whose entire mental training has conditioned them to believe that the real world is the world which can be satisfactorily explained and managed without the hypothesis of God? I know of only one clue to the answering of that question, only one real hermeneutic of the gospel:  a congregation which believes it.”  – Lesslie Newbigin

A congregation that is growing in grace and is learning to embody the ministry of reconciliation, walk with God, follow the way of Jesus,  become peacemakers, fight for justice, immerse themselves in God’s story, who find healing and wholeness in community and are shaped the the sacred text is the kind of community that believes!

A HERMENEUTIC is an interpretation…usually referring to the Gospel or to the Bible.  So, here, Newbigin is saying that the best, or rather, “only” interpretation of the gospel is a congregation that believes it.   This floors me.  It’s like Shane Claibornes’ understanding that we are to “fascinate the world with grace.”  We are to have congregations, people, faithful Christians who actually believe all this stuff we talk about and actually live it.
As pastor I know I suffer from a Messiah complex of sorts.  “Oh, if people could only be as faithful as me” I’m sure I secretly think to myself as I, too, let my little faith get in the way of my hopes and dreams for my church…our church…THE CHURCH.  Perhaps on this journey we all need to really believe what it is that we say we do.  How that’s going to work out…I don’t know.  But I’m willing, with God’s help, of course, to try.

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