Some Christian brothers and I meet each month to review and discuss books. This month (or two) we are reading "Proper Confidence - Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship" by missionary (to India), theologian, and apologist Leslie Newbigin. This passage is taken from the opening chapter, titled “Faith as the Way to Knowledge,"
"Anyone who attends to discussions, debates, and controversies among Christian [recently] is familiar with the issue I wish to address in this book. The words “liberal” and “fundamentalist” are used today not so much to identify oneself as to label the enemy. From one side comes the accusation that the mind of the fundamentalist is closed, shuttered against the possibility of doubt and therefore against the recognition of hitherto unrecognized truth. From the other side comes the charge that liberals are so open to new ideas that they have no firm commitments at all, that every affirmation of faith must be held tentatively, and that every dogma must, as a matter of principle, be challenged. There are terms of moral opprobrium that each side employs to attack the other: the fundamentalist is arrogant, blinkered, and culturally illiterate; the liberal is flabby, timid, and carried along by every new fashion of thought. From the point of view of the fundamentalist doubt is sin; from the point of view of the liberal, the capacity for doubt is a measure of intellectual integrity and honesty."
"In addition to ascribing these accusations, labels, and genuine differences over doubt to both sides in this quarrel, it is also right to ascribe moral virtues to them: Liberalism at its best is marked by an open mind which is humble and ready to learn. Fundamentalism at its best is marked by moral courage which holds fast to the truth even when it is assailed by counter-claims from without. In the currently prevailing atmosphere of relativism, where one does not speak of “what is true” but rather of what is “meaningful to me”; it is right and proper that there should be protest, and it is natural that this should lead to demands for absolute standards and certain truth. When everything in religion seems reduced to subjective experience, it is natural that there should be a demand for the affirmation of objective truth. Yet how can this affirmation be made without falling into the opposite error of arrogance, obscurantism, and fundamentalism? How can we develop, in respect of religious belief, minds which are not only open to fresh insights but also equipped with the critical faculty that can distinguish sense from nonsense and reality from illusion? What kind of confidence is proper for those who witness to the truth of the gospel?"
Is Newbigin's appraisal fair and correct?
Any interest in other passages posted herein for discussion?