I spent this morning with two of life’s great pleasures, a great cup of coffee and a really good book. The coffee was Kenyan Kiaguthu Peaberry roasted to the City+ level. Mmmm. The only way to get really good coffee is to roast it yourself, which I’ve been doing for a couple years now. I had roasted some of this Kenyan bean before, but I think I overcooked it. This batch was much better.
The book is called Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt & Certainty in Christian Discipleship by Lesslie Newbigin. If you know me, you’ve heard me talk about Michael Polanyi, the 20th century scientist and philosopher whose work was the subject of my thesis. Newbigin’s book is a great quick reference for the application of Polanyi’s thought to the Christian life, and I highly recommend it. It’s only 105 pages and is written in a very accessible style. I read the whole thing this morning.
If you’re curious about how Christian thought fits (or doesn’t fit, as Newbigin shows) into classical, modern, or post-modern ideas about knowledge, you should read this book. If you’re one of those young evangelicals that is disenchanted with the hyper-rationalistic hyper-individualistic concepts of Christianity, you should read this book. If you want to figure out whether truth is objective or subjective, you should read this book. If you want to know what is really wrong with fundamentalism or with liberalism (and you won’t find it in what they say about each other), you should read this book.
Here’s a quote to give you the flavor:
“The human person is not a mind attached to a body but a single psychosomatic being. The implication of this, of course, is that the gospel does not become public truth for a society by being propogated as a theory or as a worldview and certainly not as a religion. It can become public truth only insofar as it is embodied in a society (the church) which is both “abiding in” Christ and engaged in the life of the world.”
A few weeks back, my friend Jon (who also introduced me to home roasted coffee) wrote an interesting piece for his blog about a recent trend among young evangelicals in which many are departing to more liturgical versions of Church, especially various Eastern forms (by the way, I think the Emergent Church is sort of a wimpy American-consumer version of the same trend). It’s all a sort of pre-modern postmodernism. If we all read Polanyi (or Newbigin’s short version of Polanyi), this trend would evaporate.
By the way, I FINISHED my thesis last week, and after a very helpful proofread from my English professor friend Bob, it has now been shipped to the seminary! I wish I had read Newbigin’s book at the beginning of the process. It is chock full of pithy Polanyian language.