Saturday, March 14, 2009


In an article about Lesslie Newbigin by Tim Safford in Christianity Today, where Newbigin is quoted saying:

"I also saw that quite a lot of evangelical Christianity can easily slip, can become centered in me and my need of salvation, and not . . . in the glory of God".

This self-focus is, in my view, the modern American idol. We look at idolotry as money or power or title, or position, but it ultimatly comes down to self. Safford write about Newbigin:

"As a young missionary, Newbigin regularly visited a Hindu monastery, its great hall "lined with pictures of the great religious figures of history, among them Jesus. Each year, on Christmas Day, worship was offered before the picture of Jesus. It was obvious to me as an English Christian," says Newbigin, "that this was an example of syncretism. Jesus had simply been co-opted into the Hindu world-view; that view was in no way challenged. It was only slowly that I began to see that my own Christianity had this syncretistic character, that I too had to some degree co-opted Jesus into the world-view of my culture." He saw this particularly when he studied the gospel accounts of evil spirits and realized that simple villagers understood them more readily than he."

We in this country have focused so much on self, that we have missed the Glory of God. This idolotry of self has focused on our need, or lacking, our sin, our choice and our free will. We have marginalized God in his glory, focusing on our need, our choice, our work in salvation. Newbigin stays:

"I suddenly saw that . . . someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity, and yet the center was fundamentally the self, my need of salvation. And God is auxiliary to that."

Does that sound familiar? Newbigin goes on to say that in his missionary work, he stopped talking about sin and need for salvation, but focused primarily on God. I am not sure I am comfortable going to that level, but I do acknowledge that we are focused and concerned primarily about self. Our focus of salvation is for the individual being saved, and not for the Glory of God. Is it any wonder we are not seeing the power of the Spirit poured out? We so often give credit for a program, church, or individual who leads that person to faith. We congratulate the person on making a good choice, but ultimately are worshiping the pagan god of self, and not giving Glory to God.

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