Friday, March 23, 2012

A Tough Form of Paganism

After 40 years of ministering in India, Lesslie Newbigin returns to England. He speaks of ministry in Birmingham, England as such:

It is much harder than anything I met in India. There is a cold contempt for the Gospel which is harder to face than opposition. As I visit the Asian homes in the district, most of them Sikhs or Hindus, I find a welcome which is often denied on the doorstep of the natives (the English). I have been forced to recognize that the most difficult missionary frontier in the contemporary world is the one of which the Churches have been- on the whole- so little conscious, the frontier that divides the world of biblical faith from the world whose values and beliefs are ceaselessly fed into every home on the television screen. Like others I had been accustomed, especially in the 1960s, to speak of England as a secular society. I have now come to realize that I was the easy victim of an illusion from which my reading of the Gospels should have saved me. No room remains empty for long. If God is driven out, the gods come trooping in. England is a pagan society and the development of a truly missionary encounter with this very tough form of paganism is the greatest intellectual and practical task facing the Church.  Unfinished Agenda, p. 249

Reading this excerpt, it made me wonder if the US today isn't a lot like what Newbigin was describing of England during the late 70s into the 80s, that today the "tough form of paganism" we face here is even tougher than the overt opposition to the Gospel other brothers and sisters around the world face?

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