Newbigin , Janes E. Lesslie
- ( 1909 - 1998)Indian bishop and ecumenical statesmanJames E. Lesslie Newbigin was born on December 8, 1909, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. He attended Westminster College at Cambridge University; following his graduation in 1936 he was ordained by the Church of Scotland and sent to India as a missionary with the United Church of South India (formed by a union of Reformed and Presbyterian churches). He remained in Madras and helped found the new Church of South India, which resulted from the 1947 merger of the United Church with the Anglican and Methodist churches. He became the bishop of Madurai and Ramnad.Newbigin attended the initial gathering of the World Council of Churches, where he emerged as a major spokesperson for the new united churches in Asia. In 1959, he was named head of the International Missionary Council and continued in that post until the merger of the council with the World Council in 1961. He subsequently served as the associate general secretary of the World Council and director of its Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. In 1965, he returned to India to serve nine years as bishop in Madras. He retired in 1974 and returned to Birmingham, England.Newbigin taught for five years at the shelly oaks Colleges and then took up a post as pastor of a small inner-city church. While there, he wrote three books on the claims of the church in a pluralist society: The Other Side of 1984 (1983), Foolishness to the Greeks (1986), and The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (1989). Writing from a NeoOrthodox position, Newbigin called upon Christians to share the Gospel with what he saw as a pagan Western culture. He also served a term as moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (representing the several Presbyterian and Reformed traditions in England).He died in London on January 30, 1998. His name now graces the Bishop Newbigin Institute for Church and Mission studies in Madras.Further reading:■ George Hunsberger, Bearing the Witness of the Spirit: Lesslie Newbigin's Theology of Cultural Plurality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1998)■ Geoffrey Wainwright, Lesslie New- bigin. A Theological Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)■ Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (London: SPCK, 1986); , The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (London/Grand Rapids, Mich.: SPCK/Eerdmans, 1989); , Signs amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History, ed. and intro. by Geoffrey Wainwright (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2003).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.