Grasping Truth and Reality: Lesslie Newbigin’s Theology of Mission to the Western World

By Donald Le Roy Stults

A significant contribution to the literature on the theologian Leslie Newbigin, focussing on his analysis of the spiritual problems of Western culture.

ISBN: 9780227172803


When Lesslie Newbigin returned to Britain in 1974 after years of missionary service, he observed that his homeland was as much a mission field as India, where he had spent the majority of his missionary career. He concluded that the Western world needed a missionary confrontation. Instead of the traditional approach to missions, however, Newbigin realized that the Western world needed to be confronted theologically.

From his earliest days at Cambridge University, Newbigin developed the theological convictions that shaped his understanding of the Christian faith, and he used these theological convictions as criteria to evaluate the belief system of Western culture and to provide an answer to its dilemma. The Enlightenment reintroduced humanism and dualism into Western culture, which resulted on the loss of purpose and the rise of skepticism.

This book discusses Newbigin’s theological convictions and how they factored into both his critique of and his solution to Western culture’s spiritual and worldview problems. Donald Le Roy cleverly explains Newbigin’s solution to reintroduce the Christian belief system into Western culture in order to restore purpose and truth to Westerners and put them back in contact with true reality through Jesus Christ.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Donald Le Roy Stults is a Professor in the School of Religion and Philosophy at Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. At native of Ohio, he has lived and taught in undergraduate and graduate schools in South Korea, Philippines, and Germany, as well as short term teaching assignments in Taiwan and Albania. He is the author of Developing an Asian Evangelical Theology (1989).



1. A Brief Sketch of Newbigin’s Life and Work
2. Missionary Theologian
3. Grasping Truth and Reality
4. Humanity’s Need for Salvation and the Call for Radical Conversion
5. Newbigin’s Critique of Western Culture
6. Newbigin’s Response to Western Culture’s Crisis
7. Living in Truth and Reality
8. Putting Newbigin in Perspective



Endorsements and Reviews

This book will make a significant contribution to the burgeoning literature on Lesslie Newbigin, ‘long-time missionary to India and global ecumenical leader’ whose ‘importance has never been as recognized as it is today’. Newbigin’s prophetic call for a missionary encounter with the modern West is here extended by Donald Le Roy Stults through a vigorous plea to the churches for an evangelistic engagement with contemporary culture in all its intellectual and social concreteness.
Professor Geoffrey Wainwright, Duke Divinity School, Duke University

Stults’s admirable and detailed study concentrate on Newbigin’s understanding and practice of mission in the secular West … his carefully developed arguments will be rewarding for all who are concerned with the problems and possibilities of evangelism in the modern world, and the continuing relevance of Newbigin’s thought.
Modern Believing

Stult’s substantial book is a measure of the substance of Newbigin’s output. … there is a plenty to benefit from here.
The Gospel & Our Culture

The operative assumption of the author’s approach is that Newbigin’s ‘view of revelation and his view of God and reality’ constitute the ‘two fundamental areas’ which ‘set the tone for the rest of his theological thinking’ (p. 94). The author seeks to demonstrate that thesis as he surveys Newbigin’s discussion of ‘humanity’s need for salvation and the call for radical conversion’ (pp. 96ff.), his ‘critique of western culture’ (pp. 123ff.) and his ‘response to western culture’s crisis’ (pp. 154ff.). There is much useful summarising and analysing here based on broad reading both in Newbigin and the secondary literature (the bibliography of the book is very extensive).
Darrell Guder, in Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol 65, Issue 4