Theological Division


Philosophical Theology


Michael Goheen

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Newbigin, Philosophy, Church, Contemporary Western culture


As early as his 1941 Bangalore Lectures, “The Kingdom of God and the Idea of Progress,” Newbigin took a hard look directly at history itself and its various interpreters. In those four lectures at the age of 32, Newbigin laid the foundation for all of his critical theological thinking for the next half century. While Newbigin scholarship is still relatively fresh, it appears that expositors of his work have neglected a, if not the, central motif in his immense corpus: his philosophy of history. I will attempt provide a systematic account of Newbigin’s incredibly consistent thoughts on the topic of history over the span of more than fifty years, and to show how his epistemology, anthropology, soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and missiology find their coherence in this singular vision. Chapter 1 introduces the importance of the topic of history in Newbigin’s life and work as well as clarifies the way in which I am arguing for his philosophy of history. I proceed to address the four main aspects of Newbigin’s view of history: its reality (chapter 2), its linear quality (chapter 3), its u-shaped structure (chapter 4), and its relational nature (chapter 5). In each chapter, I show that Newbigin’s philosophy of history is thoroughly grounded in Jesus Christ. Newbigin believed that a critical and basic component of the missionary theologian’s task in contemporary Western culture is a deep and intentional reflection on history itself, understood against various counterproposals for the nature and shape or history. Newbigin intentionally performed this task, and thereby was able to provide the Church with a basis for fruitful and faithful ministry at this time in history (chapter 6).



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