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Fall 2007 · Vol. 36 No. 2 · pp. 129–43 

Faithful Witness: Postcritical Epistemology for Christians

Eloise Hiebert Meneses

It is not easy to be a Christian academic. We live between two worlds: the world of our disciplines, which is constructed by the secular academy, where science is the paradigm for truth; and the world of the church, where the Bible is the text that is paradigmatic for our lives. It is not just that there are differing beliefs between these two worlds. The very foundations for belief—the epistemologies—of these two worlds differ. It is as if we cannot even talk in one place about the beliefs held in the other. This is true even for those of us living and working in seminaries and on Christian campuses. Much of the subject material with which we must interact is from the secular academy. And that external world does not accept, or even understand, our inner world as Christians. How are we to engage with it?

Though God transcends and knows all, human beings can never make such a claim, not even Christians.

I will begin to provide an answer to that question by telling a short story. A couple of years ago, the accomplished philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff visited Eastern University where I teach, and delivered an address at our convocation. He described attending a conference of Christian academics reading papers to one another. Seemingly all of the papers began with the following problem: here is a new theory from science; can a Christian accept this new theory? In advance of hearing the conclusions, Wolterstorff thought to himself, “Somehow, I think I know the answer. It is going to be . . . ‘Yes! A Christian can accept this new theory.’ What a relief!” At this point, Wolterstorff leaned over the podium and challenged his Eastern audience, “Why don’t you think for yourself?!”

Sitting in the audience and hearing that story related, I felt as if the river Jordan had just come flowing down over the parched and barren land of my academic soul. I too have been frustrated by the uncritical way in which Christian academics adopt views out of the secular academy, sometimes seemingly to prove their competence to understand those views. “Can a Christian accept evolutionary theory? Can a Christian accept the premises of psychology? Can a Christian be a Marxist? Can a Christian be a deconstructionist? Thankfully . . . yes! . . . to everything!” There is no question as to why we do this. Science, even now, holds sway as the predominant source of knowledge in culture, and as the postmoderns have pointed out, those who possess the knowledge that is legitimate in culture also possess power, including that form of power which academics value most—prestige.


But there are less nefarious reasons why we accept uncritically the doctrines of the academy. Most of us were trained up, through many years of hard work, in the beliefs and practices of our disciplines. Graduate school is a kind of indoctrination camp. Getting through it instills in us a deep commitment not only to our disciplines, but also to the assumptions about knowledge that are rooted in the European Enlightenment, assumptions such as the maxims that demonstration is necessary to establish truth, or that our beliefs must always be internally consistent. We have been formed and shaped by the secular academy, and on that account have real difficulty thinking for ourselves as Christians.

Yet, we know there is a problem. As we read books, teach in classrooms, and discuss with one another, we feel the tension between the ways of knowing that are acknowledged in the larger culture through science, and the ways of knowing that we experience and value deeply in the church through faith. How can these two be brought together? Some Christians reject education altogether, claiming that it leads to loss of faith. But we are not the ones who have made that mistake! The greater danger for us is to accept as inevitable the premises upon which Western thinking is based, and to try, after the fact, to somehow stuff our Christian beliefs into that larger framework.

If we are continuing to make this compromise now, it is indeed an odd time to be doing it. Science, as we all know, is under attack like never before! Its most basic assumptions about how we know what we know are being deeply contested. Having exposed the rootedness of the entire scientific project in the ethnocentrism of the West and in its dominating economic and political structures, postmoderns have destroyed belief in the very existence of objective truth, a development that Nietz-sche foresaw a century earlier. Truth has been sacrificed to preserve autonomy, so there is nothing left but the will to power in a highly competitive arena.

The attack on truth has left many Christians, not only academics, very concerned. Some are pulling back into modernism, defending the truth through rational argument; 1 and others are pushing forward into postmodernism, celebrating the value of multiple perspectives on the truth. 2 But if we Christians feel that we must choose to identify as modern or postmodern, we will surely fall into the trap that Wolterstorff identified. We will fail to think for ourselves. It is with this concern in mind, then, that I would like to suggest the need for a broader understanding of how we know what we know, both as Christians and as academics.


To get at this broader understanding, I will reflect upon the work of the philosopher Michael Polanyi, who anticipated the current crisis in science in his book, Personal Knowledge, first published in 1958. Polanyi summarizes his thesis in these words:

I regard knowing as an active comprehension of the things known, an action that requires skill . . . Such is the personal participation of the knower in all acts of understanding. But this does not make our understanding subjective. Comprehension is neither an arbitrary act nor a passive experience, but a responsible act claiming universal validity. Such knowing is indeed objective in the sense of establishing contact with a hidden reality . . . 3

Polanyi suggests that knowing is a skill that we must exercise responsibly by personally participating in our investigation of reality and by declaring to others that what we find we believe to be universally true.

In the first place, our investigation of reality begins with a desire to know. This passion involves us personally in the project, and motivates us to do the work needed to discover the truth. At the simplest level, our basic needs drive us to understand the reality around us in the interest of survival. But beyond this level, we also have a curiosity to know and understand the world for its own sake. At the highest level, we hope to form a picture of our whole circumstance, a larger understanding that becomes a map for action. That picture, or map, is achieved not by following a line of discursive thought to its logical conclusion, but by a sudden and inspiring “jump” of the sort that produces a Gestalt image. In a moment, in a flash, we “get the picture.” Intuition plays a strong role, as does faith (as we shall see later). Polanyi gives many examples. Einstein, for instance, intuited the theory of general relativity at the age of 17, and then spent the next 20 years establishing the rationale for his theory and the means to find evidence in favor of it. 4 Einstein accomplished this intuitive leap by pondering a single problem at length. He tried to envision, or picture, what it would be like to travel alongside a beam of light. In pondering the question of space and time, he took hold of a mystery and would not let it go until the picture was complete.

Our apprehension of the truth then is an active process, not a passive one. As Christians, we would say that we have a God-given capability for it. And that capability is not limited to the powers of observation and rational thought that the Enlightenment promoted as the only paths to certainty. It includes powers such as intuition, sensing proximity to the truth, a moral conscience, and the exercise of faith. We must exercise that capability by becoming personally involved in the project. We “grasp” the truth, and in so doing, place ourselves in it. We “indwell” it, to use Polanyi’s term.

I am reminded of a conference I attended in which an anthropologist described studying a cell biologist at work. The biologist explained that when she was fully absorbed in her work, first the room would disappear, and then the microscope would disappear, and then she would find herself descending mentally into the world of the cell. As she reflected on this experience, she commented, “The mitochondria are my friends!” This scientist’s active and passionate engagement with the subject of her study contributed to her ability to intuit truth in a world very different from her daily experience. Parker Palmer has picked up this view of the relationship between subject and object and suggested that ultimately all knowledge is in fact a form of love. 5


Both Palmer and Polanyi insist that it is not by transcending, much less by controlling, a situation that we are able to apprehend the truth within it, whether this be of the structure of atoms or the inner workings of human relationships. It is rather by surrendering, by giving up our imposed interpretations, that we are able to discover the truth and to be ourselves changed by it. Polanyi’s parallel to Christian surrender to God is explicit at this point. A scientist discovers the truth by surrendering to it with the same respect and awe that a Christian employs in worship. We must allow the truth to control us, and not vice versa.

Obviously such an act of trust requires great faith. We must believe in the truth to which we are surrendering. And we do this through a process that Polanyi calls tacit knowing. Tacit knowing is, like all knowing, a skill. But it is defined by the fact that we are exercising this skill outside of the focal point of awareness. Tacit knowing is the believing that we do unconsciously while we are considering a matter consciously. So, tacit knowledge is the set of beliefs that we use when thinking about something else. 6 And that set of beliefs is developed over years of hard work and connoisseurship, and in conjunction with others.

It is tacit knowledge that links our own thinking to the thinking of our community, our culture, and our past. Perhaps the most serious mistake made by the thinkers of the Enlightenment was to try to reject tradition in its entirety. In any case, it failed at this. Polanyi points out that science itself is a very tradition-bound enterprise, requiring years of apprenticeship before one can join its membership, years of learning a language built upon previously-established truths and scientific conventions. This tradition within science informs all contemporary scientific work, guiding it and making it both meaningful and relevant. Without it, advances in knowledge would be impossible.

Furthermore, knowledge is ultimately held not by individuals alone, but by cultures (or subcultures). Polanyi suggests that the knowledge enterprise requires four things: 1) a sharing of convictions, which is culture; 2) a sharing of fellowship, which is society; 3) cooperation in work, which is the economy; and 4) the exercise of authority, which is the political structure. 7 The last of these, the exercise of authority, is necessary from the simplest level of learning a skill to the most complex level of understanding an art:

To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition. 8

At the most formative level, we can only begin to know things by submitting to a teacher. And the truth that we indwell comes to us not only directly through experience, but also indirectly through the acceptance of the authority of others.


Polanyi’s primary concern was to rescue science from a disastrous loss of public confidence due to the scientific community’s refusal to take a stand on moral issues. He foresaw the impending rebellion against a view of knowledge that eschews all of its social, political, and religious implications. But for Polanyi, the path to preserving science was through a radical critique of its epistemology, including sharp attacks on objectivism and the value of doubt. Objectivism, he said,

. . . has totally falsified our conception of truth, by exalting what we can know and prove, while covering up with ambiguous utterances all that we know and cannot prove, even though the latter knowledge underlies, and must ultimately set its seal to, all that we can prove. In trying to restrict our minds to the few things that are demonstrable, and therefore explicitly dubitable, it has overlooked the a-critical choices which determine the whole being of our minds and has rendered us incapable of acknowledging these vital choices. 9

Objectivism has created the illusion that doubt is the path to certainty, and that we can be free from responsibility for what we know.

Skepticism was the great watchword of the Enlightenment, and faith, its dark enemy. But Polanyi reversed these, arguing persuasively that doubt is only possible from within a fiduciary framework. “Doubting of any explicit statement,” he says, “merely implies an attempt to deny the belief expressed by the statement, in favour of other beliefs which are not doubted for the time being.” For example, to doubt the findings of horoscopes, you must have faith that their seeming ability to predict the future can be explained alternatively through psychology or a theory of accident. To doubt the value of herbal remedies, you must have a deep and abiding faith in Western medicine. And to doubt the propositions of religion, you must have a tacit conviction that the natural world is all that there is. Doubt is always conducted from within a fiduciary framework which is accepted uncritically, at least for the time being. 10

Such is the manner of ordinary doubting. It can never be done without an affirmation of faith in something else. But what of universal doubt, refusing to accept anything that has not been proven, the corrective for error advocated by the Enlightenment philosophers? Such a manner of total doubting would destroy all ordinary cognition and leave the doubter in “a state of imbecility,” says Polanyi. 11 “To avoid believing, one must stop thinking.” 12 I would suggest that insanity might also be a result. Total doubt, far from bringing certainty, would result in a complete loss of touch with reality.

One might see the extremes of the postmodern movement (for which I have a good deal of sympathy) as a descent into this kind of insanity. Doubt has curled itself around and attacked its own author, leaving no source of faith at all, not even in the methods of doubt. Polanyi anticipated this:

The critical movement, which seems to be nearing the end of its course today, was perhaps the most fruitful effort ever sustained by the human mind. The past four or five centuries, which have gradually destroyed or overshadowed the whole medieval cosmos, have enriched us mentally and morally to an extent unrivalled by any period of similar duration. But its incandescence had fed on the combustion of the Christian heritage in the oxygen of Greek rationalism, and when this fuel was exhausted the critical framework itself burnt away. 13

Doubt as the only path to truth results, in the end, in nihilism.

To lose faith is to lose touch with reality, not to gain it. All thinking requires believing; and believing, according to Polanyi, refers to a necessary jump across a “logical gap.” The clues we possess to understanding a situation are never complete. In order to form a picture of the situation at all, we must commit an act of faith. Polanyi cites Augustine: “Unless you believe, you will not understand.” 14 He remarks “We must now recognize belief once more as the source of all knowledge . . . no intelligence, however critical or original, can operate outside such a fiduciary framework.” 15 Believing is at the very foundation of our ability to know.

Furthermore, believing necessitates a choice as to what to believe between competing visions of reality. Polanyi reminds us of the black and white image in which we can see either a pair of black faces facing one another or a white vase in the center, but must choose which to see at any one time. We cannot see both at once. They are alternative visions of the meaning of the picture. So we must choose by committing ourselves to the particular vision we believe to be the best representation of the truth. Such a choice is always risky. First, “all confidence can conceivably be misplaced.” 16 Secondly, there is no external, objective arbiter who can provide the certainty that our choice has been the correct one. 17 And finally, if we hesitate too long we will become paralyzed, unable to act.

We cannot evade this logical necessity [of choosing] by suggesting that the mental act should be postponed until its grounds have been more fully considered . . . to postpone mental decisions on account of their conceivable fallibility would necessarily block all decisions forever, and pile up the hazards of hesitation to infinity. It would amount to voluntary mental stupor. 18

Therefore, all knowing requires believing. All believing requires choosing. All choosing is risky. Yet we have no choice. We must choose to believe in order to understand at all.


Most importantly, Polanyi suggests that our believing is not, and cannot be, done merely in the subjectivity of our own minds. Contemporary culture in the West has tried to solve the problem of conflicting beliefs by creating a split between public and private spheres. In the public sphere, we must agree. In the private sphere we must “tolerate” one another’s views without attempting to agree. The public sphere encourages discussions of matters of work, the marketplace, science, or politics to take place. The private sphere encourages separate practices in matters of family and religion to coexist. Since religion is relegated to the private sphere, it must “tolerate” alternative viewpoints without attempting to resolve them. So, Christian beliefs must be held alongside Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu ones as matters pertaining only to subjective experience, not to the truth. Polanyi suggests that any division which separates truth from morality permits people to avoid taking responsibility for the full impact of their beliefs and actions. It also denies people the opportunity to declare what they know to others. In fact, all knowledge is held by the knower with “universal intent,” in the belief that the thing known is true also for others. Polanyi says:

Heuristic passion seeks no personal possession. It sets out not to conquer, but to enrich the world. Yet such a move is also an attack. It raises a claim that makes a tremendous demand on other [people]; for it asks that its gift to humanity be accepted by all. In order to be satisfied, our intellectual passions must find response. This universal intent creates a tension: we suffer when a vision of reality to which we have committed ourselves is contemptuously ignored by others. For a general unbelief imperils our own convictions by evoking an echo in us. Our vision must conquer or die. 19

In the end, we cannot simply agree to disagree about matters that are vitally important. And religion, which has been trivialized by the public/private split in Western culture, is actually vitally important. We must try to persuade one another of the truth in religion with the same passion that we give to the promotion of the truth in science.

In fact, it is universal intent that makes knowing a responsible act. Without it, our personal participation in the act of knowing would indeed descend into subjectivity. With it, we acknowledge that the truth matters, and that others’ views of the truth are important enough to be engaged in battle: “In so far as [people] are acting responsibly, their personal participation in drawing their own conclusions is completely compensated for by the fact that they are submitting to the universal status of the hidden reality which they are trying to approach.” 20 Thus, to claim universal intent is in no sense arrogant. Quite the opposite! It is to submit one’s own views of the truth to the larger community, defending them against objections, in the responsible interest of providing and protecting truth for the whole.


By now the reader will have recognized phrases and thoughts from the writings of Lesslie Newbigin. It is indeed through Newbigin’s work that I was first introduced to Polanyi. Newbigin suggests that Polanyi’s notions of personal participation and universal intent are valuable for understanding the stance a Christian should take with regard to religious truth. 21 Though God transcends and knows all, human beings can never make such a claim, not even Christians. Our perspectives are always limited to the times and places and circumstances of our individual existences. But these circumstances are “opportunities” according to Polanyi. 22 Newbigin suggests that they are the basis of our witness as Christians. In taking a stand, we declare to the world what we see from that position. The stance of a Christian rests on the choice of Jesus as Lord, as master and authority over one’s own understanding of the truth. Hence the “circumstance” of having chosen to follow Jesus is an opportunity to declare truth as it can only be seen from that vantage point.

Such a choice Newbigin calls an “ultimate commitment.” 23 The point is an important one. We all make many commitments, to home and family, to the church as a community, to the passion that drives our work, and to the academic enterprises to which we contribute. All of these commitments inform our understanding of the truth. But we can only have one ultimate commitment. Jesus made the point when he said we could love and serve God or wealth, but not both (Matt. 6:24). As Christians, then, our ultimate commitment is to Jesus himself as a person. We accept his authority uncritically and make every attempt to indwell the truth that he provides. By doing so, we come into contact with a reality hidden from others who do not know Christ. And we declare the truth of that hidden reality with universal intent. When we do this, we act responsibly.

So where does this leave the matter of thinking for ourselves? Both Newbigin and Polanyi make clear that you cannot think at all except from some standpoint of belief. That is, critical thinking can only be done from an acritical stance upon which you rest the weight of your argument. The question is, upon what, or whom, are you resting? When we try to stuff Christian concepts into an overall theory or framework derived from science, we are, perhaps inadvertently, resting upon a standpoint other than Christ himself. For the moment at least, we are giving science acritical acceptance as we critique the Christian faith from its standpoint. Of course, the result will be a mutilation! Christianity will be chopped up to fit external categories and thereby “revealed” to be foolishness. The apostle Paul predicted this in his comments about the Gospel as it is viewed by the Greeks (I Cor. 1:22-25).

Christians who think “for themselves,” think from within Christ. From that vantage point we declare Christianity, not as a set of propositions that can be added on piecemeal to some other project, but as an entire world of living and understanding that must be taken as a whole. This world can only be comprehended, in fact, through a process of conversion. It is only by believing in Jesus, that Christianity, or the Christian perspective on the world, can be understood at all.


It is significant that Christian theologians have acknowledged the value of Polanyi’s work more quickly than scientists. 24 Perhaps this is because they perceive a natural affinity of its epistemology to the epistemology of the Bible. Polanyi’s “personal knowledge” is remarkably akin to the Biblical notion of “witness.”

A witness, in the Old Testament, is someone who attests to the truth in a legal matter. The witness is needed because the truth of the situation is not immediately apparent or a matter of public record; it is partially hidden. The witness provides relevant evidence based on personal experience and declares it to be the truth. But witnesses can lie. So at least two witnesses are needed to establish the truth, and they must agree. In Old Testament times it was, in fact, a crime either to lie as a witness or to fail to come forward with the truth. Furthermore, witnesses were expected to participate in the punishment of the offender “in order to prove their own belief in their testimony.” 25 To be a witness was to make a personal commitment to the truth to which one was attesting.

In the New Testament, the term “witness” gained the meaning of one who suffers for the truth, especially for Christ. The Greek term transliterated has become our English word “martyr.” Holman notes that the concept is most developed in the Gospel of John. 26 In the first instance, it is Jesus himself who is “the supreme witness to God and his love.” And, his message as a witness is “inseparable from his very personhood.” Jesus embodies the truth and thereby conveys it to his disciples. These disciples then become witnesses in their turn. They too must embody the truth and carry it to others. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). So then, we too are in the chain of witnesses, indwelling the truth of Christ, and declaring it to the world with universal intent.

As a legal term, “witness” always implies a necessary response to the truth on the part of its hearers. An action must follow. It is not possible to hear a witness out, and then go one’s own way. For if the testimony is true, choices must be made about the consequences of that truth. This simple fact makes witnesses controversial. When hearers have “ears to hear,” they welcome the truth and are themselves changed by it. But when they do not want the truth, whether because of their own sin or because they are committed to some other view of the truth, they reject not only the message but the messenger, as they did with Jesus himself, most of the apostles beginning with Stephen, and the very many Christian witnesses down through the centuries who have become martyrs.

Today, there are many Christians who bravely face physical persecution and thereby witness to the reality of Christ in the world. But for those of us who are academics in the West, persecution takes on a more subtle form. Most commonly, with small smiles, hidden winks, and wry jokes, we are made to feel foolish in an environment in which foolishness is the most serious failing. Christian martyrs down through the centuries have witnessed to God’s truth in the very act of their suffering, and as a result, a great many people have seen and heard the truth and have been changed by their testimony. Though we may seem to be made fools for the moment, we can be sure that our message is not lost. It is under the guardianship, after all, of the Holy Spirit!


Finally, what about the Christian academy? Thus far, I have mostly addressed the situation of Christian witness in the larger culture and to the secular academy. In Christian colleges, seminaries, and universities, we have the opportunity to create for our students an environment in which Christian beliefs are plausible because they are in sync with the foundational commitment of the institution to the Christian faith. This is indeed a wonderful opportunity, and we should definitely make the most of it, both for ourselves as thinkers and writers, and for our students. But I have two words of caution.

First, it would not be possible, or even valuable, to hermetically seal off the Christian academy from the secular one. Much penultimate truth comes to us from the secular academy through textbooks, conferences, and professional associations. We would indeed be foolish to summarily reject these sources of new information. Furthermore, our students would be forced to make false choices, such as the one, in my opinion, between Christian commitment and evolutionary theory. False choices can be identified by the way in which they mismatch penultimate commitments with ultimate ones. I, for instance, am not an evolutionist who happens to be a Christian. I am a Christian, who gives tentative assent to evolutionary theory. Christianity is my ultimate commitment and that will never change. My interest in evolutionary theory is penultimate, and my views on that subject may well change under the impact of new facts, assessments, or arguments.

The second word of caution has already been given and is the thesis of this essay. Even from within the Christian academy, it is possible to give too much credit to the secular academy for its ability to find and know the truth. We can imagine that we are successfully thinking as Christians when in fact we are uncritically accepting the tacit epistemological frameworks of those who do not know Christ. The Christian academy, like the secular one, should be a roundtable of ideas that are debated vigorously and tested for their relative strength. But its foundations must be securely in the person of Jesus as we know him through our own experience, through the teachings of the Church over the ages, and through the text of the Bible. We do not make an independent assessment of the value of Jesus’ life or his teachings. Even when we study the Bible with the latest critical methods, we do not judge the content of the text. Rather we allow it to judge us. Christianity is our ultimate commitment, and as such, provides us with a place to stand. Everyone has such a standing place, whether they acknowledge it openly or not. We openly acknowledge that our standing place is Christ.

I can still remember the shock I felt when I saw, candidating at Eastern University for a position, someone praying in the classroom. With sixteen years of post-high school experience in the secular academy, I glanced nervously toward the window to see if the thought police were watching! It is indeed a freedom and a privilege to be able to integrate our Christian faith with our disciplines, and to do so openly in interaction with others who are doing the same. We must not compartmentalize our Christian faith from any area of knowing or understanding. At Eastern, even the mathematicians must demonstrate a link between their subject of study and their faith in God. Such an environment, far from being intolerant, is open and creative, allowing connections between the various parts of our minds, while at the same time insisting that we must live by what we say we believe. We were made to be whole creatures, and the Christian academy gives us the opportunity to restore that wholeness in our thoughts, our lives, our communities, and our relationships with God.


In the end, we need not fear the loss of truth. We know, both by biblical testimony and by personal experience, that the Holy Spirit is active in bringing truth to the surface despite the machinations of the Father of Lies. In the classroom, with one another as colleagues, and in the larger academy, we witness to the Truth as we know Him. Yet it is not we who hold Christ up, but Christ who holds us up. The truth will be made known to all in the end. Our own errors will be corrected, of course. But our commitment to Christ will be validated. We should never forget that Jesus is coming, and soon! Our struggle in the darkness is only for a time. The apostle John provides the vision:

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short.” (Rev. 12:10-12)


  1. For instance, Mark Noll seems to be functioning within a modernist framework, giving priority to the secular academy’s epistemology, in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1995). Less noticeably, so does George Marsden in The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).
  2. For instance, J. Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh identify valuable aspects of the postmodern movement in Truth is Stranger than it Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995).
  3. Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), vii.
  4. Ibid., 10.
  5. Parker Palmer, To Know as We are Known (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1993).
  6. Polanyi, 61.
  7. Ibid., 212.
  8. Ibid., 53.
  9. Ibid., 286.
  10. Ibid., 272.
  11. Ibid., 296.
  12. Ibid., 314.
  13. Ibid., 265-6.
  14. Ibid., 266.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid., 250.
  17. Ibid., 194.
  18. Ibid., 314.
  19. Ibid., 150.
  20. Ibid., 310.
  21. Newbigin’s best known work, and the summary of his thinking, is in The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989). But, see also Truth and Authority in Modernity (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996), Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), Truth to Tell: The Gospel as Public Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), and Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986).
  22. Polanyi, 405.
  23. Newbigin, Proper Confidence, 162.
  24. Thomas Kuhn, for instance, wrote his classic work, The Structure of Scientific Revolution in part under the influence of Polanyi’s work.
  25. See Paul Levertoff’s article in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), s.v. “witness.”
  26. This point and the following two quotes are from William Vermillion’s article in the Holman Bible Dictionary, ed. by Trent C. Butler (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991), s.v. “witness, martyr.”
Eloise Hiebert Meneses is professor of cultural anthropology and chair of the department of missions and anthropology at Eastern University, a Christian liberal arts college in the Philadelphia area. She has done research on the lives of “untouchable” women in India, and teaches in the areas of Christian missions, global economic systems, India, women’s experience, race and ethnicity, international development, and faith and science.

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