Christ, Bonhoeffer and Reality

I’ve been thinking on some of the consequences of Bonhoeffers thought on Christ and reality – briefly speaking, Christ is the center of all reality for Bonhoeffer, and true human existence only comes through participation in reality, which means that true human existence comes only through participating in Christ. This is the foundation of all his thought – but what are some of the consequences of such thought? What does it mean for those who don’t participate in Christ?

Bonhoeffer doesn’t spend tons of time on the afterlife (at least in what I’ve read) – and I’ve not yet read the parts of his works that do deal with the afterlife. But, based on my understanding of his works (and I may be wrong in this) I see only two options: universalism, or a kind of annhilationism. However, I don’t see universalism as a big theme in Bonhoeffer, so I’ll look at the more negative option.

If true human existence is defined by participating in reality (Christ) then the refusal to participate in it would mean a complete erasing of human identity and existence. This is a theme that C.S. Lewis spent some time on – that hell, rather than being a fiery pit, is a total loss of all identity. Non-existence, but perhaps still in a way, having to live. This would tie in with Bonhoeffers thought on existence – apart from God, we have to live as a command which we are unable to fulfill. It seems that the logical conclusion would simply be continual lingering under His command to live. I’m somewhat reminded of the Nazgul (characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology who simply continue to exist, but without really living), honestly.

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