Bonhoeffers theological method is a radical (though not totally unique) one: Christ is the center of all reality and history for him. Bonhoeffer starts from Christ – he does not deduce Christ from history or nature. This is a reversal of what Bonhoeffer considered to be the failing of liberal theology – liberal theology allowed God and Christ to be assigned their place in the world.
This ties into something I’ve been thinking about – I think one of the failings of Christianity in modern times is that it has been relegated to something that has it’s proper place, rather than something in which we find our identity and being.
It seems to me that the total, absolute, ontologically transforming nature of being in Christ has been forgotten – and I’m as much to blame as anyone. These are broad strokes to be sure, but I do feel that they are accurate. Christianity is a dangerous, powerful, disruptive, traumatizing thing. We should not try to tame or domesticate it. We should not find a place for Christ – we should find our place in Him.
‘The fatal mistake of the Church was trying to ‘prove to a world come of age that it cannot live without the tutelage of “God” ‘ . The inability to maintain this in the face of the world’s autonomy leads to the ‘ultimate questions’, where God now takes refuge. Here at least he is needed.
At this comes Bonoheffers most quoted question, a rhetorical one: ‘But what if one day they [i.e. these ultimate questions] no longer exist as such, if they too can be answered without “God”? (‘Christ the Center’, p. 12-13)
Where does this leave Christianity? The more I think about it, the less I can avoid the thought that this is the cold, hard truth – that the ‘ultimate questions’ are the last bastion that God has in the world.
This thought prompts this question: if this is in fact the case, what is Christianity supposed to be? Another question: how did Christianity arrive at the state it did?
Briefly, a glance at the New Testament seems to show that the very early church wasn’t terribly interested in providing the answers to ultimate questions – it proclaims a very simple, but very powerful idea: that Jesus Christ is the son of God, the Messiah as foretold by the Prophets, who was crucified, buried and resurrected, and in doing so broke the powers of sin and death over creation and opened up the divine nature for us to partake of.
In a nutshell, that’s about it. There certainly are questions that are answered – but so far as I can tell the early church did not see it’s message as an answer to ultimate questions that the natural world was incapable of answering.
Where does this leave us, and me? I don’t know. I think, however, that Christianity as a whole needs to be re-thought if its going to survive in this world come of age.