Friday, January 21, 2011

Bonhoeffer on reality




My Christmas break reading has been Bonhoeffer's biography by Metaxas ... Nearly finished 542 pages, phew!

It's been a great read on many levels... History, romance, ministry, advocacy... Not to mention theology. I found this quote particularly insightful:

"As long as Christ and the world are conceived as two realms bumping up against each other and repelling each other, we are left with only the following options. Giving up on reality as a whole, either we place ourselves in one of the two realms, wanting Christ without the world or the world without Christ--and in both cases we deceive ourselves... There are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is God's reality revealed in Christ in the reality of the world. Partaking in Christ, we stand at the same time in the reality of God and in the reality of the world. The reality of Christ embraces the reality of the world in itself. The world has no reality of its own independent of God's revelation in Christ. ... The theme of two realms, which has dominated the history of the church again and again, is foreign to the New Testament." (p469)

I'm interested to hear others reflections on this, what questions it raises, etc.

2 comments:

Matt Fricker said...

Interesting... I think that a better way look at it (and I recon a more Biblical way) is not to view our reality as two separate worlds (or experiences), being the earthly existence and Christ's Kingdom. It makes more sense to me to view it as different ages, in that we live in the world now as participants in this age but also as participants of Christ's Kingdom. One day, we will pass from this age into a new age, where we will continue to live as participants of God's Kingdom.

trav johnson said...

that's good Matt, thanks - one of the things that's intrigued me from the book is the intense nature of how messed up "reality" had become for the German people (and indeed Europe) at this time - more than ever I think it would have been easy to slip into some sort of dualism (earth is bad, heaven is good) ... unless you were as twisted as a Himmler, who wouldn't want to escape the world in which Hitler seemed to "reign"? ...

However history reflects Bonhoeffer's theology, I like that he was determined to still "make plans" (eg. something as simple as getting engaged while he was in prison) while evil emerged so strongly in his earthly "age" (nice word, thanks:) ) ... this has been a great challenge to me

- if a German Christian in WWII was courageous and faithful enough to participate in Christ's kingdom (reality) then, in what ways can (and should) I participate in it today?