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Center for Advanced Theological Studies School of Theology Fuller Theological Seminary

THE CHURCH “COME OF AGE”
AN ANALYSIS OF BONHOEFFER’S “NON-RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION1’ FOR THE RELIGOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD

A dissertation submitted to the faculty o f the School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree o f Doctor o f Philosophy

written by Sung Mo Kang

May, 2001

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UMI Number: 3003172

Copyright 2001 by Kang, Sung Mo

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Center for Advanced Theological Studies School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary Dissertation Approval Sheet
This dissertation entitled

The Church 'Come O f Age': An Analysis Of Bonhoeffer's 'Non-Religious Interpretation' For The Religiously Pluralistic World

written by Sung Mo Kang and submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor o f Philosophy has been awarded by the Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary upon the recommendation of the following readers:

Kay S a n d e rs o n Robert K. Johr^on urton Nelson

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I express my grateful thanks to my primary mentor, Dr. Ray S. Anderson, who inspired me with his theological insights and personal warmth. His consistent confidence in me helped me throughout this effort. Dr. Anderson’s understanding and guidance helped me especially through the last stages of this effort. I appreciate the time and effort that he invested in me, and I am truly grateful to God that I had the opportunity to meet such a mentor. His presence as a mentor did not end as a professor, but was seen in his consistent support, encouragement, and, o f course, critical comments! My second mentor, Dr. Robert K. Johnston, gave me his criticism which helped me shape my work in a more scholarly format. Also, he was more than generous in lending me his valuable Bonhoeffer literatures. Before he shared his resources with me, I had never known how many literary works there were on Bonhoeffer. I also acknowledge that my external reader, Dr. F. Burton Nelson, was a very detailed, informative reader. He pointed out many places where I had generalized my ideas and made me reflect on certain points that were ambiguous in definition. He also provided a list o f additional secondary Bonhoeffer literatures to strengthen the quality o f my dissertation. Most of all, I thank my family who supported me in this project with their love, understanding and patience. The constant and torturous clicking sound o f the keyboard at night became a household norm. To my two daughters, Hyunjoo and Hyunsook, who went through their teenage adolescent years without much o f my guidance, I thank from my heart. Also, to my loving wife, I thank for her prayer, patience and sacrifice of

having a virtual husband during all these years o f study at Fuller. I dedicate this work to my precious wife and lifetime companion, Tae II, for her love and support.

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................................................TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS......................................................................................................................... 32 CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2 The World Come of Age....................................................... 47 The Human Autonomy and the Decay o f Religion................................................................................................ iv ABBREVIATIONS..... 90 The Development o f the “Non-religious Interpretation” ....................................................... 69 CHAPTER 3 A Non-religious Interpretation o f the Gospel.................................................................................................................................... 66 The Freedom for Others................................................................................................................................................. Further reproduction prohibited without permission....................................................................................................... 8 The Church for Others...............................................................................................................................................................73 Bonhoeffer’s Understanding o f “Religion” . 2 Bonhoeffer’s Theological Concern................................................................viii PART I BONHOEFFER’S THEOLOGY FOR THE WORLD COME OF AGE An Overview of Bonhoeffer’s Theology......... 40 The Development o f the Concept.................................................................... 62 A Wholly New Way o f Life.. 40 Bonhoeffer’s Worldview... 99 iv Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner..94 Religionless Christianity.......................................................................................... .................................................. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................................................vii INTRODUCTION................ 3 The Interpretations o f Bonhoeffer’s Theology.....52 Christ’s Forsakeness and the World Come o f Age........ the Center.....................................................21 Christ...................................... 74 The Problem o f A Religionless World.............................................

...................................................................................................................... ............... 132 CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER 5 The Nature of Our Contemporary World.... 147 Toleration........................ 158 Challenges for the Church.. 170 The Meaning of “the Religiously Pluralistic World” ...................136 The World Without God: God is Dead.......PART n OUR RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD A World in Transition... 142 Relativism and the Problem o f Hermeneutics........................ 116 A Brief History of Postmodemity.......................................................................................... 155 Pluralism.......................................................... 160 The Maturity o f the World........................................... 164 CHAPTER 6 The Religiously Pluralistic World...... 176 Christian Attitudes Toward Other Religious......................................................................................................................................................................................................... Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 172 Popular Attitudes Toward Religious Plurality.............................................................................................................................................................................................. 136 Rejecting Universal Truth............................................... 169 The Challenge of Religious Plurality..... 127 A Challenge o f the Transition for Christianity.................................................................................................................187 v Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner....... 182 Religious Pluralism......................114 The Meaning o f Postmodemity.........................122 The Transition from Modernity to Postmodemity............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 143 Individualism and Communalism.........

........................... 308 Jesus Christ as the Way.................................. and the Life........ 293 Christianity for the Religious Others.........247 Pharisaism o f an Adolescent Church....................................................... 258 An Adolescent Church in a Religiously Pluralistic W orld........................... .......................228 Self-centeredness o f an Adolescent Church.................................. 311 BIBLIOGRAPHY 325 ABSTRACT ................... 250 Territorialism of an Adolescent Church....................................................... Miindigkeit.................. 219 The Church for the Religious O th e rs... 272 What Should the Church Do to Become Mature?.............................. 213 Religionless Christianity for the Religiously Pluralistic World.......................................... 197 Challenges of a Religiously Pluralistic W o rld .....................................................................195 the Religiously Pluralistic World A Critique o f Bonhoeffer’s “the Religionless World” .................... the Truth...........222 CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 8 The Church in Adolescence........................................................................ 268 CHAPTER 9 The Church Come of Age................................................................................................................. 203 The Relevance o f “Non-religious Interpretation”.................... 253 An Adolescent Church as a Religious Inistitutution..................................................................................... Further reproduction prohibited without permission.............PART m A NON-RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD A Non-Religious Interpretation f o r ....................................................228 The Meaning o f Adulthood........................................................331 vi Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.............................................................................282 The Praxis of the Church Come o f Age...........................................273 The Form of the Church Come o f Age...........

Harper & Row. New York. 1997 Discipleship. DBWE 2. 1955 Letters and Papers from Prison. English Edition. 1996 E LPP Ethics. New York. Minneapolis. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. New York. AB CC CF D NRS WF DBW Act and Being. 1967 Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke. 1997 Life Together. 1960 Creation and Fall. the critical edition of Bonhoeffer’s works. DBWE 3. 1972. Fortress Press. Full publication details are given in the Bibliography. 2001 Mo Rusty Sword. Harper & Row. Minneapolis. Minneapolis. 1996 Christ the Center. . 1986-1999 DBWE Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.ABBREVIATIONS The following abbreviations have been used. The Enlarged Edition. DBWE 4. Minneapolis. 1996 Sanctorum Communio. 1998 LT SC vii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Fortress Press. DBWE 1. San Francisco. Simon & Schuster. Harper & Row. 1965 The Way to Freedom. Minneapolis. Fortress Press. New York: Macmillan. DBWE 5. Touchstone. Fortress Press. Fortress Press.

in the Enlightenment and subsequent modernity. viii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In order for the gospel to be preached to a people who can “reason” and who feel they are capable of making their own decisions. he called for the “non-religious interpretation o f biblical concepts” 1 for “the religionless world. humanity had become confident enough to rule over nature and manage its own life without God. with regard to the essential character of the gospel o f Jesus. 27 June 1944. 2 LPP 280ff„ 30 April 1944. a Christian interpretation o f biblical terms must be made which makes sense to their reason.INTRODUCTION Background About half a century ago. In his view. 339. As a response to this secularization o f the world. He characterized the mature world as a “religionless” world where God as a “stop-gap” and religion are no longer needed by humanity. 8 July 1944.”2 The purpose o f Bonhoeffer’s commitment to “a non-religious interpretation of biblical concepts” was to rescue Christianity from being a religion or a religious system that had become irrelevant to the religionless world. Bonhoeffer questions whether Christianity is a genuine religion of redemption in which the main emphasis is on the far side of the boundary drawn by 1 LPP 344. 285ff„ 5 May 1944. Bonhoeffer criticized “religion” for its exploitation of human weakness and religiosity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw the world coming of age. “religion” seems to push Christ to the margins o f real life. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . Furthermore. According to him.

”6 Redemption myths or “religion” arise from human boundary-experiences. distress. Bonhoeffer asks the key question. 337. takes hold of humanity at the center o f this-worldly life. . According to Bonhoeffer. Redemption now means redemption from cares.”3 Then. ix Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and longings. had become religionless. authentic humanity can only be found in Christ who was bom in human flesh in order to humanize humanity. 1 1bid. 4 Ibid. from his perspective. “But it seems to me that this is just where the mistake and the danger lie. in a better world beyond the grave. he says. 5 Ibid. it was necessary to present the truth o f the gospel in non-religious ways. “The difference between the Christian hope of resurrection and the mythological hope is that the former sends a man back to his life on earth in a wholly new way which is even more sharply defined than it is in the Old Testament. 336-7. He asserts. but Christ. 6 Ibid. 27 June 1944..death. the “non-religious interpretation” was essential for Bonhoeffer to restore the essential meaning of the gospel of Jesus fo r the world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. fears. as the Lord o f this world. “But is this really the essential character o f the proclamation of Christ in the gospels and by Paul?”4 He answers that it is not. from sin and death.. Bonhoeffer found a way for a non-religious interpretation within such a religionless world. In order to communicate with and preach to the world which.7 Therefore. In his incamational Christology.5 Rather. 3 LPP 336. Christianity was losing the battle to the secularization o f the world.

Even in the Western world. it is clear that the “myth o f god” will continue through to the end o f human history. though he was influenced by Gandhi’s pacifism. he would realize that his idea of a “religionless” world has been realized only for a small part of the whole humanity. God (or the gods) has been hovering over the human spirit. his world-view was quite limited to the intellectual world of Germany and o f the West. which is different from Bonhoeffer’s is called for. . the world that we experience today still seems to be predominantly religious. Unless human beings can avoid death by some means or the question of after-death can be answered with the clarity o f a simple mathematical formula. his thesis o f a “non- x Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Why did he fail to see this historical phenomenon of a religious world? It might be said that Bonhoeffer’s failure in this regard came from the fact that. which he had mostly experienced personally throughout his life. If he were to see our contemporary world and what really takes place in most parts o f the globe. Contrary to his prediction of a “religionless” world.A New Situation However. and two of the fundamental questions o f religion are about the unknown world beyond death and any supernatural being who is beyond human knowledge. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Death is an unavoidable destiny for all human beings. Surely. in anticipating the dawn o f a new millennium. The Relevance of Bonhoeffer’s Thesis Although Bonhoeffer failed to foresee this present globalized world because his worldview itself was too narrow from our current perspective. religion still maintains its stronghold today. which is technologically advanced. it is clear that a new understanding of the world.

Nonetheless. From his observation. did not seem to have happened. his non-religious understanding of Christianity is valid in view o f the original meaning o f the gospel as intended by Jesus Christ. it is evident that a new interpretation o f the gospel for the changing world is not only necessary but also demanded by the gospel. the “non-religious” nature o f the gospel makes “the non­ religious interpretation” still meaningful for the world with many religions. Bonhoeffer’s “non­ religious interpretation” should not be viewed as a mere contextualization o f the gospel.” is not satisfied. The fact that the gospel is engraved on the tablets o f human hearts signifies the dynamic nature o f the gospel o f Christ. Therefore. From an historical perspective. Rather. the thesis of “the non-religious interpretation” appears to lose its meaning because its condition.” It seems that the contemporary world at large is religious rather than religionless.religious interpretation for the world come o f age” is still commendable for several reasons: First. In doing so. Thus. Second. 3:3). which. in reality. Many interpreters o f Bonhoeffer’s theology have stumbled over the fact that he established “the religionless world” as the condition o f “the non-religious interpretation. he projected that the world had come o f age by becoming religionless. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. as Paul understood it. became irrelevant to the religionless world. regardless o f historical contexts. The good news o f Jesus is engraved “not on tablets o f stone but on the tablets o f human hearts” (2 Co. Bonhoeffer responded to the situation by restoring the original meaning o f the gospel as intended by Jesus Christ. . the religious interpretation o f the gospel. “the religionless world. God xi Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. which used to be meaningful to the religious world. it should be understood as his effort to restore the original meaning o f the gospel for the world come of age. However.

However. For each generation and for people with different cultural backgrounds. it can be said that the mind o f human beings has become mature in postmodemity by being more tolerant and open to differences. Contrary to Bonhoeffer’s assessment. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. From a spiritual or religious perspective. Lastly. the maturity of the world was attained not through its freedom from God or religion but through its tolerance for different religions and its mutual respect for other religions. We are living in the postmodern context where openness and relativism have established a firm place of their own in the human mind. even though Bonhoeffer was mistaken in projecting that the world would come of age as “the religionless world. xii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.has provided each human generation with a different environment for life and a different level of understanding o f the created world.” which is the problem with which the contemporary Church must deal. In contrast with Bonhoeffer’s problem o f “the religionless world. the problem of today’s church is that it is still in its adolescence while the world that it serves has moved into its adulthood.” the fact that world has come of age is still valid for different reasons. Diversity is no longer viewed as a problem but as merit. It is clear that this adolescent Christianity cannot be in full service for the mature world. it seems that human beings are still dependent on God. The Church cannot properly communicate with the world unless it transforms itself and grows into its own adulthood. Clearly.” today’s open world has become a breeding ground of “religious plurality. Third. Humanity has learnt to tolerate differences and to live in harmony with others of different cultural. the gospel as the living truth o f Christ must be continually reinterpreted in such a way that the contemporary heart and mind can understand it. racial and religious backgrounds. . God speaks in a language that can be understood by each one of them.

“Christian conversion” may be viewed as synonymous to a “religious invasion” against them. The shortcoming o f Bonhoeffer is that he focused only on the world that was becoming religionless from a humanistic standpoint. the non-religiousness o f interpretation should not be understood as secular or humanistic. But from the perspective o f other religions. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. As Bonhoeffer saw. which is called “religiosity. The gospel must be interpreted by Jesus Christ himself as he is revealed in this world as the Son of God and the Son o f Man through the life o f the Church and the life o f his disciples empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit. and didn’t pay enough attention to the world. which needs to be freed from the grips of religions. He was concerned about the secularism that was wide-spreading and the Church’s inability to provide its service to the world. His primary concern was that Christ is no longer in the center of the Western world which became autonomous.The adolescence o f Christianity can be depicted as a child who is still fighting for its religious space with other religions in the spiritual playground. . the non-religious interpretation o f the gospel o f Jesus Christ provides the Church with an opportunity to free all human beings from the grips o f many religions. the commonality of human beings encompassing different parts o f the world is the lack o f knowledge about the true God. Clearly.” xiii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. However. The object o f the game is to get a control over this world and other religions. The Opportunity of “Non-religious Interpretation” Although Bonhoeffer’s thesis of a “non-religious interpretation o f the biblical terms and concepts for the religionless world” can be applied to the present world of many religions. in today’s world. the interpretation must be Christ-centered.

Therefore. According to Bonhoeffer. but didn’t go far enough to restore the biblical meaning o f the Christian faith by leaving Christianity in the religious category as “the true religion. The incarnation o f the Son of God must be preached to the religious world with power and authority. 8 June 1944. God performed the miracles out o f His love toward humankind for their salvation. xiv Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Therefore. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. but a conversion from the Jewish religion to the non-religious truth o f God as revealed in Jesus.”8 The nature o f the non-religious interpretation o f the gospel can be explained from several aspects. but should be in God’s service to awaken the world from the slumber o f religion (including Christianity!). How should we understand the power that the Son o f God received from the Father and passed to the Church through the Holy Spirit? How should we interpret the miracles performed by the apostles? Bonhoeffer understood the power of God as the power of self-sacrifice and humility. Barth shared this view on religion. it will be argued that Christianity should not be at war with other religions. The conversions. in the subsequent discussion. The historical event o f the Incarnation already includes the divine nature o f the one who came into this world in human flesh. the purpose o f the non-religious interpretation o f the gospel is to bring the knowledge about the true God to the people who are religious in many different ways. . First. the non-religious or incamational interpretation o f the gospel must 8 LPP 328. which took place in the biblical accounts. were not a conversion from one religion to another. The Nature of the Non-religious Interpretation The present reality of the incarnate Son o f God should be the way in which we interpret his gospel.

the final resting-place for all humanity. Its power is to free the human spirit. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. He is “the way” (Jn. therefore. It teaches and empowers us in how to love. the gospel instead leads and transforms humanity into the kingdom. He is “the truth. 1:14). With transforming power. The gospel as “the truth” frees humanity from every bondage.be based in the Word. . not just in how to live. Everlasting life was given to humanity as a reality. It overcomes the power of death and removes the needs o f religiosity for human beings. Second.” Fourth. It is not simply an ethical statement because it does not remain as a moral value. because it is based on who Jesus really is for this world today. Jesus is the truth over against the falsehood and oppression of all religions and philosophies. which tells us what we should do and how we should live in this world. The Church in its adulthood is the Church that knows itself as the resurrected Christ and ministers to the world on behalf o f Christ who is constantly at work to build the kingdom.” The non-religious interpretation o f the gospel is actualized through the life of the Church. because apart from the Word we cannot speak o f the Incarnation: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn. The Scripture as the spoken Word is not the object o f a non-religious interpretation but its point of departure. the non-religious or incamational interpretation brings back life to the spiritually dead. The power and authority o f the resurrected Lord penetrates and XV Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Third. 14:6). the non-religious or incamational interpretation is practical. The gospel. must be practical in every possible way. the non-religious or incamational interpretation is liberating. The incarnation is the continuing praxis o f Christ. He is “the life.

The gospel o f the resurrected Jesus Christ is the gospel for the oppressed people in every comer o f this world. and it is precisely the act of new Creation. therefore. Our task at hand is to rediscover the meaning and purpose o f the Church as willed by God for xvi Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. sect. These have stemmed largely from different ways of interpreting the gospel based on differing “human” perspectives. There have been countless superfluous forms o f the Church. the incamational interpretation sees that the Church as one body of Christ must be united in one Spirit. which is lost in the chaos o f relativism. The “ultimate” goal o f the praxis of the Spirit o f God is the kingdom.transforms this hopelessly religious world into the kingdom o f God. The kingdom is continually being shaped by God’s mature people who are finally freed from the captivity o f the religious world and led into the eternal kingdom by the truth o f the gospel. the characterization of the different form o f churches is solely based on how its leaders or founders interpreted the gospel and the Christian faith from their own interpretive key. and so on and so forth. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. What is ultimate is also original from God’s perspective because God is the Alpha and Omega. From this chaos. However. home church. In many cases. an inevitable consequence of such cultural myopia. This incamational interpretation seeks to find the will of God in this contemporary world. Also. the kingdom is coming forth. a new creation. denomination. The gospel o f Jesus is the gospel o f the new creation out of the vast void of human invention and confusion. We are not to seek a new external form o f church. by restoring the vision o f Christ. . The division within religious Christianity is. It creates the light that provides vision for the world. Christian worship has too often become a self-serving spiritual ritual. whether under the guise o f orthodoxy.

Php. the will of God for the Church. it needs to undress the religious robes of adolescence and be clothed with the resurrected Jesus himself. What needs to be set forth is neither a new form o f church nor a new method of its religious rituals. Eph. Throughout church history. “Religion” is an ambiguous term with various meanings. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer’s understanding of both “religion” and “the world come of age” needs to be clarified. the Church. has been denied by the Church leaders for the sake of their human “religious” doctrines. which is to become one as the Spirit is one (1 Co. 2:2).” By understanding how he has viewed “religion.this world.” it will be possible to comprehend his concept o f “the religionless world” from the perspective o f the world come of age. His theological thesis o f “non-religious interpretation” is anchored on his critique o f “religion. The true meaning of church will be rediscovered and a new form of church will emerge not as a human invention. . This does not mean that the structure of the Church is unimportant.” first. Methodology In order to set forth the discussion on the concept o f a “non-religious interpretation o f the Gospel for a world come of age. 4:4. but the will o f God in Christ revealed through the life o f the authentic and mature Church. which is empowered by the Holy Spirit. as well as his concern for the xvii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 12:13. but as the result of obedient acts o f individual Christians who accept the will of the Father and unite under the lordship o f the Son who works through his body. For the Church to become mature. Like a tree which takes its form as it grows. it is clear that the Church will take its shape when the Church lives its life in obedience to the will o f God.

Bonhoeffer prescribed a “non-religious interpretation. He observed that the religionless world seeks concrete answers for the human problems it faces. we will find that his prediction o f a religionless world has not been fully materialized in the present world. the validity o f Bonhoeffer’s claim for the “religionless” world as a “world come of age” will be critiqued. For the religionless world come o f age. death and resurrection. Second. in Bonhoeffer’s later view. for any 9 SC 214. especially in the realm o f religion. In this section o f the discussion. xviii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. must focus on the secular world where Jesus is.” What he meant by “non-religious interpretation” and how he developed his thesis as a solution to the problem o f secularization in his world will be discussed. . the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost are important for Bonhoeffer. In addition to those historical events. Moreover. Thus. even Bonhoeffer’s western world has come under the shadow of many different religions and has continued for the most part to be filled with religious people. the adulthood o f the world which Bonhoeffer posits might better be reinterpreted in terms o f its openness and tolerance towards differences instead o f in its secularization as Bonhoeffer assessed in his time. our contemporary situation will be analyzed in light o f the pluralistic and diverse nature of the present world.relationship between the Church and his then-contemporary world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Quite contrary to his projection. Thus Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is based on his Christology of Incarnation and Resurrection. Based on the outcome o f this analysis. Bonhoeffer believed that the only concrete answer the Church can give to the secularized world is in the authentic humanity o f Christ who broke into the world through his incarnation. His early thought of “Christ existing as community”9 remained at the center o f his theology which.

Christianity has marginalized itself as a religion among many others. As a direct result of the openhandedness o f the world. Jos. Mature humanity is being asked to make its own choice just as the Israelites were challenged in the desert by Moses and Joshua (Ex. A mature theology will impose the question o f choice upon the people of Christ. and one will ask. 29-30. my view on the adolescence o f the Church as the problem o f today’s Christianity will be explained. Therefore. maturity also means the beginning o f decline. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Christianity will only suffer further marginalization. The truth o f Christ has been put on the shelves of the spiritual marketplace along with other religious ideas. it will be argued that the nature of “the world come of age” must be redefined in order for his thesis o f the “non-religious interpretation” to remain helpful for the present world. 32:26. “What’s wrong with that? Aren’t we supposed to have an open mind after all?” What was once quite clear has now become unclear and muddy. but also help the Church to carry out its mission for this peculiarly religious world. Without a working practical theology to guard the Church from becoming a religious child cornered by other religions. A Buddhist monk will soon deliver the teachings o f Buddha as a guest speaker during a Christian worship service. . some Christian circles are even suggesting that Christianity should respect other religions and tolerate their belief system on the basis of an equality o f religion and the importance o f human freedom o f choice.living creatures. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 24:15). It is not clear how Bonhoeffer has wrestled with this issue. A new theology should be developed to not only guide Christianity through the myriad of this strange world o f many religions. Deut. Third. In the midst o f religious struggles against other religions.

which is not only a future event but the historical process which began with the ministry o f Jesus Christ on earth. which is led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Church as “Immanuel” for the world can be built based on the eschatological criteria. In Christ. . Christianity as a religion per se has to be abolished in order for the Church to be transformed into the body o f the risen Christ. but the beginning of a new life attained through its marriage with Him. it will be argued that the fully mature church is the eschatological community o f Christ empowered and enlivened by the Holy Spirit and united together in the Lord who will hand his kingdom over to the Father at the victorious eschaton. The Church should become mature in order to embrace the world come of age. which is the meaning of the biblical account o f the first marriage in Genesis 2:24. Similarly. Those who are called to participate in the renewal of the Church come o f its age should ask the following question: “how can we tell the Gospel o f the risen Christ to this religiously pluralistic and open world by becoming a part o f the good news?” The meaning and the purpose of XX Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The love o f Christ must be practiced first within the body of Christ with openness as the obedient acts of the disciples. the adulthood o f the Church is not the point o f beginning o f decay.The adulthood o f the Church for the world come o f age in its openness will be presented as the solution for the question o f “what should the Church do for this world?” The concrete meaning o f “the adulthood o f the Church” is based on the humility o f Jesus Christ. In conclusion. a “non-religious interpretation o f the Gospel” calls for the praxis o f the Church come o f age. Bonhoeffer found his theological answer for the Church in his Christology of Incarnation and Resurrection. “Immanuel” will be presented as a ground for the demolition of Christianity as a religion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

. By understanding the true purpose and the true goal o f the Church for God’s kingdom . the Church should be able to transform the world into the kingdom of God. By becoming the true body o f Christ through its praxis of the love of Christ. The Church come of age is meant to be the source of life for the world which claims its own adulthood. xxi Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It is the mission of the Church come of age to be the praxis of the triune God for a world come of age. not for speculation. we can finally have a plan for our action.the Church need to be reinterpreted.

. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.PARTI BONHOEFFER’S THEOLOGY FOR THE WORLD COME OF AGE Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

In order to find the relevance o f Bonhoeffer’s theology in today’s religiously pluralistic world. some Bonhoeffer interpreters find his theology somewhat fragmented. Throughout this dissertation. his theology was not simply to understand God and his will but also to act upon it obediently. From that sense. However. which is our present goal. his theology must be understood from the perspective o f a “practical theology” rather than a “systematic theology.CHAPTER 1 AN OVERVIEW OF BONHOEFFER’S THEOLOGY Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theologian who paid a great deal of attention to the world from the perspective of Jesus Christ. I will attempt to use his theology 2 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In short. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the mass destruction of war. I will argue later that the main thrust of Bonhoeffer’s theology throughout its development was the presence and praxis o f Christ in this world as the Lord of the Church and the world.” Because o f the lack of its systematization. we need first to understand his theology in much more detail. then. I would say Bonhoeffer’s theology can be described as “dynamic” rather than “fragmented. Bonhoeffer’s primary concern was to establish a Christian agenda for the world he felt responsible for as a disciple o f Christ. whose primary interest was in the formulation o f a systematic for the Church. even while he was changing his focus as a reaction to the different situations he had to confront. .” He had a clear vision and direction for his theology. Unlike most o f his contemporary theologians. His theology was a reflection of the life and faith he lived during a time of political and ideological turmoil. and the human suffering of the holocaust.

” The main goal o f this present endeavor is not to give another interpretation of Bonhoeffer’s theology. it is precisely where. some interpretation and a brief overview o f Bonhoeffer’s theology will be necessary for the further discussion. Bonhoeffer’s Theological Concern The theological loci o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be summarized in three central themes: the Church. To accomplish this. whom Andre Dumas rightly called a theologian o f reality1 . the beginning point for a “non-religious interpretation o f Christianity for the religiously pluralistic world. 1998). That there was a German church organization. 14. its congregations. . Only Christ present in communal word and sacrament. and the world. it is not a church organization that defines Christ. Editor "s Introduction in the English edition of Sanctorum Communio (Minneapolis: Fortress Press. the Gemeinde Christi. On the contrary. understanding Bonhoeffer’s theology is not an end but a starting point o f the thesis. which Bonhoeffer described with the famous phrase “the Church [Kirche] is Christ existing as G e m e in d e Clifford J.2 1 Andre Dumas. with its clergy. and only where. Theologian o f Reality (Bristol: SCM Press. The theological point o f departure for Bonhoeffer. 3 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In this book. however. but to find out its applicability as a theological agenda for the contemporary which finds itself confronted by postmodemity.does not guarantee that it is ‘church’. even its scripture and its appeals to Martin Luther . Christ. but Christ who defines the Church. constitutes the Church. This point is crucial for understanding Bonhoeffer’s action in the Church Struggle against National Socialism. Dumas characterizes Bonhoeffer as the theologian of reality. ‘Christexists-as-Ge/we/rtc/e’ that we find the ‘church’ {Kirche). Green explains: This [phrase] does not mean that an institution calling itself church defines where Christ is communally present. Green. its traditions. In other words. that is.to solve today’s problem of religious plurality within the context o f postmodemity. 2 Clifford J. 1971). was the Church as the concrete reality o f Christ. its laws yes. Therefore.

Bonhoeffer’s initial effort through his doctoral dissertation o f 1927. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Paul van Buren in his The Secular Meaning o f the Gospel (1963).” others a “secularist” (A. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Thomas J.4 Ralf K. which views “religionless Christianity” close to the atheism of Marxism. Hanfried Muller’s interpretation of Bonhoeffer. Bemd Jaspert and John Macquarrie believed that Bonhoeffer himself had a “religious nature. J. . Wtistenberg observes that some interpreters like Harvey Cox have called Bonhoeffer an “atheist.” “worldly Christianity. 30 April 1944.” while for William Hamilton and others. Along with the question of the Church. he dealt with the social characteristic o f the Church and its relationship with Christ. was to define the relationship between Christ and the Church.” and "etsi deus non daretur. 3 LPP 279. 182-214. Altizer and William Hamilton in their Radical Theology and the Death o f God (1966) seem to have either misinterpreted or misused Bohoeffer’s incamational Christology and the meaning of the terms such as "religionless Christianity. 1967). World Come o f Age (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. From the very onset o f his theological development to the end o f his life. the Christological question o f “Who is Christ for us today?”3 was central to his theology. Harvey Cox in his The Secular City (1965). Misinterpretations and misapplications o f Bonhoeffer’s theology are due to the lack of understanding of its Christocentric characteristic. A For instance. The subsequent interpretations by John A. (See Hanfried Muller. Concerning the Reception and Interpretation o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Ronald Gregor Smith. ignores the fact that Bonhoeffer’s worldview is not simply social and political as Muller seems to understand. and for Muller’s Marxist interpretation of Bonhoeffer)." They do not seem to have fully appreciated the meaning of Bonhoeffer’s statement “Before God and with God we live without God” (LPP 360). Robinson in his Honest to God (1963). but is rather theological in which Christ is understood as a God who is actively involved in human history. the question of “What is the Church?” and “What should the Church do?” occupied his mind. In the book. T. It is important to remember that Christology was always at the center o f Bonhoeffer’s theology. He understood the reality of Christ in terms o f his lordship o f the Church and of the world. Sanctorum Communio. Loen).

Wiistenberg.”5 Wiistenberg adds. de Gruchy ed. For instance. Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Tegel Theology in John W. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 1997). While Bonhoeffer paid much attention to the Church as the reality o f Christ. As he sees it positivism and idealism are only abstract understandings of that specific reality. but rather the way in which God as man in Jesus Christ takes the world upon himself. the centrality and actuality o f Christ in this world was the master key to answer all theological questions.” In all places and in all situations. Many o f the misinterpretations o f Bonhoeffer in the 1960s owed to the failure to take into account how profoundly his theology was informed by his Christology.”6 The presence o f Christ in concrete human situations was an ever-present theological condition underlying Bonhoeffer’s theology. Christ is the Lord. Bonhoeffer works out a christological analysis o f the concrete. nor letting man take over once God retires. . 58. one would easily end up misinterpreting Bonhoeffer. which is neither superimposing God’s work on man’s failure. Bonhoeffer fo r a New Day (Grand Rapids. The relationship between Christ and the Church should be understood on the same premise..Bonhoeffer was the “father of the God-is-dead theology. For Bonhoeffer. MI: Eerdmans. his ultimate theological concern was the problem o f this world in relationship with the incarnate Christ and the Church. If this aspect is not taken into consideration. and the way in 5 See Ralf K. which invokes the Spirit of Christ to receive worship. “Such interpretations clearly reflect the religious or the secular perspectives of the interpreters rather than the assumptions o f Bonhoeffer himself. On the contrary. . 5 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. it is not the Church. 6 Ibid. From the standpoint of his realism. which Dumas summarizes in the following paragraph: The reality of which Bonhoeffer speaks consists o f a world already inhabited by the incarnate Christ. Christ is the one who is present at the center of the congregation inviting the people to the fellowship through his community called the “Church. .

Christianity. Christ. MI: William B. which he was planning to write. 9 LPP 380. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. he summarized his theological concern in the form o f an Outline fo r a Book that was enclosed in the letter o f 3 August 1944. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 17. A Theology o f Sociality (Grand Rapids. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.which man yields to that responsibility in such a way that it is an act of submission but not surrender. Although these interrelations were addressed throughout the different developmental stages o f Bonhoeffer’s theology. 8 Clifford J. as a religion.7 It can be said that Bonhoeffer viewed the reality o f the Church. 2) the centrality of Christ in the Church and in the world. 2) The Real Meaning o f Christian Faith.” the conclusion of the book would have provided his blueprint of the “new” Church that shares “in the secular problems o f ordinary human life. Theologian o f Reality. . In the second chapter. which necessitates the Church’s renewal as the Church for others. 3) Conclusions. 3 August 1944. not 7 Andrd Dumas.9 The first chapter o f his book was going to deal with the then-current situation of the world come o f age in which. Green. 10 LPP 279. Bonhoeffer. and the Church and the world through: 1) the sociality of the Church in relationship with Christ and with the world8. 1999). In it he divided the content o f the book. 30 April 1944. into three chapters: 1) A Stocktaking o f Christianity. 10. based on his judgment. 3) the maturity o f the world in Christ. and the world as interwoven together. He understood the interrelationship between the Church and Christ. he was going to answer his self-imposed question of “Who is Christ for us today?”1 0 Hoping that “it may be o f some help for the Church’s future. became irrelevant. Christ and the world.

With rapid changes taking place in the world. 7 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Though he was not able to develop the Outline into a theological treatise. has been transformed into a cyber-village through the internet.” and it has become the reality in which we now live. The future generations will experience much faster acceleration of technological advancement than we can currently imagine. Therefore. which will bring them a worldview totally different from ours. as we live in the postmodern era. but helping and serving. we can share with Bonhoeffer some sense that humanity as a whole has become much more enlightened and capable than ever before. one has to wonder what is the place for Christianity and what is the task o f theology for the present and the future. The world.dominating. Edwin H. Technology no longer remains as “Sci-fi. many o f his thoughts still stimulate other theologians and church leaders who are genuinely concerned about the current situation and problem o f the Church in a world that is much different from Bonhoeffer’s. those are the theological issues he wanted to deal with in earnest. Perhaps that is because in our contemporary world his prophetic statement o f “the world come o f age” finally has been realized in the form of postmodemity. for example.”1 1 No matter how briefly he expressed his thoughts in the Outline . O f course. . what he meant by “the world come o f age” remains to be discussed. However. It is precisely the same concern that Bonhoeffer had five decades ago. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Robertson made a similar endeavor to do what Bonhoeffer intended with his Outline and to take Bonhoeffer’s theological insights into Robertson’s contemporary generation and 1 1 LPP 382-83. 3 August 1944. the present effort in this thesis can be viewed as an effort to continue his theological formulation that was planted in his Outline fo r a Book for our contemporary situation.

1989). although Hopper’s effort to prove his points o f dissent can be deemed as not that successful14.explore their relevance within the context o f Bonhoeffer’s O u tlin e12 Although. A Dissent on Bonhoeffer (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. In order to develop Bonhoeffer’s Outline into a theology relevant to our contemporary context. 3) there are different views as to how one should interpret Bonhoeffer’s life: as a co-requisite of the interpretation o f his work. David H. For 8 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. primarily as a uniform development. or as a development in which far-reaching changes took place. 12. I4David H. Hopper. in general. Hopper questions Bonhoeffer’s stature as a systematic theologian and particularly the continuity o f his theological thought. The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. . 2) the variety of the texts raises the question for interpreters as to what extent the writings together form the basis for a scholarly analysis. there have been various interpretations of Bonhoeffer’s theology. As a beginning. 3-4. it does not seem to seriously consider the post­ modern situation of religious pluralism as the context in which the Outline should be developed further. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it will be helpful to conduct a brief survey on how others have appraised Bonhoeffer’s theology.1 3 Despite the difficulty in interpreting Bonhoeffer. his effort is commendable. Bonhoeffer's Heritage: The Christian Way in a World without Religion (London: Hodder and Stoughton. which will be briefly surveyed here. It can be said that. it will be necessary to understand Bonhoeffer’s theological insights. his 12 See Edwin H. The Interpretations of Bonhoeffer’s Theology Ernst Feil correctly observes that interpreting Bonhoeffer is difficult because: 1) Bonhoeffer’s work is so varied as far as the genre o f texts is concerned. 1985). 1975). Robertson. 1 3 Ernst Feil.

. asserted in defense o f Bonhoeffer that the concept of a “nonreligious interpretation of biblical concepts” was rooted. Of course we cannot equate systematic theology with the positivistic revelation. the pull of his family and his own liberal heritage. However. 154.1 6 Against the earlier assessment by Barth and others. Karl Barth and others had already made an appraisal of Bonhoeffer in the 1950s. his fascination with the heroic." Therefore. W. in 1952. with consistency and continuity.extensive survey of the various interpretations of Bonhoeffer’s theology in support of the points o f his dissent serve as an excellent source for the various interpretations of Bonhoeffer. and then after a time he called a halt. 16Ibid. we can deduce that he never wanted to be identified as a “systematic theologian. instance. thus a uniformity does exists in his christology of a suffering God. Christ for Us in the Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (New York: Harper & Row. According to Hopper. a year after publication of the original German edition o f Letters and Papers fro m Prison. but from the creative and prophetic nature of its content. and he maintained such an assessment in his 1967 letter to Bethge following the publication of the latter’s biography o f Bonhoeffer. . the synthetic impulse. 251. 9 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Phillips. It is my opinion. HerrenbrQck. quoted in ibid. Gerhard Ebeling. from a letter of Karl Barth to Landessuperintendent P. Hopper argues.” and on the dynamism and fluidity of his theological thought for the concrete reality. pp. a student of Bonhoeffer. these uniquely personal. 121-22. based on Bonhoeffer’s own criticism against “the positivistic revelation. it is a moot point to say that the non-systematic nature of his theology is problematic even if that is the case. existential concerns make Bonhoeffer’s theology something less than system atical34). “The matter of BonhoefFer’s personal quest. The influence of his theology is not from the systematic nature of his theology. described Bonhoeffer’s theological stature as an impulsive visionary thinker who was suddenly seized by an idea to which he gave a lively form. there is no evidence that he wanted to formulate a systematic theology in the traditional sense. in 1955. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Hopper also argues that the inconsistency between “Christ for others” and “Christ for me” at points be interpreted as suggesting a certain noblesse oblige (135) without considering that “me” is also included in “others” from God’s perspective.1 5 Barth also complained about the lack o f continuity and consistency in Bonhoeffer’s theology. 1967). his longing for an answer to the question ‘Who am I?’. 21“ December 1952. Hopper suggests that Barth. 15 John A.

with “Christ existing as Christian community.” which now prove their worth when applied to other themes. also Die miindig Welt. Some of the proceedings of these conferences were subsequently published at intervals in several volumes under the title Die miindig Welt. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 103126. First. Bonhoeffer’s horizon is broadened to include the Lordship of Christ not only in the Church. 12-73. Moltmann says: In noting this change we do not mean to imply a breach in Bonhoeffer’s work as a whole. Nor will it be possible to quote his latest thinking against his earlier theological essays. terminating in the year 1962. in his early writings.17 In 1959. Two Studies in the Theology o f Bonhoeffer. especially p. but also in the world. 105. vol. 1963). Word and Faith.: “Ebeling’s analysis was presented as a paper to one of the conferences of ‘friends and pupils of Bonhoeffer’ that were held periodically beginning in 1954. pp. Fuller and Use Fuller (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. II. however.” 1 8 Jurgen Moltmann and Jurgen Weissbach. About this. 10 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Rather. . This series of conferences. Reginald H. by James W. trans. quoted in ibid. the “ethical social transcendence of God. was preoccupied with the sociology o f the Church. 56.” and with the distinctive nature o f the community in discipleship. tr. Bonhoeffer was profoundly Christological in his theological concern ' Gerhard Ebeling.1 8 I agree with Moltmann in his view that what has changed in the development of Bonhoeffer’s theology was not its underlying principles but the horizon for its application and his theological focus. Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. we should draw the conclusion that it was the theology o f earlier writings. He asserted that Bonhoeffer. Hopper finds that the following two points came to represent the common ground of the assessment o f Bonhoeffer in the decade o f the 1960’s. Jurgen Moltmann made a point in The Lordship o f Christ and Human Society that there was a pattern of continuous development in BonhoefFer’s thought. with the consequences of faith in the presence of Christ in his church. despite occasional dissenting opinions expressed in these meetings. had much to do with establishing the new estimates of Bonhoeffer’s stature. Cf. 1959). In Ethics .in certain long-standing theological presuppositions which were more than mere personal whim.” the “entering o f God into reality” and the “vicarious action of Christ.

A Dissent on Bonhoeffer.20 In the English-speaking world. the scope o f his vision was ever more broadened over the years. Christian. He marked off three stages in the development o f Bonhoeffer’s thought: “During the first period his thought centered on Jesus Christ as the revelational reality o f the Church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . At the time o f his writing A Dissent on Bonhoeffer . Contemporary” suggesting the progressive stages in Bonhoeffer’s life with continuity in his theological thinking."2 1 Godsey also found that Bonhoeffer’s theological concern for the Church was a continuing theme of his theology throughout. During the second period his emphasis was upon Jesus Christ as the Lord over the Church.22 19 Hopper. Hopper observed. 29-30. 11 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. quoted in ibid. “It now was commonly argued that to understand properly the nature and content o f the Letters and Papers from Prison one had to interpret them in the context o f Bonhoeffer’s earlier writings and be cognizant o f his developing and increasingly perceptive grasp o f reality as he became more and more involved in the life of the world. and second. 271.”19 On this same plane o f understanding. The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 29. John Godsey. quoted in ibid. Eberhard Bethge’s biography is entitled “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian. 31. :o Ibid.. In the third period Bonhoeffer concentrated his attention upon Jesus Christ as the Lord over the world. 266. and that he anticipated the presence o f the Church and its function even in a religionless world. ~ John Godsey.. published his study The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer with an understanding that Bonhoeffer’s theology was essentially Christology.throughout his theological work. 3 1 John Godsey. in 1960.

30. Ronald Gregor Smith. A Dissent on Bonhoeffer. Muller essentially argues for the abandonment of ecclesiology by the later Bonhoeffer. Robinson . See ed. Robinson. As can be seen from the Outline fo r a Book .the Bishop o f Woolwich in England . the next wave o f sensational reaction to Bonhoeffer’s theology or theological questions appeared in the form o f a secular theology by John A. T.and Paul van Buren in America. his interpretation.” is his consistent inquiry as the theologian o f the concrete reality of Christ.23 Despite his Marxist interpretation of Bonhoeffer which provokes challenges from other interpreters. World Come o f Age (Fortress Press. Bonhoeffer’s major interest still lay in the matters o f the Church to the end. “Who is Christ for us today. . According to Hopper. 182-214. Hanfried Muller made an interesting observation about Bonhoeffer’s theological development in terms o f a changing awareness of the social and political situation. Also. 1967). and with such evidence. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. in his Honest to God published in 1963. 155: Muller. This point will be discussed in more detail later in the section in which a critique o f Bonhoeffer will be made. and Rudolf 23 Hopper. given the obscure and at times confusing nature of Bonhoeffer’s language. expressed the author’s disaffection with and doubt about traditional theological formulations. based on the thought of Paul Tillich. was generally accepted. 12 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Von der Kirche zur Welt. see Chapter 3 of Hopper’s A Dissent on Bonhoeffer. It is clear that the underlying essence o f Bonhoeffer’s question. Quite unfortunately but perhaps unavoidably. as primarily based on Christology.24 However. Muller’s conclusion o f Bonhoeffer’s abandonment o f ecclesiology seems to be premature. it seems that Muller made a wrongful conclusion by viewing that Bonhoeffer had dropped the doctrine of church from his later theological agenda.In From the Church to the World (1961). 24 Ibid. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

. 29 Ibid.” 25 Ibid. Harvey Cox came out with The Secular City in which he defined his major task as a restatement o f Christian faith that would free faith from “religion” and “metaphysics” and make common cause with a “profane” and “pragmatic” humanism.. it might be worthwhile to make a brief observation on some interpretations by these “secular” theologians. from which he understood Bonhoeffer as saying that. God is not an Other Being “out there” or “up there” but the depth and ground o f our very being.28 Second. 13 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Robinson was first influenced by Paul Tillich’s sermon “The Depth o f Existence” in 1949 in which Tillich transposed the religious symbolism o f God from the heights to the depths. Robinson. However.27 Since the so-called “secular” theology is not the focus o f the present discussion. T.. 17. he was impressed by Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. Honest to God (SCM Press. these interpretations of Bonhoeffer will not be analyzed at length.. 23. 1963). . 1949. 21 Ibid.25 In the same year Paul van Buren published The Secular Meaning o f the Gospel in which he came to the task o f theologizing out o f the philosophical school of linguistic analysis based on the statement o f a “non-religious interpretation o f biblical concepts. In other words. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 26 Ibid. he was influenced by Rudolf Bultmann’s analysis and program o f “demythologizing” the Christianity which was introduced in his 1941 publication of “New Testament and Mythology . 63-64. “God is deliberately calling us in the twentieth century to a form of Christianity that did not depend on the premise of religion. in Robinson’s words. See also Paul Tillich’s The Shaking o f the Foundations.”29 Third. 16-17. 18. 21-22.Bultmann.”26 In 1965. 28 John A.

. Robinson rode on 30 Ibid. is through “the least of his brethren. Whether one has “known” God is tested by one question only. whether in acceptance or rejection.” 3 1 Ibid.. and to derive his own understanding of God as Love that.. 47. is the very ground o f our being. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.Ibid. In denying a theistic understanding o f God. Thus. which treats God as a supernatural being external to human beings. “How deeply have you loved?” .” 3. which is the most important element o f Bonhoeffer’s christology.for “He who does not love does not know God.” The Son o f Man can be known only in unconditional relationship to the son o f man.By juxtaposing Tillich’s concept o f God as “the ground and depth o f our being” against Bonhoeffer’s definition o f God as “dens ex m a c h i n a l Robinson tried to put an end to theism. Robinson seems to have asked “ What is Christ for us today?” instead of Bonhoeffer’s original question “Who is Christ for us today?” Following the lead of Bultmann. Robinson simply took Bonhoeffer’s theological concern and ran his own course. that Being itself ultimately has this character. Although his effort to answer Bonhoeffer’s questions from the perspective of “the world come o f age” was remarkable. 49-53: “To assert that ‘God is love’ (1 John. 14 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.31 He asserts: The only way in which Christ can be met. he had to demythologize the Incarnation. to him. for God is love. “God of gap. for such an ultimate question has nothing to do with religion. 61. it can be said that his question o f “what” in place of “who” regarding Jesus Christ seems to be a major point of departure from Bonhoeffer’s theology. to the one whose sole claim upon us is his common humanity.. 4:8) is to believe that in love one comes to touch with the most fundamental reality in the universe.”32 Robinson considered the conception o f God as Love as linking up with Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious” understanding o f God.

.. has not been achieved by a combination o f purely “secular” historical forces. the gifts and graces o f the Spirit have now been poured over humankind so that together we can grow to full-grown humanhood in God’s image. .. But it is an insight which is misunderstood if we fail to see that it is in the light o f Christ that we discover maturity. not simply to picture “the God up there. he suggested that much more work needs to be done about “religion” and “the world come o f age. .3 4 Based on Jenkins’ definition o f religion. 15 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” Third. He asked. any more than it has been achieved by the efforts o f institutions bearing a Christian label. in all its variety. 210-11. . Daniel Jenkins raised a series o f questions. 34 Ibid. . . he questioned whether Robinson did justice to the biblical idea o f God by pointing out that the Bible’s concern is to make clear the Lordship o f God over the world and humanity. 212-3. First. he challenged Robinson for accepting “the ground o f being” as the object o f our faith.Bultmann’s demythologization while at the same time attempting to hybridize Tillich’s philosophical theology .” Jenkins argued that it is not fair to think o f religion in purely negative terms as Robinson did. In his review of Robinson’s book. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. .which understood God as the “ultimate concern” and the “ground o f being” . . “Can we write off the whole vast history o f man’s religion. . quite as easily as that?”33 He also understood “the world come o f age” as such that humanity has come of age in Jesus Christ: Humanity has entered into its heritage o f freedom as the child o f God through Christ and. . The great power over themselves and their environment . Second.with Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious” Christianity for the world come o f age. Robinson’s new “non-religious” program can indeed be viewed as another religious program devised by our human effort of 33 Ibid. .

36 Ibid.36 In much the same way as “postmodemity” is distinguished from “postmodernism.37 The disenchantment of nature is an absolute precondition for the development o f natural science.” he distinguished “secularization. 16 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. any human effort to define God. He used Bonhoeffer’s thought in a different way.seeking the “ground of being” As we shall see later.3 5 Cox described three biblical elements that had given rise to secularization: the disenchantment o f nature begins with the Creation.. The Secular City. 18. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 19. 35 Harvey Cox. Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective (New York: The Macmillan Company. From Bonhoeffer’s perspective. Bonhoeffer’s “religionless” Christianity has a different source. 15.. In The Secular City. the desacralization o f politics with Exodus. 1965). . Harvey Cox made an affirmative evaluation o f the modem megalopolis and the secularization of the world. What Bonhoeffer intended was to interpret Christianity non-religiously rather than to create another religious program. It lies on none other than Christ himself as its ground. from “secularism” which is the name for an ideology.” as a historical process. the deconsecration o f values with the Sinai Covenant.” is another form o f religion or metaphysics. especially with its prohibition o f idols. Cox argued that secularization represents an authentic consequence o f biblical faith. very much like a religion. however. He tried to answer Bonhoeffer’s question “How do we speak o f God without God? How do we speak in a secular fashion o f God?” Based on the Creation account of Genesis and the idea of Friedrich Gogarten. 37 Ibid. which is in turn the precondition for securalization and urbanization. such as Robinson’s “the ground of being. 38 Ibid.38 Likewise.

the biblical antecedent of those three processes supports the idea that secularization is intended by God. not by humans. The same Genesis narrative that establishes human’s responsibility for the created order also speaks o f its fall. 18. a movement away from God and religion. Daniel Callahan. Hamilton formulated a “death o f God” theology from his own understanding of Dostoevsky and Bonhoeffer. To him.. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Altizer. “Cox manages rather well in blessing his secular city and all its works with appropriate biblical texts. 18-19. The Secular City Debate (New York: The MacMillan Co. means the movement into. 17 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the most unfortunate outcome o f a “secular” interpretation of Bonhoeffer’s theology came out in the form o f the so-called “death o f God theology. which is the language of Bonhoeffer. But he does so at the cost of suppressing equally relevant biblical data. Bernard Murchland maintained. worldly life.” which is chiefly identified with William Hamilton and Thomas J. And. 1966). according to Cox. . or toward the world. Eberhard 39 Ed.40 While Altizer’s brand of the “death o f God” theology was inclined more toward metaphysics and mysticism. of human’s perennial tendency to slip away from the desirable ideal. A Dissent on Bonhoeffer. J. and the neighbor as the bearer o f the worldly Jesus.’” 9 Certainly.the desacralization o f politics and the deconsecration o f values are critical elements of the process of secularization. 40 Hopper. that if there ever was a God he had now withdrawn from the human scene and that the duty o f Christians was to seek enrichment o f life in interpersonal relations. Hopper explains: The death o f God theology represented a repudiation o f the traditional conception o f God and pressed the point that God’s presence was no longer a reality in the lives of most contemporary Christians.

“The transcendental is not infinite and unattainable tasks. According to Phillips. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Outline fo r a Book. “Whatever Bonhoeffer was concerned with in the Ethics and the prison letters. 19.Bethge and Paul Lehmann. two close friends o f Bonhoeffer. On the side o f Muller. 42 LPP 381. Ott argues that Christology and ecclesiology are present in Bonhoeffer’s 4 1 Ibid. Christ fo r Us in the Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (New York: Harper & Row. both rejected Hamilton’s view as a distortion and a careless dissemination o f a half-truth.. 18 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer said. in Christ fo r Us in the Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer . who succeeded Karl Barth in the chair o f theology at Basel. the new Christology appears in Bonhoeffer’s 1933 Berlin lectures on Christology. 1967). 43 John A. it was not primarily ecclesiology. . Phillips.4 1 It seems that Hamilton dropped the transcendent nature of God in its entirety. It asserted the theme o f continuity in Bonhoeffer’s thought.”43 But contrary to the assessments of Muller and Phillips. 27. In 1966. John A. and said. Heinrich Ott. but the neighbor who is within reach in any given situation. Phillips criticized Godsey’s linking of Christology and ecclesiology. whereas Bonhoeffer saw that the transcendence has come into the world within our reach through our neighbor.”42 In 1967. viewed Bonhoeffer as abandoning an early ecclesiological Christology in favor of a “new Christology” reaching out to both the individual and the world. it is clear that Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” has the essential character o f eccelsiology and serves as its foundation. Godsey was correct. published Reality and Faith. while concurring with Muller and Godsey on the point o f Bonhoeffer’s Christological focus. Phillips.

and history. Die Theologie Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Munich.44 Andre Dumas. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.”46 Ernst Feil published yet another important interpretative work. 36. A Dissent on Bonhoeffer. Christology and “reality” as the title o f his book suggests. in 1968. 19 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. interpreted Bonhoeffer along the lines o f Ott from the perspective o f Bonhoeffer’s emphasis on reality. 37. personality.45 Dumas argues that the influence of Hegel on Bonhoeffer can be discerned from the fact that the categories o f “space. He suggests that Bonhoeffer’s theology should be understood in terms o f the interrelationship between his christology and simultaneous awareness and understanding of the world. 4' Hopper. 30-31. 45 Ibid. “A concluding aspect of Feil’s treatment is his effort to show the systematic coherence of the fragmentary themes of the prison letters and to argue their continuity with Bonhoeffer’s ‘earlier’ (1932) theological concerns.47 From this perspective.”48 44 Hopper. Feil argues that Bonhoeffer believed that theology could never state the content o f faith once for all but was itself grounded in discipleship and arose out of concrete historical situations. He further argues that Bonhoeffer’s theology has two unifying themes: namely. in addition. 1971). 48 Ibid. to establish the fundamentally Hegelian character o f Bonhoeffer’s thinking.theology with constancy throughout his thought. Die Theologie Dietrich Bonhoeffers. according to Feil. in 1971. 38. 71-72. 1968). Bonhoeffer never set aside or lost sight o f the empirical church even in the prison letters. physics and geography” are more basic to Bonhoeffer’s thought than “time. events. Hopper makes an assessment on Feil’s interpretation by saying. . but sought. Quote from Ernst Feil. A Dissent on Bonhoeffer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian o f Reality (New York: The Macmillan Company. 46 Andre Dumas. logic. 33-36...

Green adds a fourth dimension to his analysis.In summary. it is Christ “in the midst o f life” and discovered. .49 Surely soteriology is an important theme as well. Although Bonhoeffer started from the concept o f the Church in his theological formulation. With this basis. sin. most interpreters o f Bonhoeffer’s theology agree on one point: that there is a continuing theme of Christology throughout its developmental stages. 2) Christ as the Lord of the Church and the world. 3) the world God has forsaken. creation. A Theology o f Sociality. which is actualized through the Church. the concrete reality o f Christ in this world. anthropology [the concrete]. those three central themes will be treated next for further understanding o f Bonhoeffer’s theology. most o f them also agree on the continuity of ecclesiology in his theology in a certain form. Christology. (4) sociality is linked with soteriology. 10. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Green summarizes Bonhoeffer’s view of the sociality of Christ and humanity. For all. Green. Clifford J. was the foundation upon which he developed his theology. 49 Clifford J. and soteriology were the recurring themes in Bonhoeffer’s theology. (2) sociality informs Bonhoeffer’s discussion of all the basic Christian concepts: person. it is clear that Christology. Feil finds the concrete situations of the world and its relation to Christ to be central. there is in Bonhoeffer a recognition that theology must be made concrete. 20 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Secondly. Moreover. while Ott and Dumas find that the reality o f Christ and the reality of humanity are central to Bonhoeffer’s theology. except Muller and Phillips. (1) the ecclesiology is set within the more comprehensive context of Bonhoeffer’s theology of sociality. and revelation. but it seems that the central themes in Bonhoeffer’s theology can be summarized in the following terms: 1) the Church as the form o f Christ in this world or the Church for others. Thirdly. (3) already in Sanctorum Communio Bonhoeffer demonstrated that anthropology is inseparable from his Christology and has a fundamental role in his theology. observing that sociality [church]. Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer’s basic approach to deal with the problem o f the Church in Sanctorum Communio was 50 Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In short. . “The value o f the book was the basic approach adopted in dealing with the problem of systematic understanding of the Christian church as a community. Although it did not gain as much popularity as his later writings.”5 1 In summary. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. after some revision. which demonstrate a starting point and foundation o f his theology. . What Bonhoeffer wanted to do in service for the German church was encourage renewal based on his understanding of the Church as the actuality and reality o f Christ His early endeavor made in Sanctorum Communio was to establish a theological method. it contains his early thoughts. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote his doctoral dissertation Sanctorum Communio under the supervision o f Reinhold Seeberg. It was not published immediately after acceptance due to lack o f interest from publishers.The Church for Others In 1927. and estimated that he cut 20 to 25 percent of the text prior to publishing. important for the proper understanding o f the whole o f Bonhoeffer’s theology. It was in Sanctorum Communio where Bonhoeffer began formulating the Christology of the concrete reality of Christ in the community o f saints. 1998). but. 21 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. “Bonhoeffer edited . 10.” 5 1 Ibid. Bonhoeffer made a self-evaluation o f the book in its preface. when he was only twenty-one years old. his theological agenda was based on his understanding o f Christ as the Lord of the Church and o f the world.50 it was finally published in July 1930. perhaps due to its academic format. Sanctorum Communio: A Dogmatic Inquiry into the Sociology o f the Church (Minneapolis: Fortress Press. which was presented to and accepted by the Faculty of Theology at Berlin University. .

but Bonhoeffer found the available conceptual tools of the “metaphysical scheme (SC. it can only comprehend the other person as something other (SC 28). From Bonhoeffer’s standpoint. The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Bonhoeffer’s approach was contrary to that o f German idealism. idealism includes individualism because it cannot comprehend the other person. Barth took the revelation o f God as the starting point. The employment of those disciplines allowed him to be a critical yet practical thinker. It is observed that the problem of the Church continued to occupy his mind throughout his career as a theologian and practitioner of theology.two-fold: (1) He chose ecclesiology as the starting point and the main locus o f his theology. (2) He saw the need for placing social philosophy and sociology in the service o f theology in order to explain the concrete nature of the Christian church in a systematic manner. The initial step was to overcome the prevalence o f epistemology and its necessarily concomitant individualism. Although Bonhoeffer was influenced by Barth in theological content. Bonhoeffer’s methodological point of departure differed from Barth. 22 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 6. or the “reality o f the Church” (SC. Such a reality was to be comprehended theologically.52 The reality of the Church was to be dealt with sociologically not metaphysically. Feil finds: The community of saints. . . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . 26) unsuitable for his perception o f the Church as an empirically real community o f believers . As its subtitle A dogmatic inquiry into the sociology o f the Church suggests. which left his theology in the realm o f epistemology. 52 Ernst Feil. that is to say. Due to the premise o f its metaphysics of cognition. 87) was the subject matter of Bonhoeffer’s doctoral dissertation. 1985). Sanctorum Communio was Bonhoeffer’s effort to formulate an ecclesiology based on the sociality or social-reality of the Church rather than the abstract concepts produced by the epistemology of metaphysics.

which primarily emerged from his family background. . science was empirical research and rational explanation of demonstrable phenomena. . who was a rationalist and at the same time an empiricist. trans. whether religious or speculation. Walter. 1990). Karl Bonhoeffer. He viewed the world from an empirical perspective rather than an ideological perspective. “We wish to understand the structure. whose structure he attempted to understand. MI: William B. Klaus.” 55 Ibid. Bonhoeffer knew that he must avoid the poison of idealism in order to solve the problem o f the Church. John Bowden (Grand Rapids. “Karl was indisputably the model for his younger son55 [Dietrich]. 5'1 Renate Wind. It was this empirical community of saints. .sprang up and dominated the world o f philosophy and theology. This was due to his tendency o f being an empiricist.such as Kant and Hegel . Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was convinced that the world could be investigated and understood. For him. who even more than the 53 SC 20. Eerdmans Publishing Company. o f the reality o f the Church o f Christ which is given in the revelation in Christ ”53 It is certain that the understanding of the structure o f the Church given in the revelation in Christ was not only the aim o f Sanctorum Communio but also the persistent aim o f his theology throughout What is remarkable about Bonhoeffer’s work in Santorum Communio was that he chose an approach which viewed the Church as a social phenomenon subjected to the study o f sociology. A Spoke In The Wheel. Despite the fact that he was bom and educated in a country where the giants o f idealism . Bonhoeffer was deeply influenced by his father. from the beginning o f his theological journey. 23 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 2-3: “Karl Bonhoeffer was a typical fin de siecle academic. his twin sister Sabine.54 Wind says.. Christine. from the standpoint o f social philosophy and sociology. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. According to Renate Wind. and older sisters Ursula.Bonhoeffer clearly stated the aim o f the book in his own words. He had no time for speculation..” He was the sixth of eight children which include his older brothers Karl-Friedrich. 2: “Dietrich was the youngest of four sons.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . and under” the elements.” 58 Ibid. Bonhoeffer maintained his tendency o f being an empiricist.B.” 24 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the Church must be a reality where Christ is revealed. 57 Louis Berkhof. 646: “Luther insisted on the literal interpretation of the words of the institution and on the bodily presence of Christ in the Lord’s supper. which he made with his brother Klaus. a very academic one about the anatomy and physiology of trees. However. according to which Christ is “in. Wind quotes from Bonhoeffer’s diary: On Sunday afternoon to Trinita dei Monti. he ‘turned from the phraseological to the real.. When the door was opened again after the brief halfhour.”56 There is no need to pursue the psychology o f young Dietrich any deeper in this discussion. and made an unprecedented impression o f the deepest piety. from his diary written during his trip to Rome.’ That was very much along with his father’s line. Systematic Theology (Michigan: WM. For Luther. . 1941). The organ began and they sang their vespers with great seriousness. However. In addition to his family background.. and substantially present in the holy sacrament. 645: “(The essence of the doctrine of transubstantiation is) Jesus Christ is truly.. The whole thing was so fresh. 56 Ibid. . really. Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f the Church as a reality. The revelation o f Christ in reality was what he experienced in Rome. he learned to suppress imagination and emotion in himself under the influence of his father.others had to fight for his father’s recognition. It was almost indescribable. Eerdmans Publishing. as he described it. can be viewed as a more developed concept from the Lutheran doctrine o f consubstantiation. with. he substituted for the doctrine of transubstantiation that of consubstantiation .57 Furthermore.” As an adolescent. But I’m having Christel write the article.. a historical figure who influenced him deeply on the empirical nature of his theology was Martin Luther. which came from his upbringing in a family where the empirical method was emphasized. About 6 o’clock around forty young girls who wanted to become nuns were brought in a solemn procession. one had the most splendid view over the cupolas o f Rome in the and younger sister Susanne. it can be deduced that Catholicism also influenced him in understanding the concept o f the Church from the transubstantiation58 point of view. which is the concrete form of revelation of Christ as his body. What the trees tell me..’ He sent his parents a letter from holiday: ‘Our director has once again set us quite stupid tasks. with incredible simplicity and grace. 23: “Under his father’s influence. O f course he wants dreadful phraseology. throughout his theological career.

his remaining task was to formulate an answer to the problem o f the Church in a systematic way. He experienced a piety which did not exclude or reject senses. quoted in Renate Wind. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Now I’m going to take a walk on the Pincio. Having experienced what a living church is. And he came to know a church which was universal and at the same time gave a binding order and a visible form to personal faith. .setting sun.” was a refutation against a rational and ideological view on revelation. A Spoke In The Wheel. 60 Ibid. 31.. “In Rome. who came from a world where human ideology prevailed and the real presence o f Christ in the Church couldn’t be felt. came together for Dietrich. He saw and felt God’s grace from a simple religious ceremony.”59 Wind adds her remark to what Bonhoeffer recorded in his diary. 88-89 (Italian diary).. 25 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. doctrine and life. 28. It was a splendid day. 61 Ibid. .”60 Bonhoeffer’s experience in Rome helped him to have a perspective on the question o f the Church. I believe I am beginning to understand the concept o f the “church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. which had previously been separate.61 Surely. Bonhoeffer. the “unprecedented impression o f the deepest piety” opened a new door for this young seminarian. and such pious impression was deeply engraved in his heart. and Sanctorum Communio was his first attempt to explain the Church as a reality given by God to this world. church and faith. It was his attempt to break down the theology built upon the foundation of 59 Dietrich Bonhoeffer. the first day on which I gained real understanding of Catholicism. . Jugend und Studium. 29. “Christ existing as Church-community. From the perspective of theology. Bonhoeffer’s theorem..

BonhofFer found the real object of sociology to be “society” as the bearer o f relation between its individual members. and to rebuild it on the concrete reality o f Christ in the Church and the world. And questions must be asked concerning social forces as well as kinds of relation. Then we shall show. subordination. mystery. the Church was the most obvious and concrete object of theology as an empirical study. From the historical development o f sociology developed by Simmel. and conflict.” 26 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. sides: that o f dogmatics. was an important figure for BonhoefFer who gave him sociology as a tool to be used in shaping his theology. For BonhoefFer. and sociology. Then in a purely sociological section we shall consider the structures o f empirical communities.are the object o f basic sociological questions. and of “social philosophy” was innovative at the time that he wrote his dissertation. Reinhold Seeberg. Troeltsch’s “analytic and formal” group of sociological work settled in the universities as scientific sociology over against “historical-philosophical-encyclopedic” group. Only then. BonhoefFer chose sociology as his tool for the construction o f his theology. through the insight we have acquired into the nature 62 SC 16: From his judgment.” a term borrowed from Comte. being by that time in a position to refute the atomist view o f society. or even from three. BonhoefFer’s method o f viewing the church from the perspective o f “sociology. as well as kinds o f relation. “The basic category of sociological thought must therefore be relation. 63 Ibid. how man's spiritual being is likewise possible and real only in sociality. o f social philosophy. his mentor at the University o f Berlin. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In the next chapter we shall show that the Christian concept of the person is real only in sociality.62 Social forces as defined by Simmel .idealism and metaphysics. In order to satisfy his particular tendency o f favoring the empirical method of study. Troeltsch. in a social-philosophical section. Vierkandt. and Tonnies. BonhoefFer said: So our problem has to be attacked from two.which include such concepts as love.63 In order to clarify his method o f investigating the concept o f the Church. as found in the distinction made by Tonnies between community and society .

o f community. Green asserts: His [Bonhoeffer’s] account o f sin is specific. and individual isolation and corporate fragmentation. 56.this is what Christ’s presence in it means. The very fact that as a sinful community the Church is nevertheless still holy. Bonhoeffer. . In his early period. 63-65. 66 Clifford J. not vague. Clifford J. this specificity involves clearly delineated anthropological dynamics: power. . shall we able to come near to a conceptual understanding of Christian community.” the body o f Christ? . 67 Ibid. Green. domination and exploitation. 65 SC 214.. is this collective person perhaps “Christ existing as church community.”65 Bonhoeffer also viewed the Church as the place where salvation occurs. Bonhoeffer can be understood as explaining the concept o f church mainly in terms o f church-community and its relation with Christ. It is precisely as such a community that is holy in its sinfulness that the Church is “Christ existing as church-community. or rather that in this world it is never holy without also being sinful . Further reproduction prohibited without permission.66 Regarding sin and how it relates to the sanctorum communio in Bonhoeffer’s theology. A Theology o f Sociality. people repent both for their own sin and for that o f the collective person of the community. This is the syndrome which stands in contrast to the love and mutual self-giving of the primal community. thereby inaugurating the new WSC 20-21. Now. of the sanctorum com m unio64 In Sanctorum Communio . Bonhoeffer described his Christology in terms o f the “Christ existing as church-community:” The community o f saints as the community o f penitent sinners is held together by the unity of the body of Christ. as in any other community. This is the syndrome which the love o f Christ the Stellvertreter [the initiator and reality o f new humanity]67 overcomes. . 27 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Sin is overcome by the love o f Christ and peccatorum communio (community o f sinners) is transformed into sanctorum communio (community o f saints). In the Church. egocentric self seeking.

Christ is the corporate person [Gesamtperson] of the Christian community of faith. loses its meaning altogether.70 he emphasized the Church as the visible community of the disciples of Christ. The proclamation and the community o f faith are linked in such a way that each. Christ is the ‘subject’ common to the proclamation (word and sacrament) and the community o f faith alike. . Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.. for the communion and presence which we have is that of the glorified Lord. Nachfolge (1937). in other words. for the Church is the present Christ. It is the one and perfect gift whereby we become partakers of salvation. the baptized can still live in his bodily presence and enjoy communion with him . . . is The Cost o f Discipleship (1959).69 In Discipleship (1937). It is 68 Ibid. the more popular title of the English translation of the book. 0 At the time of this writing. nay rather. “Christ existing as community. our communion with him is richer and more assured than it was for them. 7 1 See D 114-20. be thought in the Church. Our faith must be aware o f the greatness o f this gift. He said: The first disciples lived in the bodily presence and communion o f Jesus .6* Bonhoeffer reaffirmed his Christocentric ecclesiology o f “Christ existing as church-community” in Act and Being (1930) from the perspective o f the present revelation o f Christ: Christian revelation must occur in the present precisely because it is. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. The disciples enjoyed exactly the same bodily communion as is available for us to-day.” In the proclamation o f the community o f faith for the community of faith. We are made members of the Body o f Christ through baptism .humanity and talking up the peccatonim communio into the transforming life of the sanctorum communio. when considered on its own. 65. ® 9 AB 111.” It must. . .7 1 Discipleship was understood in the sense o f community of faith. always something “o f the future. The Body of Christ is the ground and assurance o f that faith. in the qualified once-and-for-all occurrence of the cross and resurrection of Christ. . It means that although Jesus has died and risen again. .

74 Ibid. “who wills to be formed in his members” (Gal.. creates the spiritual community o f faith. 236. that a Christian needs others for the sake o f Jesus Christ.76 It is not our own product. first. but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.. 7 7 Ibid. 29 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Christian community is not an ideal that we have to realize with our own effort. The Holy Spirit.. In the Body o f Christ we are caught up into eternity by the act of God. 76 Ibid. the further development of his view of the Church can be seen in terms of its relation with the world.38. .77 In Ethics. Bonhoeffer described Christian community as the community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ from the perspective o f our life together. In Life Together (1938). It is different from all other communities in that it is a spiritual [pneumatische] and not a psychic [psychische] reality. ' 3 Ibid. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It is the immeasurable grace and privilege of the Church to suffer for Christ. It means.75 For Bonhoeffer.indeed the newness o f life. however. 245. and united for eternity.73 Here he argued that the Church is the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit.72 It is through the two sacraments o f baptism and the Lord’s supper that we come to participate in the Body o f Christ. third.. 4 :19). He said: :: Ibid. 75 LT 31. He said: We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ. It means. Suffering as the vicarious activity of the members o f the Body is the very life of Christ. that from eternity we have been chosen in Jesus Christ. accepted in time. second.74 His concept of “the Church for others” can be seen in this line of thought. who puts Jesus Christ into our hearts. that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. 239. but a grace and gift o f God. It means.

If God in Jesus Christ claims space in the world.”8 0 The trail o f Bonhoeffer’s theological development o f ecclesiology can be followed starting from his sociological and socio-philosophical investigation o f the structure o f the Church based on the sociality o f the Church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. but precisely in order to prove to the world that it is still the world. 30 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . not by the congregation. at which the reign o f Jesus Christ over the whole world is evidenced and proclaimed . culture and government as the divine mandates.78 Bonhoeffer described the Church as a divine “mandate” that fulfills the concrete divine commission. and at the same time it is with the congregation. marriage. and the family. He said. in other words the space in the world. o f course. The place of the Church is not there in order to try to deprive the world o f a piece of its territory.. 80 Ibid. 79 Ibid. then in this narrow space He comprises together the whole reality o f the world at once and reveals the ultimate basis o f this reality. Bonhoeffer listed the Church. Bonhoeffer asserted that it is instituted directly by Jesus Christ Himself. “It does not derive its legitimization from the will of the congregation but from the will of Jesus Christ. the Church o f Jesus Christ is the place. the world which is loved by God and reconciled with Him. continuing with his emphasis on the presence o f Christ in the Church. And so. Through those developmental stages. Bonhoeffer saw that in order to answer the ecclesiological question “What is the Church?” we should first answer the more fundamental theological question “Who is 78 E 109-200. 282. 289. It is established in the congregation and not by the congregation. too. But. even though it be only a stable “because there was no room in the inn” (Luke 2. it would be entirely wrong to interpret this space in a purely empirical sense..7).It is essential to the revelation o f God in Jesus Christ that it occupies space within the world. Bonhoeffer finally formulated the ecclesiology of the Church that suffers for others. . which has its foundation in the revelation o f Christ and is evidenced by Scripture. .79 In respect to the office o f the Church.

and in a sense as the conclusion o f his ecclesiology. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” maintained till death. He argued that the encounter with Jesus Christ as a genuine experience o f God is “an experience that a transformation o f all human life is given in the fact that ‘Jesus is there only for others’ ”81 Bonhoeffer argued: His [Jesus Christ’s] “being there for others” is the experience o f transcendence.God?” The answer is not in an abstract concept o f God such as omnipotence. .but our relation to God is a new life in “existence for others. 382-83. As Jesus was “the man for others on the cross.”83 As the conclusion o f the book that he was planning to write. It is only this “being there for others. and resurrection). he stated in July/August 1944: The Church is the Church only when it exists for others. most powerful. Faith is participation in this being o f Jesus (incarnation. to exist for others. 83 Ibid. omniscience. but helping and serving. but the neighbor who is within our reach in any given situation. 362. which Bonhoeffer called the “messianic sufferings o f God in Jesus Christ. or possibly engage in some secular calling..” through participation in the being o f Jesus. not dominating. it should give away all its property to those in need. and omnipresence. The Church must share in the secular problems o f ordinary human life. The clergy must live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations. It must tell men o f every calling what it means to live in Christ. 31 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. To make a start. Our relation to God is not a “religious” relationship to the highest. 8: Ibid.82 Bonhoeffer redefined the meaning o f transcendence as the transcendence over our “self’ for the sake o f others who are within our reach. The transcendental is not infinite and unattainable tasks. that is the ground of his omnipotence..” the Church is the community o f faith that lives the life of Christ by partaking of his suffering for the others in this world. cross. and best Being imaginable that is not authentic transcendence . 84 Ibid.84 8 1 LPP381.

Christ. Since Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology is based on his Christology.” Edwin H. we have seen how Bonhoeffer understood the Church in terms of its relation with Christ and the world. he called for the Church for others within the historical context o f the oppression by the Nazis and the silence o f the Church in the midst o f the sufferings of others.8 5 In the Introduction o f his Christology lecture in 1933. how he viewed Christ will be discussed next. Bonhoeffer claimed that Christology is the center o f all disciplines o f study based on the fact that Jesus Christ is the Logos: 85 Edwin H. especially the Jews and other groups o f people who were being victimized by the extreme inhumane prejudice. it can be seen how important it is to understand his Christology in order to interpret his theology correctly. Robertson. Thus far. which is active in all aspects of his theology as a whole. Translator's Preface of Christ the Center (English translation) which is the reconstruction of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 1933 Christology lectures from the student’s note (San Francisco: Harper.This is a rather bold challenge to the Church that has accumulated its wealth through the ownership o f properties through which it has been maintaining its influence in the world. 32 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Regarding the paradox o f Bonhoeffer’s catchphrases such as “religionless Christianity” or “worldly holiness. the Center Having examined Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology in the previous discussion. . Robertson rightly said that it can only be resolved by the study of Bonhoeffer’s Christology. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. His call for the independence o f the Church from the state was expressed in terms of the wages that clergy have been receiving from the state. 1960). In essence. 20.

. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.86 The centrality of Christology in Bonhoeffer’s theology is one o f its main characteristics. His questions are not. 1933 Christology lectures from the student’s note. Christology is the discipline par excellence and the center o f its own space. “Whom do you say that I am?”87 With regard to the questions o f “How?” and “Who?”. Bonhoeffer gave a rather sophisticated explanation in the lecture. “How?” but always. 15. the study of study. Only a discipline which understands itself in the sphere of the Church is able to grasp the fact that christology is the center of all disciplines. The question “How?” is the question about immanence. Robertson. Bonhoeffer is not prepared to find a category for Christ. “How are you possible?” is the godless question and the question o f the 86 CC 28. From this portion of the lectures. Translator's Preface o f Christ the Center. Lord?” or to be confronted by Christ and hear his question. Bonhoeffer presented an important concept of Christ as the Incarnate One. So that christology is really Logo-logy. the word of the Word o f God . . Part II dealt with the historical Christ. Part I dealt with the present Christ . from which we also derive the term for study.the pro me (for me). . “Who?” He will not even have a disguised “What?” or “How?” in the form o f a “Who?” Every avenue of his thinking leads him to confront Christ and ask. “Who art thou. Bonhoeffer’s Christology lectures were divided into three parts. 87 Edwin H. It is the unknown and hidden center of the university of learning. 33 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In this section o f the lectures.Christology as the study of Christ is a peculiar discipline because it is concerned with Christ who is himself the Word or Logos. but it was never delivered and no manuscript has been preserved. Bonhoeffer discussed the form and the place of the present Christ. the Humiliated One. Part III dealt with the eternal Christ. and the Exalted One. Robertson summarizes the nature o f the Christological questions Bonhoeffer raised in the lecture: In these lectures on Christology. “How is it possible for Christ to be both man and God?” His question about Christ is never.

. the “How?” question is the question o f the human logos.. “Who am I?” by knowing “Who God is” first..serpent. the “How?” questions have been asked about Jesus Christ: “How is the incarnation possible?” “How can God die on the cross?” “How is the resurrection possible?” Bonhoeffer considered those questions inadequate for Jesus because he is the Son o f God who transcends the questions of human logos. In theological terms: it is only from God that man knows who he is. . which is limited to understand only the immanent matters. about the boundaries o f his own existence. Therefore. 89 Ibid. 90 Ibid. 34 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.88 In other words. Bonhoeffer concludes that the testimony of Jesus to himself stands by itself. . any postmodern thinker would consider this kind o f attitude o f Bonhoeffer close-minded. it 88 CC 30. self-authenticating. He is asking about the being which is strange to his being. “The ‘truth’ o f the revelation o f God in Christ cannot be scientifically established or disputed. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 29. and that we can answer the question. ‘Who?’ expresses the strangeness and the otherness o f the one encountered and at the same time it is shown to be the question concerning the very existence of the questioner. 9 1 Ibid. On the contrary. He continued to assert boldly.”91 Perhaps. With the answer that his logos has reached its boundary he faces the boundary of his own existence .90 Here Bonhoeffer seems to have given a hint that Christology is possible only through our encounter with Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer said. 30. . about the question o f “Who?” Bonhoeffer said: The question. 32. “The human logos repeats its old question: How is such a claim possible? How can it be contained within its structure? It continues to ask about the ‘How?’”89 Throughout the history of Christianity. Nonetheless. Transcendence places his own being in question. and that it is the backbone of every theology.

He further argued that. It can also be argued that Bonhoeffer’s criticism about the traditional form o f theology based on his understanding of Christology still applies to the present theological world. but the theological questions are impossible for a human logos to ask because it cannot escape its boundary. “You are from below. Thus. 93 Ibid. I am from above. Bonhoeffer criticized the fact that Christology had been asking the question “how” as opposed to “who” in regard to the “truth” o f the revelation through the Incarnation. the scientific questions can be asked and answered by the human logos without a human encounter with God. as Bonhoeffer understood. All biblical quotations are from NIV. not only to understand the characteristic o f his theology. 35 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the human logos would be claiming to be the beginning and the father o f Jesus Christ. one from above and one from below. “Who?” He explained: 92 Jn.93 This was Bonhoeffer’s indirect way o f criticizing liberal theology and all other theologies based on Idealism. He said that human reason has reached its limits with the question. I am not o f this world.”92 Therefore. You are o f this world.is clear that his differentiation between the Logos and the human logos is important. the “how” question would mean a human effort to find an answer for God’s truth. For Bonhoeffer. This way o f thinking was also applied to his criticism o f religion. but also to set the correct relationship between science and theology in today’s world. Jesus told the Pharisees. 8:23. revelation and religion are viewed as two opposing concepts. . as we shall see later. in that way. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it can be said that theology must be the knowledge from above not from below. Theological questions are possible only in and through Christ. which he viewed as coming from below. In other words.

which was killed. The incarnate Logos o f God must be crucified by man’s logos. 33.97 Seemingly.94 In that way. in reality we find that the major part of the world neither loves nor hates Jesus Christ. Extending his thought toward the event o f the resurrection of Christ.95 Thus the question “How?” can no longer be asked. . However. around and in man.Pilate asks. .. Man cannot wait for the answer. . The inherent nature o f this question of “Who?” is that one must come face to face with Christ. 97 Ibid. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 35. so that “Who are you?” remains as the only question that humans can ask. 34. Bonhoeffer asked: But what happens if this Counter-Word. The logos cannot endure the Counter-Logos. They simply ignore their encounter with Jesus. and surely. Then it remains a living question for ever.” and Jesus is silent. Bonhoeffer pointed out that one cannot avoid encounter with the person of Jesus because he is alive. 96 Ibid. as also does the answer. this indifference o f the world is the biggest theological challenge in today’s world. 95 Ibid.. rises alive and victorious as the final Word of God? .96 He stated that there are only two possible ways of encountering Jesus: we must die or we must put Jesus to death. 36 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. If the crucified One shows himself as the risen one? Then the question is sharpened to an extreme point. Bonhoeffer explains the nature of crucifixion. “Who are you?. . over. the danger of this way o f thinking appears to be that it overlooks the human tendency of being indifferent with regard to the spiritual matters as well as with regard to the encounter with others. . Such a statement of Bonhoeffer’s was solely based on a Christian view of human encounter with Jesus. 94 Ibid. because it is too dangerous. It knows that one o f them must die and it therefore kills the one whom it asks ..

as person. is to be understood as the essence. Bonhoeffer explained: The structure o f his person must be outlined more clearly and unfolded as the pro me structure (that is. Christ is Christ. it is not the question o f “How the risen Christ can be here and now?”. 47. . The further discussion of the form of Christ as Word. 100 Ibid. the structure I can relate to) of the Godman. Jesus Christ.. The first statement means that Jesus Christ is present here and now in space and time. and that Jesus Christ is present in the Church through the proclaimed Word and sacraments. 2) Christ. but in relation to me. rather. Lord?” Bonhoeffer laid out two statements: 1) Jesus is the Christ present as the Crucified and as the risen one. the Godman. 37 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 43. not just for himself. Sacrament.1 00 98 Ibid.98 Again. the Christological question that should be asked is “Who is Christ present here and now?” . This being pro me .. what is decisive about the pro me structure is that being and act o f Christ are maintained together in it. is present in the Church. Bonhoeffer concluded that this one and complete person.In answering the Christological question o f “Who are you. 48. . 99 Ibid. Through the second statement Bonhoeffer meant that his presence in this world is the presupposition for the unfolding of the Christological question. is in the Church in his pro me structure as Word.99 This unity o f act and being o f Christ in his Christology provided the basis for his ecclesiology o f “the Church for others” as the community o f disciples o f Jesus Christ who exists pro me. and as Community can be found in the subsequent pages 49-59. Jesus Christ. as Sacrament and as Community. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Such ontological questions can be answered only in terms o f the structure o f his person. . . . the being o f the person himself . His being Christ is his being for me. pro me..

forgetfulness. He said: If we speak o f Jesus Christ as God.Bonhoeffer’s next Christological question was “Where?” is Christ within the structure o f the “Who?” 1 0 1 As Christ is here and now both spatially and temporally pro me. his manger. cowardice. but because of the very nature o f the person of Christ to be in the center o f all theological problems at hand here and now. 1 0 1 Ibid. it is the contingency of God who freely takes on humility in the form o f sinful flesh. what he meant with “weakness” was God’s humility revealed through the manger and the cross o f Jesus Christ within the structure o f pro me as the suffering Christ. his cross. we must speak o f his weakness. Also. 104. . or temptability.. which possesses the characteristics of omniscience and omnipotence . o f history and of nature. 102 Ibid. we must speak o f the weakness o f Jesus. .102 Therefore. 103 Ibid. Bonhoeffer found that Christ stands on the boundary o f my existence as the mediator or the center between “I” and “Thou. we may not say o f him that he is the representative of an idea of God. corruptibility. rather. This man is no abstract G od.1 0 3 One needs to be careful to understand that with “weakness o f Christ” Bonhoeffer did not mean human weakness such as stupidity. 104 LPP 392. lack o f independence.. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 59. . 38 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Another important aspect of Bonhoeffer’s Christology is the weakness o f Jesus Christ. the centrality o f Christ in Bonhoeffer was not because of its importance as a theological doctrine. Bonhoeffer claimed that if we are to deal with the deity o f Jesus. vanity.” and between “I” and “God ” Christ is the center of human existence.104 Rather.

Since it is a crucial point of his theology for “non-religious interpretation. which can be summarized in terms o f the Church. 39 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. history.In this chapter. and between God and nature. It was pointed out that there are various interpretations of Bonhoeffer’s theology. we have glanced at Bonhoeffer’s theological concern. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Some interpreters of Bonhoeffer view that his theology is fragmented and inconsistent. Christ. sacrament and community as the center o f human existence. His Christology views Jesus Christ as the incarnate Christ in Word. and the world. . One of the most controversial themes o f Bonhoeffer’s theology has been his understanding o f the world as the world come o f age. it is evident that those main loci o f his theology remained central throughout his theological development.” it will be discussed in the next chapter. However. An overview o f Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f the Church as the community of faith that exists for others was provided.

Considering his view o f the Church as “the Church existing for others” based on his Christology of pro me . and charges the congregation to ‘come of age in knowledge’ (Ibid. rather.).1 In those early years.that has become the program of the day. He advises his candidates not to read any other sermons for their own homiletical studies.36). 76-77: “In his lecture on The Leader and the Individual. 1998).the world come o f age . 1 Ralf K. MI: Eerdmans. A Theology o f Life.CHAPTER 2 THE WORLD COME OF AGE In the previous chapter. after the sermon congregation members should themselves ‘open scripture and read the text’ (Ibid.will be analyzed next.422). 260). the meaning o f the controversial concept of Bonhoeffer . ‘The Protestant should come of age in dealing with the Bible’ (GS 4. Undoubtedly. as a part o f an effort to understand his theology. Wustenberg. 268). Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Religionless Christianity (Grand Rapids. and 1940.” Therefore. It is not doctrine that the congregation should remember. Here he applies the concept of maturity untheologically to the current historical situation in which it is precisely immaturity’ .). since this ‘makes one dependent and makes the path to maturity more difficult' (Ibid. The idea of ‘coming of age’ occurs repeatedly in Bonhoeffer’s Finkenwalde homiletics. Sermons should guide a congregation toward ‘coming of age in scripture’ (Ibid. it can be deduced that his main theological concern was “What should the Church do for others?” It can be said that the latter part o f his theological development was based on his understanding o f the world come of age. Bonhoeffer’s demands in his outline ‘Theology and Congregation’ from 1940 tend in the same direction. Hence Bonhoeffer again applies the notion of 40 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f the Church and Christ was reviewed briefly. which means Christ for others. 1935. Here he struggles to come to a clear understanding of the ‘relationship between the congregation and theology’ (GS 3.of the individual over against the leader . The Formulation of the Concept Wustenberg finds that the concept o f “maturity” or “coming o f age” already appears in his lectures and writings in 1933. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. .255). Bonhoeffer insists that a leader should ‘guide the individual to real maturity’ (GS 2. his worldview affected the development o f his thesis “the non-religious interpretation o f the gospel for the world come of age.

Bonhoeffer was very much concerned about the immaturity o f the individual Christians. He does not yet observe any “world come of age. Wustenberg observes clearly that: “Although the Letters and Papers from Prison do not retract this demand for a ‘congregation come o f age. as is the case in the Letters and Papers from Prison. 1968. Hegel’s influence in this seems undeniable (an influence continually present in Communion o f Saints.. 77. There have been various interpretations on his judgment o f the world come of age. 4 Ibid.31. Act and Being and Christ the Center)” Also. .” prompting him to pose the question o f Christ and the world come o f age. They were not able to discern the evil leadership o f Germany nor able to keep their independence from the state.4 ‘coming of age’ to the congregation rather than to the world. Andre Dumas concluded that Hegel’s influence on Bonhoeffer’s theology seems undeniable3 from the perspective o f Hegel’s emphasis on reality and on the triumph of human autonomy and of the autonomy of the spirit. in a 1968 study. rather than by opening it to a message that would transform it from beyond itself. for Hopper’s understanding of Dumas’ study on Bonhoeffer. For example. the congregation and the Church of Germany. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian o f Reality (New York: The Macmillan Company). He witnessed the German church kneeling down completely before the political power of this world and become collaborator with the evil regime against what he had learned as God’s will.’ it is clear that the concept o f maturity acquires new accentuation in Tegel under the influence o f historicism. it can be concluded that the concept of “maturity” attracted Bonhoeffer from the early stage o f his theological development.”2 Based on the findings o f Wustenberg." 2 Ibid. see David H. Hopper’s A Disssent on Bonhoeffer (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.Bonhoeffer applies the notion o f “coming o f age” to the individual or the congregation rather than to the world. 30f: “The analysis of creaturely-existence (Dasein) aims at demonstrating its reality by grasping its hidden and active structure. 3 Andrd Dumas. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 41 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 1975). 36f.

Based on his study on Ethics . Bonhoeffer never used after 1939.5 argues that Bonhoeffer chose the same term “come of age” (miindig ) used by Kant in his brief essay o f 1784. Phillips says. Kant described the Enlightenment as the emergence of humanity from a state of immaturity for which humans themselves are responsible (aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmiindigkeit)6 Dumas believes that this Kantian source provides the correct interpretive key for the term “come of age ” Dumas says: To have ‘come of age’ in Bonhoeffer’s thought as well as in Kant’s does not mean to be better or happier. Christ fo r Us in The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. . referencing the letter o f 30 June 1944. since it implied a certain contempt for the new-found reality o f the world.a word. 8 Phillips. or. 184f.8 June 1944. Phillips asserts that Bonhoeffer was wrestling with the problem of what valuation one can place upon a secularism that one has described as godless. if its relentless march is not halted. 5 LPP 341. Phillips partially disagrees with Dumas on this point o f observation. a positive evaluation o f it. It is simply a descriptive term that presupposes nothing about the optimism or the progressivism o f its author. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. “What is Enlightenment?” In that essay. “In most instances in the Ethics . Secularism leads to the abyss and means the ultimate destruction o f history. as Bethge pointed out..”8 Phillips’ evaluation o f “better secularism” will be examined later in this discussion. 149. Dumas. 42 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.Despite his observation on the overall influence o f Hegel on Bonhoeffer’s theology. But Bonhoeffer can also recognize a ‘better secularism’. 7 Ibid. 185. 6 Ibid.7 However. secularism has a pejorative sense. Nor does the term ‘come o f age’ stand for secularism .

43 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.1 1 one o f which reads: “[Weizsacker’s book The Worldview o f Physics ] has again brought home to me quite clearly how wrong it is to use God as a stopgap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. and is therefore continually in retreat. Bonhoeffer’s only concern was that. 30 April 1944.”9 According to Dumas. 29 May 1944. God continues to be reduced to just the degree that human knowledge is expanded. 341-42. or hailing the rise o f the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century.”1 2 9 Ibid 10 Ibid. the notion o f God as the stopgap at the breakdown of what we can conceive. 311-12. 30 June 1944.29 May 1944. has withered away. In fact. as Kant had done. Religion decreases as scientific knowledge increases. 359-60. by using the term. 16 July 1944. then God is being pushed back with them. 1 1 LPP 279-78. in every realm o f life. 325-26.Nonetheless. 185-86. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 281-82. simply stated a phenomenon observed in his time “without being interested in developing an interpretation of history. 12 LPP 311. Dumas asserts that Bonhoeffer. . or the notion o f God as the working hypothesis at the limits of what we can do. What Bonhoeffer tells us here has become a commonplace in many quarters. 8 June 1944. we can trace Bonhoeffer’s dialectical understanding o f the antithetical relation between god/religion and human/scientific knowledge through many fragments o f his thought in the letters. which always lived off the unexplored areas of human experience. If in fact the frontiers o f knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case).1 0 As knowledge increases humans discover that the world can manage its affairs quite well without interference of God or religion. Dumas continues to discuss the decline o f religion: According to Bonhoeffer this withering away means the death o f religion.

“no matter how chaotic and suffering and de-structured the world was for Bonhoeffer in 1944 (and as it likewise is for us today). 187. 24 May 1944. 71. 1 7 LPP 311. He suggests that.In short. and o f its own responsibility.” 1 3 The human emancipation from God and religion was gained through our maturity on the plain o f epistemology. Dumas interprets Bonhoeffer’s understanding of “coming o f age” from the perspective of the freedom of humanity from God and religion. and in so doing provided an important clue as to how he 13 Dumas.” 1 7 Bonhoeffer defined the characteristic of religiosity. in Bonhoeffer’s letter of 16 July 1944. another observation is made by Wustenberg. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the book gave Bonhoeffer a clear understanding o f “how wrong it is to use God as a stopgap for the incompleteness o f our knowledge.” Dumas concludes. “From this point of view. It is the presupposition of human responsibility.” 1 4 On the other hand. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian o f Reality. Dumas says. 29 May 1944. it is a mature world. we can see clearly how he expands Dilthey’s historical reflection concerning the “world come of age” in view o f modem physics motivated by C. . from which he derived the expression “working hypothesis God. F.1 6 and apparently Bonhoeffer did learn much from it. a world ‘come of age’. 16 LPP 308. u Ibid 1 5 Wustenberg. As referenced earlier in this chapter.” 1 5 According to Wustenberg. von Weizsacker’s Weltbild der Physik (The Worldview o f Physics). “The world come of age signifies the emancipation o f the human enterprise with respect to what remains unknown o f either sky or soul. < 4 Theology o f Life. 44 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer was hoping “to learn a great deal from” Weizsacker’s book for his own work.

was the fact that “people deal with these questions without God. from the perspective o f Christianity. 45 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 16 July 1944. human answers that take no account whatever o f God.viewed religion from the perspective o f the world come o f age: “Human’s religiosity makes them look in their distress to the power o f God in the world: God is the dens ex m achina"1 * Dumas and Wustenberg both agree that Bonhoeffer was influenced by Dilthey’s historicism. 19 LPP 311. however. What Bonhoeffer saw. Here we can see that he is already concerned about the advent o f relativism in the postmodern world. As our scientific knowledge increases.1 9 It is true that. God as a stopgap is being pushed further and further back in retreat. and guilt. getting their own answers for those questions which Christianity once believed that only its God could provide.” Christianity is not the only way to answer those questions and “Christian answers are just as unconvincing . . it is impossible to answer these questions without God.” and that “it has always been so. 29 May 1944. Bonhoeffer claimed that it is now possible to find.as any others. 20 LPP 312.”20 His observation that those questions are being answered without a Christian God is quite plausible. especially in an age when the world is wide open and people live happily with their own religion. even for these questions. suffering. It is the same for the other human problems of death.or convincing . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. The nature o f sinful human beings is precisely the reason for the necessity of God’s incarnation. 29 May 1944. 18 LPP 361.

Everywhere the thinking is directed towards the autonomy of human and the world. who maintains that reason is sufficient for religious knowledge. or science. that working hypothesis should be dropped.’ Later. 183f. 71. A Theology o f Life. law and philosophy. Many historical figures had contributed to this historical development in such areas as theology. 179. The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In the last resort. 46 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.2 5 :1 Wustenberg. which is valid etti deus non daretur. running by itself with no interference from God. and on the other hand the pantheism of Spinoza. comes Grotius. The philosophers provide the finishing touches: on the one hand we have the deism of Descartes. setting up his natural law as international law.21 In other words. the Lessing citation in the letter of January 23. . natural science. it is Wustenberg’s opinion that Bonhoeffer is apparently transferring Weizsacker’s argument about God as a stopgap and God as a working hypothesis into Dilthey’s historicism. " LPP 361. or as far as possible eliminated. and Fichte and Hegel are pantheists.” 2 A Wustenberg. Kant is a deist. who holds that the world is a mechanism. 23 LPP 359-60. 180. and very differently from Machiavelli. 16 July 1944: Bonhoeffer briefly summarized the intellectual development of the West in various disciplines: “In theology one sees it first in Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Citation from Feil. and the same thing has happened in philosophy and religion (Feuerbach!). For the sake o f intellectual honesty.24 Both Feil and Gremmels agree on the influence o f Dilthey on Bonhoeffer with respect to the key terms o f historicism. 1944 . politics. Feil and Gremmels both observe the clear influence o f Dilthey on Bonhoeffer’s Tegel theology expressed in the letters from the first half o f 1944. In politics Machiavelli detaches politics from morality in general and founds the doctrine of ‘reasons of state. Bonhoeffer stated: God as a working hypothesis in morals. Bonhoeffer viewed the maturation o f humanity as a historical process in which God as a stopgap is being abolished and humanity no longer needs God as a hypothesis for the problems o f the world. ethics. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.Nonetheless. but tending like him towards the autonomy of human society.: “According to Ernst Feil. A Theology o f Life.22 According to Bonhoeffer. In ethics it appears in Montaigne and Bodin with their substitution of rules of life for the commandments. 71. politics. 178ff.23 Based on the observation of Wustenberg. pp. has been surmounted and abolished. who says that God is nature. 16 July 1944. there had been great advancement toward a religionless hypothesis from the side o f humankind. “even if there were no God’.

which he received for his birthday. The concept of maturity. MI: William Eerdmans. Bonhoeffer rejected any division into two spheres. ed. The term “worldliness” in the letter of March 9.” which acquire significance beginning in April 1944. In his essay of 1981. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding o f the World' in A Bonhoeffer Legacy: Essays in Understanding. derive from Weltanschauung und Analyse des Menschen seti Renaissance und Reformation.. although Dilthey’s historicism opened a new dimension for Bonhoeffer’s theology from the perspective o f the world which came to a different stage of its development. 1944.In summary. Ernst Feil summarized his interpretation o f Bonhoeffer’s worldview in the following four aspects: a) the rejection o f thinking in two spheres. Bonhoeffer is no longer focused on the Church by itself. and in Bonhoeffer’s usage comes to designate religion. similarly derive from this reading. 237-255. . Through the lens o f historicism.26 According to Feil. In his student days. 1981). 26 Ernst Feil. “Who is Christ for us today?. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. d) the world come o f age. “coming of age. (Grand Rapids. 72. he began to see more clearly than ever that the Church is situated within the world that has come of age. especially in his Ethics. 47 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the God o f stopgap is not sought by human beings. c) the concept o f ultimate and penultimate.” we need to come to an understanding o f his view on the then-contemporary world. derives from Bonhoeffer’s reading of Von Deutscher Dichtung und Musik (cf. Das Erlebnis und die Dichtung (Poetry and Experience).” as well as the historical reflections associated with “autonomy” in the letters of June 8 and July 16. he was already preoccupied with Schleiermacher’s On Religion and Naumann’s Briefe iiber Religion (Letters about Religion) in negative comes from Wilhelm Dilthey. A. 1944. The world is mature enough to understand the true relationship between God and humanity." “ Ibid. Bonhoeffer’s Worldview In order to answer Bonhoeffer’s central question. the letter of February 5. 1944). The terms “metaphysics” and “inwardness. b) the concept of worldliness. J. Klassen.

and faith is compartmentalized as “religion. Bonhoeffer claimed that the sanctorum communio [community o f saints or church-community] does not make peccatorum communio [community o f sinners] irrelevant.terms. . profane and sacred. a division such as secular and Christian. God has no place in the world. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission.’ ‘I do what I do not want to do. 240.29 For Bonhoeffer.”2 8 Bonhoeffer took the division into two spheres as a ground for religious Christianity. “the life o f those who have been justified. The seed o f his thought on the unity o f two spheres can be seen as early as the time of his writing o f Sanctorum Communio. The separation corresponds with a restriction o f God’s relationship to inwardness. whereas in fact the whole world belongs to Christ. 28 Ibid. He explained. a separation that corresponds with a fallacious amalgamation o f both that had occurred largely in the background and had therefore remained unrecognized. that is the new life. natural and super-natural. The world has to be viewed as one in Jesus Christ. as a result. is ‘hidden in God. and 2 7 Ibid. . 239-240. the rejection o f two spheres is inevitable for anyone who claims that Jesus is the Lord o f the whole world. and rational and revelational. 29E 197-205. . makes the mistake o f limiting Christ to one sphere..27 Bonhoeffer regarded both authors as proponents o f a form o f Christianity that one would have to call “religious. a precocious separation o f God and the world. . 48 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. .. namely. The result o f this separation is that God is safely settled beyond the boundaries o f our world and our reason. as if they were ultimate static antitheses. According to him. .” Feil continues: This religious form o f Christian faith consisted o f what Bonhoeffer had come to view as a false determination o f the relationship between God and the world.

. He told Bethge. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and that since Kant he has been relegated to a realm beyond the world of experience. 25. “As in the scientific field. 8 June 1944. out o f the spheres o f our knowledge and life.” Bonhoeffer endeavored to establish a ground for the Church in a world that was becoming religionless. I had been saying that God is being increasingly pushed out o f a world that has come o f age. . Christ fo r Us in The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (New York: Harper & Row. . 33 John A. 1967). The peccatorum communio [community of sinners] continues to coexist within the sanctorum communio. The reality o f sin and the communio peccatorum remain even in G od’s church-community [sanctorum communio]. organic community life. 30 June 1944. losing more and more ground. The Adamic humanity is still present in actuality even though it has already been overcome in reality. so in human affairs generally. C f p. With his later thought o f “religionless Christianity. 3: LPP 329.34 30 SC 123-24.’ . 8 June 1944."30 The reality of sin co-exists within the reality o f God’s community. Phillips.33 However.”31 In the world where God as an abstract concept loses its ground. 49 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 34 LPP 341. Phillips concludes that Bonhoeffer did not give a satisfactory answer. John Phillips pointed out that Bethge already had raised the question to Bonhoeffer whether any “ground” is left for the Church based on Bonhoeffer’s view o f the religionless world.what I do want I do not do. it appears that Phillips is too hasty to make such a conclusion because Bonhoeffer surely gave Bethge an answer to the question in the following terms: Now I will try to go on with the theological reflections that I broke off not long since. ‘God’ is being pushed more and more out o f life.32 In regards to Bethge’s question. Bonhoeffer tried to overcome the separation of two spheres by redefining Christianity non-religiously.” 3 1 LPP 326.213: “Among human beings there is no such thing as a pure.

50 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and has taken up arms . and conflicts.against Darwinism. then either he cannot open to God. 30 June 1944. or if he refuses to go into these things. Bonhoeffer put the blame on German idealism for relegating God to a realm unreachable by human beings. Ibid. If that can be done . in fact. etc. Christ is the Lord o f the Church and the world at the same time. and the solution o f its needs and conflicts. not into their sin.then this man can now be claimed for God. but Jesus did not make everyone a sinner first. and for the separation o f two spheres.35 The methodism o f existentialist philosophy and psychotherapy pushed God to the edge o f human life. . it has accommodated itself to the development [the relegation of God beyond the world o f experience] by restricting God to the so-called ultimate questions as a dens ex machina. On the other hand. . and then to faith. Christ is not at the edge o f human life. they were real sinners. without admitting or knowing it. LPP 341. He then continued to argue that God was made dens ex machina [God o f the gaps]: Theology has on the one hand resisted this development with apologetics.and existentialist philosophy and psychotherapy have worked out some quite ingenious methods in that direction . Bonhoeffer said: When Jesus blessed sinners. that means that he becomes the answer to life’s problems. and methodism can celebrate its triumph.Here.in vain . So if anyone has no such difficulties. to allow others to pity him. Jesus claims for himself and the Kingdom o f God the whole o f human life in all its manifestations. or else he must be shown that he is. He called them away from their sin. but at the center and the whole of human life. deeply involved in such problems.36 Bonhoeffer rejected existential philosophy and psychotherapy for their manipulative methods to promote Christianity as a religion by turning people into sinners. needs. Bonhoeffer was contending against such methodism. which makes people guilty first in order to force them to repentance.

and the tension between ultimate and penultimate can only be resolved in Christ. but theologically. is the concept o f “ultimate and penultimate. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. is the concept of “worldliness. namely.37 In other words.” One must remember that he used the term “worldliness” not ordinarily. The cross sets one free for life before God in the midst o f a godless world. 51 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” which is the central concept in the last section o f Ethics. . being wholly responsible for its own actions. if one misses this point. 248.” According to Feil. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding o f the World. and the crucified Reconciler protects the world from every vain attempt to deify the world. according to Feil. Feil explains. Feil says that Bonhoeffer understood “worldliness” as freedom from the self-deification of the world rather than as the profanity of the world.The second point o f Bonhoeffer’s worldview. “Because 37 Feil. Bonhoeffer attempted to replace two-sphere thinking with a positive proposal. Bonhoeffer never spoke of “worldliness” without thinking the qualifying phrase “before God. Bonhoeffer thought that ultimate and penultimate are connected in Jesus Christ. In other words. Contrary to the ordinary use o f the term. Bonhoeffer used it theologically to mean the world which stands before God. he or she would misinterpret the meaning o f Bonhoeffer’s concept o f “worldly Christianity.” The third point of Bonhoeffer’s worldview. It can be suggested that. the ordinary use o f “worldliness” means the nature o f the secular world that is separate from the realm of God. the historical concept o f the ultimate [the last things] and penultimate [the things before the last] in an earlier section o f Ethics.

interprets Bonhoeffer’s question “Who is 38 Ibid. From Dilthey’s historical analysis.”3* The last point o f Bonhoeffer’s worldview is the concept o f “the world come of age. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 329. the world is really the world accepted by God.39 In my opinion. and that Christianity cannot communicate to the world in the traditional fashion o f “positivism o f revelation. Bonhoeffer guards against Dilthey and his followers’ ultimately idealistic acosmicism and a corresponding inwardness . 52 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 8 June 1944. in his study on Ethics. 8 May.” In Jesus Christ. 251. The Human Autonomy and the Decay of Religion According to his letter o f 8 June 1944. 9 June 1944 respectively.” He came to realize that the world had become much more different. 30 April. as a logical outcome of his renewed worldview.the ultimate came to the world in Jesus Christ.religiousness. 249. In comparison with F. 39 Ibid. Bonhoeffer’s awareness o f the world come o f age triggered his theological quest of finding out “Who Jesus really is for this world. the penultimate is really pen-ultimate: the world that is preserved for Christ and his coming. a new interpretation o f non-religious nature became necessary for the sake o f the world that became mature and religionless. 4 1 LPP 325.”40 Thus. 286. Gogarten. who also was influenced by Dilthey’s book. Bonhoeffer came to see the completion of the movement toward human autonomy. 40 LPP 280. Bonhoeffer was convinced that the world come of age and the autonomy o f humanity reached an undoubted completion in his time.41 Rasmussen. . Bonhoeffer was influenced by Dilthey’s Weltanschauung und Alayse des Menschen seit Renaissance und Reformation.

the concept o f “coming o f age” was an 42 LPP 278.” Rasmussen says. 80-81. Reality and Resistance Studies in Christian Ethics Series. the world come o f age. In fact. human autonomy and religionlessness are the two sides of a coin: namely. 43 Larry L. 84. To him.Christ for us todayV 42 along the same line of Dumas’ dialectical interpretation of Bonhoeffer’s “the world come o f age. 1972. They certainly did not require of us ‘God as a working hypothesis’. “today” as the time of the world come o f age is a double movement for Bonhoeffer.” According to Rasmussen. In addition to his dialectical analysis o f the concept. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.. and on the other hand there is the decay o f religion. as Dumas observes. . 44 Ibid. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In addition. New York). On the one hand there is the increase o f human autonomy through the maturation o f reason. It is true that the influence o f highly educated people with whom Bonhoeffer grew up and was associated with might have affected his theological thinking. 53 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Rasmussen follows Bethge’s suggestion that the character o f the people with whom Bonhoeffer grew up and with whom he worked in the Resistance had influenced Bonhoeffer to have this view o f “the world come o f age.43 Bonhoeffer understood human autonomy from the perspective of our relationship with God and religion. “He [Bonhoeffer] was privileged to grow up among people who were deeply conscious o f human autonomy and who were convincing representatives o f autonomous reason in many disciplines and occupations. 30 April 1944. Rasmussen. his idea o f the world come o f age would not have come from a cultural vacuum. (New York: Abingdon Press.”44 Rasmussen’s point of view needs further examination.

it can be suggested that his observation was based on his experience with the indifference or subordination of the state church o f Germany to the situation. is not calling forth any “religious” reaction?). in contrast to all previous ones. we do not have clear evidence as to how his biographical background has influenced his assessment o f the world’s maturity itself Moreover. Bonhoeffer said: Our whole nineteen-hundred-year-old Christian preaching and theology rest on the “religious a priori o f mankind.perhaps the true form . 184.45 However. The first implication o f Rasmussen’s biographical interpretation lacks the understanding o f the fact that a historical analysis is the basis o f Bonhoeffer’s assessment o f the world come o f age. 46 One can argue that history shows us that there are enough evidences for the religious reaction to the war during this period. which finds Christ as the concrete reality in this world. But if one day it becomes clear that this a priori does not exist at all. . 54 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian o f Reality. 30 April 1944. and that it does not have much relevance to the common people o f the Western world in general. . for example. In the letter of 30 April 1944. Second. Rasmussen’s biographical interpretation ignores Bonhoeffer’s worldview that is deeply rooted in Christology. 45 Dumas. and if therefore man becomes radically religionless .o f “religion” . but was a historically conditioned and transient form of human self-expression. that this war. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. However. it characterizes the concept as such that it is merely based on his personal experience with highly educated people who influenced his thought. and Bonhoeffer simply did not know about it. 46 LPP 280.” “Christianity” has always been a form . .interpretation based on the culture o f his time and age.” First.and I think that is already more or less the case (else how is it. such an interpretation has two negative implications for our understanding o f BonhoefFer’s “the world come o f age.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and that the Bible doesn’t give answers to all questions o f the natural laws.47 contrary to Rasmussen’s observation. the movement o f human autonomy finally came to its completion: 47 Adolf von Hamack is one of those neighbors who influenced Bonhoeffer’s theological thoughts. From this it can be deduced that his personal experience based on a much larger scale. which includes the horrible war he personally experienced. The nonexistence of religiosity in the world come of age signals the decay o f religion. Nonetheless. Humanity had gone through the historical process o f self-awakening in which it came to realize that it can deal with all kinds of problems of this world without help from God. social and political problems. . was a more influencing factor for his conclusion of the “religionless” world than his limited experience with the “intellectual people” that did not need God or religion. The German church as well as the Christian church as a whole. Bonhoeffer concluded that. his idea o f the world come of age was derived rather from his own historical. and theological analysis on a much deeper level.and the failure o f the Confessing Church to react to tyranny and war rather than on those individual religious reactions which did not significantly influence the course o f history. his understanding o f the “religionlessness” o f the world was in turn translated into the picture o f a mature world in reference to the relationship between the world and God/religion. To Bonhoeffer. Even though Bonhoeffer was influenced by the highly intellectual environment in which he grew up. was not at the center o f human history at that moment. from a historical perspective. 55 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. cultural. the human autonomy from God was a movement deeply rooted in the history of the Western world. which include Protestant as well as Catholic.

which was the boundary of Bonhoeffer’s claim.” In questions o f science. 49 Peter Selby. social and political matters. . A World Come o f Age (Cambridge. ethics. 29. But for the last hundred years or so it has also become increasingly true o f religious questions. it is becoming evident that everything gets along without “God” . “God” is being pushed more and more out o f life. 56 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and religion) has in our time reached an undoubted completion. 8 Junel944. art. the question about the validity o f his claim for human autonomy immediately arises: did the autonomy o f humanity truly reach an undoubted completion in his time? How was he able to come to the conclusion about the autonomous status of humanity with such a high degree o f confidence. Peter Selby is among those who criticize the problem o f oversimplification in Bonhoeffer’s definitive claim that in his time the world’s maturity reached “an undoubted completion. People have learnt to deal with themselves in all questions of importance without recourse to the “working hypothesis” called “God. art.and. Selby says: 48 LPP 325-26. and ethics this has become an understood thing at which one now hardly dares to tilt. in fact.4 8 When we read this statement.” Selby thinks that the reality o f this world is much more complicated especially when we take seriously the fact that Western nations. As in the scientific field. constitute only a small part o f the world49. 1984). so in human affairs generally. especially when he was confined in a jail cell witnessing his contemporary world that was going through the most terrible war humankind had ever experienced? These questions have been dealt with by many who took the theology o f Bonhoeffer seriously. just as well as before. losing more and more ground.The movement that began about the thirteenth century (I’m not going to get involved in any argument about the exact date) towards the autonomy of humanity (in which I should include the discovery o f the laws by which the world lives and deals with itself in science. MA: Cowley Publications.

It is certainly hard to agree that the movement of which Bonhoeffer speaks has in our time reached “an undoubted completion.”5 0 As an attempt to rescue Bonhoeffer from such criticism. Bonhoeffer’s life was deeply intertwined with the tragedy o f the Nazi period. Finally he came to the decision o f taking part in the plot to assassinate Hitler. and it is easy enough to brand it as an oversimplification. From this unfolding vocation. Selby sees its 50 Ibid. along the same line of Rasmussen. becoming a conspirator against Hitler and finally becoming his victim. he found it to be contrary to God’s redemptive purpose as revealed in the gospel. and. As we have already noted. 57 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. becoming a pastor. moving into his position o f leadership in the Confessing Church.. Bonhoeffer began to find that the principle o f the leader whom the German people had chosen was contrary to the understanding o f the constitutional order in which he had been brought up.Clearly it is possible to question much here as a matter o f historical judgement. Selby interprets Bonhoeffer’s perception o f the world come of age from the viewpoint of his life story of academic formation. Selby claims. as time went on. 27. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 5 1 Ibid.5 1 According to Selby. there is in fact a resurgent interest in all kinds of religion and religious experience. that Bonhoeffer’s perception of “the world come o f age” was deeply rooted in his own life experience and in the history through which he lived. Selby claims: It is as though each movement in that life story and each new turn o f his thought were the unwitting preparation for ideas that were to bring him into final conflict with authority and in the process bring to birth ideas which we still have not sufficiently assimilated. .

56 Selby says that they are not the kind o f achievements as a result o f which humankind might be said to deserve to manage by itself. the achievement o f knowledge and o f science makes 5: Ibid.. 54 Ibid. Rather. 53 Ibid. 58 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In Selby’s own expression. what Bonhoeffer claimed was that humanity had now reached a stage in its development where humans had to be responsible for themselves whether they liked their new stage or not and whether they deserved it or not. 56 Ibid. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 28.55 Selby rightly criticizes the secularizing theologies o f the 1960s for their abuse o f Bonhoeffer’s theology by interpreting him as having made some very optimistic claims about the capacity o f human beings to handle the world in which they live in a mature way without recourse of religion or God. “You sign your own cheques and incur your own debts. and for their understanding o f Bonhoeffer’s view o f the world come of age as grounded in the maturity of human race as their achievement. you answer for your own crimes and have to keep your own promises because there is nobody else who can be asked to keep them for you. accountable and without excuses to plead..remarkable resemblance to the way in which Bonhoeffer described the coming o f age of humankind in his Letter and Papers from P rison52 Selby understands “coming o f age”53 as a simple fact that at a certain point people come o f age and have to be responsible for their decision and action. 55 Ibid. You are responsible.”54 For Selby. M&ndigkeit. . 28-29.

in doing so. 57 Ibid. Selby is simply avoiding but not facing the criticism o f Bonhoeffer’s claim that “the autonomy of humanity has in our time reached an undoubted completion . but the fact that humanity happened to grow up to be at that stage. Italics for emphasis.” which is based on a person’s life and experience of historical development. 58 LPP 325-26. The new times demand new forms of coming o f age. and came to the conclusion that “coming of age” for Bonhoeffer is not a once-for-all development. 29. 59 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. He takes maturation as the process o f taking responsibility and o f finding ourselves in charge. He finds its similarity with the movement o f civilization. what is central to Bonhoeffer’s claim is not the question whether human autonomy came to its final completion or not. Yet the process is a continuing one and is never “complete. However. In other words. Selby says: Knowledge advances and new ideas explored and in the process new responsibilities dawn upon us and alibis disappear.. . Selby took seriously this model o f “coming o f age.5 7 However. it seems that Selby’s interpretation o f Bonhoeffer is problematic because there is no indication that Bonhoeffer viewed the maturation of human beings as a revolving process that is continuing towards different stages and is never “complete. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” Responsibilities burden humanity for a time and then disappear to be replaced by new demands. 8 June 1944. which it repeats as the years pass and new experiences come to us.it increasingly necessary for us to live without recourse to God.”58 For Selby.” Selby utilizes the model o f a human’s life cycle to explain Bonhoeffer’s claim that the maturation o f the world came to its completion. it is a necessity rather than a privilege or a reward for human beings to be autonomous from God.

even though this ended with its defeat. He did not view human history as something that repeats itself in cyclic fashion through different stages. and in the third place unchristian. Selby appears to contradict himself by acknowledging that Bonhoeffer regards any attempt to compromise the adult status o f human beings as “in the first place pointless. Humanity has arrived in its adulthood on a track where there is not a turn-about. Quoted in Selbv. 60 LPP 327. 8 June 1944. In fact. in the second place ignoble.”59 Bonhoeffer claims the irreversibility of the adulthood o f the world and this is central to his thought. 31. The weakness of liberal theology was that it conceded to the world the right to determine Christ’s place in the world. and that it genuinely accepted the battle (Troeltsch). .Selby’s observation does not satisfy our curiosity about Bonhoeffer’s original intent because it appears that Bonhoeffer “undoubtedly” believed that the Western civilization attained the goal o f the movement o f human autonomy from God in his time. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.”6 0 Bonhoeffer claimed that we cannot and should not try to undo the maturity o f the world. we cannot erase our history and start it all over again. in the conflict between the Church and the world it accepted the comparatively easy terms o f peace that the world dictated. Its strength was that it did not try to put the clock back. A World Come o f Age. To Bonhoeffer. understanding the world come o f age as the final state of the movement is important because it provides an opening for the non-religious interpretation: The question is: Christ and the world that has come o f age. We have to accept humankind’s maturity as a historical fact whether we like it or not. 60 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Any attempt 59 LPP 327. It is as pointless as an attempt to put a grown-up person back into adolescence. Simply.

. which has been the main source of 6i E 99 61 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. continues to stand entirely in the service o f belief in God and o f the constructive furtherance of Islamic history. When it penetrates to oriental countries it acquires a totally different significance in that it ceases to be an end in itself. The maturity o f the world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It has soul o f its own.to deny our human autonomy from God is ignoble because it amounts to an attempt to exploit the weakness o f humanity for religious purposes that are alien to it. Its symbol is the machine. considering the proliferation o f the Western civilization into different parts of the world leveraging its advanced technology. O f course it would be logical to conclude that the limited scope o f his worldview unfortunately reduces its applicability to our contemporary world that is open and globalized. Whether his theology is relevant to our contemporary world situation or not is another issue that will be discussed later. the embodiment of the violation and exploitation o f nature. it can be observed that his idea of the world come o f age is based on the historical understanding of the Western world that has been shaped by Christianity. However. from Bonhoeffer’s standpoint. for example. that is to say. . It must be pointed out that the scope o f his worldview was limited to the West for the most part of his theological thoughts. is the result of historical development o f the Western civilization under the influence o f Christianity. in the world which has been shaped by Christianity and more particularly by the Reformation. It cannot be overlooked that technology has arisen only in the west. . Technical development in the Islamic world. Bonhoeffer acknowledged that the phenomenon o f the maturation o f human reason and the decay of religion as its result are unique to the West: Technology became an end itself.6 1 From this.

62 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. along the line o f Dumas. but it closely resembles Hegel’s analysis of Christ as the historical embodiment o f negation. Bonhoeffer’s worldview was derived from his theology firmly based on the Christology o f Christ as the concrete reality in this world. humanity needs no longer to be alienated from God. And because God is present.” it can be argued that. the “godlessness” o f responsible resistance overlaps with the “before God” o f believing submission. Dumas continues to assert that. where God’s enrichment represents human’s impoverishment. where Bonhoeffer talked about the forsakenness ( Verlassenheit) o f the world. from a Christological perspective. christology is more than a matter o f 62 Dumas. Bonhoeffer’s worldview and his theology seem to be gaining more relevance for the rest o f the world than in his own time. Dumas points out an important role o f Christology in the formulation o f Bonhoeffer’s concept o f the world come of age: But what happens when God enters into the reality o f this world? After the cultural and biblical levels o f interpretation we come to the christological level. Christ’s Forsakenness and the World Come of Age Returning to the second implication o f Rasmussen’s biographical interpretation. Dumas argues: Theology becomes christology because in Christ God himself is present. This is the opposite o f Feuerbach’s religious position. which ignores the Christological aspect o f “the world come o f age.62 After quoting the letter o f 16 July 1944. Because God is willing to alienate himself on the cross. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . but the humiliation and annihilation o f the cross. which is by far the most compressed and enigmatic. God’s encounter-in-tension with reality in Jesus Christ is neither a victory nor an abolition.human confidence. 190. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian o f Reality.

who is God. why have you forsaken me?”65 However. Thus. In the world come of age. but the restoration o f correct relationship between God and humanity similar to a parentschildren relationship that was once realized in the Garden o f Eden prior to the Fall. more than providing a model to imitate. Bonhoeffer talks about responsibility relates to action. it is clear that he did not consider maturation as a revolving process of human growth apart from God.example. human beings will take actions out of responsibility rather than thoughts. 65 Mt. it can be said that Bonhoeffer’s model for maturation is based on the concept o f “ultimate” and “penultimate. 64 LPP 298. Thoughts on the Day o f the Baptism o f Dietrich Wilhelm Radiger Bethge.” Through the presence o f Christ. he concluded the world come o f age. 190-91. Rather. the paradox of this event is that the world was forsaken by God along with Jesus Christ. It effects reconciliation63 Although Bonhoeffer viewed “responsibility”64 as an important aspect of maturity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer’s concept of maturity is not individualistic separatism in which God and humanity are separated. Therefore. humanity came to the last point of penultimate. 63 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Gremmels has found that Bonhoeffer appropriated reflections on the idea of “the 63 Ibid. my God. . It becomes concrete. Bonhoeflfer’s model for such relation between God and humanity is from his eschatology o f the “ultimate. Wiistenberg who observes that C. Human beings finally realized that God forsook the world when Jesus cried out on the cross. Furthermore. he envisions. Another point o f observation was made by Ralf K. “My God. Bonhoeffer was convinced that human beings have enough capability to understand the “ultimate” relationship between God and humanity.” Evidently. 27:46.

1998).67 According to Gremmels. 70. and it signifies a focus on the here and now. Bonhoeffer finds this mediation with a Christological formulation: “God is beyond even in the midst of our lives. revealing verbatim agreement in statements concerning . . .: “C. . 70.”70 Gremmels’ Christological interpretation o f Bonhoeffer’s concept. Quotation from C. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Religionless Christianity. “this-worldliness” is the key interpretive term applicable to Bonhoeffer as well as Dilthey. or intellectually-historically.. . Wiistenberg.” seems to deserve further review in the light o f “the religionless Christianity. “earth” or “heaven. 69 LPP 282. . Gremmels’ Mandig Welt. Dietrich Bonhoffer's Religionless Christianity (Grand Rapids. it is to be understood historically. 64 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . A Theology o f Life. . 30 April 1944. Gremmels’ Mandig Welt.” but rather a mediation of the intentions attached to these categories. 70 Wiistenberg.” See the text for more detail.” Bonhoeffer said: The concepts [of the New Testament] must be interpreted in such a way as not to make religion a precondition o f faith (cf. Gremmels says: The concept o f the world come o f age interprets the end o f specific world-historical development. “the world come o f age. pp. . Quotation from C.world coming of age and human autonomy” from passages o f Wilhelm Dilthey’s work. Gremmels has juxtaposed Bonhoeffer citations from Widerstand und Ergebung. The concept o f the world come o f age interprets the beginning of the salvific-historical development. Neuausgabe with statements from Dilthey’s Weltanschauung und Analyse des Menschen seit Renaissance und Reformation. 13f. Thus the world’s coming of age is no longer an occasion for polemics 66 Ralf K.66 There is verbatim agreement between some o f Bonhoeffer citations and Dilthey’s.68 Gremmels says that the issue is no longer the poorly posed alternative between immanence and transcendence. it is to be understood Christologically. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 67 Ibid. 68 Ibid.”69 Gremmels observes that Bonhoeffer developed his “coming of age” by bracketing Dilthey’s intellectual-historical element with a Christological element. p. MI: Eerdmans. Paul and circumcision). A Theology o f Life. 22.

The world forsaken by God can only be understood through Christ. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It is in the world come o f age that “we recognize that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur (even if there were no g o d ). 360. but is now really better understood than it understands itself. placed Christ at the center o f the historical development which led humanity to its maturity.7 1 Therefore. . Bonhoeffer understood the world come o f age as a stage for religionless Christianity rather than as the beginning o f the salvific-historical development as Gremmels asserts. 16 July 1944. namely on the basis of the gospel and in the light o f Christ.74 he had this christocentric view in mind where humanity comes to the true recognition of the world being united with God through the reality o f Christ in this world. 342. God would have us know that we must live as human who manage our lives without him.”72 As a result o f the historicalintellectual development o f humanity. from his christocentric viewpoint. . Christ alienated himself from God into the world.and apologetics. . 8 June 1944.LPP 73 LPP 74 LPP 329. the maturityo f the world does not mean that we are alienated from God. Italic is for emphasis. 65 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 16 July 1944. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34). In this regard. we can recognize the forsakenness of the world that has been concealed under religion. and the reality o f Christ in the midst o f our lives. Rather. 360-61. 30 June 1944.theclaimof a world that has come of age by Jesus Christ ”73 Asmentionedearlier. when Bonhoeffer said that our coming o f age leads us to a true recognition o f our situation before God. An important point one should note here is that Bonhoeffer. Thus. Bonhoeffer’s 7 1 LPP 7. Bonhoeffer said thathe was“concerned about. from a christocentric viewpoint.

75 Bonhoeffer criticized Christianity as a religion of redemption based on his understanding o f the Old Testament: Now for some further thoughts about the Old Testament. 27 June 1944. Bonhoeffer argued that to view Christianity as “a religion of redemption” is unchristian. the Israelites hoped for the restoration o f their kingdom through a Messiah here on earth. . Bonhoeffer found that Israelites in the Old Testament lived this earthly life with God. A Wholly New Way of Life Another aspect of the world come o f age is related to how Christianity is understood by the world. because it confuses Christ with one particular stage in humankind’s religiousness. Rather than hoping for the things o f afterlife. which separates Christ from the Old Testament and interprets him on the lines o f the myths about redemption?76 From the fact that the Old Testament does not pay attention to salvation nor redemption o f human beings.idea o f the world corne o f age was mainly based on his Christology. It’s true that Christianity has always been regarded as a religion of redemption. 66 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. It cannot be simply equated with a developmental process o f human beings as perceived by Selby and others. 76 LPP 336. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. But isn’t this a cardinal error. Bonhoeffer saw that their focus on this worldly kingdom was important for the concept o f the world come o f age because the maturity o f the world meant a holistic life o f human beings in this world in a “wholly new way.” Bonhoeffer continued: 75 Ibid. the faith o f the Old Testament isn’t a religion of redemption. Unlike the other oriental religions.

But it seems to me that this is just where the mistake and the danger lie. in a better world beyond the grave. “Israel is delivered out o f Egypt so that it may live before God as God’s people on earth. The Church may wish to turn the clock back to the Middle Ages when it enjoyed its privilege and dominion over this world where its authority was not challenged. .”78 The mature world is the ground where Christianity should stand before God. The difference between the Christian hope o f resurrection and the mythological hope is that the former sends a man back to his life on earth in a wholly new way which is even more sharply defined than it is in the Old Testament. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the world come o f age is the 77 Ibid. the main emphasis now being on the far side o f the boundary drawn by death. which was what Christianity had been preaching for the past nineteen hundred years. distress. 67 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The hope for eternal life in a world beyond this. and that that means the emergence o f a genuine religion of redemption. fears. 7 8 Ibid. This redemption is not simply pointing to the direction of beyond death but it points to the reality o f this world as well. But is this really the essential character o f the proclamation o f Christ in the gospels and by Paul? I should say it is not. and the maturity o f this world cannot be undone. from sin and death. However.The decisive factor is said to be that in Christianity the hope of resurrection is proclaimed. Bonhoeffer’s main concern was to find out “Who is Christ for us today in the world come o f age?” Christianity is more than redemption from sin and death beyond this world. and longings.77 In a “wholly new way” we are sent back to our life on earth by the Christian hope of resurrection in our adulthood. was not adequate for the world come o f age. The time when people would accept unconditionally or blindly the words that are proclaimed was over. Redemption now means redemption from cares.

80 Ibid. However. From this sense o f responsibility imposed upon human beings. which has done away with a false conception o f God. Selby claims that the seeds o f our religious faith have been planted in the soil o f human sinfulness and morality. Religion meets us at the points o f our vulnerability and weakness. Bonhoeffer said: To that extent we may say that the development towards the world’s coming o f age outlined above. What. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.reality within which the Church must live its life in a “wholly new way” to preach the gospel to the world. then. For example. 68 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The problems of war. Selby’s somewhat negative view o f human autonomy and of responsibility as a burden must be rejected in the light o f Bonhoeffer’s positive evaluation o f the situation.”79 Agreeing with Bonhoeffer. 30.80 The steady growth of human knowledge and power has pushed humanity in the direction of having to make endless decisions for all the matters o f this world on our own. poverty. Selby views the adulthood o f humanity as a stage humanity has reached unwillingly. was Bonhoeffer’s attitude toward the historical phenomenon o f the world come o f age? Selby applies the idea o f the world come o f age to our own world and finds that there is no “Someone” who will solve the real problems o f life other than ourselves. who 9 Selby. no book of life with the correct solutions provided by an omniscient God. . A World Come o f Age. We have to accept it whether we like it or not. 32. and economics must be dealt with by ourselves: “There is nowhere to look for the answers to the hard questions.. opens up a way o f seeing the God o f the Bible.

“X Ia n d ig k e it means “adulthood” . “mandigwordene” means “having come of age” or “come of age. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 69 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” Quoted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It can be said that Bonhoeffer was positive about the world come o f age from the perspective that it opened the door for “the non-religious interpretation. . “mandigwerden” means “coming of age”. that one has come o f age means that the person is fully responsible for his or her own actions.) Rather. One is no longer a minor but is on their own.wins power and space in the world by his weakness. (See Dilthey’s influence on the historical view of Bonhoeffer. it was the great historical development o f the West. Widerstand und Ergebung. which led humanity to its current mature state. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 11th ed. 81. he explains that Bonhoeffer designates the increase o f human autonomy by various forms o f the German miindig (maturity). Reality and Resistance. For moral accountability. Eberhard Bethge. Based on this understanding o f the German term miindig Rasmussen warns the English readers o f Bonhoeffer to be careful to note that 8' LPP 361. ed. The person who is miindig is one who speaks for oneself. Human thinking had been directed towards a state o f the autonomy from God. 82 Rasmussen. This will probably be the starting-point for our “secular interpretation. Bonhoeffer understood human autonomy from the historical side. Human autonomy from God was not a biological development o f a life that naturally occurs and goes away when a new life appears.”8 1 Contrary to Selby’s view.82 The term mtindig references to the passage from adolescence to adulthood.” which was not possible in the previous stages o f human maturation. 16 July 1944. both with regard to humanity and with reference to the world. The Freedom for Others Rasmussen views Bonhoeffer’s “coming of age” from two aspects: moral accountability and rational maturity. p.

217.” Rasmussen summarizes his view of Bonhoeffer’s understanding of “come o f age” based on the literary meaning o f miindig and the influence from Kant’s emphasis on the human reason: Humankind. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s own intelligence without the guidance of another person. Especially the former is clear in a summary of Bonhoeffer’s. humankind is accountable for the use o f their reason and its behavioral expression. The world’s adulthood is in part.84 Even though to Bonhoeffer rational maturity is certainly one o f the characteristics o f the world come o f age. “World come o f age.8 3 For another aspect of “coming o f age” as rational maturity. pp. 241. Further. 1951. irresponsibly.miindig is thus a reference to moral accountability and not moral maturity. Kaiser Verlag. together with all the consequences. He explains his understanding o f miindig further: That is. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. or whatever. 70 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Chr. 331 respectively. designates rational maturity and moral accountability. Bonhoeffer is saying that humanity is fully responsible for their actions whether they act childishly. 84 Ibid.” then. 218. humankind and can and do interpret natural and social processes. immaturely. can and do answer the questions o f life. . were rational maturity and moral responsibility the only things Munich. without God as a working hypothesis. 236. then. Rasmussen believes that Bonhoeffer’s appropriation of “come o f age” is drawn from Kant’s description of the Enlightenment as “the emergence o f humankind from immaturity that they are responsible for themselves. 83 Ibid. One can no longer return to an adolescent dependence upon their parents to whom final responsibility falls. Bonhoeffer’s designation of humanity’s irrevocable responsibility for their answers to life’s questions. all without the tutelage o f a divinity. using their autonomous reason.

86 LPP 370. Bonhoeffer expressed his thought on freedom: If you set out to seek freedom. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . then learn above all things to govern your soul and your senses. the autonomy o f the world cannot be explained without the reality 85 E 101. “People are now capable of taking in hand the direction of their own internal and external history?”85 From his view. we must live as men or women who manage our lives without God. 71 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. steadfastly seeking the aim set before them. the freedom from sin. Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f the “world come o f age” can be interpreted based on historical and Christological perspectives. obediently. and the freedom to die for others. . . It is a “freedom with responsibility” that is allowed to us as mature beings.he had in mind when he said. Chaste your mind and your body. only through discipline may a man learn to be free. and both in subjection. It is not the question of whether humanity became self-justifiable or not without God. the freedom to suffer for the sake o f the world. It means that we have our freedom to decide what to do without being dictated to by God or by religion. for fear that that your passions and longing may lead you away from the path you should follow. Based on this. . In a poem Stations on the Road to Freedom .8 6 It can be stated that the concept o f freedom is where Bonhoeffer was heading as the destiny of a mature human being. However. which was exemplified by the life of Jesus. In summary. it is a “movement” toward human autonomy that came to its completion. From the perspective of historical development. one should be careful in understanding Bonhoeffer’s concept of freedom in that it is not the self-centered freedom as a right of individual but the freedom for others.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Based on the christocentricity o f his worldview. As suggested earlier. As we have seen in Chapter 1. the place o f christocentricity in the concept o f the world come age has been missed by many interpreters o f Bonhoeffer. which is based on his concept o f Incarnation. it was Christ. the world come o f age is not the end of itself. in the next chapter. his critique o f “religion” as it relates to his concept o f “non-religious” interpretation will be discussed. With his understanding of Christ forsaken by God on behalf o f the world. it can be concluded that Christology. In addition to that the meaning o f his “non-religious interpretation of the biblical concepts and Christianity” will be discussed in more detail. the Son o f God. Rather it directs humankind to the correct recognition o f the human situation before God. and such misunderstanding led them to misuse or abuse his theology o f the world come o f age and the religionless world.” It is clear that the freedom for others is precisely the outcome of the maturity of the world. . However.” Therefore. Bonhoeffer established a theological agenda o f a “non­ religious interpretation of biblical concepts and Christianity. was at the core of his understanding o f the world come of age. 72 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. God was being pushed out and from the world more and more on the cross.of Christ. and of the world come o f age in Christ. As Bonhoeffer pointed out. who was forsaken from the Father in order to remain in the midst o f the world with us and for us. another aspect o f his Christology is the concept of “Christ for others.

Since this thesis is an application o f Bonhoeffer’s theological concept o f “non­ religious interpretation” to our contemporary situation. from the perspective that he is the mediator.CHAPTER 3 A NON-RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION OF THE GOSPEL In the previous two chapters. He observed that the Church was not only irrelevant to the changing world but also indifferent to the suffering o f the world and fellow human beings. . Bonhoeffer understood the Church as the body o f Christ who exists for others. At the same time. Bonhoeffer’s theology can be viewed as a reaction to the situation of the Church where it was losing its ground . “But for the last hundred years or so it has also become [increasingly] true of religious questions. Christ is the center between God and humanity. and the world . In short. Bonhoeffer concluded in his letters from prison that we should reinterpret the Gospel in a “non-religious way” for the world come o f age.the Church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Because Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is obviously 1 LPP 326. In a nutshell. which was becoming religionless. We can deduce that Bonhoeffer had some sense of urgency regarding the changes that were taking place in the world. He said. From his Christocentric theological foundation laid out in the very early stage of his theological development. Christ.were reviewed.in the world that had become “increasingly” 1 religionless.religion . it is becoming evident that everything gets along without ‘God’ . the major themes o f Bonhoeffer’s theology . the meaning o f the concept needs to be discussed further. 73 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. between human beings in the midst o f the world. Christ is the center of the Church and the world from the perspective that he is the Lord o f both. 8 June 1944.

” I will first discuss how Bonhoeffer understood “religion” in order to explain the meaning o f “non-religious interpretation” later. 172. nor developed any closed theory of religion. Bonhoeffer’s Understanding of “Religion” “Religion” is a term that cannot be clearly defined because its meaning and usage can be so diverse depending on the context in which it is used.”3 However. 1996).” Wiistenberg concluded that Bonhoeffer neither defined religion conceptually. A Theology o f Life. Because Bonhoeffer himself used the term with different meanings from time to time. 255-345. 30. “The continuing paraphrastic renderings o f the religious thematic material o f the Letters and Papers from Prison clearly demonstrate that scholars are still searching for an interpretive key or a sustaining explanatory model for this book. Dietrich Bonhoeffer und die nichtrligiOse Interpretation biblischer Begriffe (Frankfurt am Main:Perter Lang. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Religionless Christianity. Glauben als Leben. 74 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 4 Ibid. with regard to Bonhoeffer’s 2 Wiistenberg. See the note on p. 29. Wiistenberg rightly says.anchored to the term “religion. .” Bonhoeffer scholars have been asking the question.”4 Therefore. The Bonhoeffer scholars are listed in the author’s German edition.2 Previous Bonhoeffer scholarship presupposed that Bonhoeffer’s fixed concept of religion enabled one to draw conclusions regarding the statement about “religionlessness” and “non-religious interpretation. “What was Bonhoeffer’s understanding of religion?” in order to grasp a more clear meaning o f his controversial ideas such as “religionless Christianity” and a “non-religious interpretation o f the gospel and the biblical concepts.” After an exhaustive study on how Bonhoeffer understood “religion. 3 Ibid. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.. there has been some confusion in understanding how his theological ideas developed around the concept of “religion.

5 Ibid.6 On the other hand.”7 Already. 75 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. which will acquire significance in Bonhoeffer’s later critique of religion.1926. 7 DBW 9. “There are basically two ways to misunderstand the Church.5 Rather. Wiistenberg finds that a survey o f Bonhoeffer’s references to religion prior to 1927. when his dissertation Sanctorum Communio was finished. . Wiistenberg suggests an evaluation o f the various influences on Bonhoeffer such as Karl Barth and Wilhelm Dilthey during the period when the critique would have been formulated.8 Nonetheless. a glimpse o f Bonhoeffer’s negative perception of religion as psychotherapy can be seen. we can deduce from those materials that Bonhoeffer was still formulating his critique of religion with mixed attitude in his student days. 124. Wiistenberg views this as a critique of E.critique o f religion. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Religionless Christianity. In 1927. Bonhoeffer argued that the Church is misunderstood. 271-305. Bonhoeflfer’s first reference o f his critique o f “religion” is found in a note on Luther’s lectures on Romans in 1925: “The intention o f theological logic is to free itself from psychologizing. 410-30. 6 DBW 9. reveals that there is hardly a single statement of Bonhoeffer which aims directly at any critique o f religion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.. A Theology o f Life. Bonhoeffer’s positive and appreciative attitude toward religion can be found in the letter to his parents in 1924 and several lecture notes from the period o f 1925 . Wiistenberg. 8 RalfK. 1. Troeltsch’s doctrine of the religious a priori. I. the year of his dissertation Sanctorum Communio. 324. In his dissertation. Bonhoeffer made a decisive turn against religion.

Ibid.10 Neither o f them. etc. however.” 9 According to him. Continuing from the previous paragraph.12 Bonhoeffer makes a subtle but important distinction between “religious community” and “the Church.” How many Christians come to the Church every Sunday with a sincere belief that it is the Church established by God and the same God is present in the midst of people who are gathered to worship him? The truth o f the matter is that most Christians think that the Church is there to satisfy their “religious impulse” or spiritual needs. but I chose you” (John 15:16). Bonhoeffer said: The former overlooks the fact that the new basic-relations established by God actually are real. In his early articles Barth spoke quite frequently about “seriousness.” 1 1 With the first point. Bonhoeffer’s critique o f the Church as the “religious 9 SC 125. 10 SC 126. whereas the Church is established by God. the latter with the Realm o f God. the need to communicate.” 1 1 Ibid. however. since both can be nourished by religious pathos and seriousness.). “Seriousness” is a theological term used by Karl Barth. and points instead to the “religious motives” that in fact lead to empirical community (the missionary impulse. “Both are dangerous. 76 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. l. which is simultaneously a historical community and one established by God. he viewed the religious community as a human product established by the “religious motives” or “religious impulse” of human beings. From that sense. the former confuses the Church with the religious community. understands the reality o f the Church. in making a clear distinction between the Church and the religious community. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. plainly is condemned by the saying in John’s Gospel that “You did not choose me. This view.one historicizing and the other religious.

nor in the Realm o f God within the Church as coetus electorum [company or assembly o f the elect]. and as the overcoming o f the former by the latter to enable free action. In other words. Instead we believe that God has made the concrete. On the second point o f his critique o f the Church. which became popular through Lutheran theology.1 3 The understanding o f the Church as coetus electorumi [company or assembly o f the elect]. In Sanctorum Communio . . He said. I conclude that Bonhoeffer’s criticism o f the Church as a religious community or the Realm o f God was based on his understanding o f the Church as the concrete and empirical body o f Christ and o f the presence of God as the center of the Church-community.” 14 Bonhoeffer first understood religion as a social phenomenon. We believe that it is the body o f Christ. was viewed negatively by Bonhoeffer because o f its lack o f concreteness and its conceptual view o f the Church. 77 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer’s Godcentered theology was taking its shape in Sanctorum Communio. Christ’s presence in the world. “the Realm” seems to remove God from the concrete and empirical Church in which God is present as the builder o f community. and that according to the promise God’s Spirit is at work in it. empirical church [Kirche] in which the word is preached and the sacraments are celebrated to be God’s own churchcommunity [Gemeinde]. Although it may not be certain whether religion begins in the individual soul as a slow dawning of an 1 3 SC 280. Bonhoeffer said: But then what does it mean to believe in the Church? We do not believe in an invisible church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. “Religion is defined as the touching o f the human will by the divine will. Bonhoeffer defined religion as the impulse of the community toward deity.community” can still be applied to our contemporary churches. 1 4 SC 131.

3) The religious formation o f community that is based on physical communities. uncharismatic community 1 5 SC 131-32.community. Bonhoeffer. 1 7 SC 84. these consider the communal element in particular as constituting an aspect o f the meaning of religion. fear. The individual is active in religious practice only as a part o f a whole. such as the children o f Israel. or whether the biological communal forms such as the family and the clan are primarily seen as the subject o f religion. then. defined three types o f communities: 1) the charismatic community characterized by the “sorcerer”. without which each individual would wither religiously. The family or the clan is firmly regarded as the subject of religion. belong to this category.15 Religion. He defined four different modes o f relationship between religion and community16: 1) A radical rejection o f outward and inward community. . The historically conditioned religious communities. from its origin. 2) the regulated. Its internal structure is individualistic. The mystical fusion o f I-You relationship between God and human beings rejects the concept o f community. and have a voluntary association. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 1 6 SC 132. 78 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. What was certain to Bonhoeffer was that worship is carried out by a community expecting the protection o f its communal life. They are cultic societies. An example o f this is mysticism.“other” in the most primitive feelings such as horror. 4) The free communities that are held together by meetings for worship. is closely tied to social life . thus constituting a pronounced collectivism.1 7 2) Free religious communities that are held together purely on the basis o f and in order to achieve a purpose. and terror. and solely through a common religious practice as a means o f accomplishing a purpose.

. Bonhoeffer claimed.this is the picture o f a later time. these types o f community do not lead us to the concept of the Church. as the Spirit. He brought. 19 SC 152-3. i. :o SC 152. . What differentiates revelation from religion is the resurrected Christ who is present in the Church as revelation. Historically speaking. o f humanity pardoned in Jesus Christ . established.e. 79 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.characterized by the priest. This is why the question whether Jesus founded a church is so ambiguous. but revelation. It is not a new religion recruiting followers . God established the reality of the Church.not religion. “ Only the concept o f revelation can lead to the Christian concept o f the Church. but church. according to him.20 Bonhoeffer said. 18 SC 133. and religious community and the Church. not religious community. Bonhoeffer already determined that the Church is not a religious community. to the apostles. More importantly. This is what the reality o f Jesus Christ means. the ascension of Christ draws the line between the disciple-community o f the followers of Jesus and the Church actualized at the Pentecost. Rather. and Christianity should not be identified with religion: Now the relationship of Christ to the Church can be stated by saying that in essence Jesus Christ was no more the founder of the Christian religious community than the founder o f religion. However..1 9 Thus. Bonhoeffer made a clear distinction between religion and revelation. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . which can be reached only where Christian revelation is believed. 3) the religious community characterized by the prophet. unlike other religions that have been formed historically . and proclaimed the reality o f the new humanity . The commonality of those three types o f community is the fact that human beings rather than the revelation o f God characterize them all.” 1 8 In other words. The credit for both o f these belongs to the earliest church. the Christian church has been established through God’s revelation.

23 :1 SC 152.”21 As we shall see later. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. .22 The separateness between God and the community with God is necessary for the correct I-You-relation in which the true obedience to God’s command as the basis of community o f saints is possible. now it possesses him as revelation. community with God becomes unification in the sense o f transgressing the boundary o f the I-You-relation . Nevertheless it is clear that if between the creature and the Creator the boundary were to be transgressed. Community o f will and unity o f will only build upon the inner separateness o f I and You . . as Spirit. Every transgression of the boundary at the same time injures the creatureliness o f the other person.th a t is. then this would coincide with the transgression o f the boundary within creation. 23 CF 118. ~ SC84. As Wustenberg points out. Bonhoeffer defined mysticism as a fusion o f our being into God’s. one must never conclude any kind of unity o f the willing persons in the sense o f fusion. this is impossible considering all that has been said. . The Christian notion of community with God can be realized only on the basis o f this interpretation o f community. I observe that Bonhoeffer reiterated his critique of religion as mystical fusion in Creation and Fall in the following terms. 80 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Violating the tree of life would at the same time violate the other person. mystical fusion. this differentiation made by Bonhoeffer characterizes today’s church as a “disciple-community.” which represents Christ rather than possessing him as the Lord in the Spirit.“Formerly the disciple-community ‘represented’ Christ. He said: Whatever kind o f unity of will exists. Otherwise. Bonhoeffer also identified religion as mysticism in Sanctorum Communio.

the first on the Old Testament. 302-3. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . delivered lectures for a series o f three evenings. has become a thing o f the Church. “Happiness and religion belong together like glitter and gold. . In 1928. We do not understand it if we make room for it in merely one province o f our spiritual life.” which Bonhoeffer may have received from Friedrich Naumann: . . which occupies only a small part o f the life o f Christians. . . . or it is nothing. On the second evening. and it is the transgression o f the boundary drawn between God and human. DB W 10. and the last on the ethical questions. 2000). . his subject for the lecture was Jesus Christ and the Essence of Christianity. the second on the New. 11 December 1928. According to Bethge. .and twentiethcentury mind. The religion o f Christ is not the tidbit that follows the bread. but is the bread itself. . Christ. while an assistant pastor in Barcelona. Bonhoeffer criticized religion as related to happiness. The lecture began with a concept o f “provincialism. that Christ in practice [has been] eliminated from our lives . and between the Creator and the creature. 81 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. religion that does not make a person happy is not religion. Bonhoeffer. . But this means we are conceiving religion from the perspective o f human beings themselves. and evaluating it only with respect to human beings as the center of Z A Eberhard Bethge. religion plays the part o f the so-called Sunday room . or of the religiosity o f a group o f people.24 This observation o f Bonhoeffer as a young pastor still applies to the Christian religion o f today. which humanity desires by its nature. Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Biography (Minneapolis: Fortress Press. instead of being the center of our lives.Bonhoeffer understood mysticism as the mystical fusion into God. It seems that the “quiet time” or the “small group Bible study” appear to constitute a major part o f Christianity in today’s church. To the nineteenth. 116. He criticized the partiality of Christianity as a religion.

see Sermon on 2 Cor. 6 DBW 10. See “The Theology of Crisis and Its Attitude toward Philosophy and Science. . 12:9 (Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity. 5. Bonhoeffer also criticized religion for placing God in the service o f human beings to promote their happiness and peace. and observed pragmatism in America. DBW 11. 43449. 1928) DBW 10. A Theology o f Life. it is not correct. 28 Ibid.”29 Almost 25 Wustenberg. 269. and instead o f the rite vocatus we have the pastor as the association chairman. “We often hear and say that religion makes a person happy and harmonious and peaceful and satisfied. Bonhoeffer pointed out.the world. p. Bonhoeffer insisted that Barth’s theology shows how all human attempts to come to God must fail.”27 Having read William James. American ecclesiology allegedly confuses ‘the Church’ with a ‘religions association..”25 Religion is viewed as human-centered service that brings happiness and comfort to human beings.’’ DBW 10. DBW 10. Wvistenberg comments.. 82 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 277. September 9. In a sermon on Thanksgiving 1931. at Union Theological Seminary in New York. “Bonhoeffer observes critically that this pragmatism in its most extreme form (“Growing God”) also led to a creative coupling o f “religion and faith in progress”.. with religion becoming social ethics.435. we have the right o f membership in the association. Bonhoeffer criticized the American churches.”2* Bonhoeffer criticized the American churches based on the fact that “instead of the priesthood of believers.”26 In 1931. 4..’ a criticism recalling Sanctorum Communio. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 26 Ibid. 29 Ibid. the living God. 21 Ibid. Also. 505-11. That may well be correct for religion. as a scholar abroad. it is fundamentally false.378. 10. But for God. and condemns “all morality and religion.

33 30 Ibid. nor is it found “on the periphery of life” (233). “individualism is the basic error o f Protestant theology. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.253.seventy years later.” Bonhoeffer concludes that for the relationship between religion and individualism.”31 In the lectures on “Systematic Theology in the 20th Century.A. 233f. 33 Ibid. 3 1 Ibid. DBW 11. The Church does not take up residence “at privileged places” (233).” 3: Ibid. .). 199. the word religio appears in the place o f ‘faith’ (the English Deists).7): The lecture series “The Essence of the Church” from the summer semester of 1932 seeks the “Locus of the Church” (Part L DBW 11. The Church is not the ultimate presupposition. He puts individual religiosity before the brackets. In the post-Copemican age. 83 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 23 Iff. This refers the Church back to the piety o f individuals. “Bonhoeffer believes that ‘theology is absolutely not to be confused with philosophy of religion or with a doctrine of faith’.7.B. DBW 11. 23 If.238.”32 a criticism referring essentially to Schleiermacher: His [Schleiermacher’s] “church” is a voluntary assembly o f Christian devotees. DBW 11..30 Wustenberg summarizes Bonhoeffer’s criticism o f religion in this period. I find Bonhoeffer’s harsh criticism on the American churches still convincing. and refers to the ultimate. The implied critique of religion here is ecclesiastically directed and will reappear in the Tegel prison cell in the notions of “religiously privileged persons” and “partiality. 145. most delicate human possibilities. Bonhoeffer also made his criticism on the process o f religious individualization through the lectures that he offered in the winter semester o f 1931/32 on the subject of “History o f Systematic Theology in the 20th Century..) “In the World” (Part I. DBW 11. and then concludes with respect to Catholicism and cultural Protestantism that “neither the state church nor the middle class” is the locus of the Church (232). Wustenberg continues his summation (p.) and “In Christendom” (Part I.” He said: Individualism has destroyed the Protestantism o f the Reformation. The human being is discovered as being related to God.

.” He expounded on Acts 2.6 34 Ibid. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. corrupt creation. whether it is the truth. 1966). .2. 126. G S 4.34 Here Bonhoeffer criticized religion by juxtaposing religion and truth. on which he preached in 1933. 3. is man/woman in the community. for it may be that although it is all a beautiful illusion. pp. Gal. . 6.15). Kaine ktisis (2 Cor. and Ed.. G S 4. . 12. a part o f the world has been made anew. Thus no new religion has been founded. Bonhoeffer spoke to Swedish and Danish congregations on the subject “The Visible Church in The New Testament. 325-34. then make gods for us yourself! . Tr. whether religion itself is something true. 47-8. “God has abandoned us. He argued that religion is an illusion and has nothing to do with the truth o f God. 12. 35 Ibid. . the community itself (Eph.15). which is an important precursor for his formulation o f a “non-religious interpretation:” We have grown accustomed to finding in religion something that comes from a need within the human soul and then satisfies that need. He found the precedence or prototype of the Church as religious community from Exodus 32. simply because it leads the community into fellowship with Christ. That is the founding o f the C hurch. But we forget here one decisive question. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. The Way to Freedom (London: Collins.”35 In 1936. the second creation after the old. and that the Church had drifted into the category o f religion. 36 GS m .A sermon on Mark 9 in 1932 also demonstrates Bonhoeffer’s negative understanding o f religion as human product.17.10). Part o f the world is made afresh after the image o f God (Col. give them worship service. . Robertson. 5. 142. 42-7 under the title “The New Community:” The coming o f the Spirit is a new creation. Keep religion for the people. but we need gods! Religions! If you cannot coerce the living God. namely. Edwin H. it is nonetheless still just an illusion..

In the Church.one might go on to say ‘God-given’ . to divide life into the religious and the profane.e. and his Word. but o f putting God’s act before both religious and profane. It is not the religious question or religious concern of any form which constitutes the Church .value. the Holy Spirit and obedience take the place o f “the religious. but by the practical doing o f what is commanded. A religious fellowship has its end in itself in the ‘religious’ as the highest . it is concerned with an ordering o f value and status. The pure teaching o f the Gospel is not a religious concern. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. by dogma. the Church is constituted not by religious formulae. with the completion o f the new creation in the Spirit. A ‘religious fellowship’ is concerned to put the religions above profane.Here again it can be seen that Bonhoeffer was making a clear distinction between the Church and religion. Because the Church is concerned with God. but a desire to execute the will o f God for a new creation. This. and the doing o f God’s work. but in the proclamation o f a new creative act o f God.from a human point o f view . is another precursor o f his concept of “non-religious interpretation. 85 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. over against the Church’s concern with religion. it is therefore not specially concerned with religion. in my opinion. demands total obedience to the Spirit which creates anew both the religious and the profane. . It is not for a moment a matter of putting the religious before the profane.37 Bonhoeffer emphasized the Church’s obedience to the will o f God. i. with the work of the Father. but with obedience to the Word.”38 38 3' Ibid.but obedience to the Word of the new creation o f grace. Here is the essential difference between the Church and a ‘religious fellowship’ [religious community]. The Church. as a part o f the world and o f mankind created afresh by God’s Spirit. Ibid. He made a further distinction between the Church and the “religious community:” The event o f Whitsuntide[Pentecost] thus does not consist primarily in a new religiousness. the Holy Spirit. And that means that the whole o f life is requisitioned.” Bonhoeffer continued to define the true nature o f the Church: In other words.

total dissolution o f the concept of the Church in which piety constitutes the Church .The “religious” has been taken over by the “non-religious” at the event of Pentecost. He said: But the decisive mistake of monasticism was not that it followed the grace-laden path o f strict discipleship. The total claim of the Church. It is a reality o f God. thereby claiming a special meritoriousness for its e lf. the Church must become a religious institution and there is no longer any protection against the pietistic. Thus.39 At the same time. which the mass of laity could not be expected to emulate. Bonhoeffer was able to say: The second creation of God by Christ in the Holy Spirit is as little a “religious matter” as was the first creation. which was founded by the will o f God manifested through the work o f the Holy Spirit. 86 39 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Rather.41 He also spoke of religion as a “spiritual tyranny” by asking: Ibid '"’ Ibid 4 1 D 47. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. even with all o f monasticism’s misunderstandings o f the contents o f the will o f Jesus.” is grounded in the claim o f the Holy Spirit to be creator in the Church.and the action of God is identified with human. Bonhoeffer found Monasticism “religious” from the perspective that it was represented as an individual achievement.40 In [The Cost of\ Discipleship . The humble work o f discipleship had become in monasticism the meritorious work o f the holy ones. . which is not content with the priority o f the “religious. Religion of human origin was replaced by the Church. Bonhoeffer criticized the Church that became nothing more than a religious institution: Where the Word and the Action o f God are tom apart to the extent that they are in the Orthodox churches. the mistake was that monasticism essentially distanced itself from what is Christian by permitting its way to become the extraordinary achievement o f a few. pious work. .

denial o f God’s living word. The whole thing was a decent. rather than on Jesus Christ. Cheap grace means grace as doctrine. a principle. . a dogma. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. during his second stay in America. for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be set free. . from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit . . 44 D 44. it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea o f God . “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy o f our church. cut-rate sacrament. . Cheap grace is. . . selfsatisfied religious celebration. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins. a system. . But could the church ever serve such a longing?42 In a sense. cur-rate forgiveness. luxuriant. On June 18. “The Christian better not rage against grace or defile that glorious cheap grace by proclaiming anew a servitude to the letter of the Bible in an attempt to live an obedient life under the commandments o f Jesus Christ!”44 The Church as a new religion o f the letter is built on a doctrine. cut-rate comfort. It means forgiveness o f sins as a general truth. grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry. he wrote: Simply unbearable. as principle. Such idolization o f religion prompts a 42 D 38-9. denial o f the incarnation o f the word o f God. After attending a Sunday worship service.” Then he states: Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods.43 Here he identifies religion with cheap grace. as system. one could view [The Cost of] Discipleship as Bonhoeffer’s renunciation o f the Church as a religion. 1939. He further asserts. thus. 43 D 43. Bonhoeffer was once again dissatisfied with the state o f the American church.Should the church be trying to erect a spiritual reign o f terror over people by threatening earthly and eternal punishment on its own authority and commanding everything a person must believe and do to be saves? Should the church’s word bring new tyranny and violent abuse to human souls? It may be that some people yearn for such servitude. He opens the book by saying. We are fighting to-day for costly grace. 87 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

and the powerless longing to return to unity with the origin. 3:7 and 2:24. in the partnership o f sex when two human beings become one flesh (Gen. Expounding on Gen. . whenever. egoistic. ^EIS. he formulated his critique of religion and ethics based on his observation of the American church: American theology and the American church as a whole have never been able to understand what “critique” through God’s word means in its entire scope.”46 In Ethics .ultimately none o f this is understood. he argued that shame is humankind’s ineffaceable recollection o f his/her estrangement from the origin. shame creates for itself the very deepest secrecy. Such preaching makes one libertinistic. 46 Ibid.4 Bonhoeffer’s prison letters show that he thought o f religion as the way in which human beings seek answers from God for the difficult questions and problems o f life.if only God himself and his word did not exist?45 Again. 2. Do these people really not know that one can get along just fine and even better without “religion” .revivification o f the flesh which is accustomed to being held in check by God’s word. and in religion. more than ever. Christianity is still essentially religion and ethics.47 And he continued to argue: Whenever his longing forces its way towards fulfillment. In American theology. GS I 300. 47 E 24.24). 88 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. G S l 354. the covering is broken through. One indication o f this is the general clinging to natural theology. and even at the Christianity o f its churches and at the sanctification o f Christians. when a human being seeks for his union with God. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In his letter on 30 April 1944 he wrote: 45 Wustenberg. That God’s “critique” is directed also at religion. Bonhoeffer declares religion as shame-based. 16. then. indifferent. and that God has established his church beyond religion and ethics . that is to say.

although it lives on ‘accidents. with us by technical organization of all kinds. To Bonhoeffer.” pp. to be independent of nature. or as strength in human failure .’ even if these cannot be eliminated.5 1 People come to religion as a rescue from the problems that they face. death. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 89 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The aim. “3 August 1944. or when human resources fail . Nature was formerly conquered by spiritual means.’ seeks to mitigate their effects) is a Western phenomenon. exploiting human weakness or human boundaries. or guilt. Outline for a Book. He did not deny the reality o f human weakness that leads us to depend on God for our 49 “God of the gaps. blows of fate. for the blessings on their life that come from supernatural being. Insurance (which. from the perspective o f the world come o f age.” 50 LPP 281-282. the danger can be reduced. religion is a system that has been exploiting human weakness or human limitations. The religious a priori o f humankind leads them to believe in a supernatural power that is capable to provide solutions for their difficult problems. it is important to note that he used the term “religion” as the way in which human beings express their dependence on God. One needs to be careful in understanding this particular point o f Bonhoeffer. accidents.” 52 LPP 231.always. . for their insolvable problems o f life. for the comfort of their soul. 5 1 LPP. he defined Christianity as having rested on the religious a priori o f humankind for the whole nineteen centuries as a form of religion. Therefore. It is a belief in anything supernatural which is expressed in some superstitious practice. 30 April 1944.9 March 1944. Furthermore.in fact it is always the deus ex machinei49 that they bring on to the scene.5 0 Here he understood religion as a solution to the insoluble problems o f life such as natural disasters.380: “The safeguarding of life against ‘accidents’ and ‘blows of fate.Religious people speak of God when human knowledge (perhaps simply because they are too lazy to think) has come to an end. a supernatural being. that is to say. either for the apparent solution o f insoluble problems.

” instead of “non-religious interpretation. MI: Eerdmans. Green. Green makes two observations: First.” he is clearly after something more than conceptual alteration: he is.” for this reason I highlight the phrase “religionless Christianity. However. Bonhoeffer’s main concern was to find the meaning o f Christ and Christianity 53 LPP 280.” or a “non-religious interpretation. and this obviously involves more than “concepts. A Theology o f Sociality.problems. 269. trying to describe a new psychic posture which affects a person’s whole life. and he met such anticipation with concepts such as “religionless Christianity. Christianity has been wearing the religious garment throughout its history. polemical formulations which use the adjectives “religionless” and “non­ religious. 1999). it is critical to understand the religious nature o f Christianity in relationship with the world. .” Second. Bonhoeffer viewed the Church or Christianity as an institution as a form of religion. In his Tegel theology. 30 April 1944: “If religion is only a garment of Christianity . as stated before. Revised Edition (Grand Rapids. he opposed the Church’s exploitation o f people’s dependency on God and its preaching o f cheap grace rather than the concrete presence o f Christ.” “worldly Christianity. while statistically Bonhoeffer spoke more often o f “interpretation of biblical concepts.” and positive descriptions which speak o f “worldly [weltliche] Christians” or “worldly interpretation. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 90 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.and even this garment has looked very different at different times -then what is religionless Christianity?” 5 A Clifford J.53 Because the Western world has been shaped primarily under the influence o f Christianity.” Clifford J. Bonhoeffer’s several phrases clearly fall into two groups: the negative. Bonhoeffer. Putting it in a different way.”54 It seems that Green made wrong judgments in both observations. The Problem of A Religionless World Bonhoeffer’s critique of religion anticipated a new theological thesis.

Rather. Therefore.55 Based on his remarks. The time when people could be told everything by means o f words. We are moving towards a completely religionless time. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. or indeed who Christ really is. the meaning o f Christ and the Church for the religionless world must be defined in concrete terms. In a letter o f 30 April 1944. and so is the time of inwardness and conscience . Bonhoeffer was raising a question of theological importance: What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is. . is over.for the world come o f age. the “interpretation o f biblical concepts” should not be understood on a conceptual level as Green understands it. Bonhoeffer did not view the “religionlessness” o f the world negatively. he viewed “religionlessness” as a characteristic o f the world come of 55 LPP 279. As discussed earlier. In terms o f relationship between “the religionless Christianity” and a “non-religious interpretation.and that means the time o f religion in general. it should be understood on a practical level where the “interpretation” isunderstood as an effort to formulate a practical plan for the renewal o f the Church. it seems that he is mistaken when he categorizes Bonhoeffer’s use of the adjectives “religionless” or “non-religious” for the negative. polemical formulation. 91 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. On the contrary.” Going back to Green’s second observation. the most important theological concern for Bonhoeffer seems to be how to answer the question “Who Christ really is. based on Bonhoeffer’s critique o f religion. and “worldly Christians” or “worldly interpretations” for the positive descriptions.” it can be seen that the “religionless Christianity” is an outcome o f a “non-religious interpretation of the gospel. for us today?” In other words. whether theological or pious. for us today. people as they are now simply cannot be religious any more.

they cannot simply be religious anymore. and Bonhoeffer answered those questions with the concept o f “religionless Christianity. . 57 LPP 280. 58 Ibid. not a negative connotation. the concept o f “religionless Christianity” as the solution for the religionless world brings up the question. . . Bonhoeffer made an assumption that human beings will find that the “religious a p r io r f o f humankind does not truly exist.age.without religion?”58 God has been the object o f religion. What he was concerned about was the “religiousness” o f the Church. a liturgy. the “religious a prior f is taken away. . and if therefore man becomes radically religionless . “How do we speak o f God . not the “religionlessness” of the world. .o f “religion. If religion suddenly disappears from this 56 LPP 279-80. 92 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. When people come to know that the “religious a p r io r f was only historically conditioned and transient. what does that mean for “Christianity?” It means that the foundation is taken away from the whole o f what has up to now been our “Christianity. the foundation o f Christianity. He asked. but was a historically conditioned and transient form o f human self-expression. In that sense. “Christianity” has always been a form . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it can be suggested that Bonhoeffer’s term “non-religious” carries a positive and hopeful. “What do a church.” But if one day it becomes clear that this a priori does not exist at all. 56 Whether it was correct or not. a community. What are the challenges the world come o f age imposes upon Christianity? First.” Second. Bonhoeffer wrote: Our whole nineteen-hundred-year-old Christian preaching and theology rest on the “religious a priori” of mankind.perhaps the true form .” . a sermon. a Christian life mean in a religionless world?”57 If the foundation o f Christianity is taken away. those questions must be answered to redefine Christianity and the Church.

“Christ is no longer an object o f religion.world. especially in the younger generation. “What is the place o f worship and prayer in a religionless situation?” If religious Christianity no longer exists. Third. statistically. yet confess their faith in Christ. how can we speak of God? Bonhoeffer answered. in Bonhoeffer’s term. For instance. really the Lord o f the world. his prophetic anticipation has been realized in the European and American churches. 93 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. but because o f its religious and institutional nature. In a sense. There are many Christians.”59 His answer is a polemic against Nietzsche’s claim that “God is dead. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. has been losing its ground. Yet. and religionless Christianity takes its place.” Christ is not only still alive but also finally freed from the religious Christianity as the boundary o f religion is removed.” 59 LPP 281. Facing those challenges o f the religionless world. . who do not participate in the life o f the Church. Bonhoeffer asked. what will happen to the Church? Bonhoeffer was truly anticipating some radical changes in the Church. the Christian population didn’t decline substantially. The Church is losing its influence not because o f the religionlessness o f people. Bonhoeffer responded with the concept of “non-religious interpretation” to answer the question “What is a religionless Christianity?” the next discussion will focus on the meaning o f his “non-religious interpretation of the gospel and the biblical concepts. but something quite different. What does it mean? It can be suggested that it is an indication that the Church as the religious community. many urban churches have lost their congregation and the Church buildings are empty.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Helmut Rossler. 94 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.60 One can glimpse his ideas of “worldly Christianity” or “worldliness” from his expression for the “real people” he was getting to know everyday in a different world. real people. all in all people who feel homeless in both senses o f the word. in his letter to one o f his contemporaries. . little people with little ambitions. Spain. through preaching Christ becomes flesh that liberates and unites individuals who hear it. it can be traced back to his student days to find the embryo o f his thoughts that led him to start formulating the thesis. here one meets people as they are. criminal types. preaching should not be a human effort to apprehend Christ. 6 1 NRS 38. In thesame letter. Bonhoeffer stressed his view o f the centrality o f Christ in preaching.The Development of the “Non-religious Interpretation" It can be observed that Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is not a thought developed just in Tegel prison. Rather. 60 NRS 37. serving as an assistant minister to the German-speaking church in Barcelona. point [Christ] but can only be “First. who loosen up if one talks to them in a friendly way.” To be more specific.” people with passions. Bonhoeffer.”61 In other words. on 7 August 1928. but on the contrary. a “non­ religious interpretation of biblical concepts. expressed his dissatisfaction with the Christian world by writing: I’m getting to know new people every day. little desires and little sins.preaching can never apprehend this central apprehended by it. away from the masquerade of the “Christian world. I can only say that I have gained the impression that it is just these people who are much more under grace than under wrath. by Christ. and that it is the Christian world which is more under wrath than under grace.

“Let us not become weary of exerting ourselves for the general good. Thus he raised the self-imposed questions. of bringing aid 95 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. What is the significance o f the so-called New Testament ethic?”63 In answering those questions. Christianity and ethics do indeed have nothing to do with one another. M NRS 42. Bonhoeffer spoke o f the relationship between Christianity and ethics under the title “What is a Christian Ethic?” He believed the Christian message has nothing to do with ethics. o f the encounter of the holy God with unholy man. Bonhoeffer was aware o f a logical problem that can arise from his statement.e. Bonhoeffer found that. Bonhoeffer was utilizing the historic investigation of the Rabbinic literature of the time of Jesus to conclude that the commandment of love was not new or unique to Christianity. i. He declared: Christianity was basically amoral. which had been viewed by the New Testament ethics as the center o f the Christian message. there is no Christian ethics and there can be no transition from the idea o f Christianity to that of ethics.64 He asked. That is the greatest commandment ” Bonhoeffer listed an example of Roman philosopher Seneca who said. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 63 Ibid. of helping individuals. and because ethics speaks o f the way o f man to God. And why? Because Christianity speaks o f the single way of God to man. “Why then are the Gospels full of evidently ethical directions? What business does the Sermon on the Mount have in the New Testament? . Bonhoeffer viewed that: 62 NRS 41. from the merciful love o f God for unrighteous men and sinners.62 However. because the Christian message speaks of grace and ethics speaks o f righteousness . “What now remains o f a Christian ethic?” He claimed that there is nothing “new” in the sense of a new commandment in the Sermon on the Mount. was asked what is the greatest commandment and he replied. .More importantly. the commandment o f love. Rabbi Hillel. for instance. but was generally recognized and widespread at the time of Jesus. . . was not exclusively Christian. .. first. in an address given to his congregation on 25 January 1929. “Love your neighbor as yourself. Rather. that Christianity and ethics were in fact divergent entities.

to some extent. without any protection. God’s grace rules over you. . N or can yesterday ever be decisive for my moral action today. The Christian stands free. 96 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. I would have control over my relationship to God. So. in that case I would once again become a slave to my principles. . so there would be a moral action without immediate relationship with God.” Bonhoeffer asserted: If there was a generally valid moral law. new and afresh at each moment. freedom. I do not do something again today because it seemed to me to be good yesterday.67 even to our enemies. He explained the meaning o f “freedom” by writing: When Jesus places men immediately under God. . . before God and before the world. And. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. action from the freedom o f a man who has nothing o f himself and everything o f his God. I would sacrifice man’s most precious gi ft. 67 Ibid. but because the will o f God points out this way to me today. freedom. he restores to mankind the immense gift which it had lost. who ever and again lets his action be confirmed and endorsed by eternity.65 He argued that God’s grace and the surrender o f the will o f human beings is the ground for the Christian’s ethical action. For the Christian there are no ethical principles by means o f which he could perhaps civilize himself. Christian ethical action is action from freedom. This argument o f the uniqueness of Christ’s message is followed by an important concept o f “freedom. “freedom” is always understood within the relationship between God and human beings. and he alone is wholly responsible for what he does with the gift o f freedom.The significance o f all Jesus’ ethical commandments is rather to say to men: “You stand before the face of God.66 In Bonhoeffer’s language. most important o f all. you are at the disposal o f someone else in the world and for him you must act and work .” 65 NRS 42-43. 66 NRS 43-44.I would have my principles. then there would be a way from man to God . so I would believe myself assured sub specie aetemitatis. . Rather must a direct relationship to God’s will be ever sought afresh.

”68 Bonhoeffer already emphasized the reality o f Christ in this world and in the life of the Church-community in Sanctorum Communio. The Christian creates a new standard for his or her action based on the will o f God. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. can become the standard for the Christian. A more evident clue to the “non-religious interpretation” is found in a letter from Rossler to Bonhoeffer on 22 February. The Holy Spirit is only in the present. .” he said. . “The letter kills. No moral laws. in ethical principles. the spirit gives life. not literally. in ethical decision.Bonhoeffer’s concept o f freedom is an important clue to decipher his “non­ religious interpretation of the gospel. the new commandments o f Jesus can never be regarded merely as ethical principles. 97 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. His concern was that a new paganism or neo-pagan religion was being formed under the National Socialism that demanded the unity o f the Christian religion and the Aryan race by putting the gospel at the service of a racial 68 NRS 45. The commandments o f the Sermon on the mount should not be made into laws: There are no ethical directions in the New Testament which we should have. . In it. and not in fixed moral precepts.” says Paul. they are to be understood in their spirit. taken over literally. Rossler expressed his frustration over the situation o f the German Church.” because his interpretation can be in essence equated with action that comes from one’s freedom before God. “Acting from freedom is creative. 09 NRS 65. Here he was reinforcing his understanding of the presence of Christ in this world from the perspective o f Christian ethics. or even could have. One’s freedom to make ethical decision comes from the “dynamic reality o f God”69 in one’s daily life. . For this reason. not even the Moses’ Decalogue. 1931.

No. 98 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. because reality today is complete hell. Preaching must be about this. Or in other words: preach Christ. Jesus Christ. 7 1 NRS 74-75: “I often fancy that the extent and intensity of the Church’s lostness in the midst of a hopeless world has never been so great in the course of history. the pattern in which man is brought to fear and trembling over his sins.72 Rossler’s proposal can be considered as a precursor to Bonhoeffer’s “non­ religious interpretation. that [we are saved] is the great thing about Christ: there is certainty of salvation. 7 3 LPP 345. And the Church o f Christ is out in the thick of this.movement. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. ‘Come. All else is cruelty or deceiving the people. but liberating and redeeming . . May 1944.” The idea behind Rossler’s juxtaposition o f the popular pattern and the new pattern o f preaching is similar to Bonhoeffer’s criticism o f the “clerical sniffing-around-after-people’s-sins” 73 and proposal o f a “new language. let us go. Rossler pointed out to Bonhoeffer.71 presented Bonhoeffer with his idea regarding preaching: But. then Christ is preached to him as the savior. suffering mankind. because this old mankind has used up all hopes and expectations.”74 70 NRS 74. the new pattern must run like this: to this hopeless. and in this way (after repentance) faith comes. but in Christ hope lives and remains . . This change is due and absolutely necessary.”70 Rossler. “And the tragic thing about our epoch is the encounter o f two most deeply related fronts: consistent secularism o f a consciously this-worldly nature and secularism with a religious flavor which can only reach a pragmatic understanding o f religion. .e. Thoughts on the Day o f the Baptism o f Dietrich Wilhelm Rudiger Bethge. children. the evening closes in’ . . (Dostoievsky says: “Hell is when one can no longer love!)” Therefore today Christ must be shown and be preached as the absolute relief o f all faith. But today we need no longer threaten men with hell. is preached! O f course it may never be forgotten that this Christ of hope is precisely the crucified one. ” 72 NRS 75. as the great sosachtheia. although being pessimistic about the whole situation.as was Jesus’ language. perhaps quite non-religious.. the great hope. 8 July 1944 1 ALPP 300.1 still believe in a heightening of the idea of Antichrist (against Althaus’ eschatology o f the perpendicular!) and that we are also standing on the eve of a last era of the world historv. i. . The popular pattern will not do.

Religionless Christianity It is important to remember that Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is not a proposal for a new method of biblical analysis or exposition o f the biblical concepts. 2) Christology o f Incarnation. 3) the religionless Christianity. I suggest the “non-religious interpretation” can be understood from several perspectives: 1) the world come of age. it should be understood as a theological thesis or proposal for the renewal o f the Church.” Bonhoeffer himself said. Although he. “I’m only gradually working my way to the non­ religious interpretation of biblical concepts. “religionless Christianity. 16 July 1944.Based on the previous survey.” was formulated since the very early stage of his theological development. I will discuss next the “non­ religious interpretation” in more detail. The form o f the renewed Church was. 4) the Church for others. . a “non-religious interpretation o f the biblical concepts and the gospel. 75 LPP 359. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. in general. Rather. the job is too big for me to finish just yet. in Bonhoeffer’s term. maintained a positive attitude towards the changes o f the world.”75 What did Bonhoeffer have in mind when he coined the phrase? Based on my understanding that the phrase truly represents the whole structure o f Bonhoeffer’s theology. I conclude that Bonhoeffer’s theological proposal. 1) The world come of age Bonhoeffer’s foremost concern was the fact that the world has come o f age. 99 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

. no clarity. 8 June 1944: “Man has leamt to deal with himself in all questions of importance without recourse to the ‘working hypothesis’ called ‘God. 78 E 109. and Renate is Bonhoeffer’s niece who married Bethge.’ . the last fifteen years which you think has lasting value? I can’t. Can you think o f a book from the belles-letters of. his general attitude towards the maturity of the world was a positive and open one.27 November 1943. Bonhoeffer was asking what would happen to Christianity as religion if someday even those questions were answered. Since Christianity was losing its ground. 77 LPP 148. non insight. As in the scientific field. . say. . . no substance and almost always bad. This is the peculiar situation o f our time. .77 He was also concerned about the hostility o f the changing world o f the West against Christianity. . partly striking attitudes. no ideas. They asserted their right to freedom and development as a people. ‘God’ is being pushed more and more out of life. “The West is becoming hostile towards Christ. the Church had to come up with 76 Maria is Bonhoeffer’s nineteen-vear-old fiancd. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer was convinced that humanity had learned to deal with their own problems without the “working hypothesis” called “God. Then. . It is partly just talk. losing more and more ground.” 78 Nonetheless. . The only unanswerable question seems to be the question o f death and afterlife. and it is genuine decay..” E 101. that they were now capable of taking in hand the direction of their own internal and external history. He said. 79LPP 326. what are the implications of the world come o f age from the perspective o f a “non-religious interpretation?” First.he was also concerned about the meaninglessness o f the culture o f the younger generations: Unfortunately the generation o f Maria and Renate76 has grown up with a very bad kind o f contemporary literature and finds it much harder than we did to take up earlier writings. unfree writing. Remaking the Nation: “The people deemed that they had now come o f age.80 The new scientific discoveries and technological advancement pushed God out to the edge o f human life. the right to a government which should rest on the will of the 100 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. so in human affairs generally.”79 The world come o f age became capable of managing its own affairs.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. namely existentialist philosophy and the psychotherapists]81 Third. Therefore. .” nation. the ordinary people do not pay much attention to those existential problems and psychoanalysis. is not affected [by the secularized offshoots of Christian theology. who spends his everyday life at work and with his family. religion. 101 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. starting from modernity. and o f course with all kinds o f diversions.” 81 LPP 326-27. However. Bonhoeffer singled out existentialist philosophy and psychotherapy as the Church’s methodism for its survival as a religion in the world come o f age. Bonhoeffer saw that whiie the world finally became mature and religionless. Bonhoeffer wrote: The ordinary man. From its inception until modernity. the world became the mentor of the Church. Christianity has influenced and shaped the Western world. and the religious matters became irrelevant to their daily life. Second. he argued that the Church and its congregations need to become mature by being able to conduct their own daily affairs responsibly “without God and before God. the world come of age demands Christianity to become mature following its lead. Thus the relationship between Christianity and the world had changed. However.8 June 1944. Christianity was losing its influence over the world. Bonhoeffer saw that methodism was not going to be able to solve the problem o f the Church in the religionless world because such methodism was still based on the human effort.a solution for its survival. the Church still remained immature and religious. it began to realize that it had to adapt itself to the changing world. As the Church was witnessing the fall o f Christendom. Most o f them are detached from religion.

Fourth. Bonhoeffer wrote. the world come o f age means that it is mature enough to know who God truly is for us today.83 Thus. but that we should frankly recognize that the world. the Church should confront them at their 83 LPP 329. the Church should recognize that the world and people have come o f age. 8 June 1944. have come of age. Fifth. “Thus the world’s coming o f age is no longer an occasion for polemics and apologetics. . worship.” 102 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. A radical change from religion to religionless Christianity should take place in the Church. . it reigns. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.. Liturgies and the Apostle’s Creed need to be revised to reflect the maturity o f the Church. that we shouldn’t run man down in his worldliness. The Church needs to take off its millennia-old garb o f “religious institution.” It should abandon its rusty dogmas and laws to be free from the bondage o f religion. The Word of God is far removed from this revolt of mistrust.”82 Sixth. Rather. this revolt from below. the world come o f age should be viewed as a positive force for the maturation of Christianity and the Church. 83 LPP 346. it should not impose on human beings its dogmas or codified ethics. It must renounce the superficial religious ceremonies and renew the meaning o f baptism. 8 July 1944: "I therefore want to start from the premise that God shouldn’t be smuggled into some last secret place . Instead of exploiting the weakness o f human beings. Christianity must liberate itself from religion. On the contrary. but confront him with God at his strongest point. and people. Bonhoeffer’s concept o f the world come o f age does not suggest secularism o f profanity. and preaching. The clergy need to be re-formed by the person o f Jesus Christ in order to serve him faithfully. The world come o f age abandoned God as an abstract idea. The maturity of the world means that it finally became capable to know who Christ is truly is. namely on the basis o f the gospel and in the light o f Christ. communion. . but is now really better understood that it understands itself.

but rather revealed.84 Anxious souls will ask what room there is left for God now. And this is just what we do recognize . Bonhoeffer wanted to bring Christ back to the center stage o f the world. and thus exposed to an unexpected light. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . 103 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. in this the Old and New Testaments are at one. So our coming o f age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. In other words.87 w LPP 362.86 Today is Ascension Day.85 2) Christology of Incarnation The theological foundation o f the “non-religious interpretation” is Bonhoeffer’s Christology o f Incarnation. He understood the partiality of religion from the fact that people seek God only when they face problems such as death.before God! God himself compels us to recognize it. 27 June 1944. sickness. In religion. failures. And we cannot be honest unless we recognize that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur [even if God does not exist]. 87 LPP 49. God is pushed out to the edge o f the life o f human beings. . Bonhoeffer stated: When we speak o f God in a “non-religious” way.strongest point. but Christ takes hold of a man at the center o f his life. 16 July 1944. . suffering. 18 July 1944. Christians should not be ashamed o f the gospel. and the life o f Christians. and that means that it is a day o f great joy for all who can believe that Christ rules the world and our lives. the Church. 86 LPP 337. Christ should be proclaimed as the truth who is wholly present in their life. The “non-religious” interpretation is an effort to re-enthrone Christ at the center o f life: This world must not be prematurely written off. . 85 LPP 360.4 June 1943. and despair. we must speak o f him in such a way that the godlessness o f the world is not in some way concealed. Redemption myths arise from human boundaryexperiences. How does the presence and centrality o f Christ relate to the “non-religious interpretation”? First.

89 Third. In fact. it is his will to be recognized in life. Rather.88 Second. He is the center o f life. how did he understand the gospel of Christ? Bonhoeffer claimed that Jesus Christ is not a founder o f a new religion called Christianity. which lost its influence over the world because of its religionless nature.Here again. in health and vigor and not only in suffering. Bonhoeffer did not suggest social programs or political revolution as a mean for liberation. he came to liberate humanity from the bondage o f religion. and not only in sin. I argue that in Bonhoeffer liberation means to be liberated from religion. God is no stop-gap. Liberation Theology seems to have interpreted Bonhoeffer’s concept o f “liberation” in a wrong way. I have already said that the “non­ religious interpretation” is not simply a contextualization o f the gospel for the religionless world. . the “non-religious interpretation” is an attempt to restore the original meaning o f the gospel as intended by Jesus Christ. in our activities. or cases worry and torment o f conscience. it was Bonhoeffer’s effort to restore the original meaning of the gospel and Christianity within the context of the world come o f age. 104 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The ground for this lies in the revelation o f God in Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer said: When holy scripture speaks o f following Jesus. not when we are at the end o f our resources. On the contrary. burdens. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it proclaims that people are free from all human rules. Bonhoeffer’s somewhat negative attitude towards the Church’s social justice movement can be seen in his sharp criticism o f the social 88 LPP 312. he must be recognized at the center of life. 29 May 1944. To Bonhoeffer. Then. the non­ religious interpretation was necessary to renew Christianity and the Church. 89 D 39. from everything which pressures. and not only when death comes. which is the human’s way to God. and he certainly didn’t “come” to answer out unsolved problems.

means the bold endeavor to speak about the way in which the form o f Jesus Christ takes form in our world.” However.92 3) The religionless Christianity Bonhoeffer’s critique of religion is one o f the main thrusts o f his theology as a whole. his enthusiasm for “religionless Christianity” more or less influenced him to conclude that the world has finally come of age as an adequate environment for the realization o f the “religionless 90 Wustenberg.” Christianity is made an ethical religion. 9 1 E 85.90 Regarding this point. and its taking form amidst a band o f men. then. even for an instant. One might suggest that his discovery o f the “world come o f age” triggered his critique of religion and. in a manner which is neither abstract nor casuistic. Bonhoeffer’s critique was that. which was where we set out from. on the contrary..6. . ^ es^ 105 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. If we allow ourselves to lose sight of this.gospel and pragmatism that were prevalent in the American churches at the time o f his visit to America. as a reaction to his contemporary situation. I argue that. Bonhoeffer asserted: What matters in the Church is not religion but the form o f Christ. and the Decalogue and its interpretation in the Sermon on the Mount occupy the central position.91 Ethics as formation. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 4. led him to develop the concepts of the “religionless Christianity” and the “non-religious interpretation of biblical concepts and the gospel. neither programmatic nor purely speculative. in the theology o f the “social gospel. we inevitably relapse into that programmeplanning for the ethical or religious shaping of the world. A Theology o f Life.

but he is the Church!” The renewal of the Church is not possible without this understanding. 106 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the Church should not view itself as a religious organization that only deals with spiritual matters. those who are called forth. and therefore not in death and guilt but in man’s life and goodness. but something quite different. Bonhoeffer’s career was devoted to sending the Church a message: “Christ is not the object o f religion. 95 LPP 281. The two-spheres worldview has separated the Church from the reality o f this world.95 Second. God is beyond in the midst o f our life. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission.Christianity” that he was hoping for. not in the weakness but in strength. First. the place o f the Church needs to be change from the boundaries to the center o f the world. the concept o f “religionless Christianity” can be viewed from several aspects. What is the place o f worship and prayer in a religionless situation? Does the secret discipline. . or alternatively the difference . The 93 LPP 280-81. 30 April 1944. ' E 84. but rather as belonging wholly to the world? In that case Christ is no longer an object o f religion. really the Lord o f the world. take on a new importance here?93 The body is the form. 30 April 1944. the Church is understood as the reality or form o f Christ in this world. Freedom from nepnoptj is also freedom from religion. . not as the assembled worshippers o f Christ. I should like to speak o f God not on the boundaries but at the center. . In what way are we “religionless-secular” Christians. in what way are we the EK-td. 9 4 The Pauline question whether nepnopr} [circumcision] is a condition of justification seems to me in present-day terms to be whether religion is a condition o f salvation. between penultimate and ultimate. . Nonetheless. So the Church is not a religious community o f worshippers o f Christ but is Christ Himself who has taken form among men. .rjoia. In other words. not regarding ourselves from a religious point o f view as specially favored.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and on the other hand individualistically. though some of us have come to realize it as never before.Church stands. 5 May 1944. Neither of these is relevant to the biblical message or to the man o f today. 30 April 1944. 98 LPP 44. 18 November 1943. they try to work together for the food o f the community as mayor. even a sanctuary. 97 LPP 286. . It is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world.96 Third. A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell: “Most people have forgotten nowadays what a home can mean. May 1943.98 He was also writing a novel to tell an ideal story o f middle-class families that were building a community together. What does it mean to “interpret in a religious sense?” I think it means to speak on the one hand metaphysically.” 99 LPP 130-31. . Their children grow up. 107 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer was envisioning a plan to restore the family life as the Kingdom in the midst o f the world. pastor. and as they gradually enter into the responsibilities o f official positions. engineer99 96 LPP 282. His attempt to demonstrate a blueprint o f a religionless community o f Christ and his strong desire to realize the theology o f Life Together can be seen here: I began to write the story o f a contemporary middle class family. doctor. The Churchcommunity suggested in Sanctorum should be realized as a genuine form o f the Church. in short. not at the boundaries where human powers give out. a refuge. It tells o f two families on terms o f friendship living in a small town. The inwardness o f religious Christianity resulted in a bunch o f isolated individual Christians. teacher. but in the middle o f the village.97 In the light o f community life. s stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses. the individualistic nature o f Christianity needs to be changed. it was to present afresh middle-class life as we know it in our own families. . The Church is the place for those individuals to gather once a week to worship and pay their dues for personal salvation. and especially in the light o f Christianity.

“faith” is something whole. To renounce a full life and its real joys in order to avoid pain is neither Christian nor human. loving it and drinking it to the full. If a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives. The Church should not give its people a false promise that their God will solve all the problems o f their life.” 1 01 To him. Jesus calls men. but to life. God is in the facts themselves. . Christ overcame death as “the last enemy” (1 Cor. “religionless” means that one should take Christianity for the life as a whole. . 10‘ LPP 362. 24 March 1944: “Easter? We’re paying more attention to dying than to death. . It also means that evangelism should not attempt to exploit the weakness o f people. I think we honor God more if we gratefully accept the life that he gives us with all its blessings. . . 4. . and that is especially true o f the kind o f community that you would have.that is what Easter means.100 Fourth. .103 Fifth. in success or failure. miscalculations.23 January 1944.One has to live for some time in a community to understand how Christ is “formed in it” (Gal. There is a real difference between the two things. God as a stop-gap is no longer applicable in the religionless world. The religious programs designed to manipulate people at their weakness should be abolished. a great deal would be changed. . in joy or sorrow. the event o f resurrection means that Christ has come into our life in its fullest meaning. not to a new religion. To live in the light of the resurrection . wearein a fulllife 100 LPP 359. it means that Christianity should not be practiced as a superstitious act. Whatever weakness. and also grieving deeply and sincerely when we have impaired or wasted any o f the good things o f life . than if we are insensitive to life’s blessings and may therefore also be insensitive to pain. the one is within the scope of human possibilities. Socrates mastered the art of dying. . . . 18 July 1944. 15:26). 102 LPP 240. .19). and guilt there is in what precedes the facts.. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” 103 LPP 191-92.102 Whether weakness or strength. 108 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 16 July 1944. . the other means resurrectioa . we should live before God. . involving the whole o f one’s life. Bonhoeffer always considered religion something partial: “The “religious act” is always something partial.

On the cross. 9 March 1944. and someone exclaimed “0 God. 105 LPP 199. therefore. Those three superstitious ideas are: (1) “Keep your fingers crossed.105 4) The Church for others. the love o f Christ is expressed in terms o f “the longing of 104 LPP 231. “In my time here I’ve been trying to observe how far people believe in anything ‘supernatural.’ Three ideas seem to be widespread. (Incidentally. Christ was forsaken by the Father. . why hast thou forsaken me?”). each being partly expressed in some superstitious practice. he also wrote: As we were again lying on the floor last night. all I did was to look at my watch and say. (2) God’s wrath and grace. it came quite automatically and perhaps I felt that it was wrong to force religion down his throat just then. I couldn’t bring myself to offer him any Christian encouragement or comfort.” (3) “If it’s got your number on. yet being forsaken into the world by the Father can be resolved only by the God’s love for this world. stands against those superstitious ideas. Bonhoeffer’s decisive term for the Church is “the Church for others. Jesus didn’t try to convert the two thieves on the cross. has no last line of escape available from earthly tasks and difficulties into the eternal.” (2) “Touch wood” when the question is discussed “whether they (air raids) will come tonight or not. one o f them turned to him!). and he crucified and risen with Christ” 109 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 27 June 1944: “The Christian. 0 God” (he is normally a very flippant type). The religionless Christianity.” Therefore it might be appropriate to sum up my discussion o f the “non-religious interpretation” by reviewing several aspects o f “the Church for others. (3) divine guidance.” There was nothing premeditated about it. he must drink the earthly cup to the dregs and only in his doing so is the crucified and risen Lord with him. 29 and 30 January 1944. you’ll get i t ” Bonhoeffer contrasts them with Christian interpretation (I) a recollection of intercession and community. but like Christ himself ( “My God. unlike the devotees of the redemption myths. “It won’t last more than ten minutes now.Bonhoeffer wrote. To Bonhoeffer.106 The paradox of Christ as the one being pushed out from the world on the cross. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer’s idea for the Church is mainly based on his understanding of Christ as the suffering God in this world.” First.” 104 In a separate letter. 106 LPP 337.

most powerful.that is not authentic transcendence .” 107 The Church is a small part o f the realization of for what Christ is longing.” is in actuality among us and revealed to us in our daily life through our neighbor: Our relation to God is not a “religious” relationship to the highest. the only way. The transcendental is not infinite and unattainable tasks. but it is within our reach through our neighbor. the meaning of transcendence needs to be redefined.but our relation to God is a new life in “existence for others. . July/August 1944.” God is not an abstract concept o f the “transcendental. Christ lives for us and helps us: The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15. . because the transcendence is not what is beyond our reason. He is weak and powerless in the world. which has been understood as the one beyond our reach and revealed only through a “point o f contact.108 Second. in which he is with us and helps us. As the weak and powerless God. The Church should no longer seek the God of transcendence. It has been so busy struggling with its own survival that it has forgotten its mission and purpose for this world. 110 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.109 Third. The Church must be renewed to preach the word of reconciliation and redemption 107 E 84. 16 July 1944. . 109 LPP 381. and best Being imaginable .the Incarnate to take form in all men. . 108 LPP 360. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Before God and with God we live without God. and that is precisely the way. Outline fo r a Book. the Church should come out from the survival mode.” The transcendence. but the neighbor who is within reach in any situation. The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis o f God is the God before whom we stand continually. That is the meaning of Bonhoeffer’s expression “God who is beyond and in the midst o f the world.34).” through participation in the being of Jesus.

” is the experience o f transcendence. cross. ‘Could you not watch with me one hour?’ That is a reversal o f what the religious man expects from God. our being Christians today will be limited to two things: prayer and righteous action among men. 113 LPP 381.110 The renewal o f the Church means that it will speak a new language o f Jesus.” 112 He also wrote: Encounter with Jesus Christ. it will be the language o f a new righteousness and truth. speaking.113 As a conclusion. the liberating and redeeming language o f reconciliation for humanity: It is not for us to prophesy the day (though the day will come) when men will once more be called so to utter the word o f God that the world will be changed and renewed by it.as was Jesus’ language. 112 LPP 361. Drinking the cup in communion signifies our participation in Christ’s earthly suffering. it will shock people yet overcome them by its power.” His “being there for others. . Being a Christian means to partake of his cup. 18 July 1944. and omnipresence.” maintained till death. The experience that a transformation o f all human life is given in the fact that “Jesus is there only for others. and organizing must be bom anew out of this prayer and action.1 Ibid. . Faith is participation in this being o f Jesus (incarnation. as though that were an end in itself. omniscience. Bonhoeffer asserted boldly. the “Church for others” means its participation in God’s suffering. Ill Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. perhaps quite non­ religious.to humankind and the world. May 1944: “Our church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer said. “Jesus asked in Gethsemane.” Then he continued: 110 LPP 300. is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world . Man is summoned to share in G od’s sufferings at the hands o f a godless world. and resurrection). .1 1 1 Fourth. It will be a new language. that is the ground o f his omnipotence. Being bom again in the Spirit means that our life is transformed to a being for others. proclaiming God’s peace with men and the coming o f his kingdom. It is only this “being there for others. “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others. but liberating and redeeming . which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation. All Christian thinking.” 1. Our encounter with Jesus is made on his cross.

the theology o f Bonhoeffer has been discussed by focusing on his main theological concern . 112 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Christ. The Church must share in the secular problems o f ordinary human life. and the world .” and the “non-religious interpretation of biblical concepts and the gospel.To make a start.the Church. 114 LPP 382. Religious plurality and religious pluralism will next be discussed in order to lay out the foundation o f this thesis. not dominating. It must tell men o f every calling what it means to live in Christ. . it is necessary to understand the nature of our contemporary world in order to discover how Bonhoeffer’s theological concepts can be applied to a world that is significantly different from the time when those concepts were developed by him.his worldview o f “the world come o f age. to exist for others. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. but helping and serving. in Part I. The contemporary world must be understood from the perspective of modernity and postmodemity. The clergy must live solely on the free-will offerings o f their congregations. or possibly engage in some secular calling.” Having discussed the theology of Bonhoeffer.114 Thus far. it should give away all its property to those in need.

PART II OUR RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

which is the praxis o f Christ for the sake o f this world. . Rather. It was not like an alteration ordered to fit one’s clothing to an ever-changing waistline. As his Ethics shows. it may sound like a contextualization o f the gospel for the culture o f his time. when we consider the “religionless” world as the contextual 114 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. However. His christology was based not on a philosophical method but on the incarnation. I find that Bonhoeffer’s theology is mainly practical rather than systematic. his main theological concern was not the construction o f a systematic theology as a collection o f abstract concepts. we need to ask the question “What is the relationship between Christ and the world today?” Undoubtedly. Bonhoeffer’s concept o f a “non-religious interpretation” was his response to his then-contemporary world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.CHAPTER 4 THE WORLD IN TRANSITION Thus far. which. Understanding that Bonhoeffer’s theology is Christocentric from the perspective of Christ’s concrete presence in this world. Bonhoeffer’s purpose was to restore the original meaning o f the gospel by reflecting upon the religionless nature o f his contemporary world. and that his theological question “Who is Christ for us today?” must be answered within the context of the present world. Based on the previous discussion. as we shall see. Nonetheless. but to find Christ as the concrete reality o f this world. Bonhoeffer’s theology has been surveyed in light o f a non-religious interpretation o f the gospel and the Bible. was increasingly becoming “religionless. his “non-religious interpretation” should not be viewed as a mere contextualization o f the Gospel for the “religionless” world. from his judgment.” To some.

the latter characterization in its context sounds almost self-contradictory. From this new perspective. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. What.” this new thesis . Indeed. For the purpose o f this discussion.raises the question: How can the term “non-religious interpretation” be used in the service o f the two extremely opposing characterizations “religionless” and “religiously pluralistic”? Of course. it is necessary to explain how the concept o f a “non-religious interpretation o f the Gospel” can remain relevant in today’s religiously pluralistic world. we must define postmodemity. 115 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. O f course. Before analyzing the meaning o f religious plurality to Christianity. . The phrase “religiously pluralistic” includes religious plurality as well as religious pluralism which views all religions as being the same in essence. a clarification needs to be made. then. but to be accepted. then. makes the religious pluralistic world a challenge for Christianity in our present time? The answer to the question lies not in the phenomenon o f religious plurality itself but in a new way o f thinking which is called postmodernism.a “non­ religious interpretation o f the gospel for the religiously pluralistic world” . Therefore. the plurality o f religions is not a new phenomenon.condition for Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation. Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation ” for the “religionless world” sounds more logical than “non-religious interpretation” for the “religiously pluralistic world ” In fact. The term “religiously pluralistic” does not simply mean that there are many religions in this world from a phenomenological standpoint. religious plurality is no longer to be conquered. there have been countless religions in human history.

The Meaning of Postmodemity Someone asked me recently. . it would be advantageous to analyze postmodemity as it relates to modernity.” Unwittingly. 116 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the answer all depends on one’s perception and how one defines the terms “modern” and “postm odern” It is clear that we are living in a changing world. But. a postmodern person would answer. “We are moving towards postmodemity. Defining a term such as “postmodemity” has become an extremely difficult task especially in a world where every meaning is relative to an individual’s perception. Therefore. toward what end is this world changing? A modem person would answer. the world has become more complex as it is open to cultural diversity. Yes. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It has also become so dynamic technologically that it cannot be easily defined with fixed terms. How can we characterize our contemporary world? There is no easy answer. the world is continuing to mature. The world has its own life cycle. “There is no predestined direction for the world. rather than trying to define the term in isolation. In order to understand the present world. I gave him an answer of the postmodern kind.” The postmodern mind avoids any fixation. However. and we cannot put modernity to death in order to give postmodemity a full life. “Should I consider myself a modem man or a postmodern man?” My answer to him was “It all depends. It will change in response to its present needs. It might even seem to be a futile effort to attempt to define a term when everyone has his or her own ideas about it. we need to understand modernity as well as postmodemity because both conditions still do exist today.” The modern mind is seeking a definite answer. Nonetheless. We are living in a time o f transition from modernity to postmodemity. In fact.

The most important driving force o f the transition in today’s world might be information and communication technologies. and information is shared globally on an instantaneous basis.. 117 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. A Primer On Postmodernism (Grand Rapids. In the midst o f such a rapid transition.” According to Grenz. But postmodernism did not gain widespread attention until the 1970s. . people have radically changed the way in which they view God. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.1 Whether modernity has already become a thing o f the past or is still in the middle o f a transition towards a postmodern age.” For a discussion of the origin of the term. arts.In 1996. 119-36 (Grenz. Charles Jencks (New York: S t Martin’s Press.2 From a phenomenological standpoint. ed.Modern Reader. However. life. and moral values. truth. social structures.: “The term postmodern may first have been coined in the 1930s to refer to a major historical transition already under way and as the designation for certain development in the arts. we can go back as far as the 193 Os for the first use o f the term postmodern in terms of a major transition in the arts. Stanley Grenz observed that we were in the midst o f a transition from the modern to the postmodern era. Having been enlightened by the information and knowledge gained through technological advances. Eventually it surfaced as the description for a broader cultural phenomenon. 2 Ibid. Then it invaded academic circles. The floodgate o f information is wide-open through the proliferation o f communication media and internetworking technologies. religion. Defining the Post-Modern in The Post. MI: William B. Grenz. Eerdmans Publishing. relationships with others. Personal computers can be connected to each other through the internet. 3. it is clear that we have been experiencing tremendous changes in nearly every aspect of our society for the past several decades. 1996). many scholars characterize the contemporary world with the term “postmodemity. First it denoted a new style of architecture. originally as a label for theories expounded in university English and philosophy departments. nature. see Margaret Rose. the old 1 Stanley J. but in people’s worldviews as a whole. 175). the term was first used to denote a new style of architecture in the 1970s. The changes can be seen not simply in people’s lifestyles or moral values. and now it represents almost every aspect o f the contemporary world at the dawn o f second millennium. 1992).

initially. the epoch following the medieval easily. . Initially.having no whatever is new and fresh. 4 Ibid. This is at best an uncertain exercise. contemporary. Frederick Ferre says. SUNY. could not be conceived characteristics of an epoch. the most general name to become associated with the new mechanistic. As what is “modem” becomes outmoded. by those within it. Ferre considers that nothing will become outmoded so surely as the name “postmodern. “modem” and “contemporary” come close to being synonymous.” from the late Latin modemus. 5 Ibid 118 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. what is “postmodern” would again become modem or contemporary. p. Ferre argues.must move on to denote In this way. “modem” and “postmodern. meant “just now. to have the that is. Being and Value. progressive age was simply “modern. “Giving definition to the postmodern is imagining a profoundly different future. As such. to be one o f many periods o f time. In that sense.4 Based on his understanding o f “modern” as a term o f temporal location from the perspective o f its original meaning. it indexed could quickly become outdated. the English word “modem. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the content of its own .” first recorded in the sixteenth century.277.traditional values are being rejected openly by the new generations o f the postmodern age. though the things modem itself . 1996. These two terms. the term “modern” was not used to denote a single period o f human history. Toward a Constructive Postmodern Metaphysics. but one vitally needed in our present age o f felt transition.”3 According to him.5 In other words.” denote in tandem what is contemporary and what is being anticipated or emerging at a certain point o f history.” which he sees as a stopgap for a new name for the age in which we 3 Frederick Ferre. New York.” It was an expression o f temporal location denoting the current “mode” or “manner” and merely pointed to whatever was present or recent.

Volume 10) trans. . . Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state. has turned out porous to intimations of radical change. National Book Network. 14. Jencks argues. Jencks lists some seventy terms that are related to postmodern. is the postmodern? . What is Post-Modernism?(Fourth Edition) (Maryland.ois Lyotard says: What. Regis Durand. Charles Jencks believes the term “postmodern” is going to remain a historical term to denote our contemporary world just like “the Dark Ages” or “the Enlightenment. we are the right generation to determine whether or not “modern” or “postmodern” are the adequate terms to describe the present world. 71-81. must be suspected . 1996). . . 278. others with exhilaration. . Ferrd anticipates a new name for the present age. When modernity rose and shattered centuries-strong assumptions and institutions of premodemity. When the historical critical analysis o f the West had its birth. which was first given as a paper at conference in America and Germany in 1985. had the sense of a new day dawning . disliked and misunderstood as its parent. . something not yet clear but portentous. 119 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” what is called modem or postmodern will have their unique names in the future. All that has been received. something drawn by new values or at least strikingly new configurations of values. modo. Petronious used to say). 9 Jencks. What is Postmodernism?.6 In answering the question. .”9 Supposedly.. and this state is constant . What is Post-Modernism?. . the modem. 14-15. 8 Charles Jencks . .something post-medieval. some felt the early vectors with apprehension. Many. 1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Theory and History o f Literature. It is undoubtedly a part o f the modem. Also. A work can become modem only if it is first postmodern.live. a bibliography would become a small encyclopedia. Post modern would have to be understood according to the paradox o f the future (post) anterior (m odo)1 On the other hand. “A mere list o f ‘pm titles’8 would fill a thousand pages. the condition o f the then-contemporary world was appropriately labeled “modern” to denote what was then current. The term is now almost as ubiquitous. then. Jean-Fran<. As the people who lived in the Dark Ages could not have imagined their then-contemporary world would be called “the Dark Ages. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. if only yesterday (modo. Appendix (Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?) trans. “Postmodern” is 6 Ibid. . Ferrt says. In this book. 7 Jean-Framjois Lyotard.” In his work. seemingly solid as rock. like Leomardo da Vinci or Francis Bacon. “This is not the first time in our history that an age. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. something seeking a name” (277).

” 1 1 Ge. the Renaissance and so on. and cultural changes o f their time. 120 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. or economics. Based on this view. However. The terms that denote historical transitions such as the Enlightenment can be applied only to the West. as Ferre views it from the indexical sense.1 0 It seems that Ferre’s view over-generalizes the historical transition that is occurring in our contemporary world. . a better analysis would suggest that the transition which is happening in our contemporary world can be differentiated from any other previous historical transitions in several ways. 11:7-8. 11: “Instead of the usual cultural classification. social movements. or if it is fundamentally different from any other historical transitions in the past. such as the Middle Ages. Whether or not the term “postmodern” will remain as a permanent expression for our contemporary world is out o f the scope o f this discussion. religious.1 1 In our current age.politics. the transition from modernity to postmodemity may not be historically unique. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. First. social.. It is true that each generation that has lived through a transitional period must have felt enormous pressure from the political. What needs to be clarified at this point is whether what we call “postmodern” is a mere repetition o f historical transition from one era to another. as Jencks claims.simply a term relative to “modern” to describe the different condition o f the present world. our period might be seen in terms of more powerful forces that shape it . “Postmodemity” is the first common cultural term that can be applied to humanity as a whole since the time o f the Tower of Babel when God confused the language and scattered human beings over the face o f the whole earth. humanity 10 Ibid. the postmodern transition is occurring in a globalized world.

postmodemity marks a significant point in history for the Second Advent o f Christ. . It is used to distinguish individualism from those ideas which attempt to mend the problem of isolation of individuals under individualism. Although the so-called Third-world is still going through a transformation into a “modem” structure. postmodemity is an affair o f humanity come of age whereas the previous transitions were movements towards its maturity. postmodemity completed the individualism o f modernity by dissolving humanity into individual elements o f society which are completely free from each other. age. Second. 121 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. because the open world of postmodemity would allow the gospel to reach the ends o f the earth. the whole perspective of a person changes. far more radical changes can be expected as the outcome of the postmodern transition. It is distinguished from communism. The social structures in the postmodern world are being revised to benefit individual members rather than the society or community to which they belong. Finally. or belief. From a biblical standpoint. postmodemity is different from other transitional periods in that the world is being reconstructed upon the soil o f human self-awareness. From that sense. One might argue that individualism is a modem phenomenon and communalism12 replaces it in the ’* “Communalism” is my own term which denotes any ideas relate to the concept of community.has finally come to communicate with each other from all comers o f the world regardless o f race. the transition of humanity into the postmodern world is a rude-awakening for the generations bom in the modem era. The human soul has finally been unleashed from God! The implication of human maturity upon Christianity is enormous. From the perspective o f Bonhoeffer’s understanding of a world come o f age. Likewise. When that happens. gender. it will not be long before the Third-world also feels the shock-wave of postmodemity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It can be compared to the leap o f an adolescent to the life o f an adult.

17-19. Jencks lists three most scholarly studies of the term. by the British artist John Watkins Chapman. In his Antologia de la 122 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. at least in academic circles. Charles Jencks lists the names o f several scholars for their extensive scholarly works on the postmodern. Unsere postmodeme Moderne (Weinheim: VCH. 1988).” Therefore. . A Critical Analysis (Cambridge University Press. would be helpful. Having achieved freedom from God. we have to keep in mind that modernity still plays a major role in the shaping of society. postmodern. The Post-Modern and The Post-Industrial.” which include Margaret Rose. “According to Wolfgang Welsch the first inconsequential use of the term was as early as the 1870s.postmodern world. “post-modern. which is an expression by Jencks to list 1 3 Jencks. As the first step for our understanding of postmodemity.” Although it is disputable whether our contemporary world should be called “modem” or “postmodern. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. written use of Post-Modernism was apparently that of the Spanish writer Federico de Onis. 1995). thus we cannot completely ignore it in our discussion. from I914-22. Wolfgang Welsch. Routledge (London. This point will be presently discussed in more detail. is the term “postmodern. However. and Hans Bertens.” the most commonly used expression that describes today ’j world. A Brief History of “Postmodemity” Keeping in mind that the transition to postmodemity is unique. but it was really the social concept ‘post-industrial’ which was first theorised by Arthur J Pentry and others. . humanity shifted it effort to the mutual relationships between human beings and to on the inner self. 13. our discussion will be primarily focused on postmodemity. a brief survey of the use of the term. 1 4 Ibid. . The human effort o f the West prior to postmodemity was focused on independence from God. The first tentative. it seems that communalism is in essence a disguise of individualism.14. The Idea o f the Postmodern.. Individualization is also a critical shift in relationships of human with God and with other human beings. I will briefly review the history of “postmodemity. However.1 3 He analyzes postmodemity from a cultural perspective and provides a brief history on the use of the term “postmodern” 14 By using Seventy Posts15. 1991).

. Irving Howe and (Harold) Levine’s usage in 1959 and 1960. (2) 1950-80 Post-modern defined positively as counter-culture. 1947. Ihab Hassan had become the self-proclaimed spokesman for the postmodern and he tied this label to the ideas of experimentaism in the arts and ultra-technology in architecture. and such key terms as 'Anarchy. Arnold Toynbee. Inter-text.. . . and poesia espandla e hispanoamericana. and Pluralism. 1934. 1977. ironically. or dead. but potent enough to catch on and become positive. in his ^4 Study o f History. the movement quickly became self-fulfilling prophecy and moved right off exploding in the 1980s to become a series of deconstructive and post-structuralist schools or. post-Jewish. Virtually the first positive use of the prefix 'post’ was by the writer Leslie Fiedler in 1965.” Ibid.. immanence. because they took modernist impulses to an extreme. post-heroic. Seventy Post is Jencks’ compilation of terms that have the prefix “post” and are related to “postmodern Ibid. .’ Mark C Taylor’s curiously titled EHRING. the concept of postmodemity is positively defined in terms o f pluralism. Subsequently. out of fashion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. by which time the radical movements which Fiedler celebrated were. ‘ecological’. What I did was to summarize the various responses to the architectural failures of modernity and tie them polemically to a wide agenda of double-coding. (3) 1980 to present Post­ modern condition attacked. reactionary. de-centering. In the second phase.ois Lyotard in 1979 and a tendency to elide Deconstruction with the post-modern. used the term as an encompassing category to describe a new historical cycle starting in 1875. .” Jencks divides the development of postmodemity into three phases: (1) Prehistory . because of the writings of Jean-Fram. . . . and the writings o f Hassan and then Lyotard. .seventy terms that begin with the prefix “post. which springs from Derrida and Deconstruction. was the first book to thematise a post modem movement and use the phrase in the title. . Exhaustion/Silence .1870-1950 Post-modern as the modem period in decline (or rarely) ultra modem. . double-coding. would later characterize as late-modem. . post-white. ‘POSTS’. A positive defense of the growing tradition had to wait until the 1970s and the writings of Ihab Hassan. with others. Post-modern global morality defined. The success (and failure) of this polemical act will be apparent shortly.’ . he used it to describe a reaction from within Modernism. A Postmodern A/Theology is a characteristic of this genre. . by contrast. . post-male. Decreation/Deconstruction/Antithesis. His list of exemplars includes William Burroughs and Buckminster Fuller. indeterminacy. . ’ These are the trends which I. ‘constructive’. The use of the term was referred to as a new period that was anticipated as the modem world lost its hope for a utopia. when he repeated it like an incantation and tied it to current radical trends which made up the counter-culture: 'post-humanist. ‘grounded’ and ‘restructive’ post-modernism. Because of this. was malevolent enough to sting. 14-15. 123 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.1 6 In its first phase o f development. movements that were self-styled 'contextual’. By the mid-seventies. Post-modern culture anthologized. the term has often kept association with what Hassan calls 'discontinuity. In literature and then in philosophy. . My own The Language o f Post-Modern Architecture. . not a critical overcoming of the paradigm. . . but it also had the effect of amplifying nascent movements in philosophy and the arts which were seen as related. postmodemity was bom as a reaction to the decline of modernity.

and Christianity. power shifted from the West to non-Westem cultures and a new pluralist world culture. Toynbee’s observation. The Post-modern and the Post-industrial (Great Britain: Cambridge University Press. the term post-modern (now written ‘post-Modem’) had been used by Toynbee in those volumes to describe the rise o f an industrial urban working class. which convincingly characterizes the nature o f the shift that was occurring in the West in the early twentieth century. the negative postmodern condition and the various postmodern movements are analyzed. and after the term ‘M odem’ had been used by him to describe the ‘middle classes’ o f Western civilization. is widely accepted as the first analysis o f its kind. 1991). A Primer on Postmodernism. In Toynbee’s analysis. 19 Grenz. 10. however. Rose gives an extensive treatment on Arnold J. which was based on a form o f rationalism in which individuals became the center of epistemology. but also the rise o f other nations and their proletariats and the rise of a variety o f ‘post-Christian’ religious cults as well as sciences. Margaret A. Toynbee was not the first scholar to coin the 1' Margaret A. 9. Rose emphasizes the social condition as the breeding ground for the post­ modern. While Jencks’ analysis is mainly based on the observation o f a cultural shift. 16. according to Toynbee. Rose. In the third phase. When this occurred. the postmodern era is marked by the end of Western dominance and the decline o f individualism.17 Toynbee’s use of the term was to describe not only the rise o f an industrial working class.1 8 Stanley Grenz says. Chronologically.19 We will discuss later the decline o f individualism. . 124 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and says: Further to being used in the post-war volumes o f Toynbee’s A Study o f History to describe the period from the end o f the nineteenth century. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. He argues that the transition occurred as Western civilization drifted into irrationality and relativism. 1 8 Ibid. Toynbee’s A Study o f History of 1939 and 1954. capitalism.counter-cultures.

modernity was collapsing due to the failure o f its philosophical 20 Rose. finally. refers to Michael Koehler who listed other early users of the term not listed by the OED in his article entitled “Postmodemismus”: Ein begrijfsgeschichtlicher Ueberblick. the rise o f a post-industrial urban working class demanded a new worldview. structuralism. a reference in Time of January 1979 to Phillip Johnson as ‘the nearest Post-Modernism has to a senior partner’. .term “post-modern. 22 Ibid.. The elitism o f modernity could no longer satisfy a society with new social classes. and to ‘Post-Modernists who have substituted the body metaphor for the machine metaphor’. in questionable taste’. 125 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. which was published in 1977. Wright Mills’s use of it in his The Sociological Imagination of 1959 to describe a new ‘Forth Epoch’ after the ‘Modem Age’. First. religious and cultural changes which happened in the modem world. . and another. political. two somewhat different remarks in the Journal o f the Royal Society o f Arts of November 1979 to ‘Post-Modern architects [who] use motifs .. . . “Further examples of the use of the term ‘post-modem’ given by OED include C.” 2 1 Ibid. Koehler drew attention to Federico de Onis for his use of the terms “postmodemismo” for the period o f 1905-1914 to describe a reaction to the “excesses” o f modernism that sometimes resulted in more prosaic or ironic works. . Nikolaus Pevsner’s reference in The Listener of 29 December 1966. and neo-data’ are all said to represent ‘ a reaction against modernism’. as Toynbee rightly observed. a reference in the New York Review o f Books of 28 April 1977 to ‘the post-modernist demand for the abolition of art and its assimilation to ‘reality’. Second. a ‘successor’ to his ‘International Modem’ of the nineteen-thirties which he ‘was tempted to call. . to a ‘new style’. beyond quoting from the post-modern works listed in the Oxford English Dictionary's (OED) Supplement o f 198220.” Rose. 13. to The Times Higher Education Supplement of 7 March 1980 in which ‘Postmodernism. a post-modem style’. 11-12.22 This early observation o f Onis is rather significant for our understanding of postmodemity because it acknowledges the overlapping characteristics o f modernity and postmodemity. Frank Kermode’s 1966 remarks that Pop Fiction demonstrates ‘a growing sense of the irrelevance of the past’. and “ultramodemismo” of 1914-1932 to describe an attempt to extend the modernist search for poetic innovation and freedom. In summary. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and that *postModemists are catching on’. 12.21 Among other names. Leslie Fiedler’s 1965 reference to postmodernist literature . . postmodemity was bom as a reaction to the social.

. which was subsequently filled by other religions. 14-15. postmodemity is a response to the changes in the world. Therefore.” Fourth. it is necessary to understand how postmodemity relates to modernity. 126 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. several ways to describe the relationship 23 Ibid. in order to understand postmodemity correctly. On the one hand. Despite this. the cultural transition from modernity to a new era was anticipated as a result o f the decline o f Christianity and the rise o f the urban working class o f Western society. both Hudnut’s ‘post-modernism’ and the ‘postmodernism’ spoken by de Onis and Fitts/Hays may be said to share the common element of a lack o f sentimentality and decorativeness because the post-modernism o f which de Onis and Fitts/Hays have spoken was conceived of as a reaction to a late nineteenth-century decorative modernism. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the decline o f Christianity in the West left a spiritual vacuum. Here we may again note that the term post-modernism will always need to be read alongside the author’s understanding o f both modernism and the prefix ‘post’. for which modernity was not prepared. as Rose says: Here the modernism of which [Dudley] Fitts speaks is not the modernism to which Joseph Hudnut will refer in his articles on the ‘post-modern’ house o f the 1940s but the decorative Symbolism o f the end o f the nineteenth century. Postmodemity can be properly understood only in relationship with modernity. Toynbee mentioned the decline o f individualism in the early twentieth century. Third. “post-modernity” can also be characterized as “post-Christianity. as Toynbee observed.foundation. religious cults and the New Age philosophies. On the other hand.23 Based upon such an understanding. postmodemity itself was an active agent which promoted the radical changes forced upon modernity. German idealism. Since postmodemity has grown out o f modernity. namely. while Hudnut’s post-modern house may be understood as an extension o f the abstract and decoration-free (‘less is more’) modernism of the International Style and its offshoots.

which Onis described with the terms “postmodemismo” and “ultramodernismo. Humanism in the modem era rose against a Christian worldview in which God is solely responsible for setting the course o f human history.”25 Another example of the continuation and transcendence o f modernity can be found in humanism and individualism. In this sense it is the direct heir o f its parent and could not have occurred previously. 25 Ibid. .” is similar to what Jencks called a double-coding. 127 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.24 Jencks defines his “double-coding” o f postmodemity in terms o f the continuation and transcendence o f modernity. It is very important to stress this subtle relationship to Modernism because so many misunderstand it. 15. post-modern liberalism argues that the agenda o f multiculturalism. that is. it rejects the totalising arguments with which universal rights are often imposed by an elite on a subservient minority. It does not. Jencks says: [Post-modern] has. first o f which is to understand postmodemity as a double-coded response to modernity. what I have called a double­ coding. and the rights of minorities should be asserted where they do not diminish the rights o f other minorities. Jencks continues his assertion. PostModernism is not Anti-Modernism. reject the Enlightenment project. it is neither traditionalism nor the reactionary rejection o f its parent. The double-coded characteristics o f postmodemity.between modernity and postmodemity will be described. For me the post-modem is the continuation o f modernity and its transcendence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Rather. “Modem liberalism fought for the ‘universal rights’ which the First World now partly enjoys. as its essential definition. 24 Jencks. In this sense it is critical. The Transition from Modernity to Postmodemity The significance o f Onis’s observation is that he saw the double-coded nature of the modem-postmodern relationship. the social emancipation o f humanity. increasing freedom and human rights. To prove his point. as philosophers Jurgen Habermas and Jean-Fran?ois Lyotard contend.

128 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 3. On the other hand. several points o f observation can be made. while fundamentally maintaining humanism’s objection against the God-centric worldview. as the name suggests. Therefore. 88-97. 3) the rejection of the modem philosophers o f the West. For example.27 Although Nietzsche seems to be correct regarding postmodern rejection o f a modem epistemology o f universal truths. According to Grenz..However. postmodemity never intended to relinquish humanity’s freedom from God that was achieved by modernity.A Primer On Postmodernism. including different races. Postmodernism. genders. but is launched under the conditions of modernity. modernity’s realization o f humanism was primarily limited to white male intellectuals.26 Grenz suggests that the accomplishment o f modernity was rejected categorically by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) from the perspective of: 1) the demise o f the modem concept o f truth. 2) the rejection of the modem concept o f values. 26 Grenz. . he seems to have gone too far by thinking that postmodemity rejects what modernity has achieved. and social classes. However. expanded its scope by applying humanism to the whole of humanity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. along the lines of the thought o f Jurgen Habermas and JeanFran$ois Lyotard. :7 Ibid. It is clear that postmodemity has many faces in its relationship with modernity. Grenz argues that postmodemity signifies the quest to move beyond modernism. it is not possible to reduce the complex relationship between modernity and postmodemity into a single term. To think that postmodemity rejected what modernity achieved would be much too naive. postmodemity specifically involves a rejection o f the modem mindset.

Toynbee. While Nietzsche was anti­ modern from his philosophical standpoint and succeeded in convincing the world that modernity was chasing after an illusion o f universal truth.First. postmodemity rejects the universal truths. postmodernism goes far beyond what modernism had in mind with regard to humanism and individualism. In fact. It seems that what postmodemity rejects is not the achievements o f modernity but the underlying goal o f modernity. For instance. Second. . a more accurate term for postmodemity might be “ultramodemity” signifying its attempt to go “beyond” modernity without compromising the modem principles of humanism and individualism. By negating absolute truth. for which modernity was striving. Postmodemity is not much different from modernity in terms o f human-centric values and individual-oriented pragmatism. It does not set a boundary for human imagination. Postmodemity undoubtedly seeks something beyond modernity. but it is not standing totally against modernity. In that sense. postmodernism expands its horizon to include the whole universe in its own curiosity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Rose and Jencks later observed that postmodemity does not stand against but follows after modernity in reference to humanism and individualism. postmodemity shifted its epistemological course to relativism. it is no secret that the U. it can be concluded that postmodemity tries to correct and adjust the course o f modernity rather than overthrowing modernity to start over again on completely new philosophical ground. Onis. 129 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Therefore. new generations are seeking signs o f alien life trying to establish communication with other intelligent beings in outer space. Third. namely the discovery o f the universal truths. postmodemity represents a continuation o f the underlying principles o f humanism and individualism inherent in modernity. With a sincere hope.S.

It seems that there is no clear line between modernity and postmodemity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. time is no longer simply linear. In this new world. The new voyages o f the Enterprise lead its variegated crew into a postmodern universe. with the original series o f the popular show: The crew o f the Enterprise symbolizes the “new ecology” of humankind in partnership with the universe. Our task. but incomplete. an android. so that it can be divided chronologically. In a sense.” In The Next Generation .9. The Next Generation . then. 28 Ibid. is to learn from those various points of view to come to our own understanding o f postmodemity. In line with Frederick Ferre’s opinion about the term “postmodern. capable o f superhuman intellectual feats. 130 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” the term “post-modemity” conveys the idea that it only comes after modernity. and the rational is not always to be trusted.28 In conclusion. Such a success reflects the quest o f the human mind to constantly go beyond its boundaries. . Spock is replaced by Data. observations. It seems that all those positions mentioned previously make valid. Both conditions co-exist in today’s world. appearance is not necessarily reality.government has been making substantial investment in efforts to establish communication with extra-terrestrial beings. Data is a more fully realized version o f the rational thinker than Spock. hoping to receive a response. one can argue that different voices need to be heard concerning how postmodemity relates to modernity. Historians might have expected that the manual transmission was doomed when the automatic transmission was first introduced. Grenz offered a convincing illustration of this point by contrasting the new Star Trek series. . Their mission is no longer to boldly go “where no man has gone before” but “where no one has gone before.. like automobiles with manual transmission still co-exist with automatics. Scientists are sending electronic signals to outer space. Science-fiction movies have gained enormous popularity and financial success in recent years. .

Theology and the Practice o f Responsibility: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Valley Forge.29 As concluded earlier. For all the others a critical theology o f modernity still is needed. I observe that a complete transition from modernity to postmodemity has not occurred at least for now. Drawing a line between modernity and postmodemity would almost be like trying to cut a flowing river with a fishnet. we cannot characterize the present world with a single term “modernity” or “postmodemity. rationalization and economization. Likewise. Humanity has been sailing down the river o f modernity and has entered the gulf o f postmodemity.” Rather. and Charles Marsh. . history has proved otherwise. Bonhoeffer and Modernity in Wayne Whitson Floyd Jr. With regard to postmodern theology. Until it abandons all the baggage o f modernity. For the majority o f people the project o f modernity freedom from need and oppression . it is certain that there is a :9 Wolfgang Huber. it accepts the criterion o f plurality as a central criterion for Christ’s presence in the world .However. 11. the world is replacing its clothes o f modernity with those of postmodemity while it is on the run. The transitory nature o f the contemporary world makes it difficult to draw a clear demarcation point between modernity and postmodemity. we need to understand our contemporary world as being in transition from modernity to postmodemity. eds. It seems that modernity will be running alongside its heir. 131 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.is not at all fulfilled simply because a class analysis rightly applies to a theoretical construct that is true for many variants of “postmodernism ” Postmodernism is a meaningful ideology for those who profit from the affluence o f affluent societies. 1994). Further reproduction prohibited without permission. postmodemity. In a sense. Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International. . the life span of modernity appears to be much longer than what postmodernists anticipate. Regardless o f terminology. . Wolfgang Huber rightly observes: Postmodern theology is nothing else than a new variant o f modem theology. for a while. For the majority o f people life is still determined by the processes o f modernization. the world will still be called either modern or postmodern.

For instance. How should we view the current situation and deal with it from the perspective of 132 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. viewing postmodemity as a force which rose against modernity which was an enemy o f Christianity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. if modernity was a rebellious child running away from Christianity. What. Indeed. our focus is on how Christianity can claim universal truth in the postmodern era. It is true to a large extent that postmodemity rejects modernity. Postmodemity says to Christianity. modernity and postmodemity are not in a love triangle but engaged in a spiritual war in which both modernity and postmodemity team up against Christianity in many aspects. does that automatically warrant a friendly relationship between postmodemity and Christianity? O f course not! It can be suggested that Christianity. It does not work for the new generation. . it does not mean that postmodemity is completely against Christianity. “Your idea of salvation is too old. Perhaps the church where the gray-headed people is where you belong. which is the challenge for today’s Church. Some postmodern aspects have helped Christianity to reshape itself. postmodemity is a grownup child who wants to send Christianity to a nursing home. denominationalism is fading away under the influence o f postmodernism. By analogy. Christianity’s condition in the battle has gotten worse since postmodemity joined in the war between Christianity and modernity. more inter-denominational conversation is being made. does this transition mean to Christianity? A Challenge of the Transition for Christianity Some theologians embrace postmodemity as a positive development for Christianity. However.” O f course.transition occurring. however. Consequently. However. The postmodern way o f thinking taught Christians that there is no denomination which can claim to possess an absolute truth.

How can Christians spiritually reconcile with Muslims. Buddhists. and claims that all religions should be united. Hindus. 10. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. some Christian leaders consider this matter with a relativistic attitude and interpret the biblical account as applicable only to the ancient social context. Because o f the horrendous force o f postmodemity in the West.Christianity? Most Christians would share the concern which Grenz expressed in the following way: The transition from the modem era to the postmodern era poses a grave challenge to the church in its mission to its own next generation. we dare not fall into the trap o f wistfully longing for return to the early modernity that gave evangelicalism its birth. rather than from its approval o f such behavior as deemed against God’s will. Even if the Bible tells us the story o f Sodom and Gomorrah as biblical precedence of God’s absolute disapproval o f homosexuality. for we are called to minister not to the past but to the contemporary context. and our contemporary context is influenced by postmodern ideas. The church’s view on homosexuality is a typical example. Confronted by this new context. . Although the Church has learnt tolerance for homosexuality..30 What postmodemity preaches becomes the norm for the contemporary world in many respects. Another example can be found in various forms o f religious pluralism that are being preached by Christian theologians and pastors. To respect all other religions as a part o f the spiritual world taints the meaning o f ecumenism. This particular example shows the conflict between the biblical message o f one God whose name is Yahweh and the postmodern message o f gods with many names. 30 Ibid. its tolerance should be from its compassion for those who are in such a condition. 133 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the church sadly lost its focus and in many cases gave in to postmodern principles that are often counter-biblical and counter-Christian.

Hodgson describes the contemporary world as a new paradigm in which five signs o f cultural crisis can be observed: the cognitive crisis from the perspective o f “logocentrism” and the death o f God. without compromising their faith in Christ as God incarnate? How much room is left for evangelism if we accept ecumenism o f world religions as the norm of the postmodern world? It seems that the world has lost its spiritual direction in the wilderness of postmodemity. 33 Grenz. A Primer On Postmodernism . 13-16. the West became suspicious about every aspect o f Christianity and cast the shadow o f skepticism over Christian values. and practical challenges from within and without. Christian ethics lost its place in today’s world and no longer influences people’s daily lives. 1988).31 For many. postmodernism might mean a triumph o f the human mind. Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. and on the present close encounter with other religions.” the political crisis from the standpoint o f world politics. the religious crisis based on the decline of Christianity in the West. Because of such an achievement from the part o f human mind. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 134 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. “To reach people in the new postmodern context. Hodgson. Revisioning the Church. we must set ourselves to the task o f deciphering the implications o f postmodernism for the gospel. 10. the historical crisis in terms o f the collapse o f “salvation history. Peter C.Confucians.”32 3 1 Peter C. Grenz says. structural. The church is facing theological. understanding what postmodemity means to Christianity is an urgent task. the socioeconomic crisis from the perspective that both free-enterprise capitalism and state-socialism have become increasingly dysfunctional and oppressive. and Taoists. . In order for the church to be able to respond to those internal and external challenges. its apparent rebirth in Latin America and Africa.

and pragmatism. humanism. The world is in transition from modernity to postmodemity. . Therefore. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. pantheism. What can we observe in today’s world. The mission o f calling humanity into salvation requires an understanding o f how far humanity has drifted into the jungle of postmodernism where everyone declares himself or herself a master o f the truth.Postmodemity is a condition o f today’s world in which humanity must live. an analysis of the mixed characteristics o f our contemporary world in more detail will be helpful for our discussion. In this chapter. individualism. nihilism. 135 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. in which we are breathing air polluted by many “/s/ns” o f human philosophy: relativism. atheism. and what kind o f challenge does the Church face in the complex world in transit? Those are the topics for the next chapter. we should develop a theology out o f God’s compassion for this postmodern world. With this historical background of postmodemity and its transition from modernity. the world has the characteristics o f both modernity and postmodemity. the nature of our contemporary world was discussed. Therefore.

1 The modem mind believed that there are absolute truths that can be understood by human reason. Therefore the quest of modern study was to discover the absolute truths about the whole universe. In this section. including those about humanity itself. Rejecting Universal Truth As the intellectual foundation o f modernity. The discovered truths must be the ones that can be verified through empirical methods to insure its objectivity. modernity understood “truth” as absolute. and good. 1 Grenz. and that knowledge is accessible to the human mind. an attempt will be made to explain that the present world in transition presents formidable challenges as well as opportunities for Christianity. as increased knowledge would help human beings manage world affairs more intelligently and effectively. objective. toleration. . objective. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It was also assumed by modem people that knowledge is inherently good. 4. we observed that the present world is in transition from modernity to postmodemity. Among those challenges. relativism. 136 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and pluralism. Therefore. The next section will highlight the specific characteristics o f our present world.CHAPTER 5 THE NATURE OF OUR CONTEMPORARY WORLD In the previous discussion. universal. individualism. Grenz suggests that epistemological assumptions were adopted holding that knowledge is certain. and good. this chapter will deal with the ones related to the issues of universal truth.

and individuality had been.3 Such optimism was shattered by the catastrophic events o f two World Wars.Grenz observes that the assumption o f the inherent goodness o f knowledge renders the modem outlook optimistic. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. so does its capability for doing evil. and by the development of atomic and nuclear weapons. particularity. The Enlightenment project understands freedom largely in individual terms. The capability of human beings has grown exponentially over the past several decades through the development o f science and technology. coupled with the power o f education. Suspects are all beliefs that seem to curtail autonomy or to be based on some external authority rather than reason (and experience).2 Grenz also says: Enlightenment optimism. it seems that from a biblical standpoint humanity is still under the spell o f the fruit of the knowledge o f good and evil. The mass destruction and genocide that occurred during the past century is an historical and empirical evidence for my argument. However. which seeks a universal truth. Instead o f achieving a utopia. together with the focus on reason. In fact. . will eventually free us from our vulnerability to nature as well as from all social bondage. that science. He says that the modem mind envisioned that such optimism leads to the belief that progress is inevitable. elevates human freedom. or soon would be. Hegel concluded that all difference. 2 Ibid 3 Ibid 137 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the modem ideal champions the autonomous self. Following the logic o f modernity. overcome or at least thoroughly de-legitimized. humanity created a monstrous machine capable o f destroying the whole world with the push o f a button. the self-determining subject who exists outside any tradition or community. The modem mind reached its zenith at Hegel. When the human capability o f doing good increases.

then.Hegel determined that only universally applicable principles derived from Reason should be valid. 46-47.. the world is made up of fragments that are totally different from one another. 5 Ibid. in direct opposition to such modem philosophers. rather than mediating genuine knowledge. 1996). IL. ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Books.’ or ‘language’ as providing the grounds for truth’s 4 Gregory Bruce Smith. Nietzsche asserted that we not only construct individual concepts. which is only a falsification of the reality o f individual objects. is truth? A mobile army o f metaphors. which is actually an illusion. “Lying at the foundation o f Nietzsche’s attack on modernism is his rejection o f the Enlightenment concept of truth. there is no such thing as “universally applicable principles” behind or beyond this web o f illusion. In constructing concepts. Nietzsche. Nietzsche has been hailed as the founder of what developed into the ‘aesthetic metacritique’ o f that understanding o f truth which views the ‘the work o f art.7 The world is in a sense self-creating and recreating itself. The University of Chicago Press.8 Grenz says. we overlook the fact that no two things or occurrences are exactly the same.p. 8 Ibid. “Nietzsche’s assertion that the world is aesthetically self-creating was a far reaching innovation. On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873). but also combine them in a “great edifice of ideas” or “structure” in our efforts to comprehend the world. 7 Friedrich Nietzsche.6 Nietzsche viewed our world as a work o f art that is continually being created and recreated.Grenz says. a sum of human relations. .” 6 Ibid. 58.’ ‘the text. “What. Friedrich Nietzsche questioned the validity o f universal truth late in the nineteenth century.. our conceptualizing robs reality of its multiplicity and destroys the original richness and vitality of human experience. 1976). 138 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.in short.89. metaphors. Consequently. and anthropomorphisms ..”5 Nietzsche’s great concern was the discovery o f the reality o f the multiplicity o f truths and the original richness and vitality o f human experience.. and trans.4 However. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. however. “In Nietzsche’s view. According to him. Heidegger and the Transition to Postmodemity (Chicago. metonyms.” Quoted in The Portable Nitzsche.: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are. Grenz says.

24]. Nietzsche considered Christian faith to be the product o f priests. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Nietzsche found in Christian faith the root of modem faith in science: It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science . In his On the Genealogy o f Morals . 576. and ed. 588. 12 LPP 345-46. Bonhoeffer spoke o f the problem o f the Church: There is also a parallel isolation among the clergy. blindness. 1 1 Ibid.for this is the priestly name for the animal’s “bad conscience” . . . 139 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In Basic Writings o f Nietzsche trans. 1992). we.12 9 Ibid. lies . Nietzsche’s suspicion o f science was based on his understanding that all elements of Western culture can find their roots in Christianity’s monotheistic and universal faith. [III.n Here Nietzsche influenced Bonhoeffer’s views on the type o f priestly Christianity which promotes a religion o f guilt.own possibility. that it achieved form oh.8 July 1944. that truth is divine. what a form! “Sin” .. if nothing turns out to be divine any longer unless it be error. 10 Friedrich Nietzsche. as everyone knows.But what if this belief is becoming more and more unbelievable. and not regard psychotherapy and existentialist philosophy as God’s pioneers.and we men o f knowledge of today.if God himself turns out to be our longest lie?1 0 According to this passage. He asserted: The chief trick the ascetic priest permitted himself for making the human soul resound with heart-rending. . in what one might call the ‘clerical’ sniffing-around-after-people’s-sins in order to catch them out. too. the exploitation o f the sense o f g u ilt . the Christian faith. we should give up all our clerical tricks.. . 20]. Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modern Library. [III. On the Genealogy o f Morals (1887). we godless men and anti-metaphysicians. that artist in guilt feelings. .. ecstatic music o f all kinds was. . still derive our flame from the fire ignited by a faith millennia old. which was also Plato’s that God is truth.92. Furthermore. .”9 Nietzsche’s polemic against the modern idea o f universal truth went on to criticize Christian faith. . It was only in the hands of the priest.

Our working hypothesis is that the status o f knowledge is altered as societies enter what is known as the post-industrial age and 13 LPP 360-61: 16 July 1944. 140 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Books. the vision of a terrible fighter. 1976). God is the product o f human imagination and abstraction. Notes(l875: III 195): “For the highest images in every religion there is an analogue in a state of the soul. culture. and trans.a beautiful dream image. Bonhoeffer said: He[God] is weak and powerless in the world. The God of Mohammed . I have decided to use the word postmodern to describe that condition .everything that men and women associate with the word “love. I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives . the only way. Jean-Franco is Lyotard more recently used the concept of “metanarratives” to define postmodernism. . not by virtue o f his omnipotence. Therefore. but by virtue o f his weakness and suffering. 8. and that is precisely the way. in which he is with us and helps us. The God of the Christians . On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense. ed. 49. Here is the decisive difference between Christianity and all religions. . . science and history o f the West. 14 Friedrich Nietzsche.” Quoted in The Portable Nitzsche. Lyotard says in his The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge : The object o f this study is the condition o f knowledge in the most highly developed societies.” The God of the Greeks .” 3 For Nietzsche.14 He viewed Christianity as the foundation o f modem epistemology. Bonhoeffer was able to differentiate between one aspect and the essence o f Christianity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In this regard. Nietzsche completely rejected modem ideas o f a universal truth based on his condemnation of Christianity. while Nietzsche saw a problem in the Church and equated it with the essence o f Christianity. . Matt. and argued that it is a lie that abuses the psyches o f the weak. the distant roar of a lion. In other words. Bonhoeffer wanted to correct the problem in order to restore Christianity as intended by Christ. Similar to the concept o f universal truth.the solitude of the desert.17 make it quite clear that Christ helps us. while Nietzsche intended to destroy Christianity to build something new based on his observation o f a problem in the Church..However.

48. these “master narratives” have gone the way o f previous ones such as religion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it occurred because the grand narratives that legitimated modem society have been losing their power. pp. Volume 10) trans. Grenz says: According to postmodems such as Lyotard. What is “real” to a Tibetan monk may not be “real” to an American businessman. More narrowly.cultures enter what is known as the postmodern age. the emancipation o f the proletariat. “local narratives” that are within the context o f a particular society filled the void left by “metanarratives. . what American people believe to be the truth doesn’t have to be the truth to Korean people. 16 Jencks. For example. 48. o f an inability to sustain faith in rational postulates rather than myths. 1984). narrative or truth should be interpreted contextually..1 5 Jencks interprets Lyotard’s “metanarratives” o f our scientific age as the liberation of humanity. Quoted in Jencks. Those previous “metanarratives” have become non-credible in a scientific age. 18 Grenz. progress. the decline o f modernity was not the result o f a failure of nerve. Peter L Berger and Thomas Luckmann said in The Social Construction o f Reality: Sociological interest in questions o f “reality” and “knowledge” is thus initially justified by the fact o f their social relativity. 141 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 3. 1 7 Ibid. xxiii. 47. and the idea o f metanarratives no longer has its credibility. xxiv. According to Jencks. By the same token.” 19 In other words. and increased economic power16.1 8 In postmodemity. What is true to the people o f the West is not necessarily true to the ones o f the East. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Theory and History of Literature.. 19 Ibid. most scholars agree on this characteristic o f postmodernism.. in postmodemity. Rather. the nation-state and the belief in the destiny o f the West. 45. The 15 Jean-Fran?ois Lyotard.17 Whichever form of metanarrative is rejected by postmodernism.

And we . and that these relationships will have to be included in an adequate sociological analysis o f these contexts. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave . It follows that specific agglomerations o f “reality” and “knowledge” pertain to specific social contexts. too. . The Gay Science (1882). . 142 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.a tremendous. gruesome shadow. and especially in divine reward and punishment for human behavior had lost the power it had once exercised. Bonhoeffer clearly :o Peter L. for Nietzsche’s further assertion of “God is dead” under the title “The Madman. “In short.22 Grenz summarizes. [108]. 1976).we still have to vanquish his shadow.” "Ib id . 92. The Social Construction o f Reality.4 Primer on Postmodernism. 171.” Quoted in Basic Writings o f Nietzsche trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modem Library. and trans. ed. both o f them shared the same view o f a deteriorating relationship between God and human beings. With his famous assertion o f “the death o f God. and ed.”23 Although it is unclear how Bonhoeffer was influenced by Nietzsche. there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. Nietzsche announced that Western culture had separated itself from the transcendent. . 23 Grenz. we can find some signs o f Nietzsche’s influence on Bonhoeffer’s thought from Bonhoeffer’s assessment o f “a world come of age. Friedrich Nietzsche.“knowledge” o f the criminal differs from the “knowledge” o f the criminologist. in the Christian story. God is dead: but given the way men are. 95. However. 1992).20 The World without God: God is Dead Nietzsche influenced the formation o f the postmodern world by his attack on modernism. From a phenomenological standpoint.” especially concerning Western culture’s separation from God. 3. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. A Treatise in the Sociology o f Knowledge (New York: Anchor Books. by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Books. “After Buddha was dead. Also see [125] of The Gay Science in The Portable Nietzsche. 1966). Belief in God.” “ ) 1 Nietzsche asserted that Western civilization was no longer influenced by the Christian tradition as it once had been.

Nietzsche never understood Christ as a concrete reality in this world. Nietzsche would never have understood God in the manner Bonhoeffer did. Nietzsche could win the positive approval of one school of German Protestant theology.” Bonhoeffer goes on to say. in a way which for the West European nations was quite incomprehensible. The reason why Germany’s attitude to the heritage of antiquity differs so profoundly from that of the West European nations is undoubtedly to be found in the form assumed in Germany by the gospel as a result of the Reformation. a matter fit only for the museum. in contrast with the absolutism o f modernity. Relativism and the Problem of Hermeneutics The shift of epistemology and the rejection o f a monotheistic God resulted in a condition of relativism. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Once it is detached from this relationship antiquity is and must be timeless. The revolt of the natural against grace contrasts sharply here with that reconciliation of nature with grace which is found in the Roman heritage. 92: “From Wickelmann to Nietzsche there was in Germany a consciously antiChristian conjuring up of the Greek heritage. Bonhoeffer affirmed God as the one who is in the midst o f this world allowing human beings to be responsible for their own affairs. Relativism was in part a product of the modem hermeneutics that were inaugurated by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834).24 While Nietzsche replaced God with “self will”. While Bonhoeffer. Ethics. “It is only in relation to Christ that there is a genuine inheritance from classical antiquity in the west. Bonhoeffer’s concept of the “world come o f age” was a polemic against Nietzsche’s claim o f the death of God. It is only through Christ that antiquity becomes a historical heritage in the proper sense of the term. Bonhoeffer’s message to the German church was that God is not an abstract concept.” 143 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.had a negative view o f Nietzsche’s furious attack against Christianity. might have taken a clue from Nietzsche that the world was making a departure from God. 24 Bonhoeffer. because Nietzsche stopped where he abandoned God as an abstract concept. It was for this reason that. . but a reality through Christ. like many other o f his contemporaries. It was only from the soil of the German Reformation that there could spring a Nietzsche. Bonhoeffer would have said that Nietzsche was still an idealist as far as his understanding of God was concerned.

27 His hermeneutical method was the inductive exegetical process in which one can obtain a preliminary sense o f the whole from the parts.The modem discussion of hermeneutics began with Schleiermacher’s assertion that biblical texts are the products o f creative minds responding to particular circumstances. 99. an interpreter must get behind the printed words to the mind o f the author. we inevitably interpret the past through the concepts and concerns o f the present. 28 Ibid. Garrett Barden and John Cumming (New York: Crossroad. 26 Grenz. According to him. . the primary figure o f “historicism. The Development o f Hermeneutics in Dilthey: Selected Writings. Truth and Method.. 144 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” argued that our understanding is limited to our own horizon of history. Schleiermacher argued that in order to understand a text. Therefore. ed. 259. 1984). See Wilhelm Dilthey. Grenz explains: 25 Grenz.. 101.28 Hans-Georg Gadamer. Rickman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. who revived the term hermeneutics in 1960 in his Truth and M ethod (Wahrheit und Methode).25 Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) extended Schleiermacher’s concern for hermeneutics to encompass all texts and all human activities. H. To complete the hermeneutical task. See Hans-Georg Gadamer. 103 27 Ibid. Dilthey’s historicism led him to the study o f what he called “the systematic interpretation o f human experience” through the hermeneutics o f historical texts. then use this sense to determine more precisely the significance of the parts. attempted to develop a new understanding o f knowledge and truth by placing himself between the objectivism o f modernity and the relativism or the perspectivism o f the Nietzschean school o f thought.26 Dilthey. 1976). 103. 166-67.P. trans. the interpreter must not only understand the world of the author but must in a sense transform himself or herself into the author. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and ed.

145 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. On the surface. meaning is not merely waiting to be unlocked by the effort o f an interpreter. we can anticipate experiencing a “fusion of horizons. a language. 110. . we can never escape our historical context. The conversation creates a common language and fosters a “communion” in which we no longer remain what we were.” He is also optimistic that all interpreters would be willing to compromise with another’s interpretation. Gadamer’s theory is based on the assumption that the dialog will always create a common language and foster a “communion.a world. through a kind of conversation which we compare and contrast our various interpretations. unless his expectations are proven correct. it appears that Gadamer escaped from relativism] However. and his concept o f a “fusion of horizons” will have to remain mainly academic. such “hermeneutical dialog” is an on-going process. Because we stand within the world. Furthermore. we naturally develop different perspectives on the world and different interpretations of the world . But because we stand in different places in the world. 30 Gadamer’s concept.” This occurs. But Gadamer denies that this necessarily leads to relativism. the basis o f his hermeneutics is still relativistic. 29 Grenz. a tradition. meaning emerges as the text and interpreter engage in a “hermeneutical dialog” where an intersection o f “the horizon o f the author and the horizon of the interpreter”30 take place. . Rather.” He credits Heidegger for pointing out that human existence is thoroughly “in the world” or historical context. which gives rise to many experiences o f the fusion o f horizons between the interpreter and the world. . Because of this common dimension.To accomplish the seemingly impossible feat o f trading a path between these two alternatives [objectivism and relativism]. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Gadamer draws on Heidegger’s concept o f “being-in-the-world. says Gadamer.29 In Gadamer’s thinking. Lying behind the Babel o f competing interpretations is a shared reality .

For example. and argue that the biblical judgement against homosexuality is meaningful only to those who lived in the ancient society where there was not much tolerance for such things because of a lack o f scientific and medical understanding o f the origin o f homosexual drives. 32 Ro. God gave them over to shameful lusts. truth must be understood collectively through a “communion” o f different interpretations. On one hand. Rather. Utilizing Gadamer’s approach. 146 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Men committed indecent acts with other men. can be interpreted in many different ways depending on who interprets it.According to Gadamer.his eternal power and divine nature . 1:18-28 deals with sexual impurity. For since the creation o f the world God’s invisible qualities . Because o f this. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. primarily homosexuality. What’s lacking in his theory is that there is no point of reconciliation for sharply opposing interpretations. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. . so that men are without excuse . being understood from what has been made. The issue o f homosexuality is a good example to illustrate this point. 1:19. . On the other hand. advocates of homosexuality find no meaning from the text because the passage was written within the context o f ancient culture that does not have any bearing on the contemporary world. the biblical text.have been clearly seen. some interpreters will find that the text is still relevant to our 3 1 Ro. since what may be known about God is plain to them. postmodern interpretations can “create” many different meanings for the interpreters o f different historical contexts. Paul says in Romans 1:18-28: The wrath o f God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness o f men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.3 1 God’s truth that the text itself claims to be “plain to them”32 does not seem to be plain any longer. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. .

philosophy o f language. epistemology.” 147 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Deborah J. as the first significant individual. scientific inquiry and universalilty. . Spinoza refused to join the Christian one. for example. and Northern and Southern Ireland. Individualism and Communalism Along with rationality.contemporary world because a majority o f people still consider homosexuality unnatural and immoral. He thus stood alone outside of a community to work out his own thoughts and confront the world on his own terms. Spinoza. ed. 1994). . of finding the ‘atoms. How can we break the deadlock between those two opposing interpretations? One can argue that discussion/interaction can help resolve the differences o f opinion. Shepherd and Khoren Arisian). Nancey Murphy explains: The atomism that for the Greeks was pure metaphysics has become embodied in a variety of scientific research programs. 9. individualism is among the pillars o f modernism. (New York: The Humanist Institute. . Postmodernism and the Problem o f the Modern Age (in Humanism and Postmodernism: The Journal o f the North American Committee fo r Humanism. Such a novel simply could not have been written at an earlier time. It is no accident that among the first novels of the modem period was Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe which deals with a man in isolation from community and society.33 Joseph Chuman describes modern individualism as. thus the judgement against homosexuality is still effective. “The idea of the individual standing apart from his or her religious community or clan and possessing dignity and rights is a distinctively modem concept. M Chuman. Why so? Having left the Jewish community. objectivity. not only in the sciences but also in ethics. to assume the value o f analysis.that is. political theory. such a view seems to be too optimistic considering. However. has tended to be atomistic . 9: “Some historians have seen the seventeenth-century philosopher. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.”34 As far as its root is concerned. The problem o f interpretation in the postmodern world deserves more discussion because it directly relates to our effort to re-interpret the Gospel for today’s world. individualism goes back as far as Greek atomism.’ whether they be the human atoms 33 Joseph Chuman. Modem thought. those persistent conflicts between Israel and Arab nations.

God began to recede from the cultural foreground and the individual began to ease to the front and center. 148 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. social and economic movements are all based on an individualistic worldview. .35 For reductionists. literature and art. dignified. Individual entities o f society determine the character and behavior o f the whole. democracy took shape across the West based on humanistic understanding that human 35 Nancey Murphy. good in and o f themselves. the rise of the humanism o f the Renaissance. the Christian God was at the center o f human life in the West. 14-5. Henderson says in his Culture Shift (1998).37 Individualism has been shaping all aspects o f life. it is the individual. that matters most.making up social groups. However. Human identity was derived from human relationship with God as Creator. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 36 Murphy. which places the “individual” at the center o f the world. Since the Renaissance.98-9. 37 David W. 1998. The isolation and alienation o f the individual was a predictable consequence of individualism. or atomic propositions. Religion. Anglo-American Postmodemity. the common good is a summation o f the goods o f individuals.36 It was the product of the rationalistic Cartesian epistemology. 14. 1997). moved a general worldview from the biblical to one that is individualistic and humanistic. Henderson asserts: The Renaissance gave birth in the years following to a new view of humanity: not humanity connected and collected but individual women and men. Philosophical Perspectives on Science. Culture Shifi. based on a movement to restore ancient humanist philosophies. and Ethic (Colorado: Westview Press. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. more than God. Until the Renaissance that began in the fourteenth century in Italy and quickly spread throughout the rest o f Europe. and individuals are logically prior to the commonwealth. In politics. atomic facts. more than the community. The modem political. independent o f the one who had made them. As David W. Henderson.

even children. Although this was addressed in public. and newspapers. On the surface. as a symbol for the collective economy. However. For instance. Sociologically. who committed adultery with a college student in the Oval Office and tried to conceal the fact. was tolerated by the American public to a certain extent because o f his job performance as president. capitalism was the representative o f individualistic views. The episode is an indication o f moral decay in a highly individualistic society. Based on an optimistic view of human capability to discern what is good or bad. as we have seen in the case o f President Clinton’s sexual behavior with a White House intern. the behavior o f the President. Wherever one goes. Communism denies Christ’s lordship. magazines. and in recent years the equal rights movement has been sweeping the West. burning the national flag was inconceivable in the past. rose and fell in opposition to capitalism. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Economically. The implicit and explicit message about sexual freedom is widespread. but now the First Amendment o f the U. one can display any form o f pornography in public. right or wrong. he or she can find some form o f nudity on billboards. TV. movies. . the individual human rights he advocated were engraved into the Constitution o f the United States. leaving judgement to each individual. Constitution is being interpreted as protecting an individual’s right to bum the flag as a form o f individual expression. Along with human rights. Communism.S.beings would not be destructive or antagonistic toward each other when left to themselves. 149 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Sexual immorality has become a private matter that should not be dealt with in public. Communism appears to share the same concern with Christ for the poor and weak. individual freedom has been one o f the most important sociopolitical agenda items.

the answer most often given was. having a positive view of myself regardless o f what I say or do. Rather. getting my needs met and being happy. it is one’s own business to do anything he or she desires to do. “I don’t even know my neighbors. Choosing a personal god is one’s own business. 101. 1991). What are the greatest needs that you and others in this neighborhood face? The responses surprised me. self-fulfillment. . 103.Henderson also finds individualism in the rise o f the self-esteem movement in the twentieth century led by four psychologists . 45 percent have never spent an evening with them. 172. and one in seven doesn’t even know the neighbor’s name.” Individuals shouldn’t interfere with others no matter how they conduct their life affairs. Erich Fromm. Here is what Henderson shares with us: I once spent a Saturday morning doing a survey in our community. More than any other. “It’s my life anyway. self­ acceptance . 27 percent have never been inside their homes. The Day America Told the Truth (New York: Prentice-Hall.Abraham Maslow. don’t bother. 39 Henderson.” Researchers say that three out o f four Americans don’t know the people who live next door to them. selfexpression . So. and 15 percent don’t even know their names. 72 percent don’t have a friendship with their next door neighbors. Concerned with building up the self-esteem of the person counseled. Carl Rogers. being myself without regard to others. He also added a footnote in 232: According to James Patterson and Peter Kim. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. who developed a new approach to counseling. As long as one’s actions don’t interfere with others around him or her.38 Individualism produced isolated individuals confined to their own imaginative island. this style o f therapy was based on four supreme values: self-understanding. 150 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and Rollo May. Thomas Jefferson not only set the tone for American 38 Henderson. getting in touch with what I’m feeling. One o f the questions we asked was. People no longer consider their lives in terms of their relationships with others. they are saying.39 Religion and morality are not excluded from this individualization.

It is one’s own choice. view the morality o f the West as the hubris o f Christianity. A consequence o f this line o f thinking is the prohibition o f prayers and religious activities at school and public offices. Based on this reasoning. . where social interaction is limited for object lessons for social values and moralities. The problem in this model o f individualistic society is that parents do not have enough time to spend with their children for moral education. 2:217. and have no authority to teach moral values. Since 1960s. The responsibility o f teaching moral values belongs to individual families. teaching moral values at school became taboo in American society. 175. Bergh (Washington D . AA. Quoted from Thomas Jefferson.. Notes on the State o f Virginia. ed. 1905). Therefore. when the Civil Rights movement promoted individual rights to the extreme. however. the communal sense o f society in America has been declining. In a communal society. teachers are trusted to correct children’s behavior with traditional moral values.E. One should not try to influence others by any means. postmodernists. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. in The Writings o f Thomas Jefferson. 151 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Lipscomb and A.politics but also general attitude toward religion when he said. On the side o f morality. “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty Gods or no God. In an individualistic society.C . For example. Consequently. teachers are not trusted by individual parents. Query XVII. one’s religion should not matter to others. teachers do not have authority to punish the students for their wrong behavior. because moral values are viewed as having been shaped by the tradition o f a certain religion. teaching children certain moral values that are based on a specific belief system is viewed as an effort to promote a certain religion.”40 In other words. children have to become 40 Rorty. following the lead o f Nietzsche.

Deborah J. would be just about the opposite o f what deconstruction is. and they are learning from their peers in terms o f what is right or wrong. “open” and “porous” to the other. then. death of community. On the contrary. . A “universal community” excluding no supportive behavior rather than individualistic. as when a wall is put up around the city to keep the stranger or the foreigner out. ed. communio is a word for a military formation and a kissing cousin of the word “munitions” . Derrida. Postmodernists see that modernism. 152 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. confrontational ■ ” Richard Rorty. saw the problem o f “community. which would o f course make one poor excuse o f a defense system. Michael Sandel. 1994). 42 Michael Wemer. to have a communio is to be fortified on all sides. brought alienation.41 The postmodern mind stresses communitarian. . Relativism. Charles Tayor. . a prominent deconstructionist. 23.” then. As a reaction to the problem o f individualism. it is more likely that individualism is hiding behind the very concept of the community suggested by postmodernists. methods. since deconstruction is the preparation for the incoming other. Alasdair MacIntyre. replace individualism? Arguably. and Truth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. John de Caputo says: What he [Derrida] doesn’t like about the word community is its connotations o f “fusion” and “identification” .42 Did the concept o f community. Shepherd and Khoren Arisian ( New York: The Humanist Institute. An example of such reaction can be seen in so-called “communitariansm” suggested by such theorists as Robert Bellah. The self-protective closure of “community. After all. and Roberto Unger (early works). to build a “common” (com) “defense” (munis). with individualism as one o f its characteristics. it did not. 1991).their own teacher.” In speaking o f Derrida’s understanding o f community. Objectivity. Postmodernism and the Future o f Humanism in Humanism and Postmodernism : The Journal o f the North American Committee fo r Humanism. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. postmodernists propose a new concept of community. 177. and a new form o f repression.

borrowing from Derrida.” However. it becomes unwelcoming. If a community is too welcoming. 107-8. it loses its identity. just so. . Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida (New York: Fordham University Press. It seems that there is a notion we often hear from the Churchgoers. the community that is too open to the “other” will lose its identity. .44 What Derrida saw as a problem with the word “community” seems to be also the problem o f today’s church.. . remain a community while remaining “open. communities always have to have an inside and outside.one is a contradiction in terms. it is a symptom of the fact that the Church is losing 43 ed. It appears that the Church has been welcoming the world and trying to make a home for it to such an extent that it has almost lost its identity as the body of Christ. Caputo. “There is not much different in the Church from the secular world. the paralysis o f community.” Applying Derrida’s view to the Church. Thus. the community must retain its identity while making the stranger at home. is that it must limit itself. 44 Ibid. at the same time. the impossible.” Senior pastors o f mega-churches are compared with CEOs. are always extremely guarded. 153 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 1997). Institutionalized churches are often compared to a “religious corporation.”43 What concerned Derrida about the word “community” is its notion o f a defense that “we” throw up against the “other. on guard against the guard that communities station around themselves to watch out for the other. John D. The secularization o f the Church is certainly a concern because. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 113. says Derrida.” forbidding itself the luxury o f collecting itself into a unity. That is why Derrida’s comments on “community” . if it keeps its identity. Caputo explains Derrida’s problem with community using Derrida’s analysis o f the word “hospitality” : In hospitality I must welcome the other while retaining mastery o f the house. it is experiencing an identity crisis.

LPP. 3. His observation is valid not only for his then-contemporary German Church. which is also somewhat analogous to internalization o f the gospel.such as the salvation o f the individual. isn’t this in fact biblical? Does the question about saving one’s soul appear in the Old Testament at all? Aren’t righteousness and the Kingdom o f God on earth the focus of everything. but the culmination o f the view that God alone is righteous?46 Bonhoeffer links individualism with the concept o f religion. Individualism is widespread in the Church.as the main purpose o f the Church. It seems that the main concern of many of today’s churches is how to serve its members by meeting their personal needs and spiritual goals. but also for our contemporary churches. because the primary purpose o f religion is the salvation o f individuals. individualizes Christianity. p.24ff. I know it sounds pretty monstrous to say that.286. the spiritualization o f Christian faith. fundamentally. and on the other hand individualistically. Mega-churches invite more members by providing a wider variety Ibid. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Hasn’t the individualistic question about personal salvation almost completely left us all? . is not an individualistic doctrine of salvation. the spiritual growth of an individual . 154 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Churches are emphasizing the welfare o f individuals . Bonhoeffer offers a relevant analysis o f a counter-biblical interpretation o f the Christian message: What does it mean to “interpret in a religious sense?” I think it means to speak on the one hand metaphysically. But. the Sabbath as rest for an individual. . decide the course of the voyage o f Christianity. a personal relationship with God. whether it is modem or postmodern. and isn’t it true that Rom.“mastery o f the house”45 by letting the tide o f the world. A large part o f today’s church ministry is psychotherapeutic. 8 May 1944. . For instance. Neither of these is relevant to the biblical message or to the man o f today.

It is a byproduct o f relativism 47 Ray S. but its membership is only temporal. more than likely.can be observed in the Church as well. In other words. The Soul o f Ministry (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 155 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. It is open to differences. In that sense. The giant churches are flourishing as the small local community churches are facing their extinction or are struggling for survival. Anderson. The differences in race. Preface. The contemporary concept o f community is fundamentally different from the biblical one. The biblical community in the New Testament was formed through the baptism o f the Holy Spirit. . the members of the contemporary community can freely decide when they want to go in and out of the community o f their choice. mega shopping malls. not vice versa. O f course. Church members who are seeking psychotherapeutic service from the Church migrate to the large churches where they can easily obtain the wanted services.the appearance of mega-stores. 1997). a community can set forth its rules for qualification. Toleration The postmodern mind is tolerant. mergers and acquisitions of large corporations . On the contrary. culture. gender. and religion are accepted.”47 A phenomenon we observe in urban commercial areas in the late twentieth century .o f creative services to individual members under the label o f “ministry. The members o f the biblical community are bound to the community forever unless God determines otherwise. in our contemporary world. community exists for individuals. philosophy. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the contemporary communalism might be in essence a collective individualism. Qualification for community is not up to the members but up to God. It is up to each individual to decide whether he or she wants to join or exit a given community.

It can be considered as an attribute o f a mature world. The world is becoming an invisible coliseum where most people enjoy watching the players playing the games. it is a condition for a person to be truly tolerant that he or she must have his or her own opinion with a firm conviction. First. individuals often opt to retreat into the closet of their self and lock their door. However. although toleration should be distinguished from indifference. Second. People seem tired enough managing their own lives in this complex world that they don’t have the desire to resolve differences with others. they are often understood synonymously. They simply ignore the issue and become observers rather than participants. Any differences should be respected and accepted. Low voter participation in the American presidential election is an indication o f the American people’s indifference in political affairs.” Everything is perceived as a game in postmodemity. differences are accepted. Difference o f opinion must be resolved without conflict. There is nothing to lose on the part o f watchers. Indifference creates a serious social problem in a postmodern system. “My vote does not count. . A person may disagree with other opinions but his or her disagreement must be expressed without oppressive force. On the other hand. Openness is a postmodern virtue. instead of facing the opposing different opinions. Toleration is a positive aspect of postmodemity. the problem o f toleration is that when everything is relativized one cannot argue that only his or her idea is right and all the rest are wrong. With the proliferation o f individualism in every part o f human life. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. in the postmodern mind. Being tolerant is to allow opposing opinions and differing values 156 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.which considers there is nothing superior to others. There are several considerations we need to make concerning toleration. Many people seem to think.

The particular youth. in most cases. Traditional moral values cannot supercede the new way o f life. The market economy applies to all aspects o f human life. where he encountered many religions that called on people to accept their gods. the scene has changed dramatically.” It resembles the city of Athens in the Apostle Paul’s time. . be called indifference rather than tolerance. would submit to the elder and follow his or her instructions. instead of 157 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the toleration of postmodemity has created a vast marketplace o f ideas. However. in the world marketplace there is a comer labeled “Religion. it should. The older generation cannot impose their moral values. in the past. if an adult sees a youth smoking a cigarette. cultures. If one simply accepts whatever opinion or value that is out there. However. In the same scenario. it appears that the Church has become more indifferent for the suffering neighbors than tolerant. in essence. however. it was a duty o f the older generation to guide and correct the younger ones. It is up to an individual to construct his or her own lifestyle with materials that are available in that marketplace. the nature o f tolerance in this world is more a matter of indifference. One gets to choose what he or she likes. For instance. then that person would take immediate action to correct the behavior o f the youth by asking him or her to extinguish the cigarette. Figuratively speaking. Third.with a positive attitude even when one has strong convictions or personal opinions on a matter. In the postmodern world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. without having one’s own perspective. and religions. ideas and lifestyle upon the younger generation. It can be said that Christian love is not based on indifference but tolerance. In the past. the tolerant society o f postmodemity tells the elders to do exactly the opposite. In a practical sense.

including murder. . Blind tolerance as an avoidance o f the problem will not cure the situation due to a lack of communication and understanding between generations. The West was learning from the rest o f the world back then. Educating them in accordance with traditional values alone became an unrealistic goal in the postmodern world. where the dolls from the different parts of the world were chanting “It’s a small world after all” in their traditional costumes and in different languages. or even physical force.complying with the instruction o f an adult. curses. 158 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the West learned to respect the cultures and religions o f the rest o f the world. “Tolerance” seems to be used as a Band-Aid for the real issue of communication gap between different generations. The same phenomena take place in the Church. There have been many reported incidences where intolerant adults were beaten up or even killed by youths as they were trying to correct the immoral behaviors of the youths. When I visited the Disney Land in California for the first time in 1979. Interference of any sort from anybody including their own parents is simply not acceptable to the generation of a postmodern age. Pluralism Another distinctive postmodern characteristic is pluralism. “Tolerance” is the keyword for the older generation to remember in order to have minimal communication. one o f the most impressive attractions was the Small World. the youth resists the interference o f the elder with anger. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In speaking o f the postmodern worldview. Under the guidance of relativism. but will only worsen it. The chasm between generations has become so wide and deep that no one seems to be able to able to cross the gap. and it is still learning about the pluralistic nature o f the world. Zygmunt Bauman says in Intimations o f Postmodemity-.

communities. 48 Zygmunt Bauman. as the underlying epistemological principle. it is a result o f the postmodemity’s denial o f universal truth. 50 Ibid. and the world is viewed as the web o f relations o f individual elements.Postmodemity is marked by a view o f the human world as irreducibly and irrevocably pluralistic. with no horizon or vertical order. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. everything becomes relative. helped the Western mind to give up its illusion o f the superiority o f Western culture. Relativism. as previously believed. The element most conspicuously absent is a reference to the supracommunal. 49 Ibid. 159 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 102. When there is no central point o f measurement.48 Bauman continues to say that the acceptance o f a plurality o f sovereignties means to the western world the surrender o f the dominant position o f the West.49 It appears that pluralism is not a theory developed by the Western mind but a discovery of the fact that there happened to be many other cultures outside o f the West and they may not be inferior to the Western culture. . 35. split into a multitude o f sovereign units and sets of authority. Bauman insists: The main feature ascribed to “postmodemity” is thus the permanent and irreducible pluralism o f cultures. Instead. the postmodern world-view entails the dissipation of objectivity.. all subject to their own respective logics and armed with their own facilities o f truth-validation. “extraterritorial” grounds o f truth and meaning. “forms o f life” or “language games” (choice o f items which are “plural” varies with theoretical alliance). communal traditions. including persons. intimations o f Postmodernity (London: Routledge. the postmodern perspective reveals the world as composed o f an indefinite number o f meaning generating agencies. all relatively self-sustained and autonomous. In a sense. either in actuality or in potency. In conclusive terms. 1991). or the awareness and recognition o f such pluralism. ideologies. families.50 Pluralism tolerates the difference o f others. To put it in a different way. and nations.

relativism. missionaries. and Buddhism. A typical example can be found in the case o f Korea. it is observed that the major missionary effort is being made in the regions where there is no significant presence of other world religions such as Islam. in a postmodern era where all religions are 5 1 Jn.51 How can the Church tell a religiously pluralistic world that Christianity is the only religion which proclaims the truth? The dilemma for the postmodern Church is that it cannot associate with a religiously pluralistic world without compromising its belief that Christianity is the only true religion and. In the modern era. However. In a practical sense. Christianity will be isolated in religious arena unless it accepts the truths o f other religions as valid and meaningful as its own. the missionary effort was remarkably successful. individualism. the rejection of a concept o f universal truth has serious implications for the gospel o f Christianity because the gospel claims that Christ is “the truth” for humanity as a whole. At that time. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 160 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. as a result. death o f God. Geographically. In the postmodern world. Hinduism.the rejection of universal truth. 14:6. and many Koreans converted from Buddhism and Confucianism. with the conviction that Christianity is the supreme religion. and pluralism . all the other religions are false. Although Confucianism did not take the form o f an institutionalized religion. individualism. the impact o f this dilemma can be felt in the area o f Christian mission.what are the challenges for the Church? First. . it provided underlying social structures and moral values for Korean society. evangelized Koreans whose traditional religion was mainly Buddhism.Challenges for the Church Considering the major characteristics o f the contemporary world . tolerance.

4:3. they cried out as a nation before God. Buddhism is regaining its ground in Korea and the Christian missionary effort appears to have hit its high watermark. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the Korean Church appears to have moved into the maintenance or the survival mode. 161 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 54 1 Sa 7:6. Ne 9:2. ISa 12:8. As individuals gained more rights as the masters o f society. The implications o f the rejection o f the metanarrative for Christianity are clear. there would be no need for Christian martyrdom as long as the missionaries do not interfere with the local narratives and their traditions. When the people of Israel were oppressed. most o f the persecutions against Christian missionaries were triggered by a clash between the Christian metanarrative of the gospel of Christ and the local narratives o f the mission fields.53 They confessed their sins together as a nation.54 Such a 52 Ex 2:23. Following the lead o f the Church of the West. 10 53 2 Ch 7:4. In the postmodern religious marketplace. Jdg 3:9. A “postmodern” Church will have difficulty in accepting the gospel as the metanarrative which contradicts postmodernism. .respected equally. The new paradigm of religious plurality o f postmodemity presents a formidable challenge for the Church.6:6. Therefore. more responsibilities o f life fell upon each individual. Historically. the Church appears to be in a dilemma where it realizes its need of postmodern transformation but it cannot compromise the nature o f the gospel as universal truth and metanarrative.15.52 They worshipped the Lord together. Another challenge for the Church in the contemporary world is individualism. The sense o f communal responsibility is long gone. however. Jos 24:7.

and social injustice are the communal issues. disease. but one must wonder how many Christians participate in the prayer with a sincere sense o f repentance. Certainly. illiteracy. The current social security system hurts people’s pride and it humiliates them. it can be a shameful experience to stand in the line at a social security office to exercise their “right” as a member o f this society. Poverty. it is not a true form o f communal care. The burden o f putting bread on the dinner table is totally the responsibility o f the individual family. The Church became the 162 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. hunger. Some preachers compare the Church with a hospital where the sick comes to be healed. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and the Church seems to hand off those issues to the hands of government and politicians. as the people o f Israel did. It exists because people do not care adequately for each other. Individualism manifests itself in the Church in the form o f the gospel o f individual salvation. . Rather. which comes back to life on every Sunday morning for several hours. It seems that there is no sense o f “being saved together” nor “living together” in Christ. It is true that we have National Prayer days. However.sense o f community no longer exists even in the Church. The Sunday Christians are living individual lives as the dismembered body of Christ. he not only heals individuals. Christ is the healer. but does the system have anything to do with a sense o f community where people care about each other with warm comfort and love? For those who were laid off from their jobs. it is just one o f the systems that replaced the genuine love and care o f a community for the sake o f efficiency. It is true that we have a social security system that provides relief for the poor and weak. Arguably. but also heals communities and the world. The Church poses itself as a religious institution where spiritual services are rendered for the sake o f individual Christians.

is the belief that the differences between the religions are not a matter of truth and falsehood. Religious belief is a private matter. Religious pluralism. As Newbigin points out. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.a faith of our own. that to speak of religious beliefs as true or false is inadmissible. postmodemity raised doubts about whether the Christian God is the only god or whether there is such a god at all. and drive away for their own destiny. . but the destiny and the home o f Christians? The problem. 1989). if a distinction can be made as such. How can the Church become not just a gas station. but o f different perceptions o f the one truth. . The Gospel In A Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. on the other hand. and it is a widely held opinion in contemporary British society. . 14. Leslie Newbigin makes a distinction between cultural and religious pluralism: Cultural pluralism I take to be the attitude which welcomes the variety of different cultures and life-styles within one society and believes that this is an enrichment o f human life. This is religious pluralism.as we say . Nietzsche’s bold claim “God is dead” marked a decisive turning point for the entrance o f religious pluralism into the spiritual world of the West. Religion has become a form o f spiritual merchandise in 55 Lesslie Newbigin.55 O f course. is that along with its culture the West took religious matters on the same path o f pluralism. pay their dues. . 163 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. our focus should remain on religious pluralism rather than cultural pluralism for the purpose o f our discussion. he ironically opened the door for many gods of other religions by dethroning the Christian God from the Western mind. Each of us is entitled to have . Although Nietzsche was critical about “religion” itself. which pluralism imposed upon Christianity. the underlying principle o f religious pluralism is individualism from the perspective of personal faith.spiritual gas station where individual Christians come and fill their spiritual gas tanks. As we have seen earlier.

however. he or she will learn how to tolerate differences. culture. strength rather than weakness. Although the world at large appears to remain religious. A mature person tries to understand an immature one not vice versa. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Tolerance and openness present a problem from the standpoint o f discernment. tolerance allows communication and understanding rather than conflicts between the parties o f differences. those characteristics make the present world mature. The one o f a mature age accepts the fact that he or she is not superior to others. First. From that perspective. tolerance and openness can result in the acceptance o f unfiltered secular values into the Church. On the other hand. or language. The Parable 164 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. racism is an expression o f an immature and intolerant mind.this religiously pluralistic world. For example. On the positive side. it is clear that the contemporary world presents challenges for the Church. the present world has some positive aspects as well. Religious pluralism is a reality the Church has to face. which Bonhoeffer might have not been able to foresee in his time. which will be discussed in the next chapter. The Maturity of the World From the previous discussion. An individual with a strange accent will be treated by a tolerant person in the same way as the one without an accent is treated. which presents both challenges and opportunities for the Church. As one becomes mature. On the negative side. thus immature from Bonhoeffer’s perspective. when a person is immature. Diversity is understood as a virtue rather than as a problem. it can be considered mature from the standpoint o f tolerance and openness. he or she would be more insistent than tolerant. . A tolerant mind does not look down on other people because of differences in their skin color.

A similar effort is being made among the countries in Asian-Pacific region. Ecumenism is a way for a church to express its tolerance toward other Christian traditions such as denominations. the wall o f denomination seems to be still high. As a result o f the collapse o f communism. However. However. and each denomination cannot easily overcome its self-justification o f being more superior than others. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. openness o f the world means to live together without boundaries. Human beings have learned that no one can survive in isolation. The immature mind of the child cannot see the importance of teamwork which produces a common good. children often play by themselves in isolation or fight over trivial things. Euro. Therefore. For that reason. The once-closed communities o f white people are being open to other ethnic groups. openness of the world makes it a more mature society. 165 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.o f the Prodigal Son shows the difference between the mature father and the immature sons. Openness means the cooperation and mutual support between the members o f a society. the Church often translates “openness” into the concept o f an “open service. The older son did not understand the tolerant mind of his mature father. .” which reflects the common culture o f our present time. many communist countries have opened their doors to prosper together with the world of the West. Second. Both sons represent the humanity in adolescence which is self-centered and intolerant. The maturity o f human beings can be seen in their ability to work together to accomplish a common goal. The Church learned some tolerance from the world that has become more mature and tolerant. The popular music. The younger son went astray following his own worldly desire. A typical example can be seen in the effort o f European countries to establish a bloc economy based on a common currency.

are being mixed together and something new is about to come out. then how can he or she define the destiny o f such a transition? In other words. casual dressing. o f the modem and postmodern. The relationship between modernity and postmodemity can be described in terms of hate-and-love. if one agrees that the world is still in transition. I would call our contemporary world a global whirlpool where the things o f the old and new. the Church appears to place its emphasis on the external form o f worship service to mimic the secular culture for the purpose o f assimilation. the nature o f which no one seems to know clearly. just as Bonhoeffer anticipated a new world dawning after the war in the form o f the religionless world. such a clear distinction between modernity and postmodemity can only be made by the analytical mind of the West. o f the East and West. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. so a new world which is completely tolerant and open can be expected to emerge as the dust o f this postmodern chaos settles. postmodemity rejects the modem idea o f universal truth. what people call “postmodemity” is in actuality only something transitory or temporary in nature. In summary. However. high technologies such as multimedia.visual aids. For example. it can be concluded from the brief treatment o f this chapter that our contemporary world is still in transition from modernity to postmodemity. but it embraces the centrality o f the individual in modernity. . Instead of working together for the sake of the kingdom o f God by overcoming the denominational differences. the Church seems to have misunderstood the essence o f openness o f the world. However. pantomimes. In fact. and body worship are being adopted as the form o f “open service. The problem o f postmodemity is that the term itself has too many 166 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. dramas. The world is in a chaotic transition from modernity to a new world.” Unfortunately.

which sought a universal truth that was mainly abstract and detached from reality. from his highly Christocentric theological viewpoint. the world is largely religiously pluralistic. Bonhoeffer suggested a Christology o f reality. . In place o f the “positivism o f revelation” of modern theology. Our contemporary situation is quite different from that which Bonhoeffer characterized with a rather simple phrase “the world come o f age. As a theologian. Bonhoeffer belongs to neither modem nor postmodern modes of thought. Contrary to Bonhoeffer’s claim. In that sense. religious plurality o f this world and various attitudes toward the existence of many contemporary religions need to be understood. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In order to resolve the tension between Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” and the religiously pluralistic nature o f this world. the term “postmodemity” is not entirely adequate to describe the contemporary world that is globalized to include all comers o f the world. was a polemic against modernity. in preparation for the discussion on how Bonhoeffer’s theology can be 167 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.connotations o f the West. It is largely based on the understanding o f the history of the West. would have been very intolerant o f the relativistic worldview o f postmodemity. there does not seem to be a clear demarcation point for postmodemity from a historical standpoint. The real disparity between postmodemity and Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is the fact that the world at present is largely religiously pluralistic.” While Bonhoeffer understood the maturity o f the world from the perspective o f human autonomy from God. Bonhoeffer. the contemporary world recognizes the need of religion to satisfy the religiosity o f human beings. it could be argued. as shall be seen in the following chapter. which was based on a Christology o f the Incarnation. Also. as was discussed earlier. His theology. At the same time. Therefore.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the following chapter will entertain the question of other religions and various attitudes toward the religious plurality o f the present world.relevant to the contemporary world. 168 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. .

pluralism was identified as one o f the distinct characteristics o f the contemporary world. it knew that the world was filled with many religions. Christianity experiences pluralism within and without the church. Externally. there have been many changes. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 169 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Within the church.CHAPTER 6 THE RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD In the previous chapter. for example. Diversity is no longer considered to be a problem that needs to be overcome. . Christendom gave the Church an illusion that Christianity is the only true religion in the world. Today. In church music. music types and musical instruments that used to be prohibited in church have now become normal in many churches. However. a “non-religious interpretation for the religiously pluralistic world. the format o f worship has been diversified to satisfy different age groups. Rather.” from which the present thesis. Many churches are providing “contemporary” as well as “traditional” worship services. and that it is only one o f many religions.” is derived. Christianity has realized that the world is in reality religiously pluralistic. a question arises: Is non-religious interpretation still relevant to the religiously pluralistic world that we are living in today? The answer is a definitely affirmative “Yes. however. When Christianity was originally formed. His non-religious interpretation was in essence a response to the religionless world as he saw it. the Church has many religions as its neighbors. it is viewed as a value by which humanity can benefit. Then. It is opposite from the way in which Bonhoeffer perceived his then-current world religionless. In the present world.

56% Mahayana. 5 Ibid. 654. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 404 million Protestants. these statistics reject Bonhoeffer’s famous claim o f a “religionless world. 83% Sunni Muslims. 793 million Hindus4.Followers of Asian 20th century New Religions. o f which 887 million are classified as non-religious people.8 million Shintoists (mainly in Japan). In comparison with 1. New-Religionists . The Challenge of Religious Plurality According to the 1997 Encyclopedia Britannica Book o f the Year. 25% Shaivites. which includes Roman Catholics and all other non-Catholic form o f Christian churches.7 Roughly. agnostics.8 billion. 1. 70% Vaishnavites. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. crypto-Christians. and adherents of African.6% o f the total world population say that they are some type o f Christian.8 billion people living in this world in 1996.95 billion are Christians2. 7 Ibid. 1997). 13% the West. and review various philosophical and theological attitudes towards religious plurality. 5 million Confucians (mainly in Korea). 38%Theravada (Hinayana).Persons professing no religion. 220 million Chinese folk religionists. 282 Other Christians (non-Roman Catholics. 106 million New-Religionists6. 2% Other regions. 13 million Jews. Non-religious . freethinkers. 2% neo-Hindus and reform Hindus.In order to understand the relevance of Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” for today’s world. O f course. 1% other schools. New Religious movements.78 billion Atheists.. the total non-Christian population in 1996 was about 3.” Even 1 The World Almanac and Book o f Facts 1998 (New Jersey: World Almanac Books. .12 billion Muslims3. and non-Christian syncretistic mass religions. 170 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 2 Ibid. 218 million Orthodox. dereligionized secularists indifferent to all religioa 85% in Asia. all founded since 1800 and most since 1945. The following discussion will first make a brief survey o f world religion. 325 million Buddhists5. 16% Shia Muslims “Shi’ites”. radical new crisis religions.1 O f these. which has been a serious challenge for Christianity in recent decades. 1. 6 Ibid. black. 69 million Anglicans. Asian. 33.: 981 million Roman Catholics.95 billion Christians. nonbelievers. and 2. there are 5. and Latin-American indigenous churches). we need to have a better understanding of religious plurality. marginal Protestants. 6% Tantrayana(Lamaism). 19 million Sikhs.. 1.

especially the technological revolution in transportation and communication. Although every Christian acknowledges that there is only one Christ. Until quite recently. lived for the most part in mutual isolation. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. since there has always been a plurality o f religions in the world in which Christians have had to bear their witness and reflect theologically on the validity o f their claims in doing so. Christianity no longer has the control over the western world. it was inconceivable that other religious truth would challenge the Church’s claim that Christianity is the only true religion. simply as a synonym for the word “plurality. Ogden.” religious pluralism has always existed. as it often is. 1992). Second. has this isolation finally been broken through. . the division of the Church makes it more vulnerable in a world with many religions. in some senses religious pluralism is nothing new. Is There Only One True Religion or Are There Many? (Dallas : Southern Methodist University Press. the Church must meet other religions more directly in an open world. it did not have to pay much attention to religious plurality o f the world because it obviously had control over the western world and it did not have to defend itself against other religions. and it must defend itself for the validity of its claim that it is the only true religion. non-Christians comprise only 24% o f the 727 million total Europeans. If the word “pluralism” is understood. the many religions. 3. as Ogden points out.in Europe alone. 171 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Ogden points out: O f course. Shubert M.8 When Christianity was in isolation. it seems that each sector o f the Church has different ways o f understanding the truth of 8 Schubert M. What is the challenge of religious plurality for the Church? First. To the Church leaders. Only with the revolutions o f the recent past. to the point where the many religions and cultures are now compelled to live with one another as nextdoor neighbors in a single global village. like the many cultures with which they are o f a piece. However. It is this enforced proximity o f each religion and culture to every other that is the really new thing about religious and cultural plurality in our situation today. however.

for the purpose o f the present discussion.470-399 B.) expounded his version of religious dualism in the Persian Empire.C. the diversity has two sides. About the same time the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel judged Israel. Clendenin explains: If religion is not new. In that sense. A byproduct o f such an effort seems to be a loss of uniformity which became a hindrance for the unification o f the Church. Christianity as a part o f the western culture is being changed to embrace broader cultural diversities in an open world.628-551 B.C. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it can be argued that there are many different religions within what is called “Christianity” as a collective term. the founder o f Taoism (c. neither is the plurality o f divergent religions. On the one hand. Therefore. and solitude.C.) and Lao-Tzu. it can be said that the same challenge to which the Church could not respond with a satisfactory resolution persists in the present world. One can argue that cultural diversity within the Church is a merit not a problem.) searched for wisdom in Greece. while Guatama the Buddha o f India (563-483 B.) forsook a life o f leisure for religious asceticism.599-527 B. Confucius (551-479 B.). enlightenment. were active in China. . On the other hand. The Meaning of the “Religiously Pluralistic World” Before proceeding further. Our contemporary world is religiously pluralistic not because there are many religions but because all religions are perceived to be equal and sharing the same goal.C. In other words. Daniel B. it allows the Church to adapt itself to a different culture for the purpose o f evangelism. Certainly.Christianity. it is necessary to clarify what “religiously pluralistic world” means.C. Many religions which exist today existed long before Jesus was bom. the diversity can deepen the isolation o f one ethnic church from others.C. Socrates (c. and Mahavira (c.604-531 B. Third. Zoroaster (c.) 172 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. This side o f the diversity can result in further fragmentation o f the Church as a whole. religious plurality has been in its existence throughout Church history.

114. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.9 If religious plurality is an ancient phenomenon. Despite problems with Jaspers’ thesis. and China). many if not most o f the world’s major religious movement took shape. Now. In that “axial age.founded Janism. the cruel god o f war. Many Names. it gives us what one wag called “a brilliant glimpse of the obvious” . Many Gods Many Lords: Christianity Encounters World Religions (Grand Rapids. A millennium earlier while the Assyrians of Nineveh worshiped Ashur.” The fact that the Christian mission.71. 1995). far away in India Brahmin priests offered sacrifices to the fire god Agni.” Jaspers suggested. MI: Bakers Books. 1953). because their mission was to spread Christianity as the supreme religion over against religions considered nothing more than inferior “folk religions.that human religiosity and widely divergent expressions of that search for the sacred. piggybacked on imperialism supports my claim that the Church perceived Christianity as the supreme religion that has the right to supercede other religions through their missionary efforts. if Christianity is expected to leave the territory o f other religions alone. why does it have to become a challenge for Christianity today? For Christian missionaries in the past. in most part. Hick. 173 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the relativism o f postmodemity no longer tolerates such a biased selfappraisal o f Christianity. there was a unique concentration o f parallel religious development in all o f the then-existing cultures (Greece. the Church must respect other religions and their boundaries. there would be hardly any room left for the gospel o f Christ to be spread. Casting the net more broadly still. the Near East. 45-47. . See also Karl Jaspers. India.C. The Origin and Goal o f History (New Haven: Yale University Press. John Hick adopts the thesis o f Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) that between 800 and 200 B. are both ancient phenomena. religious plurality did not matter much. evangelism and Christian mission are in jeopardy because. 14. In the contemporary world. However. Christianity must resolve such postmodern dilemmas: How can the Church respect other religions by acknowledging the validity o f their truth and yet spread the gospel to areas under their firm control? How can we have a personal conviction that 9 Daniel B. Clendenin.

a) the existence within a nation or society of groups distinctive in ethnic origin. The West is learning that the superiority o f their culture over that o f other parts o f the world was only an illusion. cultural patterns. . those questions are not new. 1. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the Asian people have begun to recognize their own traditions with pride. and to find values in their 10 New World Dictionary of American Language 2nd Edition. DUALISM. Philos. tradition and language. It is a fact that. 174 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. MONISM b) the theory that ultimate reality has more than one true explanation: plulaity a 1. multitude.” Although those phrases can be. Christians are leaning toward the spiritual richness o f the East where people have religions of much longer history than that o f Christianity. religion. with their economic growth in the recent decades. we have to accept diversities in human thought. . principles. . 4. The West is no longer isolated behind the fortress of Christendom. and at the same time acknowledge Buddha as another source o f salvation? Obviously. In our contemporary world. Christian missionaries succeeded to evangelize many parts o f the Asian region. for the matter o f clarity the former should be understood to mean that there are many religions in the world. the quality or condition of being plural. in the past century or so.1 0 Religious plurality is a new reality that Christianity must face. a) theory that reality is composed of a multiplicity of ultimate things. Christian missionaries are not facing barbarians anymore but people with their own religious heritages and often with much more religious seriousness and devotion. and often are used interchangeably. or substances: cf. and the latter that ultimate truth can have more than one true religious explanation. 1097: pluralism n. It is also necessary to make a clear distinction between the phrase “ religious plurality” and “religious pluralism. a great number. or the like. and there are many who have attempted to solve these riddles. culture. . . . religion. the condition of being plural or numerous 2.Jesus is the only way to salvation. p. 3. However.

science. and by the rise o f the existential philosophies. but because many Christians. Asisans admired the success o f the western industrial revolution and economic growth. In the past. This must be done not merely to satisfy the abstract requirements o f theological methodology. (New York: Orbis Books. The tide is slowly being reversed and now the West begins to see that there is much more to be learned from the East and other parts o f the world. and so on. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . Knitter says: One o f the most pressing tasks confronting Christian theology today is that of providing an account o f the existence and the renewed vitality o f other religions . No Other Name? A Critical Survey o f Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions.1 1 Knitter is right about the need for a new Christian theology that can answer the questions that arise from the awareness of the plurality o f religions in this world and o f the truths presented by other religions. sociopolitical system. The East used to learn from the West in technology. then the new experience o f religious pluralism demands some kind o f Christian interpretation. are feeling and asking new questions about the meaning o f other religions. medicine. 175 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.own cultural heritage as a reaction to the decline o f the Western culture. a theology o f word o f religions. He later summarizes that his purpose of No Other Name? was to say that Christians are open to the possibility that other religions may have 1 1 Paul F. 17. with increasing discomfort. They are recognized and respected as religious sanctuaries on somewhat the same rank as Christian churches.in other words. Buddhist temples and Mosques are no longer a tourist attraction in America. If the role o f theology is to focus the light o f scripture and tradition on the unfolding history o f human experience. Other religions and the Eastern philosophies are filling the void that was created by the demise o f Christianity in the West caused by individualism. What then are the tasks for Christian theology in this religiously pluralistic world? Paul F. Knitter. materialism. 1985).

The 12 Knitter. the mainline protestant model (salvation only in Christ). all the religions could be. all religions are essentially the same. Rather. one norm). Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975). and Carl Jung (1875-1961).12 In his survey o f various attitudes towards religious plurality. and the theocentric model (many ways to God as the center). this goal cannot be realized within the course o f history. Multifaith Dialogue & Global Responsibility (New York: Orbis 176 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. One Earth Many Religions. included in each other as all o f them continue their efforts to discover or be faithful to the inexhaustible Mystery or Truth. all religions have a common psychic origin. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . In the following discussion his approach will be adopted to review various attitudes toward the plurality of religion. no religion can claim to be the full and final realization o f the divine presence. Even though the goal of all religions is the full realization of the Absolute. Popular Attitudes Toward Religious Plurality Several different attitudes toward religious plurality can be observed in the nonChristian realm: all religions are relative and limited based on historical progress. No religion can stand above relativity. the Catholic model o f Vatican II (many ways. Knitter first lists the popular attitudes represented by Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923). thus.their own valid views and responses to this Mystery (Theos or God). following the nature o f historical progress. they would not have to be unilaterally “included” in Christianity. he says. 1) All Religions are Historically Relative Ernst Troeltsch is called “the father o f historical relativism” because o f his understanding that all religions are relative and limited. Then he divides Christian attitudes into the conservative evangelical model (one true religion). perhaps need to be.

Code (ethical systems). Troeltsch considered Christianity as the point of convergence for all other religions are based on the criteria o f “success” and “spirituality. 13 Knitter. final.14 In my opinion. 23-36.” lies behind nonessentials such as Creed (symbols. full manifestation o f the Absolute will have to take place on a post-historical. 35. 14 Ibid.” However. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the “spiritual essence. One o f the champions of this view is Arnold Toynbee who argued for the unity of all religions and insisted that all religions must join ranks in order to improve the world. even though Troeltsch was biased in favor of Christianity. doctrines. Among many religions. Also. 8. and Cult Books. 1995). the Christianity Troeltsch was proposing was the reformed Christianity liberated from superstition and uncritical thinking. This attitude holds a view quite similar to the one of historical relativism that claims all religions are relative. Toynbee thought that the common essence o f all religions. which claims that in the historical form o f Jesus as God incarnate there is present the full. this attitude focuses on ecumenism in a broader sense by seeking out the common essence and realizing the common goal o f all religions. he was not sure if Christianity would always remain the final culmination point. No Other Names?. While historical relativism acknowledges the uniqueness o f every religion. eternal age. theology). normative revelation of God.1 3 Knitter points out that the problem o f Troeltsch’s historical relativism is that it contradicts the Christian doctrine of incarnation. . 177 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 2) All Religions Are the Same Knitter presents another popular attitude toward religious plurality: all religions are essentially the same. he should be credited for his being honest about Christianity’s relativity with other religions already at the dawn o f postmodern era.final.

a critical mind will soon question whether that assumption is valid.. By peeling off those non-essentials we will be able to see through to the common purpose. liturgy). The common purpose is to correct self-centeredness that is one o f the intrinsic limitations and imperfections o f all forms of life on the surface o f the earth. For instance. By the 60s. it is not always possible to determine which is essential or non-essential for a religion. During the 1940s. It is interesting that Toynbee went through a transformation in his view o f religious plurality.1 5 The attitude which holds the view that there is a common essence and purpose of all religions seems to be problematic. insisted Toynbee. What is being pointed out here is that promoting world peace may not necessarily be the main purpose o f religion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Toynbee and others assume that there is a common goal o f all religions. In the 50s he wasn’t sure which religion would win out in the end. he was convinced that Christianity would emerge as the complete victor among all religions. Toynbee’s analytic method is a totally western way o f observing the objects. 37-44. it sounds reasonable to say that the purpose o f religion is to promote world peace. However. as Knitter pointed out. and it clearly is not adequate to treat all religions in the same way in order to extract its common essence.(ritual. It is a pragmatic way o f viewing religion. 178 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. It seems to 1 5 Ibid.16 For example. O f course. Second. Toynbee came to endorse a radical sameness or commonality o f all religions with his vision of how all religions can and must work together for a better world. First. which binds all religions together. . 51. it is not meant to say that religion does not need to care about world peace. 16 Ibid. however.

” We must have more than our ears to hear the “silent voice. 179 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. If the unconscious can be looked upon as a deeper well or source within each o f us. death and rebirth. which claims that all religions have a common psychic origin. The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution. virgin birth. wholeness.17 Within the unconscious. . Knitter explains further: Jung felt there was enough evidence to posit a fundamental. Their general contents have to do with light and darkness. .” He could not distinguish the realization of the Self from the image o f God (imago Dei). 58. hidden unity animating all humanity.. and so on. religion has been causing human conflicts throughout history o f humankind. 3) All Religions Have a Common Psychic Origin The third popular attitude toward religious plurality presented by Knitter is the view represented by Carl Gustav Jung. The “archetype” is Jung’s term that can be called the “silent voice of the unconscious. Jung saw such archetypes as the common seedbed o f all religions. To realize 1 7 Ibid.” The archetypes might be called messages-in-code. He came to grasp an even more mysterious facet o f the unconscious: it is not only personal and individual: it is also collective. The mechanism that can be used to decode the archetypes is symbol and myth such as savior. Jung discovered an archetype called the “Self. Contrary to Toynbee’s view. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.be a human-centric pragmatic view o f religion. and redemption. In addition to that most world religions focus on the realm beyond this world in which we are living in. . then all the individual wells lead down to a common underground stream. which we must decode and bring to our conscious awareness. bom anew in the brain structure o f every individual.. sacrifice.

Revelation is an essentially psychological event where one experiences God speaking from within.18 Jung drew his conclusions concerning the common nature of the world religions based on his discoveries o f the human unconscious and the presence o f the imago Dei within it. formalized. the one and only. it was not a 18 Ibid 19 Ibid. and cult had become something professed or performed. Jung also complained that Christianity had become too externalized. no symbol can claim to be absolute. 61. We do not need to exegete the corresponding biblical text here. The importance o f his discovery is that it was made through an empirical study o f human psychology. our basic oneness with deity. he concluded that no religion.what we are is to realize God. and as a psychological activity o f all human beings. The Book o f Genesis clearly tells us that God created human beings in God’s image. institutionalized. I simply want to point out that the concept of image o f God is linked with all human beings in some fashion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. or institutionalized. Based on this understanding o f religion. He should be credited for a new understanding o f religion as originated from within the self. . and thus lost its bond with the God o f the unconscious. 180 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. whether it be Christianity or Buddhism. code. formalized.19 According to Knitter. Certainly. Jung concluded that when a religion is externalized. Jung thought that so much o f Christian creed. Jung was not saying something new. not something stirred by inner feelings of the divine presence within the human psyche. Jung should be commended for his contribution o f discovering the origin o f religion. and this presence of the image of God is for all human beings.

vol.” Jung found that religion has nothing to do with historical process o f human beings but springs out from human being’s inner unconscious. Pentecost was not an event that took place in the world o f unconscious but a clearly visible event. . 1953).religion at all. . in :o Ibid. Jung.: "So long as religion is only . but a concrete event in history. it is possible to conclude that all human beings inherently possess religiosity within their unconscious selves: Human beings are inevitably religious. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 12. 181 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. outward form. concluded that human beings progressed to the point where they became “religionless.20 The problem o f Jung is that he internalized God by considering God’s presence in human unconscious. Jung’s understanding o f religion contributes to our discussion o f “non-religious interpretation” with two important points. . On the positive side. Another problem of Jung is that by internalizing religion as an activity o f the individual psyche. based on a historical analysis. and the religious function is not experienced in our own souls. His internalization of Christianity furthered the individualization o f the gospel and transformed Christianity into a psychotherapeutic service for individuals and individual families. Jung grossly ignored the communal aspect o f religion. 6. Therefore. Based on Jung’s discovery. religion was originated from within the human unconscious. nothing of any importance has happened. It has yet to be understood that the mysterium magnum [the great mystery] is not only an actuality but first and foremost rooted in the human psyche. how can we explain God’s revelation through the whole life o f Jesus? He might say that the Holy Spirit is present in individual unconscious. First. If revelation is the activity that occurs from within human psyche. However.” Quoted from Collected Works o f Carl G. Jung’s discovery o f religion is a serious blow to Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f the “religionless” world. The Christian revelation is not an experience of the inner person. While Bonhoeffer. Psychology and Alchemy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Without God’s act o f revelation. God’s revelation is manifest not only in individual life. but it enables human beings to see. Buddhism. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. However. hear and respond to God’s revelation in divine words and deeds. Hinduism. the image o f God itself does not have the power to invoke God’s revelation. if it is not in fact. In other words. Christian Attitudes Toward Other Religions With some understanding o f non-Christian attitudes toward the plurality o f religions. Karl Barth (1886-1968) offered his verdict on 182 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. human beings can only stay religious. Speaking of religion. it can be concluded that God’s true revelation shatters the shell o f unconscious . Whether it is Christianity. any religion that is fossilized by being institutionalized and formalized does not do much good for this world. . religion will not go away unless human beings become capable o f managing the world of the unconscious.Jung. or Islam. positively harmful.religiosity . based on Jung’s view. but God’s willful act o f awakening the human unconscious to be able to commune with human beings which was made capable for such communion through the image o f God. the various attitudes of the Christian Church toward other religions will be discussed next. religion needs to break out from its self-imposed bondage to religious institutions to enter the promised land o f spiritual freedom. It is possible to insist that revelation is not an actuation o f divinity innate within the human unconscious. but also in the life o f community as seen in the Old Testament. Therefore. Second. Jung’s view of revelation is problematic.to bring the whole o f human being to the front before God in order for it to commune with God in the fellowship o f love.

No Other Names?. Knitter quote from p. 86. Knitter says: What both the scholar o f religious history and the Christian theologian see in this form o f [Amida] Buddhism is. .2 1 According to Barth. it is false. 1/2 . it is the true religion only because of God’s graceful choice. By God’s grace. . p. . Quoted by Knitter. we must say that it is the one great concern. " Ibid. Any method for a theological understanding o f religions that insists on Christian tradition . It prevents a real listening. Christian religion knows that it was and remains sinful but that despite such sinfulness. 338. Church Dogmatics.339 of Barth’s Church Dogmatics. .24 2 1 Karl Barth.religion in his Church Dogmatics: Religion is unbelief. p. 299-300. 91. .” But our eyes and mind deceive us.22 Barth’s judgment on religion is solely based on his Christology. o f godless man. “No matter how good and true any other religion [than Christianity] might seem.because the light o f Christ has not fallen on it. It is a concern. . accepts this religion. as the only or the final criterion o f religious truth seems to blind or at least blur the Christian’s vision o f what the other religions are saying. because o f the “infinite satisfaction for our sin” made in Christ. indeed.”23 Knitter points out that Barth’s and other’s evangelical approach is problematic for an understanding o f world religions. Knitter summarizes Barth’s evangelical evaluation o f other religions. 24 Ibid. . The divine reality offered and manifested to us in revelation is replaced by a concept o f God arbitrarily and willfully evolved by man. 183 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . From the standpoint o f revelation religion is clearly seen to be a human attempt to anticipate what God in His revelation wills to do and does do. useless . God. It is the attempted replacement of the divine work by a human manufacture. Barth tells us. as Barth admits. Why? Because the Bible tells us that salvation through faith is possible only in Jesus Christ. without which authentic dialogue collapses. 2 3 Knitter. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. although the Christian religion is not any better than other religions from the perspective that it is unbelief. the very same belief and practice o f “salvation through faith alone. No Other Names?.84.

Another criticism made by Knitter against the evangelical position is its claim that authentic revelation which enables a person to know and respond to the true God can be found only in Jesus Christ. It seems that the concept o f a “single point of contact with God” in Jesus Christ to be over-apologetic and artificial on the part of Barth in response to the liberal theology o f his time. in reality. 93. Knitter questions the certainty o f this evangelical position on three fronts: contemporary New Testament scholarship. which says that human response to God can be made only in Christ.”27 Knitter does not seem to understand the primary characteristic o f religion in general. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . appears to be non-biblical. necessarily the problem of evangelical Christians in particular. and our broader knowledge o f other religions. are convinced o f the historical relativity and non-finality o f all human knowledge and truth claims. Knitter argues: Evangelicals do not seem to realize that their commendable concern to preserve the ‘scandal of particularity’ . is undermined for many by the Evangelical understanding of only in Christ. . .that is. Knitter’s criticism o f Barth’s and evangelicals’ claim. but is the inherent nature of all 25 Ibid 26 LPP 280. Thus Bonhoeffer criticized Barth with the term. 27 Knitter. The problem Evangelicals ignore is that many honest persons. 184 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . the particular importance of Christ for all human beings.”26 However. the profound experience of historical relativity by our culture.25 Knitter’s criticism is helpful in part in that Barth and the evangelical method are too rigid and narrow in so far that it confines God’s freedom for revelation. What he considers as the problem o f evangelicals is not. No Other Names?. “positivism o f revelation.

Knitter argues that if one admits the fact of divine revelation apart from Jesus. 29 Ibid. Knitter asks. 116-7. would mainline Buddhism recognize Jesus as one o f their Buddha and accept the Bible as one o f their Treasures? It is possible to conclude that exclusivity is indeed a common and inherent nature o f “religion. .religions. For instance. his point is that if revelation is made through other religions. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. “How can we really take seriously God’s love and desire to save all persons when that saving love is tied so exclusively to one channel?”28 Knitter is not satisfied with “mystery” for an answer. one must also admit at least the possibility of salvation apart from Jesus as well. nor with Althaus who speaks o f “relative salvation” which implies that salvation is available in other religions “in smaller dosage. He considers that the text such as “Yahweh or Abba is a God o f love who ‘wants all people to be saved and come to know the truth’ (1 Tim. Knitter asks questions about the particularity of the salvation through Jesus Christ alone. 2:4)” shows the universal salvific will o f the Christian God.”29 Knitter wants to derive a full-pledged answer from Christianity that salvation is available in other religions just as it is in Christianity. In other words. salvation should be made available through them as well.” Knitter then criticizes the attitude o f the mainline Protestant toward religious plurality. He appears to be frustrated by the mainline Protestant’s claim for exclusivity o f Jesus Christ as the one and only savior. In regard to the mainline Protestant. 117. In 28 Ibid.. 185 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

his conclusion should be that anyone. you who are blessed by my Father. Knitter uses the last judgement scene in Matthew 25:31-4630 by interpreting it as if the text numbers among the elect those who loved their neighbor without knowing anything about Jesus. it seems that Knitter and other advocates o f religious pluralism cannot avoid logical entanglement because of their mixed desires that they want to remain as Christians but. If that is the case. . if we assume those virgins in the story to be Buddhists. appearing as their bridegroom. should not Knitter include atheism in his ecumenism? If giving things to neighbors to eat. he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. I was a stranger and you invited me in. For I was hungry and you gave me something to drink. what is the meaning of repentance o f sinners? Why Jesus had to die on the cross at all? In conclusion. ‘I tell you the truth. I was in prison and you came to visit me. Jesus told the parable of ten virgins who went forth to meet their bridegroom with their lamps. However. Knitter might argue such preparedness means to love the neighbor without having to know Jesus. to drink and to wear is all that is needed for one’s salvation. take your inheritance. not the forest. therefore. as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats Then the King will say to those on his right. ‘Lord. at the same 30 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory. he is doing injustice to the text by looking at the tree. the kingdom prepared you since the creation of the world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . or thirsty and give you something to drink?. The story shows the anticipation for the Advent o f Jesus and the importance o f the preparedness for salvation.’ Then the righteous will answer him. who loves their neighbor should be saved. ‘Come. and ail the angels with him. The King will reply. I needed clothes and you clothed me. However. All the nations will be gathered before him. .order to illustrate his point. I was sick and you looked after me. such an argument produces an absurd outcome because. then those virgins would be shocked to see Jesus. including atheists. At the beginning o f the same chapter. without having to mention that most religions do not anticipate an advent. If we follow Knitter’s logic. whatever you 186 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and he will separate the people one from another. not the Buddha. there is no need for Christianity nor any religion at all. when did we see you hungry and feed you.

187 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The Christian God is a God of universal love and grace. . Christ is the final cause o f salvation.time. which is represented by Karl Rahner and Hans Kiing. . and Stanley Samartha. you did for me. Religious Pluralism Earlier in the previous discussion. Knitter presents another trend of theology that he labeled the “theocentric model” of religious pluralism. The theological attitude o f the Catholic proclamation.31 Karl Rahner attempted to break through Christianity’s exclusivism with his theory of “anonymous Christianity. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Rather. Vatican II. which clearly expresses and incarnates a divine presence given and operative not only in Christianity but in all religions. which is represented by John Hick. Different from the conservative Evangelical and mainline Protestant models. toward other religions. clearly has the characteristic o f religious pluralism. An anonymous Christian already knows the one God of love did for one of the least of these brothers of mine. No Other Names?. the phrase “religious pluralism” was defined to mean any theological theory where ultimate truth can have more than one true religious explanation. look on other religions as possible modes o f salvation. ” (NIV). but must. 3 1 Knitter. 141. Christ is not savior as efficient cause o f saving grace.’ . the Catholic model o f religious pluralism suggests that Christians not only can. which a person must know explicitly in order to be saved.” The grace o f God cannot be confined to the Christian religion.” which says that the believers o f other religions can be called “Christians without a name. they want to be freed from Christ. According to Knitter. the Catholic model suggests that both revelation and salvation are available through other religions as well as Christianity. . Raimundo Panikkar.

fatalism. without Christ’s revelation. Hans Kung developed his own christocentric theory that says Christianity is the critical catalyst o f all religions. The fullness o f salvation can be achieved only in Christ. which means that without Christ’s revelation.who is active in their midst. On Being Christian.. . other religions do not have to be..32 In his criticism o f Rahner’s anonymous Christianity. unworldliness. Quote from Hans Kung. already bringing about the kingdom. and that other religions need spiritual guidance from Christianity in order to reach the understanding o f salvation possessed by the Roman Catholic. other religions cannot really understand and appropriate the salvation at work within them. The “anonymous Christianity” and the Christianity as the “critical catalyst o f other religions” can be considered as the masks of the spiritually wealthy Christianity to disguise itself as a genuine friend o f the poor 32 Ibid. 34 Ibid. and Hinduism remain Hinduism. 133. 128.33 In other words. caste spirit. 110. in fact.”34 The underlying theme o f these Catholic theologians seems to be that the Roman Catholic is more open to other religions than the Protestant. 133. Christianity by some other name to function as a way to salvation. it appears to be a religious arrogance o f Catholicism to claim itself as the more “genuine” and more “mature” faith over other religions. passivity.. 33 Ibid. social disinterestedness. adapt their spiritualities to the modernity o f the technological age because o f their “unhistoricity. When viewed from the standpoint o f other religions. However. pessimism. Knitter points out that the limit o f Rahner’s theory is that it states not only that there is saving grace within other religions but also that this grace is Christ’s. 188 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Buddhism should remain Buddhism. circular thinking. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. for example. other religions cannot.

John Hick.religious neighbors. Hence. and that they should not be taken literally but seriously. It seems that. Christianity is looking down their neighbors with pitiful eyes. the one Divine Reality or Absolute. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. He predicts that. The different doctrines and rituals are only their clothing not the essence. the one Logos behind all religions. Hick is a religious universalist who considers all religions are essentially the same. how does Hick overcome the question of Christ’s uniqueness as the savior? In order to answer the Christological question. ecumenism with authentic dialogue that Catholic theologians advocate can never be achieved. the common commitment of faith in a higher reality will become more important than differences in doctrine and ritual. Hick remained modern. the theocentric model for understanding other religions arose as a new form o f religious pluralism.35 However. Thus. By understanding the incarnation as a myth. as the “growing world ecumenism” spreads. Behind the mask.. Without further consideration. the most radical proponent o f a theocentric model for Christian approaches to other religions. . his theory.” which is supposedly a paradigm shift from a Christianity-centered or Jesuscentered to God-centered model of the universal faiths. 146-152. an interreligious dialogue is possible. Hick’s “new map for the universe o f faiths” is described with the one Spirit. Hick considers the incarnation and other concepts o f Christianity as myths developed by early Christians. by suggesting the Absolute behind all religions. Hick claims. but not only in Christ. proposes his so-called “Copemican revolution in theology. With this kind o f attitude. which is based on a universal 35 Ibid. Christians can encounter God truly in Christ. 189 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The foundation o f his theological argument is shattered by the relativism of postmodemity.

156. According to Panikkar. 37 Ibid. In other words.can go by many historical names: Rama. 190 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Another advocate o f the theocentric model is Raimundo Panikkar. 38 Ibid. the core content o f Jesus’ original message was the “kingdom o f God. and the focus was shifted.”36 Panikkar is echoing the reinterpretation of the gospel Bonhoeffer suggested. Isvara. after his death and resurrection. According to Knitter. Jesus was rather Godcentered. He claims that Jesus was theocentric. 38 Knitter tries to resolve the tension o f the uniqueness and exclusiveness o f the New Testament’s language about Jesus.” Panikkar was on the right track as far as reinterpretation o f the text is concerned. one is really not hearing what the text means. 172-3. the “one mediator” between God and humanity (1 Tim. the proclaimer became the proclaimed. and Bonhoeffer’s criticism of modem theology as the positivism o f revelation. Pannikar calls for “an ecumenical ecumenism” among world religions for “unity without harming diversity. . Not to understand Jesus in the new texture. is to run the risk of confining the past to an idolatrous “deposit o f faith. there is “no other name” by which 36 Ibid. the name above all names . who claims that unless the text and its context are continually being reheard in the ever new texture. not to open oneself to the possibility o f a new Christology..37 Knitter suggests that a new kairos [age] calls for a new Christology. Purusha. He claims that there must be new interpretations o f the text for the changing world in order to hear what the text means. but he took a religious way to interpret the name o f Jesus as the “Supemame” for all religions. Krishna.. Tathagata.the Christ .God and truth.” not Jesus himself.. violates the core postmodern conviction o f the plurality o f truth. according to Knitter. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 2:5). 173.

it is 39 Ibid. Jesus is the “only begotten Son o f God” (John 1:14). 15:21-22). . it can be asked whether such “one and only” or “final” language really does belong to the main content o f what the early church experienced and believed. Religion is a social phenomenon unique to human beings. 9:12). what took place in him was “once for all” (epaphax) (Heb. 40 Ibid 191 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . Christ (1 Cor. every human being has religiosity o f some kind. The reinterpretation of the gospel must not be an evolutionary but a revelatory effort to uncover God’s will for this religiously pluralistic age.40 Knitter’s method to ease the tension of exclusivity o f Christian message cannot be accepted from several perspectives. if it is in enduring need of reinterpretation. some other world religions and the various attitudes toward them have been surveyed. just as all died in one man. his suggestion that the Christological titles were conceived as the medium can hardly be justified if we consider the historical fact of martyrdom. Thus far. no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Knitter says: If christology was and is evolutionary. First. On the individual level. his understanding o f Christology as an evolution regards the early Christianity as something primitive in nature. Knitter acknowledges that the early Jesus-followers really meant what they were saying when they announced to the world that Jesus was “one and only. so all will be brought to life in one man.persons can be saved (Acts 4:12). Second. . To Jung. It is hard to imagine anyone would sacrifice his or her own life for the sake o f the medium not the message.”39 Yet. I shall suggest that all the “one and only” qualifiers to the various christological titles pertain more to the medium used by the New Testament than to its core message. . 182. Adam.

and office. On the positive side. Throughout the history o f human beings. or pluralistic. It also has been one o f the sources o f culture. it is the fear. Why I Am Not a Christian. writers. and discovery o f the meaning o f life. religion and politics often allied together to enjoy their prosperity. the terror o f the unknown and partly the wish to feel that he or she has someone who will stand by them in their troubles and disputes. To others like Bertrand Russell. . religion cannot avoid being individualistic. Facing religious plurality. As an expression of the human soul. Dogma defines what they believe as canon is considered sacred and has the final authority over dogma and religious practices. Brahman.unconscious. Depending on what kind o f faith tradition to which one belongs. different ways o f understanding the nature of religion arose: exclusive. Buddha. religion has been satisfying human needs o f consolation. it is clear that religion will remain as the core o f human existence. artists. and philosophers throughout human history. hope for the future. canon. religion has been inspiring many musicians. In summary. Karl Barth and the Evangelicals are among the ■ " Bertrand Russell. 1957. New York: Touchstone Book. many religions continue to strive in this world.41 Thus each individual seeks his or her communion with the supernatural and mysterious Being. 192 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. or Tao. the Being can be called God. Contrary to BonhoefFer’s anticipation. Both religion and politics support each other for the prosperity and survival o f each. or stood against each other resulting in terrible bloodshed and conflicts. religion has been playing an important role in politics. Therefore. which has dogma. p. Allah.22. religion is an institutionalized form. In addition. On the social level. inclusive. The salvation and transformation o f self appears to be why people have faith in a certain religious tradition. Religion provides moral values based on the teachings stemming from the canon. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

It can be concluded that. postmodernism. and the religiously pluralistic world. . which says that salvation is possible through other religions. which views all religions as equal and salvation is possible through all religions without discrimination. the world has changed very little since the beginning o f human history as far as religious plurality is concerned. which claims Jesus Christ as the only way o f salvation. the most dominant world religions. from a phenomenological and historical standpoint. but a living truth o f Christ that is true for yesterday. Karl Rahner and Hans Kiing stand among the inclusive group. Having surveyed Bonhoeffer’s theology and the characteristics o f the present world from the perspectives o f modernism. As we have seen. The thoughts and the practices o f other religions appear to be helpful for Christianity to restore the original and timeless meaning o f the Gospel. What really has changed is the Christian perception o f other religions. even though Christianity is the supreme way o f salvation. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. under the influence of postmodernism. have been maintaining their strength for a long time. and tomorrow. John Hicks and Paul Knitter are suggesting religious pluralism. which include Christianity. the following section will attempt to explain the meaning o f a “non-religious interpretation” for our contemporary world. 193 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. today.exclusive group. With the term “timeless” a codified religious canon is not meant. The gospel is timeless not because its truth is written in the Scripture but because Christ lives forever.

PART III A NON-RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. .

” “non-religious Christianity. However.” Sociological. death o f God.CHAPTER 7 A NON-RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD In Part I.” “non-religious interpretation of biblical concepts. the nature o f our contemporary world has been analyzed in order to determine the applicability o f Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” and “religionless Christianity” in the present context.” “holy worldliness. 195 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 1995). 16 July 1944.” “the Church for others. which was summarized in his phrase “Before God and with God we live without God. an overview o f Bonhoeffer’s theology has been presented mainly focusing on the concepts o f “the world come o f age.” and “etsi deus non daretur.” “ religionless Christianity. it was determined that the present world is going through a transition from modernity to postmodemity. Calif. and 1 See Geffrey B Kelly and F. . Also see Chapter 3 of this dissertation for farther discussioa 2 LPP 360. tolerance.” “secret discipline. A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (San Francisco.”2 Bonhoeffer characterized the world come of age with its autonomy from God and its religionlessness. economical. in Part II.: Harper SanFrancisco. The rejection o f universal truth.” “worldly Christianity. and cultural changes seem to have made the world completely different from what Bonhoeffer observed. individualism. 561-8 on the definition of these terms.” “deus ex machina . Burton Nelson. the world has changed in almost every aspect since Bonhoeffer made his claim o f “the world come o f age. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. From the discussion."1 In short. Bonhoeffer understood the maturity of the World in terms of the human being’s autonomous relationship with God. political. relativism. Therefore.

Moreover. By the same token. First. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission.will be presented.” From the perspective o f religion.a “non-religious interpretation of the gospel for the religiously pluralistic4 world . 30 April 1944. in chapter 5. Second. a new thesis . the relevance of “non-religious interpretation” in a religiously pluralistic world will be explained. for us today?”3 Clearly. Therefore.” Are these concepts still relevant in today’s world? If it is. how can it be relevant? By answering those questions. However.pluralism have been suggested as distinctive characteristics of our contemporary world. it has been concluded that the world has come o f age based on different criteria: “tolerance” and “openness. What does this mean to Christianity and the Church? In Part III. I will attempt to answer that question. religious plurality characterizes the present world “religious” rather than “religionless ” This fact presents a problem for Bonhoeffer because his concept o f “the world come o f age” was based on his understanding o f the world as religionless. “What Christianity really is. Bonhoeffer asked. Bonhoeffer answered the question with his concepts: “non-religious interpretation o f the gospel” and “religionless Christianity. The present section will be divided into three chapters. the adolescent nature o f the contemporary Church in light of the religiously pluralistic 3 LPP 279. it is a theological question that needs to be asked by generation after generation. Bonhoeffer’s concept o f “the world come o f age” seems to have become meaningless in the present world. 4 My concept of “the religiously pluralistic world” as a world with many religions and religious pluralism has been explained in the previous discussion. or indeed who Christ really is. religious pluralism and religious ecumenism reflect “tolerance” and “openness” of this age. contrary to Bonhoeffer’s prediction. 196 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

Third. A Critique of Bonhoeffer’s “the Religionless World” Since Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is closely tied to his worldview. which is described with phrases such as “the religionless world” or “the world come of age. 2) The implication o f religious plurality imposed upon Christianity will be explained. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the relevance o f “non-religious interpretation” in a religiously pluralistic world will be discussed in the following manner: 1) A critique o f Bonhoeffer’s “the religionless world” will be made in light of the religiously pluralistic world. alternatively. In this chapter.” or. how one can speak o f God “without religion. .” or a “God o f the gaps.” Kelly and Nelson explain: The corollary to nonreligious Christianity.” the fact that the world is still religious imposes a serious implication for Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation o f biblical concepts and the gospel. 3) the relevance o f Bonhoeffer’s theology in today’s religious world and how it can help Christianity deal with those problems will be discussed. instead o f the God made known in the sufferings o f the man Jesus. A Testament to Freedom. 197 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” With regard to the meaning o f “non-religious interpretation. the phrase “nonreligious interpretation” is taken from Bonhoeffer’s question in his prison letters about how one can speak coherently o f God in a “world come o f age. the nature o f a Church “come o f age” will be discussed as a conclusion o f this thesis.” Bonhoeffer criticizes the false images o f God conjured up by a religiosity that would make God a “deus ex machina .” a God capitalizing on human weakness and cooperating in clerical blackmail o f believers.5 Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f “the world come o f age” is based on the 5 Kelly and Nelson.world will be scrutinized. 566. a God encouraging a faith-inspired responsibility in combating the evils o f the Third Reich.

in order to claim that his “non-religious interpretation” and “the religionless Christianity” are still relevant in our contemporary world. 1989). contrary to Bonhoeffer’s claim o f “the religionless world. Kelly.” Ralf K. 198 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” and “religionlessness.” or a “God o f the gaps. Liberating Faith: Bonhoeffer's Message for Todav (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House.” means by “religion” a complex o f quite distinct ideas and views about God as “deus ex machina .as a phenomenon that has run its course. Robertson. Also see Ralf K. 1975).”6 As discussed in Chapter 3. . 381. A Theology o f Life. Contemporary people find themselves living in a religiously pluralistic world where many religions have their own strong foothold evangelizing their truths to an open world by competing with each other. 29.” Therefore. 7. 138-9 on Bonhoeffer’s critique of religion. ed.“religionlessness o f man come of age. Bonhoeffer: Exile and Martyr (London: Collins. the religiosity o f human beings should have diminished by our time. Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’ s Tegel Theology in John W. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and historically . Bonhoeffer fo r a New Day: Theology in a Time o f Transition (Grand Rapids. his understanding of “the religionless world” will be criticized in several points. contrary to his anticipation. religiosity does not seem to have disappeared from the human experience. For the purpose o f the present discussion. 8 June 1944. de Gruchy. 1984). Based on Bonhoeffer’s assessment. negatively. MI: Eerdmans.” 8 Edwin H.”7 However. 1997). 7 After an exhaustive study on Bonhoeffer’s understanding and usage of the term “religion.9 However. in the context o f a world “come o f age. it can be said that Bonhoeffer. Wustenberg concluded that Bonhoeffer neither defined religion conceptually nor developed any closed theory of religioa See Wustenberg. it will be necessary to overcome the problem o f “the religionless world” that does not seem to accurately reflect the reality o f the current world. Bonhoeffer's Heritage: The Christian Way in a World Without Religion (London: Hodder & Stoughton. only 887 million people out o f a 6 Eberhard Bethge.positively. Bonhoeffer was not consistent in his usage o f the terms such as “religion” “non-religious.” the world is still religious. Wtistenberg. 9 LPP 325-29. First. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Religionless Christianity. 59: “Bonhoeffer speaks about “religion” in three different ways . Also see Geffrey B. Statistically. A religious race seems to have begun.

in addition to the previous point. even o f the earth. have found a way to extend their physical life forever. Second. does that mean human beings will be able to rid religiosity from their mind? Perhaps not. or the whole globe. It is observed that human beings are not yet capable o f answering the “ultimate questions” o f life. Bonhoeffer appears to have made a wrong assumption that religion and human reason are related to each other from a 10 The World Almanac and Book o f Facts 1998 (Mahwah. an entire village.8 billion in 1996 claimed to be non-religious.10 Considering this fact.” It is peculiar why he chose such an extreme position and did not make a balanced assessment of his contemporary world. Bonhoeffer appeared to have somewhat exaggerated his understanding of “the religionless world. it can be concluded that the world is not only religious. 199 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Some might assume that we have finally solved all riddles o f how life was created and what comes after death without the help of faith. It can be further assumed that human beings. However. there would be no real guarantee that human beings can live forever unless they have total control o f the whole universe. New Jersey: World Almanac Books. 654. but also divided by many religions and faith traditions. 1997). . through the genome project.total population o f 5. Third. Until human beings can finally overcome death. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it can be argued that religiosity cannot be removed from the human mind. We are living in a world where any natural disasters can destroy a person’s life. at any time. Therefore. Astronomy taught us that it is always possible that a meteorite or a comet can destroy the earth at the blink o f an eye. Human beings do not have total control o f the universe. so many questions o f life are left unanswered. Even with the scientific advancement o f today.

All indications direct us toward Bonhoeffer’s worldview that the Enlightenment project is completed. there is no empirical evidence for his assumption that anticipates “the religionless world” as a result of the enlightenment o f human reason. He said: The movement that began about the thirteenth century . death and afterlife) .. For the past century.developmental standpoint. .without recourse to God. Economically. the market economy is widespread all over the world including the communist block. Man has learnt to deal with himself in all questions o f importance without recourse to the “working hypothesis” called “God. Sociologically.” 1 1 One might disagree with him that humanity truly has learned to deal with all questions o f importance .the ultimate questions (e. the Equal Rights Movement brought more women to workplaces. 200 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.g. On 1 1 LPP 325. Bonhoeffer seems to have been too hasty in making his assumption that the enlightenment of human reason will eventually wipe out religiosity from the human mind. Half a century has passed since he made his claim that the Enlightenment project was finally completed in his time and the world had come of age. has in our time reached an undoubted completion. . Technologically. democracy seems to be capable of managing the business o f this world.8 June 1944. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the world experienced enormous changes from various aspects. . Despite such advancement o f human reason and its capabilities. the invention o f modem day computers has opened the door for the infinite possibilities o f technological advancement o f human beings. Politically. human beings seem to be still religious. It is true that scientific knowledge and systematized education have enlightened human beings. Racial discrimination was reduced. However.

Green states. Hence. the scope o f his theological statement was much narrower than one might assume. it seems that religiosity and human reason are not in a tug o f war. Buddhism. In this regard. the phase particularly applies to that social group to which Bonhoeffer and his 12 Knitter. the world appears to be even more religious. Therefore. Fourth. it can be suggested that Bonhoeffer remained as a modem person. The centrality o f Christ occupied his life and theological thinking throughout.” From that perspective. Hinduism. as one-standing-against-the-other. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. he was able to describe the demise of Christianity as the extinction o f religion at least in the context o f Europe or Germany. because humanity bears the imago Dei as Jung has claimed12. Then. how was he able to conclude that the world was becoming religionless? It seems that Bonhoeffer could make such a conclusion because his theological boundary was understandably limited to Christianity. Contrary to his understanding. ‘“ Humanity come o f age’ is chiefly found among the people o f the contemporary West in Europe and America. In other words. . he should have known that the world has many religions such as Islam. He did not consider other religions important for his theological reflection. Bonhoeffer used the term “religion” synonymously with “Christianity” or “the Church. Clifford J.the contrary. and Judaism. his error was in his understanding of religiosity vis-a-vis human reason. in general. who believes that there is an ultimate truth. Bonhoeffer’s worldview seems to have been too narrow. 201 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. However. which happens to be Christianity. Rather. which not necessarily contradict each other but create together the dynamics o f human life. Bonhoeffer was not ignorant o f the religious a priori of humankind as the foundation of religion. Certainly. 58. they appear to be two different attributes of the human mind. No Other Names?.

” the fact that the world is still religious becomes a serious stumbling block for his thesis itself.” Arguably. a “non-religious interpretation o f the gospel. By linking the historical process o f the West to the demise o f religiosity.”13 Moreover. only belongs to the history o f the Western world. which he used as the historical demarcation point..” goes in tandem with the concept of “the religionless world. Such narrowness o f his worldview can certainly reduce the meaning o f “the world come o f age” because the completion o f “the Enlightenment Movement” does not apply to the rest o f the world. his scope might have been just Germany and its Church when he spoke o f “the religionless world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and from the narrow scope applied to his claim o f “the religionless world. from a geographical standpoint. The weakness of his argument is evident on this particular point. In summary. 251. the Enlightenment Movement. 202 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer took the risk o f leaving the rest o f the world out o f his theological concern. This fact means that the relevance of his theology for the rest o f the world remains questionable. Bonhoeffer. .own family and friends belonged. A Theology o f Sociality. Even worse. his “world” appears to include only the world of the West. Religiosity is not a limited attribute to the Western people but a psychological element that is universal to all humankind.” Because his thesis. it will be argued in the present discussion that the religious nature of the contemporary world ironically makes Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” 13 Green. it is a serious limitation and weakness of his theology in light o f an open w o rld . For instance. Bonhoeffer’s claim that the world became religionless is not plausible from the factual data which demonstrates that the world is still religious. However.

203 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.more applicable than in his time. 1970). religious diversity is welcomed as a richness o f human culture. Sir Edwin Arnolds published a long poem. Challenges of a Religiously Pluralistic World In the present open world. 18-9. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Charles Davis traces the quest o f the West for Eastern cultures back to the eighteenth century. Christianity in the West had very little direct contact with others religions o f the East except Islam. 1 4 Charles Davis. On the side o f the Western world. The interactions between different religions and the influences from other religions are not only unavoidable but also encouraged. Before such an argument is made and the relevance of his thesis in today’s world is explained. In 1879. Max Muller edited and translated the sacred texts o f Oriental religion. For a long period o f its history. it did not have any considerable dialogue with Christianity as another religion. Although Islam spread rapidly in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. . Christ and the World Religions (London: The Trinity Press. it will be helpful to highlight some o f the challenges that a religiously pluralistic world imposes upon Christianity. which invaded much o f the Christian Byzantine Empire and threatened Western Europe around the seventh century. What are the challenges of a religiously pluralistic world for Christianity? 1) The Relativization of Christianity Christians are finding themselves situated in a world with other world religions. In the latter half o f the nineteenth century. But it was Schopenhauer (1788-1860) who praised the wisdom of Upanishads and used it as a standard forjudging Christianity. Friedrich Schlegel published The Language and Wisdom o f the Hindus in 1808.14 In Germany.

One of the major sources o f Eastern religions has been those religious groups immigrating to America and other parts o f the Western world. the current world seems to be divided into several territories where each religion rules over its own territory largely undisturbed by others. Christianity. as well as the New Age Movement. To be more specific: 1) Christianity mainly in the West and American continent. which include pseudo-Christian religions such as Mormon. and in some Asian and African countries. Jehovah’s Witness.Light o f Asia. which made many familiar with Buddha and his teaching. Zen Buddhism has gained in popularity. including the Far East. 16 Ibid.1 6 In addition to those age-old world religions such as Islam. 3) Hinduism in India. In 1893. Christian missions approached other people as caregivers. 4) Buddhism across Asia. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In recent centuries.1 5 In the twentieth century. In 1897. From the perspective of religion. 15 Ibid. 204 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Hinduism. a World Parliament o f Religions was held in connection with the Chicago World Fair. Western interest and knowledge o f Eastern religions has increased. where the young Vivekananda presented Hinduism as a universal faith for humankind. 2) Islam in the Middle East regions. in particular. which usually piggybacked on the imperialism o f the West. There are many Buddhist groups in the West and. even though there have been many wars triggered by religious conflicts. and the messengers o f the superior religion. . he founded the Ramakrishna Mission to spread Hinduism in the W est. and Buddhism. physicians. teachers. Christianity has to deal with other numerous sizeable religious organizations and cults. Christianity has spread into other parts of the world by evangelism.

know more and more about one another and are being increasingly brought into personal contact . Christianity cannot pose as a teacher for other cultures and religions. but it has not affected Christians nor caused much theological concern until recent decades. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. .However. because Christianity as a personal choice makes it a religion . but the Pic’n Save Your Soul is the religious market place in the spiritual world. I will begin this investigation. even when it remains our personal choice. 205 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. is classified with other religions as alternative ways o f interpreting life. . As previously 1 7 Charles Davis. To address the problem of the emerging religious diversity. The Pic’n Save is the name o f a discount store chain. every religion. Nowadays. Christians are losing the sense that Christianity is the “ultimate” truth. despite persistent claims to distinctiveness. It has always existed. It must also learn from other religions with mutual respect. in today’s open world. As Christianity is relativized with other religions. Christianity is no longer the only religion that is evangelistic and mission-oriented. 14. It imposes a serious problem to Christianity. Christ and the World Religions. . . People of different countries and cultures live now in mutual awareness.a human work. Religious diversity now presses upon us in a way it did not before. including Christianity. then by examining the emergence o f religious pluralism as a problem . other religions are also advancing into the West with a strong conviction that their religious truths can provide better solutions to the contemporary problems o f human life than Christianity can. As Christian missions struggle to develop more effective mission strategies. . faith becomes a personal choice rather than a gift o f God given to humanity.17 Facing religious plurality in this world. Religious pluralism has entered our consciousness and deprived the Christian religion o f its unquestioned monopoly. The postmodern world created a religious marketplace. Davis says: The problem I am raising is to a great extent a new problem both for ordinary Christians and for theologians.

This. . Bonhoeffer’s criticism o f religion was initially based on its individualistic nature. after eating the fruit o f individualism. then. In a changing world. 206 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. “Individualism is a forbidden fruit. . In modem industrial society there is no longer an official interpretive scheme. It is left to the individual to choose his own interpretative scheme or world-view. However. modernity tempted humanity to eat the fruit of individualism. . As Adam and Eve realized that they were naked after eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. in present Western society belongs to the sphere of individual choice. because it allows an individual achievement. without reference to a traditional system o f ultimate meaning. the truth o f the gospel can be easily relativized with the truths claimed by other religions. Complete freedom. 2) Religious Individualism As Feil points out. as the second serpent who seems to have said. 168. 19 Feil. Thomas Luckmann. Society has become segmented.1 9 Modernity destroyed community with its individualism. then. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. such as politics and economics. No one should 1 8 Ibid. Everything becomes your choice. but God’s calling humanity by his grace. relating society and its institutions to an overarching and transcendent universe o f meaning. modem human beings.1 8 True Christianity is not a personal choice. have come to see that they are a bunch of isolated individuals. and the various institutional areas. the social place and function o f religion also changes. 15-6. Metaphorically. and happiness. . has discussed this change in the Invisible Religion. is the situation in which other religions are attracting widespread attention in the previously Christian West. . today’s world can be described as individualistic and segmented. Davis says: The German sociologist.discussed. And in this situation the plurality o f religions has a considerable impact upon the consciousness even of those who remain orthodox Christians. are ordered autonomously by a functional rationality. as Christians finds themselves in the midst o f the religious marketplace. success. Religion. .

It will make you like God.20 Religion is based on an individual’s religious a priori. 1944. since an individual will can at most be an expression of belonging to the Church. therefore. but personal life is possible only within the Churchcommunity. . including Christians. community and family become o f secondary importance. For example. Individualization of Christian faith is shaking the :o LPP 286.” In order to destroy community. have been promoting religious individualism where enlightenment means the task o f an individual to discover his/her own inner self. However. especially Hinduism and Buddhism. In religion.interfere with your life. Personal success and achievement are within their reach. the redemption of the individual becomes most important. Transcendental Meditation and Zen Buddhism are gaining popularity among the Westerner. 207 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. it cannot be derived from individual wills. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. To distinguish the Church from the religious community. Thus the individual is possible only as a member o f the Church-community. rather its existence is sustained by the Spirit who is a reality within the Church-community. but the big cities and industries gave them a new hope. 2 1 SC 160. Bonhoeffer said: The Church does not come into being by people coming together (genetic sociology). modernity used industrialization as a tool to bring individuals out of their family and hometown.21 The problem o f religious plurality in this regard is that other religions. As individuals strive for their personal success in this world. the root of individualism is much deeper than modernity. Factories gave them an opportunity to break out from the chain o f social class in which they were confined for many generations. According to Bonhoeffer. religion is metaphysical and individualistic. 8 May. and this is not merely a preparation for higher individual life. Not the Church.

Many narratives in the Bible are in direct conflict with what they are learning from school and modem science. the maturity of a human being is conceivable only within the God-human relationship. human beings are getting used to the lifestyle of isolation and feel more comfortable as separate individuals than as members of a community such as the “Church-community. To younger generations. which is believed only by r Bonhoeffer’s concept presented in Sanctorum Communio. the gospel message is just another Christmas story. those religions which seem to be aligned with the individual’s spiritual needs are more appealing than Christianity.”22 3) Science as a Religion To make the situation even more challenging for the Church leaders and theologians. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Hinduism is individualistic in nature. whereas in Hinduism human adulthood is viewed as an achievement of an individual who reached God (Brahman) through various means. like the fairy tale o f Santa Claus. The newer generations found the authoritative teachings o f the Church unacceptable by their scientific mind. human adulthood was understood as a result o f historical progression o f humanity as a whole. 208 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . Furthermore. views maturity o f a human being from the standpoint of discovery o f the infinite being that is hidden in one’s self. Hinduism.ground o f the Church and the kingdom o f God. the most serious problems for Christianity arose in its own backyard. Therefore. on the other hand. in Bonhoeffer. Sadly. To modem people who are conditioned by individualism of all kinds. Again. Bonhoeffer’s concept o f the adulthood o f humanity was drawn from the mature relationship between God and human being.

. A typical example is the conflict between the Creation story and evolutionism. Today’s parents learned to not brainwash their children with their own personal faith. To most youngsters who are accustomed to their own fun-filled excitement available through the internet and other media. Young people do not want to be fooled by the scientifically unbelievable stories o f the Bible. the Bible is simply one o f the most boring books that only a “nerd” might want to read. at least in the West. religion is no longer a family heritage. “It’s my life. “It is your life anyway!” is the typical attitude o f parents. In response to such an attitude o f their parents. the children claim. their minds which are trained to be analytical begins its doubt on the credibility o f the biblical narratives. it is a serious challenge for the Church to keep their youth within their reach. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Today. It seems that the younger generations simply do not want to remain in the Church. the parental task of teaching children the Word o f God and God’s wisdom is being abandoned by Christian families. Therefore. As soon as they realize that the Santa story is only fiction and what they longed for was something nonexistent. They should be left alone to make their own decisions for their life. 4) The Loss of Christian Family Tradition In a religiously pluralistic world. and moreover. It is not by God’s grace but by one’s own choice that he or she becomes a believer o f a religion.toddlers. The Biblical narratives do not appeal to those who measure everything with the scientific knowledge that they possess. Do not tell me what to believe!” The school is a system that is purposed to mold a child into a mature individual 209 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. they do not want to be controlled by moral values imposed on them by the authoritarian and legalistic Scripture and by the Church.

New Age. The younger generations want to explore various religions that are out there in the spiritual market place. Moreover. drugs. The discovery o f the power o f their “inner self’ attracts them more than the power that comes from an external being called God. Moreover. which grew up in an individualistic society. . They feel that many religions can satisfy their spiritual needs. and those religions include Satan Worship. their search for ecstasy does not stop at religion. including parents. should make decisions for other individuals. just like scorpions in the desert. It teaches children how to make their own decisions through the influence o f information that is readily available to them. such as Jesus o f Nazareth for one’s own salvation. Imagine a family where the father is a Christian. the family life becomes a challenging one. In this situation. They want more autonomous finding of truth.who can fit into the society. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the mother a Buddhist. they are going out to the spiritual land o f wilderness filled with alcohol. in those religions. In order to quench the thirst o f their soul. the son a New 210 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. including their children. Religious diversity provides an array o f choices to the more educated younger generations. how can the Church rescue those young generations from the stormy sea o f religious plurality by becoming the lighthouse again? As the spiritual bond is broken. No one. They prefer to reason for themselves. The individual rights to choose one’s own faith has become the norm in today’s world. To the younger generations. and many other religious cults. one does not have to depend on another person. other religions such as Buddhism appeals as a religion because it does not impose any pre­ written code o f conduct. once they reach a point where they can make their own intelligent choice and decision. and all kinds of fornication. sex.

Based on the fact that the West conquered the world and achieved scientific advancement in recent history. However. is it enough to rescue the sinking ship called “a spiritual family”? 5) A Lack of Theology for Religious Diversity Christian theology has been ignoring the depth o f the truths presented by other religions. Based on my personal experience. I suggest that there are several reasons why Christianity opted to remain ignorant o f other religious traditions. Third. fathers have lost their authority in their family.Age practitioner. Christianity lost direction in the midst o f the rapid transition from modernity to postmodemity. It did not have much concern that those Eastern religions could 211 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. How can such a family remain in genuine unity? In the Western world. and the daughter an atheist. What are the reasons? First. . This is an indication that the Church was too busy with self-maintenance. Christianity concluded that it is the only true religion. they still remain as elective courses that are not required for degree programs. Second. spiritual movements such as Harvest Ministry for Men have arisen. For example. Christianity has been arrogant towards other religions. although some classes on Islam and other religions are being offered by the seminary that I attended. seminaries do not seem to require their students to learn about other religions and their implications for Christianity. the Church mainly believed that other religions o f the East were contained in the Eastern world. Becoming sensitive to the fact that the children are lacking a father’s image in the family. It did not have enough resources to deal with the reality of religious diversity as a theological issue. and treated other religions as mythical or inferior. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

many do not accept Christian values as the norm unless it is approved by the majority o f society which is often counter-Christian. it must be a humiliating situation. Christianity must respect other religions as partners in the spiritual world. To the Church. In fact. the Christian music has mostly been marginalized and pushed to the comer by the popular music. It does not allow the conviction that Christianity represents the only truth. Christianity has to recognize that it is just one o f many religions. However. which once enjoyed a lofty position within Christendom. it must respect their geographical territories. Likewise. thus evangelism and mission are going to be viewed as a hostile act against other religions. Christianity now stands on the same rank as other religions. 6) Diminished Position of Christianity Once dominant in the Western world. For instance. political. many younger people are leaving the Church and 212 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The biblical teachings mostly no longer influence the decision on the social issues such as abortion and homosexuality. In political matters. As a religion. Christian themes are largely no longer at the center stage of art. Third.appeal to the people of the West. Christianity is no longer considered the supreme religion in the world where many other religions are presenting their own religious conviction to the Christian world. Christianity has largely lost its power and influence in cultural. It assumed that those religions are not compatible with Western culture. and social issues. Along with their truths. Christianity has to compete with other religions to win the souls of younger generations. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. which had been shaped mainly by Christianity. Second. A new apologetic against other religions became a necessity. why does this fact have to be a serious problem for the Church? First.

Whether the world 213 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. in general. other religions treat it as personal business.” For instance. it is not forbidden by many other religions. 1) The “Non-religious” Nature of the Gospel Arguably. Fourth. The Relevance of Bonhoeffer’s Theology Having stated that Bonhoeffer made a wrong assumption concerning “the religionless world” for his thesis. many o f whom have decided that the church is merely a "puritanical" relic o f a former age. How is it possible that a “non-religious interpretation” can remain relevant to a “religious pluralistic world?” The question will be answered from several perspectives. these same young people who grow up in the public school system are influenced by their peers. The church becomes unattractive when it is viewed as "moralistic" in nature. In order to attract the younger generation. Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is not a context-based theology. the validity o f the claim “non-religious interpretation o f the gospel” does not depend on the nature o f the world o f different ages. Christianity does not appear to be attractive to many in the younger generation when the church is viewed as authoritative in its approach and message. it will be argued that his concept might be even more relevant in a religiously pluralistic world than in his time. Whereas. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. expecting young people to uphold traditional moral values which often appear negative and restrictive. the church needs to base its moral teachings on values and norms that are more relevant to a "world come o f age. While playing golf on Sunday is viewed as a sinful thing to do. In fact. . the relevance o f his “non-religious interpretation” in today’s world needs to be explained.joining other religious forces. In other words. while smoking and drinking are looked at with evil-eyes on the Church grounds.

” suggested by Gadamer. and any attempt to help the Church prematurely to a new expansion o f its organization will merely delay its conversion and purification . Based on Bonhoeffer’s definition of maturity. We are not yet out o f the melting-pot. . which means a human being’s autonomous 23 LPP 300.23 The Church must be converted and purified not because the world has come of age but because it needs to restore its original meaning intended by Christ. as though that were an end in itself. or in the historical context suggested by Heidegger.is religionless or not. Based on the previous discussion o f Bonhoeffer’s theology. Bonhoeffer observed that the Church had lost its meaning and become an institutionalized religion. Rather. Although it is true that Bonhoeffer saw the need o f a reinterpretation of the biblical concepts by reflecting on the situation of the “religionless” world. his “non-religions interpretation” was to renew the Church by restoring the non-religious meaning o f the gospel. . Italics is to emphasize Bonhoeffer’s intent behind the re-interpretation of the Bible. he was not advocating a relativism o f any sort to fit Christianity into a particular historical context o f Germany. and organizing must be bom anew out of this prayer and action . All Christian thinking. which has been fighting in these years only for its selfpreservation. 214 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Because Bonhoeffer suggested a “non-religious interpretation” for the religionless world as it were. it can be concluded that his intention with the “non­ religious interpretation” was far from interpreting the biblical concepts in the manner of “fusion o f horizons. the concept can be misunderstood as if it is some kind of contextualization of the gospel. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . is capable of taking the word o f reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world. Bonhoeffer gave a hint of the meaning o f the “non-religious interpretation” in one o f his letters o f 1944: Our church. the non-religious nature o f the gospel should be restored. . . speaking.

but simply a man. regardless o f the state of the world. The condition of the Israelites in Egypt symbolized the condition o f humanity as a whole. Humanity must be liberated from the religions o f the world to come into the light of Christ. It was also explained that the world is still very mush religious and under bondage o f religion. the Church as a religion remains immature. Bonhoeffer’s vision to renew and purify the Church through “non-religions interpretation” seems to be relevant as long as the Church remains as a religious institution. God’s intention to liberate humanity from the slavery o f religion becomes clear. 24 LPP 369. the Church in essence retained its religious garb until our present days. the religious nature o f the world makes the “non-religious interpretation” more relevant than in the context o f the “religionless” world where it is implied that the bondage of religion was removed by the maturity o f the world itself. the task o f carrying out “the profound this-worldliness of Christianity” is not limited to the religionless world.21 July 1944. The Christian is not a homo religiosus. 2) The World under Religious Bondage As discussed in length. 27 June 1944.relationship with God. Clearly. as Jesus was a man. . He wrote. Rather.”24 Certainly. Whether the world has become religionless or not in the present time. Bonhoeffer pointed out. In fact. it is a task for the Church o f all ages to come. Bonhoeffer viewed religion as a yoke placed upon humanity. 25 LPP 336. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. “During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness o f Christianity. “Israel is delivered out o f Egypt so that it may live before God as God’s people on earth.”25 If Egypt is a symbol for the bondage and oppression of religion. 215 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

all religions. practices. .Religious pluralists will say. “Do not bother. and the Far East nations in the darkness of Buddhism? In the light of Bonhoeffer’s non-religious interpretation. :7 Jn. therefore it can free humanity :6 Jn. 216 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.27 it becomes clear that he also wants to liberate all human beings on the face o f the earth from the bondage o f religion. Their religious rituals. share one thing in common: they oppress people. If Jesus came to the world to free people from the religion o f Judaism so that they can see his glory. One can argue that Christianity is the true religion and all the others are false. including Christianity. ceremonies. Under the thick cover of those religions. the spirit o f God is invoked only for the purpose of those religious rituals and ceremonies. liturgies. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. rules and regulations oppress instead o f liberating human beings. He removed all the burden o f the Laws from the Jews once for all. The philosophical truths and the canonized words of the founders of those religions are idolized. whereas the Christian God is the one who is always in the midst o f human lives.”26 If John perceived that the Jew’s world was in the darkness of Judaism. it can be argued that Jesus intended to liberate the Jews from the bondage o f Judaism by fulfilling the Old Testament Laws and Prophets.” In a sense. or Buddhists will be saved altogether. All religions are the same in essence. It is obvious that a religion cannot liberate human beings from the bondage o f other religions. humanity cannot see the true light: “The light shines in the darkness. should we not see that India is still in the darkness o f Hinduism. In religion. 1:5. but the darkness has not understood it. because Muslims. the MiddleEast nations in the darkness o f Islam. Hindus. 1:14.

For instance. Bonhoeffer argued that it is the mistake that one views Christianity simply as a redemptive religion: But it seems to me that this is just where the mistake and the danger lie. the main emphasis now being on the far side o f the boundary drawn by death. and that means the emergence o f a genuine religion o f redemption. Redemption now means redemption from cares. However. fears. distress. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 217 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.29 The similarities between Christianity and other religions disappear when the lens of religion is removed from their eyes and Christ appears in their vision. The difference between the Christian hope of resurrection and the mythological hope is that the former sends a man back to his life on earth in a wholly new way which is even more sharply defined than it is in the Old Testament. Healing o f the 28 LPP 336-37. in a better world beyond the grave. as Bonhoeffer suggested. In the previous discussion. 29 Ibid. . such an argument is not acceptable to the postmodern mind which treats all religions on equal basis. Therefore. most religions are redemptive. and longings. redemption in afterlife is a common goal and characteristic o f most religions. 27 June 1944. Bonhoeffer pointed out the fact that Christianity is mistakenly viewed as a redemptive religion as well: The decisive factor is said to be that in Christianity the hope o f resurrection is proclaimed. However. it can be concluded that Christianity can liberate humanity from the bondage o f religion only when it is interpreted non-religiously and the Church takes action based on a non-religious interpretation o f the gospel and the Biblical concepts.from other religions. from sin and death. But is this really the essential character o f the proclamation o f Christ in the gospels and by Paul? I should say it is not.28 In fact. it was explained that there are certain similarities in different religions.

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.31 What separates human beings on the deepest level is religion. organization is needed to manage the Church 30 Gal. . what should or can the Church do to liberate humanity from the bondage and oppression of religion? The Church must first free itself from the chain o f religious bondage through the encounter with Christ in order to liberate the world from religion. We have been witnessing so many wars between nations and people with different faiths that are caused by religious differences. and other regions all over the world live on television. male nor female. We watch the age-old hatred between Jews and Palestinians on television almost everyday. the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. “What should we do as Christians?” Humanity is still in the darkness o f religion. 3:28. Rather it carries the message that redemption was made and humanity does not have to long for the redemption. It must take off its institutional garments. “There is neither Jews nor Greek. As one watches the human tragedy o f the wars in the Middle East. slave nor free. and sadly. The whole Bible. there will not be any more bloody religious conflicts in this world. Salvation is no longer a myth but a reality in Christ. liberating and redeeming language of Jesus.”30 Such is the non-religious. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Paul said. 218 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Christians should ask. It proclaims to the world filled with religion that their redemption is here for them to enjoy. 3 1 LPP 300.blind should be understood in the same light. Christianity either remains silent as a spectator or becomes an active participant o f religious conflicts. May 1944. Practically speaking. is filled with the stories o f conflict between nations and people of different faith and religion. Then. Christianity is not a religion for redemption. In Christ.

the Church should first free itself from the religious shackles through a “non-religious interpretation of the gospel.which signifies the worldly protections and privilege o f religion in order to stand before God as the mature body o f Christ.” The outcome o f such an interpretation is “a religionless Christianity” which will be discussed next. the Church succeeded to secure its 219 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Second.” In fact. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In summary. Under the protection o f the Roman Empire. the “non-religious interpretation” is relevant in a religiously pluralistic world for two reasons. it was the way Christianity was intended by Jesus who came to liberate humanity from the oppression o f religion. Instead. The state o f the Church did not change since the time when Bonhoeffer called for the “religionless Christianity. the “non-religious interpretation” suggests that the Church take off its religious clothes. and the religious rites were invented and refined. Christianity and the Church must take off their sandals . it is more meaningful in today’s world where many religions are keeping their grips on humanity. which tainted the meaning o f incarnation and made the Church another age-old religion. through prayer the Church should find the will o f God. In order to liberate humanity from religious bondage. However. As Moses had to take off his sandals before God. the Church has been under the “law” of religion ever since the Church was shaped through the Apostolic Succession.affairs. Religionless Christianity for the Religiously Pluralistic World As it has been addressed previously. It needs to break the chain o f a legalistic and religious interpretation o f the gospel. The lofty offices in the Church have been instituted. First. organization should not dictate what the Church should do because the Church is the body o f Christ. .

The Catholic Church once formed Christendom.firstly the early catholic. The Misunderstanding o f the Church (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.32 32 Emil Brunner. The Church . He says: So far our thesis has proved sound: the Ecclesia o f the New Testament is a communion of persons and nothing else. there will be persecution and oppression instead o f protection from politics. from the very beginning. but rather an institution. Brunner characterizes the Church of the New Testament as the Ecclesia. and . In fact. the Church secured its place in the world and became a happy child o f religion.is distinguished from the Ecclesia above all in this . 74. then was divided into Western and Eastern Churches. by God’s grace the Church can still bear the name of Christ despite its misbehaviors and disobedience it has committed throughout its existence. Church history does not seem to be much different from the stories o f the Old Testament. Emil Brunner argues that the Church. then the neo-catholic Roman Church . Further reproduction prohibited without permission.that is no longer primarily a communion o f persons. such a marriage between religion and politics was not exclusive to Christianity. 1958). He views that the Ecclesia later transformed into a religious institution. and was then divided again by the Reformation. Therefore it is not yet what it later became as the result o f a slow. . where Israel is divided and conquered by the neighboring nations. 220 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Over time.understands itself as such. It is the Body o f Christ.religious sphere under firm control. a communion o f persons. virtually all world religions have to collaborate with politics for their security and prosperity. hence unnoticed process o f transformation: it is not yet a Church. When such a relationship is broken. took a wrong course. steady. The development process of Christianity is not something unique. However. Clearly. but not an institution.particularly in its Roman Catholic form .

Without being able to show the world that the Church is truly one body of Christ where all branches are connected together in love. At least we should be honest about the Church’s wrongdoings. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 18 July 1944.33 One might argue that the Church has grown through its division and diversification. they took the wide gate and the broader road of religion that leads to their corruption. the Roman Catholic. However. Bonhoeffer’s bold suggestion for “religionless Christianity” is the way for the Church to live a life of Christ. 2:7. 34 LPP 361-2. because that is the narrow gate Christ chose.”351 cannot imagine that the One who has chosen the most lowly place in the world as his birthplace would choose those magnificent Church buildings as his 33 Ml 7:13. . Bonhoeffer saw that God is in the midst o f the godless world suffering for the sake of humanity. those accomplishments seem to glorify none other than the Christian institution itself.Protestant. 35 Lk. and Orthodox Churches can be categorized as religious institutions. in reality. 221 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The Church as religion hides its own problems and weaknesses from the world in order to pretend to be holy. the world come o f age knows its problems and weaknesses and attempts to resolve them openly and responsibly without God. the Church in a religiously pluralistic world cannot afford to insist that the division o f the Church is God’s providence for its prosperity and growth. Instead of choosing the narrow gate o f Christ.34 Jesus was bom in a stable because “there was no room for them in the inn. Religious Christianity has been spending much effort to erect religious monuments to glorify God. the Church will have to remain as one o f those religions in the religiously pluralistic world. On the other hand. However.

In Chapter 9. the truth to live and the life for eternity. 37 LPP 383. People can observe the hypocritical nature o f the Church as a religious institution.”36 The enlightened people can now see more clearly the falsehood and artificial nature of the dogmatic Church. Rather. the Church must become a community ruled by Christ. To make a start. the nature o f the Church for the religiously pluralistic world will be discussed in detail. The gospel is not merely for our understanding o f God’s plan for salvation. Bonhoeffer boldly suggested that the liturgies and the Apostle’s Creed be revised for the renewed Church. Many Christians left their churches because o f an unbearable atmosphere created by tradition and the worldly conflicts existing within the Church. . His understanding o f “transcendence” is not metaphysical but experiential and practical. Tne rusty dogmas replaced the living truth o f the gospel of Christ. The only way for the Church to serve Christ faithfully and fully is to be bom again in Spirit as the kingdom o f Christ in reality here and now. They no longer blindly believe what is spoken in the Church. It cannot afford to remain as a religious institution. “the Church for others” means the praxis of the Church. The Church for the Religious Others Bonhoeffer was advocating “costly discipleship” through the idea o f “the Church for others. Bonhoeffer asserted. 222 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others.” In my view. With regard to the Church’s property. it should give away all its property to those in need.dwelling place. the gospel is the way o f our life. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. God is transcendent in 36 LPP 382.37 To face the challenge of the religious world.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. made himself reachable through others as the one who suffers with them. Eerdmans Publishing.” is a theology of historical transcendence. and to thereby seek reconciliation. In other words. Therefore. considered from the standpoint o f eschaton. as Bethge himself has already indicated. Anderson explores Bonhoeffer’s concept o f “God’s transcendence in the neighbor” in terms o f “historical transcendence. being a Christian means sharing the suffering o f Christ for the sake of others. the kind o f love which we are to have for one who has hostility towards us. 1975). the commandment o f Jesus was eschatological in the most practical sense. Historical Transcendence and the Reality o f God: A Christological Critique (Grand Rapids. and thus retained its inner logic. who is transcendent. The transcendental is not infinite and unattainable tasks. God. for it will be tragic not to see that our enemy is also our friend.” Anderson says: [T]he structure of historical transcendence which loomed so large in Bonhoeffer’s thought in the correspondence with Bethge and published in Letters and Papers From Prison. Anderson explains the nature o f historical transcendence from the perspective o f eschaton: Thus. but it is the recognition that the enemy is also our friend. particularly in the concepts of the transcendence o f God as the “beyond in out midst” and “the neighbor who is within our reach. but the neighbor who is within reach in any given situation. For Jesus teaches us that in an action. or who may even have injured us or one that we love.our neighbor. MI: WM. or 38 LPP 381. But the concrete bond for such an assertion is contained in the historical transcendence o f God himself.38 Ray S. In other words. 223 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Anderson.39 From a practical sense. 95.B. . is not a human “feeling” which we can generate as a capacity to show affection. 39 Ray S. Incarnation means that Christ is here today to share the suffering o f humankind. Consequently. Bonhoeffer said: Our relation to God is a new life in “existence for others” through participation in the being o f Jesus. He helps us in our suffering as the weak and powerless God. I would have to say that Bonhoeffer did indeed explicate this theology without reducing the problematic of historical transcendence.

42 LPP 383.. Rather than serving.non-action. power-worship. 224 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Besides. It can be imagined that they were in a somewhat desperate situation. one has to wonder if those pastors really believed that healing ministry is something that can be learned in a similar fashion as in a medical school. the poor.”40 Bonhoeffer claimed that the Church must share in the secular problems o f ordinary human life. the sick. not dominating. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. “As you did it to one o f the least o f these my brethren. envy. The purpose of their trip was for Church growth. towards the criminal in prison. and the homeless is bound up with our relation with him. 4 1 LPP 382-82. “In particular. the starving. 298. as the roots o f all evil. did Jesus heal the sick to increase the membership o f his church or to recruit more disciples? On the contrary. Bonhoeffer continued to protest against the religious Church in the following term. it wants to be served. Jesus is seen to have sent the healed away from him although they wanted to follow Jesus. our own church will have to take the field against the vices o f hubris . .41 The religious Church dominates people and other religions. Although their situation is understandable. several hundred pastors from overseas countries came to California to attend a seminar for healing ministry in order to “learn” how to exercise God’s healing power. 43 Lk. It intimidates people with its dogmas and sophisticated religious rites.”42 Those things can still be observed in today’s churches. you did it to me. The desire o f their congregations to have more powerful pastors with spiritual gifts forced them to come to the seminar. and humbug.43 Luke recorded that the number o f believers increased daily 40 Ibid. Several years ago. but helping and serving. 8:38-39.

Certainly. and holding poisonous snakes with bare hands. as religious tricks. We keep hearing about the manifestation o f the Holy Spirit through the gifts o f laughing. the Church should participate in the suffering o f Christ from the perspective of the human soul. For another example. Whether the one who suffers is an individual. 2:44-47. family.44 Jesus healed the sick out o f genuine compassion without having any other purpose attached.” One has to ask if a spiritual gift is something that can be attained through a training program. It sounds similar to what Hindu guru’s yoga practice to attain wisdom. who is the Lord o f the world. I have indeed seen the misery o f my people in Egypt. The Good Samaritan story reminds the Church what it should do. The Church should not remain as a spectator any longer. not just because a pastor healed some o f the sick. The Church for others will participate in the suffering o f the world. what does it mean to be the Church for other religions? First. I have heard them crying out because o f their slave drivers. 225 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Moses recorded. The story is not just for individual Christians but also for the Church. there are some churches where Christians are trained for the “tongues. However. and I am concerned about their 44 Ac. village. rolling. “The Lord said. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer would have categorized them as humbugs. It should be able to see the oppressive condition under which humanity suffers. Christ is the Lord who suffers for all humankind and for the whole world.because of what the Jerusalem church did. the Church will be there to participate in that suffering with Christ. ethnic group. or nation. . Those so-called “gifts” are truly absurd.

one cannot deny that many religious people. According to this passage. This opinion will certainly raise a serious opposition from the camp of religious pluralism.suffering. what the Church needs today is not another Reformation but a Re-birth by the Spirit on the new theological foundation o f “non-religious interpretation o f Christianity. it is clear that God is concerned about the current human condition under many religions. However. The Church should free itself by understanding the non-religious meaning o f the gospel. including Christian’s. In summary. and it is an obedient act. Therefore. 3:7. Superstition is a sign o f one’s separation from God in which he/she suffers spiritual blindness and deftness. The praxis 45 Ex. initiated by human needs. whether spiritual or not. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.”45 The Exodus event can be interpreted in light o f the salvation o f humanity from religious oppression which is symbolized by the slavery under Pharaoh. many Christians call for a second Reformation to renew the Church. Today. Superstition is a human being’s invocation of God or gods to satisfy his/her worldly needs.” The Church must not simply understand but live the gospel. The gospel needs to be understood non-religiously in order to bring a fuller life to the Church and Christians. is a superstitious act. However. It can be argued that any worship. 226 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. are still practicing superstition under the cover o f their religions. and be able to liberate human beings under the oppression o f religions o f this world. including Christians. . convincingly. the Church for religious others should share the compassion o f Christ for others who suffer spiritual affliction under religions of this world. it can be concluded that Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is relevant to Christianity and the Church in today’s world. True worship is human response to God’s calling.

one first needs to discover the current state of the Church. 227 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.o f the Church begins with a “non-religious interpretation of the gospel. .” In order to establish the goal o f the Church’s re-birth. How far is the present Church off the mark o f the gospel intended by Christ? The answer will be given in the following chapter.

. For the purpose of the present discussion.2 Just as the world come o f age became autonomous from God and learned how to manage its own affairs responsibly. Then. the meaning of adulthood. From this analysis. which is situated in a world o f many religions. the nature of the contemporary Church will be analyzed in order to determine its current stage o f development. Green summarizes the essence o f Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Miindigkeit in terms o f human autonomy from God. 2 Green. it is clear that the Church itself must become mature. If the Church wants to serve a world come o f age. Miindigkeit.CHAPTER 8 THE CHURCH IN ADOLESCENCE In the previous chapter. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. territorial. Readers should note that it is the author’s own term to describe the immature nature of the Church which has yet to come of age. In order to expand the horizon of “non-religious interpretation. I will conclude that the Church is still in its “adolescence. and close-minded to others. 228 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and human achievement. Bonhoeffer.” it is necessary to critique the current state o f the Church. human self-understanding. 248-58. the Church come o f age should also 1 The term “adolescence” is not borrowed from Bonhoeffer. Miindigkeit Clifford J. based on the definition of adulthood for the Church. A Theology o f Sociality.” 1 The Meaning of Adulthood. will be defined in relation to the Church. The adolescence of the Church includes its being self-centered. the concept o f “non-religious interpretation” was presented as a way for the Church to face the challenge o f the religious plurality o f the world.

Rather. marriage can be seen as a metaphor o f the 3 LPP 360. as the world come of age was enlightened by its own self-understanding and became capable o f achieving its own goals. the Church come of age should be able to fulfill its tasks as commissioned by the Lord.be able to manage its own affairs “without the working hypothesis o f God. That is not because God is “dead. The present analysis will include some other aspects o f Miindigkeit based on the metaphor o f marriage used by the Apostle Paul. In this sense. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Christ is its bridegroom. Yet. Human autonomy does not mean God has left the world alone. Autonomous human beings can manage the important problems o f life without God. 1) The Metaphor of Marriage Bonhoeffer. the Church has a special relationship with Christ. defined the adulthood o f the world in terms o f human autonomy from God. the Church come o f age should as well be enlightened by knowing its true identity. but not without God who is seen in Christ the living Lord. God is closely related to humanity through the incarnate Christ. Just as parents endeavor not to nag or oppress their children. which will be discussed first. 16 July 1944.”3 Similarly. . the Lord o f the world and the Church. However. By being the non-religious community o f Christ. which is the concept of freedom for others. Green arguably misses an important element o f Bonhoeffer’s concept of adulthood. as discussed earlier.” but because God allows human beings to manage their lives as adults. 229 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. God allows freedom and self-determination for his children. The world can live without a God o f abstraction.

just as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. About God’s intimate relationship with them. . and will become one flesh. Now as the church submits to Christ. 2:15.6 However.Church’s relation to Christ. submit to your husbands as to the Lord. but holy and blameless.”5 God provided their daily needs by putting them in the Garden o f Eden. 6 Ge. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Therefore. without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. husbands ought to love 4 Ge. In this same way. 5 Ge. in order for the Church to be the bride o f Christ it needs to become an adult. 7 Ibid. “the man and his wife heard the sound o f the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool o f the day. and how can it be concluded that the current Church remains in adolescence? The adulthood o f a person is recognized through marriage.”7 and. Genesis tells us. 2:24. his body. one is not treated as an adult until he or she gets married and establishes a new home. Husband. the Scripture says. What does that mean for the Church? Paul explained theologically: Wives.”4 The primeval unity o f the first man and woman is the meaning of marriage. what does the Church come o f age mean. Regarding marriage between a man and a woman. so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. The Bible tells us that marriage means one’s leaving his or her parents and being united with a partner. In Korean tradition. cleaning her by the washing with water through the word. and to present her to himself as a radiant church. that aspect is what is expected from the adulthood o f humankind. o f which he is the Savior. For the husband is the head o f the wife as Christ is the head o f the church. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. at the same time. The marital relation is between adults. love your wives. they were commissioned by God “to work it [the Garden] and take care of it. In light of the world come o f age. “For this reason a man will leave this father and mother and be united to his wife. 3:8.

for we are members o f his body. 5:22-33. a more careful analysis will discover that Paul’s real emphasis was on the marital relationship between Christ and the Church. just Christ does the church . A Biblical Ecclesiology fo r Today (Grand Rapids. MI: Eerdmans. 115 10 LPP 360. the two will become on flesh. “For that reason a man will leave his father and mother . Miindigkeit. From this we can deduce that neither a more religious worship service nor the deeper religiosity o f an individual can make the Church mature. 8 Eph.but I am talking about Christ and the church. and the wife must respect her husband.8 Preachers have used the text mainly to explain the biblical ideals of the relation between the husband his wife. 16 July 1944. but he feeds and cares for it. Everett Ferguson also observed that the relation of Christ and the Church is presented as the model for human marriage. The Church o f Christ. Based on Paul’s interpretation of Genesis 2:24. Rather. The love of Jesus is the love o f the bridegroom toward his Church and the world. each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself. .” This is a profound mystery . According to Bonhoeffer. 1996). 9 Everett Ferguson. he used the human relationship o f marriage as a metaphor to describe the nature of the Church’s relation to Christ.their wives as their own bodies. the maturity. .9 However. .1 0 On the cross Jesus was forsaken by the Father for his love toward humankind. He who loves his wife loves himself. it can be said that Jesus had to leave the Father to be united with the Church and the world. Extending from Paul’s interpretation o f Genesis 2:24. o f the Church can only come from its marital relationship with Christ. Christ was forsaken by the Father. 231 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. After all. However. it can be said that the adulthood o f the Church is attained through its marriage with Christ. no one ever hated his own body. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

. One can truly appreciate the virtue o f obedience only when he or she becomes an adult. it is a profound mystery that the Church gains freedom in the marital relationship with the Lord by submitting itself to the Lord.However. in other words. The correct understanding o f this meeting is o f the greatest significance for the understanding o f the gospel as a whole. Under the title The Pharisee 1 1 in his Ethics . the Church come of age should submit to the Lord. It is only when one becomes a parent that he or she seems to be able to appreciate the love o f his or her own parents. Second. Bonhoeffer treated the issue of the ethical freedom of human beings by interpreting the meeting o f Jesus with the Pharisee: It is in Jesus’ meeting with the Pharisee that the old and the new are most clearly contrasted. The Pharisee is not an adventitious historical phenomenon o f a particular time. The Church' s Submission to Christ The Church attains its adulthood through its submission to Christ. 232 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. what does it mean for the Church to be in a marital relationship with Christ? The text points out several aspects o f the Church’s relation to Christ as his bride. Third. it is only the Church come o f age which can truly appreciate the grace and love of God. First. the Pharisee represents the state o f humanity disunited from God. In that state. Likewise. the Pharisee’s utmost important concern is the knowledge of 1 1 The Pharisee is a collective term Bonhoeffer used. it should be in union with Christ. As Paul pointed out. 12 E 30. he is simply the man of disunion. He is the man to whom only the knowledge o f good and evil has come to be of importance in his entire life.1 2 According to Bonhoeffer. it must respect Christ as its head.

which is never confronted by a plurality o f possibilities. 15 E 33. Regarding this. but always only by one thing. it consists on the contrary precisely in the complete simplicity o f His action. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. U E 31-33. He lives and acts not by the knowledge of good and evil but by the will of God. whom he humbly thanks for this knowledge. the Pharisee has to determine his own choice in the conflict between good and evil. and is not suffocated by the law o f logical alternative. and to the determination o f his own choice.human morality. Ethical questions and moral decisions occupy the life of the Pharisee. . Bonhoeffer continued to analyze the characteristics o f the Pharisee: The Pharisee is that extremely admirable man who subordinates his entire life to his knowledge o f good and evil and is as severe a judge of himself as o f his neighbor to the honor o f God. to the reaching o f a decision in these conflicts. remaining true. He speaks with freedom. This one thing Jesus calls the will o f God. Bonhoeffer says: The freedom o f Jesus is not the arbitrary choice o f one amongst innumerable possibilities. one can claim that the source o f Jesus’ adulthood is his freedom to submit himself to the will of God. However. For the Pharisee every moment o f life becomes a situation of conflict in which he has to choose between good and evil.good and evil .1 3 Not leaving those ethical questions to God. In this freedom Jesus leaves all concern for lawfulness behind him.1 5 The will o f God is the life of Jesus. Bonhoeffer concluded that in the freedom of Jesus the origin is recovered: in it there is established the freedom and the simplicity of all 1 3 E 30-31. Jesus never allows himself to be drawn into such conflicts. conflicts or alternatives. For the sake of avoiding any lapse his entire thought is strenuously devoted night and day to the anticipation of the whole immense range o f possible conflicts.1 4 In line with Bonhoeffer. 233 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

From the freedom of love toward its bridegroom. “I have called you friends. Paul prefaces his statement with regard to the submission o f the wife to the husband by speaking of “mutual submission. submission becomes an act of subordination which brings humiliation and shame to the one who is subordinated. In a more practical sense it means that the Church come of age knows the will o f God through Christ. The Church in Union with Christ The Church married to Christ is in union with him. In this case. its submission to Christ is an act of a loving wife towards her husband who was forsaken1 7 by his Father in order to be united with his wife. as Christ knows the will of the Father. the wife’s submission to her husband is an act of love which brings joy to both o f them. without love. Christ also submitted himself to serve the Church. 1 7 Bonhoeffer’s way of understanding the incarnate Christ in the midst of the world.” In a sense.1 6 In human relationships. the mind seeks to understand the intrinsic structure o f reality as it presents itself to us through experience. we are attempting to discern the “inner logic” o f reality as we encounter it as contrasted with the “formal logic” o f a mind that abstracts away from 16 E 34. in its obedience. for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. the Church come of age. in a loving relationship o f husband and wife. 18 John 15:15.action. When we do this. . From the perspective of the Church’s marital relation to Christ. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the Church. For Jesus said. Furthermore. Anderson suggests the “inner logic” as a way to discern God’s will: Another direction the mind can take is to seek to penetrate into the structure o f things and events as they are experienced in order to discern the nature o f things as revealed through our encounter with them. On the contrary. 234 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. submits itself to Christ.” 1 8 Ray S.

but rather attacks o f his own against the Pharisees. which is what they. in fact.sensory experience and retreats into a timeless and contentless world o f ideas and concepts. The Church’s union with Christ also means that the Church shares the life and reality o f Christ in this world. That is why their words so strikingly fail to make contact. Westminster John Knox Press.” the Pharisee and Jesus are speaking on totally different levels. 11 .20 Jesus speaks the language of adulthood whereas the Pharisee utters the language o f adolescence. :o E 32. This intimate experiential level o f knowledge between husband and wife can be viewed as the “inner logic” o f the union between the Church and Christ. but the Pharisee’s separation from God makes him remain in adolescence. 235 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In human life. The Church come of age should be able to discern God’s will through Christ like a wife knows her husband intimately. The Soul o f Ministry (Louisville. Anderson. the Pharisee could not understand Jesus’ language. . Kentucky. Likewise. are. Bonhoeffer argued: Jesus’ answer arises from unity with God. 1997). The Church come o f age shares life not only among its 19 Ray S. On the subject of unity between Jesus and the Father. with the origin. communication between an adult and an adolescent is quite difficult because each is speaking from a different plane. and from the overcoming o f the disunion o f man with God. and that is why Jesus’ answers do not appear to be answers at all. in his meeting with Jesus. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.1 9 Anderson rightly says that God’s revelation should be understood through the “inner logic” of the intrinsic structure of things and events. Jesus’ union with the Father makes him speak the language o f adulthood.

. He seems to v iew the Church as a creation o f the Logos in the same way God created the entire universe with his spoken Word. Between his ascension and his coming again. He said: Just as Christ is present as Word and in the Word. on the contrary. which not only reveals the love of God but also creates the kingdom o f God with individuals transformed into the image o f God. That he is in heaven at the right o f God does not contradict this. the Church come o f age itself becomes the revelation o f God. the Church is his form and indeed his only form. His presence in Word and sacrament is related to his presence in the Church as reality is related to form. so he is also present as Church and in the Church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Only in so far as it is itself Word of God.2 1 According to Bonhoeffer. By living the life of Christ in his image.l. The Church possesses the creative power o f the Word.22 Based on Bonhoeffer’s argument.members but also with Jesus Christ whose reality is present in this world. as sacrament and in the sacrament. the Church come of age does not merely proclaim the gospel as a story o f Jesus Christ. He speaks and thereby creates the form o f the Church. Christ as the Word creates the form of the Church. Jn. but rather proclaims the gospel o f Christ by sharing his life and living together with him as his bodily form.l. doctrina. Bonhoeffer understood the presence o f Christ in the Church in terms o f the Word. 236 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. but it is the powerful Word of the Creator. can it understand the Word o f God. Christ is the Church by virtue o f his pro me being. :i CC 58. What does it mean that Christ as Word is also Church? It means that the Logos o f God has existence in space and time in and as the Church. The Church is thus not only receiver o f the Word o f revelation. “ Ge. Christ the Word is spiritually and bodily present. but is itself revelation and Word o f God. The Logos is not merely the weak word o f human teaching. Revelation can be understood only on the basis o f revelation. this is what makes possible his presence in and as the Church.

The Church come o f age knows that the church growth seminars or the church growth consultants are not the cause o f church growth. The Church come o f age does not claim the superiority o f its denomination or form against others. it seems to have been an impossible task to unite the Church under one Lord. It knows that it is Jesus Christ who built the Church on the rock of his disciples.Christ as the head o f the Church The Church come o f age claims no lordship o f the Church itself. It must be drawn together in order to build one body o f Christ. as the members o f Christ’s body. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . The Church’s true union with Jesus should bring unity among churches because all churches. most Christians desire unity among all Christians. It knows that it cannot remain divided under one head and one husband. 237 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In that sense. but that it is rather the Holy Spirit who has been working with the Church since the day of Pentecost. Ecumenism as a “movement” cannot unite the Church as one body o f Christ. Paul urged the Church. Unsurprisingly. ecumenism should not remain as an ideal concept in the Church come of age. However. Jesus Christ. there is only one head of the Church. The Church come o f age recognizes and respects Christ as the head o f every church on the face o f the earth. The Church should recognize that it cannot be unified without first being united with Christ. because the true unity o f the Church as a whole is possible only when all members o f the Church recognize Christ as their head. It acknowledges that the Lord of the Church is Christ. Therefore. must be connected together under one head. Though there are many different forms and branches of the Church.

One might consider this claim too ideal. . The Thirty Year’s War finally laid bare the political disunity o f the west which had resulted from the schism o f faith. However.Make every effort to keep the unity o f the Spirit through the bond of peace. which is governed solely by the word of Jesus C hrist. The Peace o f Westphalia confirmed and ratified the confessional schism as the fate and inheritance of the western world.23 One might try to justify division o f the Church with a concept o f diversity in the religious marketplace. one faith. Just as there is no building that does not have its building blocks connected with each other. . one baptism. . 24 E 96. all the churches still need to be connected in a real sense in order to show the world that the Church is truly one body of Christ united with each other in the love o f Christ and the creative power o f the Holy Spirit. one baptism. There is one body and one Spirit . “There is only one Church.”24 Cross-denominational and ecumenical dialogs are being made more frequently in recent years. one body.just as you were called to one hope when you were called . 238 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. should be connected to form one body o f Christ in order to claim that the Church has come o f age. such a claim only appears to be a beautification covering the scars o f the Church’s division. one God and Father are not ideal nor abstract concepts but rather God’s reality which is revealed in Christ’s incarnation. and that is the Church of faith. one God and Father o f all. one Lord. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. who is over all and through all and in all. However.one Lord. regardless o f its form. one faith. 23 Eph. as Paul declared. one Spirit. 4:3-5. all the churches. one hope. However. Bonhoeffer said.

Chaste your mind and your body. His freedom was the one that Christ attained through his ministry on earth. action. and both in subjection. . 21 July 1944. for fear that your passions and longing may lead you away from the path you should follow. and shows the steps Bonhoeffer himself took to achieve that freedom of the spirit. in his poem. steadfastly seeking the aim set before them. Edwin H. Freedom means that human beings are liberated from their passions. suffering. The Way to Freedom .2) Freedom for Others The Church come of age has the ability to exercise freedom for the sake o f others. only through discipline may a man learn to be free. 239 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer spoke o f discipline as the condition for freedom. 26 LPP 370. longings.25 What does Bonhoeffer mean by “freedom?” He set out four steps to attain freedom: discipline. and death. By going through those four steps. It is not the same freedom for which the founders of America have fought.” First. II. Robertson points out such freedom o f the spirit enabled Bonhoeffer to write those liberating letters. one can have a better understanding of what he meant by “freedom. and desires for worldly things: If you set out to seek freedom. From this line of thought. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. obediently.26 25 Robertson and Bowden. then learn above all things to govern your soul and your senses. one can see that his “freedom” is quite different from the freedom in the political sense. The Bonhoeffer’s Stations on the way to Freedom is considered to be one o f his most important poems.

Jesus’ freedom from temptation serves as a model for discipline.27 Discipline characterizes a profound form of worldliness. but the profound this-worldliness.”29 Bonhoeffer wrote in his poem. One must notice that this poem o f Bonhoeffer follows his discussion o f “this-worldly Christianity. 21 July 1944. freedom is not an abstract concept but a concrete reality we must possess as Christians. do the external works. the comfortable.” He said: [By this-worldly Christianity] I don’t mean the shallow and banal thisworldliness of the enlightened. It can only be understood from the perspective of obedience that is explained in Discipleship. 240 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Freedom also means the simplicity o f action based on God’s will. He said: Here the gracious call o f Jesus Christ to discipleship becomes a strict law: Do this! Stop that! Come out o f the boat to Jesus! Jesus says to anyone who uses their faith or lack o f faith to excuse their acts o f disobedience to his call: First obey.Clearly. 28 D 66. “Freedom comes only through deeds.21 July 1944. The second step toward freedom is action. let go o f what binds you. In other words. He said: The freedom o f Jesus is not the arbitrary choice o f one amongst innumerable possibilities. the busy. or the lascivious. not through thoughts taking wing. in which we can gain our freedom. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. give up what us separating you from God’s will!28 Thus discipline as the first step for freedom is to clear up all obstacles o f this world between God and ourselves so that we can have an unhindered relationship with him. I think Luther lived a thisworldly life in this sense. characterized by discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection. . 29 LPP 371. However. it consists on the contrary precisely in the *' LPP 369. in contrast to the shallow and banal form o f worldliness. it is only the first station on the road to freedom.

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. so strong and active. are bound. 241 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . in it there is established the freedom and the simplicity o f all action. what is it to do the will o f God? Bonhoeffer’s next step to freedom is suffering. He lives and acts not by the knowledge of good and evil but by the will o f God. but always only by one thing. and to conversion.30 He further asserted. so now you may rest contented. Your hands. it is the call which nullifies the old knowledge o f the apostasy and which imparts the new knowledge of Jesus. your cause committing to stronger hands. In a subsequent letter. but also suffering is a way to freedom.32 It appears that Bonhoeffer is describing the suffering o f Jesus. the deliverance consists in our being allowed to put the matter out o f our own hands into God’s hands. In suffering. 3: i LPP 371. I think that is very important and very comforting. 33 LPP 375.33 30 E 33-34. you gave it to God. which is never confronted by a plurality of possibilities. 3 1 E 39. This will of God is His life. 28 July 1944. This one thing Jesus calls the will o f God. That it might be perfected in glory. “It is the call o f liberation.complete simplicity of His action. in helplessness now you see your action is ended. Whether the human deed is a matter o f faith or not depends on whether we understand our suffering as an extension o f our action and a completion of freedom. In this sense death is the crowning o f human freedom. Only for one blissful moment could you draw near to touch freedom.”31 The action o f simplicity to do the will o f God in obedience is the way to freedom. the call to simplicity. then. In it the origin is recovered. you sigh in relief. that knowledge which is entirely contained in the doing o f the will o f God. he briefly expanded his thought: Not only action. However. conflicts or alternatives. He says that to do the will is His meat. Bonhoeffer saw that true freedom lies in God when human beings can commit themselves for the suffering o f others. His poem continues: A change has come indeed.

is there any place in Christianity for the religious activities and symbols such as worship. 30 April 1944. 8 June 1944.?” In answering Bethge’s question regarding “religious act. 36 Ibid. 37 LPP 329. “Does the secret discipline. we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord. how long we have sought thee in discipline. in speaking o f a religionless Christianity. sacrosanct. 35 LPP 281. one might raise a question regarding the religious aspects of the Church and o f individual Christian lives. “Freedom. take on a new importance here?”36 Bethge in tum responded by asking “whether there is any ‘ground’ left for the Church. hymn. . . which is the final station on the road to eternal freedom. . already put the same question to himself.”37 Bethge later posed another question to Bonhoeffer. We come to our true freedom through death. and suffering. . dying. or alternatively the difference (which I have suggested to you before) between penultimate and ultimate. . What about the hymn . which is to do God’s will. and prayer? Bonhoeffer.”34 3) This Worldly Christianity and the Secret Discipline Based on the present discussion o f the Church come o f age thus far.” Bonhoeffer 34 Ibid. 242 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. action. sacraments. “What is ‘worshipping’ idols? Is it the fact that for some people there is still something that cannot be discussed. or whether that ground has gone for good. something different from worship? .Suffering is an extension o f our action. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. “What is the place o f worship and prayer in a religionless situation?”35 He then tried to formulate an answer in his dialogue with Eberhard Bethge. If the Church come of age claims to be non-religious.

and liturgy o f the Church? Bethge answers that this was not the case. but those o f God in the world . it can be deduced that he must have considered this-worldly or religionless Christianity as something holistic in nature. characterized by discipline and the constant knowledge o f death and resurrection . to John the Baptist.”40 However.”38 He further asserted: During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness o f Christianity. not our own sufferings. . or the lascivious. involving the whole o f one’s life. the comfortable.watching with Christ in Gethsemane. “While Bonhoeffer developed his ideas on the nonreligious interpretation o f Christianity in a world come o f age. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it is clear that Bonhoeffer’s main focus was on this-worldliness of Christianity. experiences and perplexes. he never considered abandoning his connection with the traditional words and customs o f the church. I don’t mean the shallow and banal thisworldliness o f the enlightened. Jesus calls men. . Based on his understanding o f religion as something partial. “The ‘religious act’ is always something partial. the problem for the interpreters o f Bonhoeffer has been the fact that he did not leave a clear 38 LPP 362. The Christian is not a homo religiosus. taking seriously. ‘faith’ is something whole. prayer. 2000). did Bonhoeffer mean to abandon traditional worship. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties. Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Biography (Revised Edition).39 From this. 21 July 1944. 243 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. MN: Fortress. . 18 July 1944. (Minneapolis. 39 LPP 369-70. the busy. but the profound this-worldliness. 881. but to life. 40 Eberhard Bethge. With his religionless Christianity. shall we say. success and failures. but simply a man. as Jesus was a man . not to a new religion. problems.in contrast. In doing so we throw ourselves completely into the arms o f God.said.

from the second part o f the liturgy in which the communion was celebrated and the Nicene Creed sung. Much to his own annoyance. Bethge says in this regard: It is a disturbing thing for the church that. 244 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . Bonhoeffer did not give a completed ecclesiology that we could hold on to. 42 Bethge. he was not yet able to resolve this problem in a theologically satisfactory way. he himself saw that it would be an arduous undertaking to give a theological account o f the nature o f the church. the arcane discipline is nothing other than an extension o f Bonhoeffer’s lifelong insistence that Christians should fall silent before the Word until they perceive its meaning 4 1 LPP 328. 43 Ibid.. the origin o f the “arcane” or “secret” discipline is the early Christian practice of excluding the uninitiated. 44 Ibid. its liturgy and communal life. entirely open. the unbaptized catechumens. Fant concludes from his extensive study on the “secret discipline. but left this. This difficulty is not only due to the fact that Bonhoeffer did not write more than a tiny fragment on the subject. although not in the spirit of dismantling or even getting rid o f it.” “In fact.a “genuine worship. at the end o f his theological activity.”44 Clyde E. and canon lawyers immediately pick up on the suggestions that are impossible for a Volkskisrche. 881. Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Biography. 887.42 According to Bethge. o f all things. He viewed his suggestions on “arcane discipline” and its “consequences” only as pointing in a certain direction. On the contrary.answer to those questions of the new form o f the Church and the meaning o f “genuine worship”41 for the world come of age.as he explicitly states . The theologians o f the church feel the lack of this. When he developed his new perspective he immediately raised the question of what was going to happen to the worship service.43 Regarding the “arcane discipline” Bethge says: There is no doubt that Bonhoeffer regarded an arcane discipline as the indispensable counterpoint o f nonreligious interpretation. he was concerned to preserve . on the basis o f his new ideas. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

based on Bonhoeffer’s understanding of the “genuine worship. the media. the understanding o f the Word is not for our own personal edification alone but for our life in the world. . Larry Rasmussen says: Bonhoeffer sees the church o f the future as a kind o f low-profile order in the world as the world-come-of-age. Arcane discipline means that worship in a world-come-of-age is not for everyone. However.. which he described in terms o f the “arcane discipline” o f the silence before the Word. and the hidden nature o f the devout life. the posters. but not to and with all. 245 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.41 can be considered as another nature of the “arcane discipline. and o f an intense Christian community. and their expression o f the meaning o f that loyalty as members of the one Body is communicated with one another in worship.”45 On the other hand. A. it can be concluded that Bonhoeffer clearly intended to preserve the “genuine worship” for the world come of age. ed. to which it was directed and over which it reigns.46 An exhaustive study of the “arcane discipline” is not necessary for the present discussion. described as the aspects of the costly grace. In addition. MI: Eerdmans. Lectures on Homiletics (New York: Crossroad. .” Therefore. the hidden righteousness. J. Klassen (Grand Rapids. arcane discipline is the focused inner concentration. 46 Larry Rasmussen. 278. the Church come o f age. It is for small groups o f clearly committed Christians who comprise an intense community on the basis of their intense loyalty to Christ.for us today. 47 D 152-68. 1991). 1981). Indeed. Worship in a World-Come-of-Age in A Bonhoeffer Legacy. Bonhoeffer’s continuing fascination with Gandhi was in part because he wanted to learn from Gandhi the disciplines for a discipleship community . Worship as arcane discipline is not for the streets. the hidden prayer. 77. 45 Clyde E Fant. or the masses. In this order. Worldly Preaching. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” should know how to practice the “arcane discipline” until the time o f the coming of Jesus.

246 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 48 In line with Bonhoeffer’s thought. However. Ray S. popularity. and power. Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. although they would certainly not have starved without them. The Sabbath is made for humankind. and the church music. although she has been ill for eighteen years already and could certainly have waited a day longer (the Pharisee. The Soul o f Ministry (Louisville. Anderson describes Sabbath in the following terms: “the Sabbath rest does not mean the cessation o f God’s activity. Jesus bids his disciples eat o f the ears of the field on the Sabbath. . an adolescent is preoccupied with non-essential matters o f life such as external appearance.. 1997). Anderson. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 49 Ray S.50 In this regard. many churches still maintain a legalistic view on the Sabbath and other church matters such as the order of worship. possession. the layout o f sanctuary. an adult should be able to distinguish the essentials from the non-essentials. Bonhoeffer said: Jesus casts aside all the distinctions which the Pharisee so laboriously maintains. the bringing to completion o f the original Word o f creation. God continues his work on the Sabbath for the sake o f the world.”49 In other words. . 48 E 33. has left room in his system for the genuine case o f emergency). On the contrary. but the ‘finishing’ of his work. not humankind for Sabbath. An adult should be free from all those nonessentials. too.4) The Church that can discern Jesus does not care much about non-essential matters. and what is essential for the Church to do the work o f Christ and to bring life to the world. fame. he heals a sick woman on the Sabbath. the Church come o f age can discern what is the true source o f its life. Like Jesus. . 50 Ibid. 64.

and rebellious. Edward H. Therefore. a church that can only ask self-oriented questions and make decisions directed only towards self-maintenance can be called an adolescent church. Hammett says. The title of the first chapter o f a book planned by Bonhoeffer. the following discussion can be considered as an extension of Bonhoeffer’s stocktaking o f Christianity. Therefore. it can be considered to be in adolescence. the Church’s ineffectiveness on the masses of society.Having the characteristics of a Church in adulthood defined. Self-centeredness of an Adolescent Church In the previous analysis o f the Church’s adulthood.51 He was mostly concerned about “the menace of organization” by which he apparently meant the Church as an institution serving the religionlessness o f human beings who have come o f age. the current state of the Church needs to be analyzed in order to determine whether the Church is presently mature or not. the Church on defensive and not taking risks for others. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Pietism was seen as a last attempt to maintain evangelical Christianity as a religion. If the Church is not related to Christ as his submissive wife. was going to deal with this issue. the attempt to rescue the Church as an institution for salvation.” Adolescents are often characterized as self-centered. It has become more introverted 5 1 LPP 380. stubborn. July/ August 1944. adolescent teens often oppose their parents because o f the development o f their “ego. The theology o f revelation. In a family situation. “The traditional institutional church is in trouble. and public morals. A Stocktaking o f Christianity . . 247 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. it was concluded that the Church come of age is in a marital relationship with Christ.

If a church is so busy to satisfy the needs o f congregation that it loses its identity o f Christ’s wife. . education committee. Ataking the Church Work.. there is a worship committee. because the Church come o f age serves Christ and his world rather than serving itself For example. O f course. general management committee. and election committee. a self-focused church is like a passenger boat 5: Edward H. personnel committee. it can be called an adolescent church. it does not seem to be uncommon that the majority o f those committees are organized for the self-maintenance of the Church. elders and many committees as well as subcommittees. Georgia: Smyth and Helwys Publishing Inc. committee for the lay-people. nurturing the congregation is not the end o f the Church’s responsibility. planning committee. financial committee. Changing the analogy. 248 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 1997). Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Unfortunately. Most activities are organized to serve the congregation by satisfying their needs. the Church. However. today’s mainline Protestant churches are managed by pastors. mission committee. 5.”52 The self-serving and self-maintaining nature o f the Church is evidence that it remains in its adolescence. Here is an example from the organizational structure o f a large Church in Los Angeles. Hammett. Converting the Church fo r the 21“ Century (Macon. nurturing its members is an important function of the Church. under the session.that focused on reaching the world. fund-raising committee. as a bride prepares herself for her husband. As this example illustrates. The ministries’ focus is on the care o f its own members. most o f those committees are working together to maneuver the modem day Ark.

and confess how many people in the Church can truly sense such a calling. self-maintaining activities that satisfy the needs o f its congregation rather than its non-Christian neighbor. it does not mean that the whole church should be turned into a mission organization overnight. God’ s Missionary People. It is a commandment for all that are called to be Christian. MI: Baker. Mission should not be viewed as a form of voluntarism in which one can decide whether to participate. 53 Thomas F. However. O f course. Christians are irresistibly called by Christ.”53 Charles Van Engen advocates that the Church should focus mainly on mission. 1991). 29 54 Van Engen. “mission belongs to the nature of the Church. Scottish Journal o f Theology 19. In the age o f an open world. One can argue that in the previous example there is a “mission” committee to carry out the Great Commission o f the Lord. quoted in Charles Van Engen. The egocentricity of a church is a clear indication o f its adolescence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer’s concept does not merely mean the Church’s mission. The Mission o f the Church.full o f its own crewmembers and having very little room for passengers. mission is not the only thing the Church should do. service for the Lord is not initiated by Christians as a voluntary work. which will be discussed later. 249 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Thomas Torrance said. it can be argued that the agenda o f today’s Church is quite limited to selfserving. Moreover. 74-75. God's Missionary People (Grand Rapids. Van Engen understands Bonhoeffer’s concept of “the Church for others” primarily from the context o f mission. However. priorities which do not lead out of adolescence. the Church should be honest about it. Torrance. . Rather.2 (1966): 141.54 However. Clearly. the Great Mission was not commissioned to a specific committee but to the whole Church.

and this in front of unbelievers!5 5 Despite the fact that Paul already gave instruction regarding disputes within the Church. the police dispersed the congregation. 6:1-3. Finally. An adolescent church is not interested in God’s will. and the church building was quarantined. and entire congregation were divided in half over the soundness o f the senior pastor’s teaching. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead. elders. but only interested in protecting their turf. the police were called in order to stop the worship service which had been taken over by the opposing side. are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things o f this life? . one night. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. an adolescent minister manipulates the mind o f his or her flock by abusing the word o f God. Rumors and accusations were rampant.Pharisaism of an Adolescent Church A church in adolescence speaks the language o f the Pharisee: the language o f egocentricity. Instead o f serving the Lord by serving God’s people. many churches opt to ask the court to decide the final disposition o f their inner conflicts rather than coming together before God to reconcile in the love o f Christ. Recently. dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world. I witnessed a tragic incident o f power struggle in a large Church in East Los Angeles. . The pastors. Both parties went to the court for a ruling to end the struggle. one brother goes to law against another . 250 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church: If any o f you has a dispute with another. Eventually. An adolescent minister is only interested in maintaining his/her position. If the 551 Co. .

The call o f Christ and baptism leads Christians into a daily struggle against sin and Satan . But there is another suffering and another dignity from which no Christian can be spared. temptation and sin fall also onto his disciples. ministry is to take one’s own cross and follow the Lord.. If the Church respects Christ as its head. They long for an achievement and the recognition and love o f his/her congregation. is death and life. It is not something that is to be achieved but to be followed by a servant o f Christ. which cannot resolve trivial cases o f childhood by themselves. When a church does not know how to resolve its inner conflicts. it could be called Pharisaic. an adolescent Church. its members would not fight against each other to the end. it is still in its adolescence because a church come of age respects Christ as its head who mediates and reconciles the members o f his body. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. However.Church is in union with Christ. and because Jesus Christ passes on the fruit o f his suffering to those who follow him. Christ’s own suffering is the only suffering that brings reconciliation. An adolescent minister considers that ministry is a profession for the ordained ministers. . The ministers in adolescence consider ministry as their profession. . baptism in the name o f Jesus Christ.56 BonhoefFer said: The call to follow Jesus. ministry is for every member o f the congregation because the burden o f the cross is laid on every Christian. If a congregation is divided among them and yet preaches the love of Christ to the world. its members should know how to forgive each other. The Church come o f age comes before God. But because Christ has suffered for the sin of the world. is taking those cases to a mature world for judgment. Sin covers 56 D 87. to resolve the inner conflicts. They strive for a “successful” ministry which is usually measured by the size o f congregation. To be sure. not before the court. Figuratively. However. because the whole burden o f guilt fell on him. 251 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

instead o f being the center of our lives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. To 57 D 88. the Church requires many parts o f which a minister is one part. ministers should show their congregation that discipleship means allegiance to the suffering of Christ for the sake o f others. However. “Christ.58 A minister in adulthood shapes his/her congregation to be the minister for others o f this world. An adolescent Church understands the gospel in the same way the Pharisee understood the Law o f the Sabbath. As a living body o f Christ. For example. Christ establishes the office of minister with a special gift. Ministers are not the religious leaders such as the Pharisees. Nor it means that the Lord’s day is unimportant. So Christians become bearers o f sin and guilt for other people. it can be said that the tradition of the holy observance o f the Lord’s Day in the Protestant churches replaced the pharisaic observance o f the Sabbath. Rather. many churches seem to come alive only on the Lord’s day. has become a thing o f the Church. 252 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. It does not mean that one should be tolerated for one’s lax attitude towards the service for the Lord. However. whereas a minister in adolescence keeps the ministry o f Christ within his/her office as a privilege. Bonhoeffer criticized this tendency of the Church. through their own life in complete union with Christ. Of course.the disciples with shame and expels them from the gates o f the city like a scapegoat. .57 Every Christian is called to participate in the ministry o f Christ for this world. it is not a lofty position within the Church. it does not mean that there is no need o f a minister. or o f the religiosity o f a group o f people. 58 D 88-9.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Biography. and the Protestant Churches ever possible? In recent years. However. On the contrary. they came close to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. the Orthodox. the Lord’s day is not the day o f religious observance set aside from the week. but also the Church should have its own life everyday as the living body o f Christ. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. no reconciliation seems to be possible. DBW 10. It follows the example o f the Pharisees whose utmost importance lies on the observance of the laws as a religious code. Territorialism of an Adolescent Church Is reconciliation between the Catholic.and twentieth-century mind. it is the day when the Church begins another week of service by getting together and loving each other as brothers and sisters o f Christ. religion plays the part o f the so-called Sunday room. they do not seem to be mature. for the Church that is not yet come o f age. The Church must acknowledge the superficial nature o f religious observances o f its traditions and renew itself as the living community o f Christ which leaves its door open to the world everyday o f the week. 59 Bethge. 253 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. they do not seem to know how to love each other wholeheartedly. Based on the fact that those Churches are still divided.the nineteenth.” Jesus commanded. For the Church come of age. 116. . the Lord’s day is a tradition that must be observed religiously by its members to show their devoutness to the world. “Love your enemies. 302-3. However.”59 Not only should every Christian live the life o f a disciple on a daily basis. Rather. and reaffirms its participation in the work o f the Lord who is in the midst o f this world. when it comes to church tradition.

an adolescent congregation compares their ministers with the ones o f other churches. In a culture where a merger o f corporations usually means that a corporation became a loser in a competitive market economy. Adolescent seminaries create convenient programs for them in order to take advantage of childish desires o f those congregations that are willing to pay the price for the glory o f their ego. and they stopped building the city. an adolescent church compares itself with other churches to satisfy its need to be superior. For example. It claims the ownership of the Church. an adolescent church weighs itself against other churches.because there the Lord confused the 254 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . That is why it was called Babel . An adolescent church must feel superior to other churches for its own pride. They compare the academic degree o f their pastors with others. An adolescent congregation calls it “my church” or “our church” and hesitates to call it “the church o f Christ. a unification o f churches is perceived by an adolescent church as the loss o f its own territory. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. For example.” because that might invite unwanted proposals to unite with other churches. Just as adolescent youths pay much attention to what others possess and compare themselves with friends. It is not willing to relinquish its ownership and fights for its territory. They want to feel superior to other congregations by having a more “capable” minister as their senior pastor.An adolescent church holds on to its own territory. there are many adolescent congregations in Korea that send their pastors oversea in order for them to obtain a degree o f Doctor o f Ministry. “So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth. An adolescent church is a religious system which owns its property and its congregation. In addition. Territorialism o f the Church seems to have been originated from the Old Testament.

255 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 8:9-17. Although the division o f the land was based on God’s instruction to Moses. To keep their throne. The account o f Shem. From there the Lord scattered them over the face o f the whole earth. The people of Israel failed God’s plan o f liberation and atonement. 25:9-10. 11:8-9. 20:24. human beings start claiming the ownership o f the land and drawing their boundaries.”63 Jubilee was instituted by God as an event o f liberation and atonement for the people and the land. “On the day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land.62 the Israelites were reminded o f an important concept of “inheritance. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 34.”60 Humanity was scattered all over the world. . 10. and Japheth61is the story o f division o f humankind and o f the beginning o f territorialism. the Israelites did not have the concept o f tribal ownership o f the land until they went into Canaan. Ham. 63 Lev. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. the land as God’s inheritance turned into the land o f the kingdom of Israel when the people of Israel asked for their own king. the kings would have to maintain the ownership o f the land. Nu. 34:14ff. Without understanding that the Creator is also the Owner o f the whole world. One might ask how this Old Testament account relates to territorialism of an adolescent Church. because now their kings possessed the land. should it belong to a denomination or the Catholic Church? Bonhoeffer would have answered that the owner 60 Ge. Based on the Old Testament.language o f the whole world.65 There was no more possibility o f Jubilee. “Who is the owner o f the property o f the Church?” Should the church property belong to a local church? Or. 64 Lev. 6 1 Ge. The inquiry made here is. 62 Nu.64 However.” 651 Sam.

He hoped for a new financial basis. 68 LPP 383. To make a start. Bonhoeffer kept in mind whai he wrote in [The Cost o f ] Discipleship when he developed his Outline . even though he admitted that it was very crude and condensed. Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Biography. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and so he made all kinds of “frivolous” suggestions. it should give away all its property to those in need. or something like it.” Regarding this. 256 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Bonhoeffer failed to give concrete examples for what he meant by “giving away all its property. and new forms of training. He said. though I still stand by what I wrote. he had a fairly clear idea that the church should get rid of many things after the catastrophe o f 1945 and find new constructions. 69 LPP 369. In fact. He hardly assumed that the Volkskirche that had become do discredited during the Nazi era could simply survive. He was probably too optimistic about the possibilities for a truly new beginning in 1945. ministry. 887. Today I can see the dangers of that book. Outline for a Book. “I thought I could acquire faith by trying to love a holy life.of the church property is not the Church but the Lord. and confession. because the land is an inheritance of God. . Did he mean that the Church should not have property o f any kind. Bethge’s explanation does not seem to be completely satisfactory because Bonhoeffer. “The church is the church only when it exists for others. I suppose I wrote [The Cost of] Discipleship at the end of that path. 67 Bethge. his statement does not seem realistic. Bethge attempts to explain: Nevertheless. Outline for a Book.68 apparently constructed his Outline fo r a Book with theological carefulness and seriousness. since he said on 21 July 1944. which includes its buildings and facilities? Unfortunately.67 However.”66 Certainly.”69 66 LPP 382.

It could be that by giving away 70 D 77-83. and because it is.”70 Bonhoeffer already addressed the paradoxical nature o f this issue: A paradoxical understanding o f the commandments has a Christian right to it. to actually give away one’s possessions at Jesus’ command instead o f keeping them . because his intent was not to emphasize the act o f giving away property. Understanding Jesus’ call paradoxically is the infinitely more difficult possibility.”73 However. but it must never lead to the annulment o f a simple understanding o f the commandments . one must be careful to interpret Bonhoeffer in this regard.for example. 73 D 81. It could be that such a step would not be obedience to Jesus at all. which includes the giving way o f property.7 1 Apparently anticipating some criticism. “there are certain things that I’m anxious to say simply and clearly .In speaking o f “Simple Obedience. Anyone who does not know that it would be the infinitely easier way to understand Jesus’ commandment simply and obey it literally .”74 Bonhoeffer said: Obedience to Jesus’ call is never an autonomous human deed. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Thus not even something like actually giving away one’s wealth is the obedience required. 7 1 D 80-1. . in the Outline came from his theological thoughts o f an early period. In human terms it is an impossible possibility.”72 It appears that his ideas. 257 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. he warned against one’s using the paradoxical element o f Jesus’ commandments as an excuse for “fleeing from concrete obedience. but instead. a free choice one’s own lifestyle. .things that we so often like to shirk. 74 LPP 382. he said in the Outline . a Franciscan ideal o f poverty. 72 LPP 383. . It could be a Christian ideal.has no right to a paradoxical understanding o f Jesus’ words. This is because in [The Cost of\ Discipleship . it is always in extreme danger o f being turned over into its opposite and made into a comfortable excuse o f fleeing from concrete obedience. but to emphasize a simple obedience o f the Church in terms o f “its existing for others.

but even more trapped in themselves. because the Holy Spirit is the very life-breath o f the Church. Therefore. hunger. the 7 5 D 83. illiteracy. it can be concluded that Bonhoeffer was not suggesting a possessionless Christianity o f some kind. An Adolescent Church as a Religious Institution In light of Bonhoeffer’s understanding o f religion and the Church. the Church. More concrete examples o f obedient acts of the Church come of age will be described in the next chapter o f this discussion. . the Church participates in the special character o f the holy. It could be that they do not become free from themselves. 258 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . still seems to remain largely religious from the perspective o f its territorialism and self-oriented nature. When the world is suffering from famine. and various other forms o f injustice. He is present with it through His Word and His Spirit . Despite the fact that the western churches have been experiencing renewed spiritual vitality and vigor. . Regarding the nature o f the Church. but a Church which was obedient to the call of Christ to participate in his suffering for the world. the luxurious church buildings displaying their magnificence can be viewed as an example o f an adolescent church which is disobedient to the commandment of Jesus.” He explains the nature o f the Ecclesia o f the New Testament: The Ecclesia is what it is through the presence o f Christ dwelling within it. Emil Brunner uses the term “the Ecclesia. disease. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it can be argued that the Church at large remains religious.wealth. the numinous. in its essence. people affirm themselves and an ideal. and not Jesus’ command.75 Based on this.

that is. viz. that church which interprets itself in a severely institutional sense.that fact constitutes its entirely characteristic. . and the neo-catholic Roman notion. its utterly unparalleled life.” thus combining the vertical with the horizontal. 12. the early catholic notion. the Church evolving out o f the fellowship o f Jesus sought to create a second means o f guaranteeing the genuineness o f the tradition. Third. Furthermore. “the Ecclesia . and indeed into that particular church in which the momentum of institutional development had reached its climax. The Misunderstanding o f the Church (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. The fact that it is both koinonia Christou or koinonia pneumatos and “fellowship one with another.sEmil Brunner. First. or more precisely. Brunner concludes.. .76 However. in the early catholic notion. 16. It not only established and defined the Canon o f the New Testament. 1953). it also created the office o f bishop continuous with that o f the apostles to control the rank luxuriating gnostic heresies. consistent.”7 8 Brunner suggests three notions o f tradition in the history o f the Church: the primitive Christian notion of tradition.supernatural. o f a progressive. 259 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Second. The Roman church. 78 Ibid.had been transformed into an institutional ‘church’. in the neo-catholic Roman idea developed during the . . in the primitive notion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and complete institutional distortion.a communion o f persons . divine with human communion . tradition is involved with the unique revelation o f God in the historical facts concerning Jesus Christ. 77 Ibid. “The whole history of the Roman church is the history. legalistic distortion. in the hollowing presence o f God: for that reason the Christian society itself is a miracle .”77 says Brunner. carried to its remotest consequences. o f preserving it in its original purity.

On the other hand. The innumerable number o f denominations and branches o f the Protestant Church is the result o f power struggles and inner fighting within the Church. and our being Christians today will be limited to two thing: prayer and righteous action among men. 35-46. 260 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. as though that were an end in itself.79 Although it has been distorted over the history o f the Church. Bonhoeffer observed from the German church: Our church. individualistic. From my judgment. the Pope. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and superstitious in the sense of deus ex machina. It was the mistake o f the leaders 79 Ibid. Similarly. The Church ceases to be Christianity represented in the persons o f the bishops. From that time.. 80 LPP 300. cathedrals. Our earlier words are therefore bound to lose their force and cease. and the worship o f Mary can be considered as the signs o f a religion that Bonhoeffer defined as: metaphysical. It is still busy trying to preserve its religious institution. religious ceremonies. The symbol puts the burden o f sin . is incapable o f taking the word o f reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world. The cross o f the Catholic Church still carrying the suffering Jesus signifies its religious state. those traditions were developed to preserve Christianity.middle of the twelfth century in the western Roman church. the notion o f the Church as a corporation was created. May 1944. and becomes a corporate body ruled by the Pope.which was removed once for all by the vicarious act of Jesus .80 The Roman Catholic Church is in its infancy as a body o f Christ. the Protestant Church is also in its adolescence. superstitious practices. which has been fighting in these years only for its selfpreservation.back on the shoulder of humanity. canon law was made by the bearers of ecclesiastical authority. .

the Church will be perceived merely as a religion. the Church repeated the mistake that those leaders made initially.o f the Reformation . In a religiously pluralistic world. It is an important part o f religious ceremonies and also holds a mystical element. Various forms o f sacraments have been developed and practiced depending on different churches. Bonhoeffer said that it is not from the art of dying [of Socrates] but from the resurrection of Christ that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world. However. which some might consider non-essential. and Zwingli . its cross still symbolizes it as a religion. and continued its division. Until the cross is removed from the roof-top of the churches. The Protestant Churches removed the body o f Jesus from the cross symbol. the notion o f sacrament as a way of dispensing God’s blessing is distinctively a Catholic one. . Calvin. such a religious symbol work against evangelism because it leads the religious others to view Christianity simply as another competitive religion. Regarding the meaning of Easter. In an attempt to expand and implement Bonhoeffer’s concept o f the “secret discipline. For instance. the Protestant Churches inherited some religious ideas from the Catholic Church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.to have left the Protestant Church divided by differing with each other in defining the concepts such as the precise nature of Christ’s presence in the sacrament. which the Protestant Church opted to retain in order to remain as a religious institution. which is their origin. At the same time. and the churches celebrate its new life with the resurrected Christ who is here and now. The original meaning o f sacrament was tainted.Luther.” the cross as a symbol of Christianity can be internalized within the Church. Over the course o f the history o f Protestantism. resurrection is not simply a historical 261 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. To Bonhoeffer.

event to be remembered. It signifies that religion is nullified by the resurrected Christ who is ever-present in the midst o f this world. Based on the presence o f Christ in this world through the Spirit and the Church - the body o f Christ - Bonhoeffer concluded, “In the place o f religion there now stands the church.”81 Religious people long for their union with God. However, with the presence o f the Christ in the midst of the world, such a longing is not necessary. God is here and now in the world as a concrete reality. Therefore, any form of religion that does not recognize God’s presence in our midst must be replaced by religionless Christianity and a non-religious Church. The traditional institutional church is in trouble. The Church only as a religious institution seems to be declining in the current society. Edward H. Hammett warns us: It is complacent and clergy-directed. In most major denominations membership is down. Denominational and church loyalty is waning. Tithes and offerings are declining and being dispersed to many parachurch organizations. Biblical illiteracy is rampant, even among those who have been actively involved in church life for years.82 Regarding the need o f return to the form o f the New Testament Church, Howard A. Snyder asserts: The great temptation of the organized church has been to reinstate these three elements [sacrifice, priesthood, tabernacle o f the Old Testament] among God’s people: to return community into an institution. Historically, the church has at times succumbed. Returning to the spirit o f the Old Testament, she has set up a professional priesthood, turned the Eucharist into a new sacrificial system and built great cathedrals. When this happens, a return to faithfulness must mean a return - in both soteriology and ecclesiology - to the profound simplicity o f the New Testament. Usually,

8 1 LPP 286, 8 May 1944. 81 Hammett, Making the Church work. Converting the Church fo r the 21 Century, 5.

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however, reformation in doctrine has not been tied to sufficiently radical reform in church structure.83 Although one does not have to agree with Snyder’s negative view o f sacrifice, priesthood, and tabernacle as the determining elements of an institutionalized church, Snyder’s observation seems to be relevant to the present discussion. The first element of an institutionalized religion, sacrifice, can be viewed as representing the religious rituals. For example, the Eucharist lost its original meaning o f participation in the suffering of Christ and became a religious ritual performed by priests or by the ordained ministers. How many Christians today are taking the bread and wine as a symbol for their own suffering for others? As their pastor recites the liturgy for Eucharist, to most Christians, it is a repeated event o f remembrance o f the death o f Christ, not a symbolized act of their participation in the suffering o f Christ. It is viewed by many Christians as a privilege rather than a symbol of their “participation in the sufferings o f God the secular life”84 which Jesus suffered When Eucharist remains as a religious ritual, it does not have much meaning. It should be given a new meaning as an act o f discipleship. Eating the bread and drinking the wine should be our act o f submission to the will o f God and our

determination to suffer for others. Bonhoeffer said: “Christians stand by God in his hour o f grieving”; that is what distinguishes Christians from pagans. Jesus asked in Gethsemane, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” That is a reversal o f what the religious man expects from God. Man is summoned to share in God’s sufferings at the hands o f Godless world.85

83 Howard A. Snyder, Radical Renewal, The Problem o f Wineskins Today (Houston, TX: Touch Publications, 1996), 56. w LPP 361, 18 July 1944. 85 Ibid..

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As it was pointed out earlier in this chapter, Bonhoeffer knew the implication o f a religionless Christianity from the perspective o f its visible form: The questions to be answered would surely be: What do a church, a community, a sermon, a liturgy, a Christian life mean in a religionless world? How do we speak o f God - without religion, i.e. without the temporally conditioned presuppositions o f metaphysics, inwardness, and so on? How do we speak (or perhaps we cannot now even “speak” as we used to) in a “secular” way about “God”? In what way are we “religionless-secular” Christians, in what way are we the e K -id r ja ia , those who are called forth, not regarding ourselves from a religious point of view as specially favoured, but rather as belonging wholly to the world? In that case Christ is no longer an object o f religion, but something quite different, really the Lord of the world. But what does that mean? What is the place o f worship and prayer in a religionless situation? Does the secret discipline or alternatively the difference (which I have suggested to you before) between penultimate and ultimate, take on a new importance here?86 Bonhoeffer certainly did not intend to abolish worship and prayer with his concept o f “non-religious Christianity.” On the contrary, he was advocating the practice of an “arcane discipline”87 o f worship and prayer as a practical way o f life for the “non­ religious” Christians. Edwin H. Robertson says: Bethge’s judgement, which is confirmed by so many references in these prison letters, is that Bonhoeffer regarded an “arcane discipline” as an essential counterpoint o f his non-religious interpretation. He does not resolve this counterpoint, but it is clear that he intends to preserve a “genuine worship” and not impose upon the world. He does not answer his question as to what is going to happen to worship service. It is, however, quite clear from the baptism sermon that Bonhoeffer had no view o f doing away with the word, the sacrament and the community, replacing them by love. What he would not do was impose them upon the world.88

86 LPP 280-281. 87 LPP 281. 88 Edwin H. Robertson, Bonhoeffer's Heritage, 137.

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Eucharist should not be abolished but needs to be reinterpreted non-religiously to restore its original meaning. It should not remain as a superficial religious ritual. Bonhoeffer said, “It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings o f God in the secular life.” In other words, a non-religious act of Eucharist will lead the Christians not just into the remembrance, but into the messianic suffering of God.89 Bonhoeffer asserted, “The ‘religious act’ is always something partial; ‘faith’ is something whole, involving the whole o f one’s life. Jesus calls men, not to a new religion, but to life.”90 The meaning o f priesthood, the second element o f an institutionalized religion, differs in various denominations. However, the common feature o f priesthood seems to be that the office functions as the representative o f Christ’s authority, as an example of which can be found in the case benediction as a part o f worship service. In the Catholic Church, for another example, priesthood serves as the ear o f God through Confession, and serves as the hand o f God by dispensing the forgiveness and blessing. The element of pagan Shamanism must have influenced the structure o f the office o f priest. In fact, this religious element has caused many conflicts with pagan religion when Christianity was brought to the land where Shamanism has the control over the territory. In that situation, the Christian mission is viewed as an infringement of the local Shaman’s vested interest as seen in the case of a “slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.”91 It

89 LPP 361-62. 90 LPP 362. 9 1 Ac. 16:16-23.

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can be perceived as a religious warfare. Jesus did not start a spiritual war against religion. Jesus Christ is the gospel that liberates all humanity from the grips o f religion. He does not fight the war against religion, but liberates humankind by participating in their suffering as their paraklete (advocate: called to the side). Anderson says: The church does pretty weli with the first two forms [kerygmatic and didactic] of Christ’s ministry through the proclamation o f the Word and through teaching the Word. What is too often neglected is the paracletic ministry of Christ through which persons experience the presence and power of Christ “alongside” them in their need and struggle for dignity, meaning, and belonging. “Paraclesis,” says [Jacob] Firet, “is the consolation and admonition o f God which reorients people toward salvation in the concreteness o f their situation; for the caregiver this means that he knows the concreteness o f the situation o f those people by participation in it.92 The priesthood that functions as a medium for God’s blessing in religious ceremonies belongs to the realm o f religion, not the Christian Church. In general, priesthood and pastorship have been understood almost synonymously. However, such understanding is not correct. All Christians are chosen by God to be the priest for the world.93 The New Testament does not explicitly mention priesthood as an office established within the Church through the process o f ordination. On the other hand, pastor is described as one o f the offices o f the Church given by the Lord “to prepare God’s people for works o f service, so that the body o f Christ may be built up.”94 Therefore, an ordained pastor should not be viewed as a medium in religious rituals but

92 Ray S. Anderson, The Soul o f Ministry , 179. Jacob Firet is quoted from his book Dynamics o f Pastoring. 93 See 1 Pe. 2:9, Rev. 1:6 and 5:10. Also, Luther’s doctrine of the priesthood of all believers affirms that the Church is being called to “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pe. 2:5). just like Israel was distinguished from other peoples . 94 Eph. 4:12.

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be viewed as a servant who renders his or her service by leading the functions o f the Church such as Eucharist, and proclaims the word o f God on behalf of the Holy Spirit. Also, the pastors should return to their duty o f taking care o f their flocks in their concrete life situations as their paraklete. The pastors who are taking the scepter o f priesthood of the Old Testament, which was superceded by Christ,95 are adolescent pastors, and the congregations fed by those adolescent pastors remain in their adolescence, because their pastors do not give them the hard food o f discipleship o f Christ; only the milk of religion.96 There are churches where the succession o f priesthood takes place between father and son. The Church is being viewed as a corporation which can be inherited by the offspring of the owner. The one who planted the church can easily have an idea of ownership. This is true not only in America, but also in Korean Churches, where it becomes a serious issue within the Church. The pastors who do not recognize Christ as the true builder of the Church are not qualified to lead the church. The leadership o f the Church should follow the example o f Jesus as his servant, who is serving rather than dominating; liberating rather than oppressing.97 In a religiously pluralistic world, the distinction between the priesthood and the pastorship is o f utmost importance because Jesus Christ himself is the only high priest for all humanity. The priesthood o f Jesus Christ not only supercedes the priesthood o f the

95 Heb. 2:17-3:1,4:14-10:22. 96 1 Co. 3:2. 97 LPP 382-83.

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Old Testament, but also the priesthood o f all the other religions. An adolescent pastor who acts as a priest for other Christians is under the temptation o f “power-worship”98 Another element o f religion was the tabernacle. Many churches are proud o f their magnificent architectural achievements. The leaders o f those churches try to justify their buildings as a form of glorifying God. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”99 But, “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”100 Even Solomon’s temple cannot contain the Lord, but there is no place for baby Jesus. What does that conflict mean? I suggest that the temple symbolizes the act of religion, and the inn symbolizes the suffering world. Religion does not leave room for the suffering and powerless God. All the rooms appear to be already taken by the high priests, the scribes, and the rulers o f this world. The main interest o f some religious leaders might be how to leave their name on the comer stone o f a church building or cathedral. For instance, there was a church where an elder donated several hundred hymnals for the church. In doing so, he wrote his name on every single hymnal so that the members of the church could remember his name every time they opened it. The worldly cause and concerns seem to preoccupy the minds o f the adolescent religious leaders.

98 LPP 383. 99 1 King 8:27. 100 Lk. 2:7.

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some intentionally because of fear generated by the other dangers. is Christianity truly in warfare against non-Christian territorial spirits? Did Christ come to earth to start warfare against territorial spirits? From the perspective of Bonhoeffer.An Adolescent Church in a Religiously Pluralistic World If the Church remains a religion. 8 June 1944. the authority to command demons or the “unclean” spirits has been given the Church and Christians so that the power o f God can be manifested for the sake of the world. 88. CA: Regal Books. and says: Many are ignorant of the phenomenon o f territorial spirits. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 1990). which is pointless in the world come of age. Jesus Christ humanizes humanity by liberating them from the bondage of religion.102 His idea is simply not acceptable for the world come o f age. 1 0 1 C. Jesus drove out the demons from his compassion for those who were possessed by demons. Likewise. it will inevitably face other religions on the religious football field. Peter Wagner and F. 269 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. there is ignorance in the area o f methodology . C. The major concern of Christianity is how to respond to the changing and globalized world where many other religions are competing to expand their territory. ed.” He complains about the lack o f attention from the evangelical community. Among those who do recognize the phenomenon of territorial spirits. Peter Wagner understands this as spiritual warfare against the “territorial spirits.. Wagner is trying to turn the clock back to the Dark Age. He does not have to fight against demons. Territorial Spirits in Wrestling with Dark Angels (Ventura. Douglas Pennoyer. He simply commands them to come out from those victims. Peter Wagner. . 1 0 1 However. and some unintentionally because they were never taught the kinds o f things I have been mentioning. C. 102 LPP 327.

Christianity as a religion is in adolescence. because it does not belong there. and lead the crowd out of the stadium into the reality o f this-worldly life where Christ reigns as the weak and powerless King. Second. and having happiness. how can the Church as a united body o f Christ let the world know that Christ is the Lord. the Church needs to walk off the religious football field.because it is part o f the world. . The world is where the Church belongs to. and it must live this-worldly life fully and responsibly. the Church should not leave the stadium . Religious pluralists made Jesus Christ a quarterback in the religious football game. bringing the fortune. However. but the liberator of humanity from the slavery o f religious bondage in a spiritual sense. nor did he found a religion called Christianity. Forth. The specific aspect of religionless Christianity will be discussed in more detail in the next chapter. and is living together with us. who shares the suffering o f all humankind in the concrete situations of daily life. It knows that religion is false.the world . and that the intent o f religion is to alienate humanity from God. not a team quarterback? First. the Church must proclaim to the crowd that Christ is the Lord of all humanity. Third. 270 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Christianity situated itself on the religious football field. Thus. It made itself a playmate o f other religions. the Church must announce that the religious game is over. Let the religions of the world continue to play the religious game. It never reveals the fact that God is here and now in the midst o f our life. Christ is not here for a religious game. Christianity come o f age knows that it is not a religion. Then. religion separates humanity from God. Religion tells human beings that God needs to be addressed through some kind o f medium in order to satisfy human needs of healing the sick.As a religion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

In summary. The adolescent Church cannot serve the world come o f age. or the Church come o f age. and tomorrow. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. It must be bom again in the Spirit in order to attain maturity. today. and submits itself totally and unconditionally. with the help o f a “non-religious interpretation o f the gospel. it has been argued that the Church is in its adolescence. It should become mature to match the maturity of the world in order to live the life o f a disciple of Christ because the Lord is the Lord o f the world yesterday.” 271 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. When it truly recognizes that Christ is the Lord. In the final chapter. it will come of age and its new life will begin in unity with Christ as the liberating power for the religiously pluralistic world. The adulthood o f the Church is attained through its marriage with Christ. I will attempt to draw a blueprint o f a form o f religionless Christianity. .

Further reproduction prohibited without permission.CHAPTER 9 THE CHURCH COME OF AGE In Chapter 8. the Church in adolescence cannot serve the world come o f age. If the Church stubbornly remains in its adolescent state and uses its own traditional language. the Church can only play at the miniature golf course. the postmodern virtue of 272 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Surely. the world will no longer pay attention to what the Church has to say. However. while the world is playing golf at the 18-hole course. these questions will be answered in light of Bonhoeffer’s understanding of “maturity. Thus. By analogy. It is evident that unless the Church becomes mature and learns the language of adulthood. . It now becomes clear that the gospel o f Christ spoken in the language o f adolescence will be irrelevant to the world in its adulthood. an adolescent church cannot understand the language o f adults. An adolescent church cannot digest the concept o f openness and tolerance that the world come of age has already learned from postmodemity. it was asserted that the contemporary Church is in a state o f adolescence. some practical questions arise: 1) How can the Church o f adolescence attain its adulthood? 2) What should be the structure o f the Church come of age? 3) What should the Church come of age do? 4) How should the Church come o f age deal with religious plurality? In this chapter. The rule o f the game in adulthood is much more complex than what an adolescent church can understand and follow. it cannot communicate with the mature world effectively. Metaphorically.” In addition. it cannot participate with the world in adulthood.

structures and patterns of doing 1 William A. Snyder says: What did Jesus mean? . the new wine will burst the skins.“tolerance” and “openness” will be used as other criteria o f maturity and adulthood.”3 Howard A. “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. For instance. . 5:37-38. What Should the Church Do to Become Mature? Many contemporary theologians and church leaders have been expressing the need of a second Reformation of the Church. essential .2 Clearly. Rutz. The Second Reformation. potent. How to Bring Back the Exciting Life o f the First Century Church (Beaumont. . made by human hands. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” What they are suggesting is quite convincing and relevant to our contemporary world. The form o f the Church is often compared with wineskin. Rutz suggests the “Open Church” where ministry is open to every member of the church. 1996). 25-32. 273 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Beckham calls for the second Reformation through the “Two-Winged Church. TX: TOUCH publications. If he does. There is that which is new.the gospel o f Jesus Christ. Regarding the saying of Jesus. the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 1993). William A. subsidiary.1 James H. The Open Church. .” which consists o f a large group celebration and a small group community. why does the Church not seem to accept their suggestion in order to revitalize itself? “Re-formation” means to change the current form into a new one. 3 Lk. a new formation takes place. 29.traditions. These are the wineskins . This distinction is vital for the everyday life o f the church. what they have in mind is revitalization of the local churches through some kind o f “re-formation. Beckham. Reshaping the Church fo r the 21st Century (Houston. However. Jesus distinguishes here between something essential and primary (the wine) and something secondary but also necessary and useful (the wineskins). 2 James H. TX: The SeedSowers. By conforming the existing system into another. Wineskins would be superfluous without wine. And there is that which is secondary.

the wineskins have no meaning without the wine in it. TX: TOUCH publications. If he does. 5 Lk. which separate essence from form. Even if that were a correct observation. Jesus said. it is clearly an analytical way o f thinking in Western terms. Therefore. For instance. Snyder. which treat the wineskins secondary to the wine. giving more importance to essence. Jesus was making a contrast between the new and the old. the polarity o f yin/yang in Taoism is o f complementing and balancing each other. A typical example is the relationship between the male and female 4 Howard A. 5:36. an assumption is made that essence is more important than form. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. On the one hand. On the other hand. “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. and the patch from the new will not match the old. However. there is no evidence that Jesus considered the wineskins “secondary” or “subsidiary. there is no such notion that essence is primary and form is secondary. the Eastern way o f thinking will view the wine and the wineskins from the perspective o f unity. . 274 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” The interpretation o f Snyder and others. Radical Renewal. were influenced by Greek metaphysics. One can argue that the contrast between essence and form is made through the example of the wine and the wineskins. 1996). First.4 Snyder’s way o f understanding the wineskins as secondary to the gospel has been generally accepted.things that have grown up around the gospel. in Eastern thinking. prior to giving the example o f the wine and the wineskins. it seems that this way o f understanding the wineskins needs some criticism. he will have tom the new garment. The Problem o f Wineskins Today (Houston.”5 In this example. On the same occasion. the wine cannot be in its reality without the wineskins. not between essence and form. However. 13-14. On the contrary.

this type o f thinking is categorized as a “positivism o f revelation. crucifixion. Therefore. In Bonhoeffer’s term. . In other words. but the good “news” about God’s work in our life here and now. 4 June 1943. the gospel should be understood as the good news renewed 6 LPP 280.”6 which means that the essence or the revelation is understood as an abstract concept that is solidified. 329. Jesus did not refer to the perpetual objects. Without the yin/yang combination o f male and female. the gospel was not confined to the historical events o f virgin birth. the ascension o f Jesus was followed by the Pentecost. in the parable. the only thing that needs to be changed is the wineskins. 286. which signifies the presence of the Lord over the boundary o f time and space.gender. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” 7 Surely. human life would not exist. and that means that it is a day o f great joy for all who can believe that Christ rules the world and our lives. Ascension Day. male and female are also complementing each other rather than one gender dominating the opposite. but to the ones that need to be renewed continually. There is no notion that the female is inferior to the male. Then. The outcome o f Snyder’s understanding o f the wine and the wineskins is that in order to revitalize the Church. is that it prevents the reinterpretation o f the gospel for the changing world. which considers the gospel of Christ immutable. “Today is Ascension Day. how should we understand the parable? First. and resurrection. Bonhoeffer said. it limits the boundary o f the gospel to the point o f the resurrection. it can be stated that the gospel is not a good “story” about the historical events o f incarnation. We should pay attention to the fact that. 7 LPP 49. The problem o f the interpretation o f Snyder and others. 275 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. However. because the wine is an immutable essence. In Taoism.

why is the Church not as relevant and powerful in today’s world? It seems that there is enough evidence that any form o f reformation o f the church replacement o f the wineskins . The Holy Spirit is the only one who can give new birth to the Church.with the stories o f the fresh and live acts o f God in every moment o f the life o f the world. The new wine is the Holy Spirit who is ever dynamic and alive. the renewal o f the Church must start from its spirit.” Then. “No one can see the kingdom o f God unless he is bom again. . It is more accurate to say that the Church has been going though reformation throughout its history until today. what the Church needs is not just to “re-form. 276 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. 9 Jn. the Church. The Church must be bom again! Truly. but the renewal o f its whole character from the inside out. and individuals at every place on the face o f the earth. the wine can mean the “corporate spirit”8 o f the Church or the community o f believers. Although the Reformation left a giant mark on Church history.” like the changing of clothes. See Sanctorum Communio. The good news should not be enclosed in a time capsule. Clearly. The Church needs the new wine before it asks for the new wineskins.is not sufficient to bring a new life to the Church in the religiously pluralistic world. 3:3.9 It can be said that Nicodemus represents not only an individual but also the 8 Bonhoeffer. Such an interpretation o f the parable o f the wine and the wineskins lead us to an understanding that the Church must be renewed in its spirit and form. Second. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Third.” Jesus said to Nicodemus. the reformation o f the Church by reforming the wineskins is not enough for the Church to face the challenge from the changing world. it is clear that the Church has never been the same from the perspective o f the “wineskins.

“Flesh gives birth to flesh.whole o f humanity. 10 Ac. 277 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Nicodemus. 3:6. which is divided so much. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” 12 Jesus said. All o f them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. how can the Church be reborn? Not surprisingly. 3:20. Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus is not simply for an individual. Suddenly a sound like the blowing o f a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. What Jesus meant by his saying to an individual. Nicodemus asked exactly the same question to Jesus. 12 Jn. just as Nicodemus did: “How can the Church. 2:1-4. “How can a man be bom when he is old?” by attaching his own reasoning to the question. was made clear through the work o f the Holy Spirit to a group numbering about one hundred and twenty on the day o f Pentecost: When the day o f Pentecost came.1 1 it can be said that the Holy Spirit is the mother o f all churches. The Holy Spirit gave birth to the first church o f Christ. Then. 13 Jn. 3:4. As Eve is the mother o f all human beings. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be bom!” 1 3 Repeatedly.10 It is generally accepted that the first church was bom on the day o f Pentecost. Church leaders have been asking the same question Nicodemus once asked Jesus: “How can the Church be renewed when it is two thousand years old already?” This question is the source o f agony because they seek answers through their own reasoning. they were all together in one place. 1 1 Ge. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each o f them. but for the Church and for all human beings.

the community itself (Eph. Jesus would give a simple answer: “You must be bom again ” 14 It seems that the Church leaders have been limiting the infinite possibilities o f the Church with their own knowledge and capability as human beings. the Church should be obedient to the Spirit. Gal. Kaine ktisis (2 Cor. 2:4. the Church leaders decide what is and what is not possible for the Church. 2:15). “The coming o f the Spirit is a new creation. simply because it leads the community into fellowship with Christ. fulfill a successful youth ministry?” Every time these questions were asked. 278 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. i. corrupt creation. Based on their own view. 3:10)”16 As a new creation made by the Holy Spirit. it is therefore not specially concerned with religion.e. Because the church is concerned with God. 16 WF 48.be united as one body o f Christ? How can the Church. our contemporary Church should be able to perform the miracle o f re-unification o f the Church to form a true kingdom o f Christ. but with obedience to the Word. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. He said. is man in the community. if those one hundred and twenty disciples were “enabled by the Holy Spirit” 15 and began to speak in other languages that they never knew. However. It is not the religious question or religious concern o f any form which constitutes the church - 1 4 Jn. 5:17. the Holy Spirit. 3:7. Part o f the world is made afresh after the image of God (Col. and his Word. adapt to the modem world? How can the Church. demands total obedience to the Spirit which creates anew both the religious and the profane. 15 Ac. which is so behind time. which is too old for the younger generations. Bonhoeffer continues his argument: The church. 6:15). Bonhoeffer observed that the new community was created by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. with the work o f the Father. . with the completion of the new creation in the Spirit. as a part of the world and o f mankind created afresh by God’s Spirit. the second creation after the old.

the listener is clearly shown that his whole existence is confronted with something new . They should not hinder the work o f the Holy Spirit by becoming the arbiter o f Church affairs. What should the Church do to be reborn by the Spirit? 1 7 Ibid. That is the judgement. . It is at first only proclaimed grace. The obedient act and the practical doing are what the Church should do as a new creation.from a human point o f view .” Hence. it is not for the Church leaders to worry about whether the Church can accomplish certain things. with the proclamation o f grace all is in order and we can go on living as we have been doing. . They have heard o f the grace to which Peter bears witness. Regarding Peter’s first sermon in Act 2. “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). . This tension leads straight to the question “What shall we do?” What shall we do for this grace to belong to us. the church is constituted not by religious formulae. 46-47.18 Then the question that the Church should ask is not “How can we do? ” but “What should we do?” because Jesus already answered the former question by saying everything is possible “by the Holy Spirit. but by the practical doing o f what is commanded. but a desire to execute the will o f God for a new creation. In other words. to hear o f grace and to know o f it. Bonhoeffer said: Peter’s testimony forces the listeners to ask. The pure teaching o f the Gospel is not a religious concern.but obedience to the Word o f the new creation o f grace. but they know that this grace does not belong to them. the real question the Church should ask in order to renew itself is the question o f “What. The question means that through the fact o f the risen Christ who is borne witness to and now proclaims himself in power.17 Therefore. so that it doe not become judgement? The response o f the listeners is not. 18 Ibid. That was a good sermon. by dogma. and yet to know that it does not belong to you.. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 279 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. They know that where grace is proclaimed man is called to ask “What shall I do?'\ because otherwise grace becomes a judgement on him .” not “How” .

When Jesus said.” 2l. their following o f Jesus was not an act o f obedience. but an act o f voluntary will. “Do not leave Jerusalem. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. not in their own conviction but in obedience. Clearly. Their understanding o f the Messiah was humanistic. 1:11. When Jesus said. not even for 20 Ac. “We have found the Messiah. “Follow me. . They returned to Jerusalem. Ac. The resurrected Jesus ascended into heaven in front o f their eyes. they took his words not as a command. Jn. 280 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. When Jesus called them in Galilee. the Church must pray together not for its own agenda. but wait for the gift my Father promised. However. After witnessing the Ascension.First. The physical absence o f the Lord in this world mandated the faith o f the disciples. their attitude changed. 1:41. 21:22.”23 the disciples themselves heard those words of Jesus not as an invitation but as a command. 1:43. 1:4. the “men o f Galilee” 19 returned to Jerusalem obeying the instruction o f the Lord.”20 Hence. They were the same “men o f Galilee” who followed Jesus when they first met him as Jesus was starting his ministry. not to Galilee. and had nothing to do with God’s will. they followed him from their own motives of the renewal o f the Jewish kingdom. after meeting the resurrected Jesus. which you have heard me speak about. clearly. When the resurrected Jesus told Peter. Jn. the Church must learn from the obedience o f the disciples o f the resurrected Jesus Christ.”22 Peter followed Jesus in obedience. but as an invitation. Jn. they responded not by faith but by their own conviction that. Second. “You must follow me.

and organizing must be bom anew out o f this prayer and action. speaking. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 11. dogmas. In repentance. Emil Brunner says. Bonhoeffer 24 Ac. The Church needs to empty itself in order to renew itself. When its spiritual renewal occurs. organizations. denominations. Where the Holy Ghost is.”26 When the Spirit comes upon the Church.25 The Church is in need not of the second Reformation but the second Pentecost. the Church must pray for the Holy Spirit. Therefore the community as bearer o f the Word and Spirit of Christ precedes the individual believer. but for the Holy Spirit. “The outpouring o f the Holy Ghost and the existence o f the Ecclesia are so closely connected that they may be actually identified. “ LPP 300. because it is not Christians nor the Church leaders but the Holy Spirit who creates the Church. . the Spirit will re­ form the Church to conform to the image o f Christ.renewal o f the Church. just as the disciples eagerly waited and prayed constantly24 for the gift o f the Holy Spirit. All Christian thinking. We are not yet out o f the melting-pot. All Christians must come before God in prayer as naked and humble souls. programs. 1:14. . and any attempt to help the church prematurely to a new expansion o f its organization will merely delay its conversion and purification. The Misunderstanding o f the Church. prides. 281 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the emptying o f self. What is lacking in the Church is not its agenda. the church’s form will have changed greatly. traditions. offices. must precede its renewal. Bonhoeffer said: Our being Christian today will be limited to two things: prayer and righteous action among men. It should rely on God’s power and guidance through prayer rather than relying on its own ideas. . and convictions. By the time you [Bethge’s infant son] have grown up. rules. there is the Christian communion . titles. names. 26 Brunner. The kenosis o f the Church. but the Holy Spirit. its members will speak once again in tongues to proclaim the grace o f God to the world. It needs to be bom anew in its spirit.

He asked me. The Form of the Church Come of Age It has already been noted that an institutionalized Church where institution 2 7 LPP 300.” So I prophesied as he commanded me. and the bones came together. and breathe into these slain. that they may live. I looked. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.a vast army. but there was no breathe in them. and he brought me out by the Spirit o f the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley. proclaiming God’s peace with men and the coming of his kingdom. it will be the language o f a new righteousness and truth. 28 Eze. . they came to life and stood up on their feet . 37:7-10. the institutionalized Church will be revived when the Spirit comes upon it. bone to bone. son of man. prophesy. . perhaps quite nonreligious. ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds. The Prophet Ezekiel recorded. It only exists as a skeleton. “The hand o f the Lord was upon me. Then he [the Lord] said to me. which will be the subject o f the next discussion. And as I was prophesying. 0 breath. there was a noise. seems to be just that: “Can the Church without the power o f liberation and redemption live again?” Just as Ezekiel testified that those bones lived again. ‘Son of man. and say to it. the Church also needs to have a form. 29 Eze. ‘Prophesy to the breath. and breath entered them. . “So I prophesied as I was commanded. where institution became the end of itself. it was full o f bones . and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them.” 282 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. As the living Body o f Christ.27 An institutionalized church without liberating and redeeming power can be viewed as the Church without life.as was Jesus’ language. can these bones live?”’28 The question for today’s institutionalized Church. it will shock people and yet overcome them by its power.said: It is not for us to prophesy the day (though the day will come) when men will once more be called so to utter the world o f God that the world will be changed and renewed by it. May 1944. It will be a new language. but liberating and redeeming . 37:1-3. a rattling sound.

MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company). Volf says: Considering that no member o f the church is without a charism.. “The essential sociality o f salvation implies the essential institutionality of the church. 32 Ibid. In this sense.”30 Volf views that the character of an institution depends primarily on two factors: the pattern o f power distribution and the manner o f its cohesion. 235. Miroslav Volf says. In this regard. Needless to say. although the Church is essentially an institution. the Church as an institution should not be based on an external structure such as a hierarchical structure but on the free affirmation and participation of its members. this definition o f the relationship between charisma and institution has one important consequence: The members o f the church do not stand over 30 Miroslav Volf.32 Based on this understanding o f the characterization o f an “institution. and institutions with symmetrical-decentralized distribution of power and freely affirmed integration. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.31 He says: The combination o f these factors in their concrete implementation yields the multiple forms of institutions with two extreme models (which never occur in reality in their pure forms): institutions with asymmetricalmonocentric distribution of power (formally or informally) coerced integration. it is not essentially an institution in which interaction must be specified externally. the Church and institution are not mutually opposing concepts. 33 Ibid. . 3 1 Ibid.becomes the end o f itself is the Church in adolescence. After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image o f the Trinity (Grand Rapids. the Church should be an institution where its members work together with a charism in order for the Church to be an “event” o f Christ’s presence.” Volf views that. but rather what kind o f institution it is. 283 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The question is not whether the church is an institution.33 In other words.. the Church needs organizations and certain external forms and structures in order for it to function as a living organism. 238. 236. Rather.

against the church as an institution. however. 10-11. only if it is also reversible. It is just in this that resides the miraculous. their own actions and relations are the institution church. is precisely not that which every “church” is at least in part . no “it”. there arises a practical question of “What should the Church do to de-institutionalize itself?” Brunner rightly suggested that the Church should identify itself with “the fellowship of Jesus Christ” or “the fellowship o f the Holy Spirit. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. a something.34 Then. it seems that Brunner did 34 Ibid. 284 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the once-for-all nature o f the Church. . but that which they have in common is precisely no “thing”. unless the church becomes an event it cannot be the kind of institution it is supposed to be.35 If the institutionalized Church is not the correct form o f the Body o f Christ. but a “he”. This is precisely what it has in mind when it describes itself as the Body o f Christ.” However. 35 Brunner. Without institutions. . It is the genuine brotherly and sisterly love of Christ that gives vitality to the Church. Christ and His Holy Spirit. The Misunderstanding o f the Church. . Along this line of thought. . the church cannot become an “event”. The churches built upon those foundations do not have vitality because institution as an organization with its rules and regulations does not have its own life without the dynamics o f love. The “institutionalized” Church here means those churches that are mainly based on rules. the Church should not be an “institutionalized” institution. The faithful are bound to each other through their common sharing in Christ and in the Holy Ghost. regulations and organizations. rather. This principle is correct. 241. the fellowship o f Christian believers. It is “the fellowship o f Jesus Christ” or “fellowship o f the Holy Ghost. the unique. Emil Brunner states: The Ecclesia o f the New Testament. that as the Body of Christ it has nothing to do with an organization and has nothing o f the character o f the institutional about it. a togetherness.. a community life.” where fellowship or koinonia signifies a common participation. what kind o f institution is the Church supposed to be? Certainly.an institution. The Body o f Christ is nothing other than a fellowship of persons.

36 In that incident. the Church is arguably more than just a fellowship or a community life. Clearly. It can be stated that God. sleeping. usually following the father’s line. Without God. In order to understand the true nature o f the Ecclesia. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. no one. The Church’s true nature should be understood in the context o f family. not human beings. and doing his ministry. 3:32-35. the family o f Jacob or Israel. and they told him. and the family o f Christ. the family has been always thought in terms o f bloodline. one should pay attention to the underlying social structure presented in the Bible. A family name signifies a clan. drinking. . including the woman. He gave a new meaning to the word. he was making the biological relationship secondary to the Christian relationship in Christ. “family”. “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you. Although those traditions appear to be different from each other. Although koinonia is an important aspect o f the Church and a community life is desirable for the Body o f Christ. In Korea. both traditions attempt to preserve the bloodline 36 Mk. in essence.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. in European tradition. which is nothing other than family: the family of Abraham. creates the true family. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said. for all Christians.not go far enough to recognize the true character o f the Church. However. He said: A crowd was sitting around him [Jesus]. Jesus renewed the concept o f family. ever changes his or her last name. “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. 285 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Changing the last name is considered the most shameful thing. women’s changing their last name at the time of marriage is a norm.” said Jesus. Jesus shared his life together with the disciples by eating.

115. Thus. 5:17. When Christians can recognize each other as eternal brothers and sisters in Christ with their commitment for each other. it can be said that the Church is not just an institution but a family. . 38 Mt. When the Spirit comes upon the Church. Rather. A Biblical Ecclesiology fo r Today (Grand Rapids.”38 Institution is not an evil in itself. he makes the promise that in this life they will receive a hundredfold . regulations. not by human beings. 286 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. which is created by God. Gal. the Church will truly become the kingdom of God.“brothers and sisters.and the clan. 4:5-7). and new sons and daughters in Christ. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. These are the “brothers and sisters” in the family o f God by reason of possession of the same Spirit of God (Rom. new brothers and sisters. 8:14-16. and traditions will not be abolished but rather given a fuller meaning through the love of Christ. Those who were seated in a circle around Jesus heard him give the new definition of family. new mothers and fathers. 1996). “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law o f the Prophets.37 The one who places their earthly family behind Jesus will receive a hundredfold blessing. MI: Eerdmans. Jesus said. the problem o f the Church is that it made 37 Everett Ferguson. Rules. mothers and children” (Mark 10:29-30). It was the event when Jesus restored the meaning o f family as intended by God. it will unite all churches and all Christians into one family with Christ at the center. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the love o f Christ rules over everything else. which is the category o f family from the perspective o f human beings. Everett Ferguson points out: For those who must give up their earthly family in order to follow Jesus or to proclaim the gospel. The Church o f Christ. The kingdom o f God is the kingdom of love and a family that acts according to God’s will. As a family.

the Church inevitably requires a form as a social structure which is different from “form” and “essence” in a Greek way of thinking. Institutionalization can be viewed as a human effort to preserve the Church’s institutional structure by fossilizing the Church in a lifeless form just like an empty shell. As a living organism. “the New Testament Ecclesia . 17. because family is in essence an institution created by God. because institutionalization is the work o f humans. The Church seems to have considered the preservation of its structure more important than the preservation o f its life.” Brunner opposes Ecclesia to the characterization o f the Church as an institution. the Church as the family o f Christ also needs to have a structure as a living organ. In this sense. Its social structure has utmost importance for the Church 39 Brunner. is necessary as the social structure of the Church. Brunner seems to have been too idealistic when he drew a clear line between “the New Testament Ecclesicf’ and “the institutional church. Institution is the skeleton of the Church so to speak. .” He says. Institution. The Misunderstanding o f the Church. 287 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.”39 From a historical perspective. in that sense. it does not have life.“institution” as an end in itself. the present Church is certainly a continuation o f “the New Testament Ecclesia . the institution is not an evil in itself. but its meaning and purpose have been distorted over the course of the Church’s history. However. just as a body needs to have a form. When it does not have the flesh and tendon attached to it. Family is not an antithesis o f institution. However. and there is no Spirit in it. however. that does not mean the Church should remain institutionalized . As stated previously. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. not o f the Holy Spirit. the fellowship o f Jesus Christ. is a pure communion o f persons and has nothing o f the character o f an institution about it.

the concept o f community seems to be too weak to fully describe the indissoluble nature o f the Church as one family o f God. IV/2. the mysterious power o f the Holy Spirit which makes the fellowship. . . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. not as an act of mere compliance. . Barth says: To put it bluntly. “Flowing from the revelation o f the Holy Ghost was the mysterious power which made the fellowship. as three fold. which relates to the Ecclesia . . . We must not rationalize this concept o f the body . Does not this picture belong to the sphere o f that which never was on land or sea. The Apostle Paul wrote. . did this great miracle really happen? Even according to what we find in the witness o f the New Testament not to speak o f the first centuries. consisting o f many separate individuals.”40 Karl Barth criticizes Brunner’s view that the Ecclesia was created by the mysterious power and the miracle o f the Holy Spirit.D. which created the New Testament Ecclesia should not be simply discounted as a romantic undertaking o f ideals.because only in that relationship can the true nature o f the Church be understood. is not the attempt to discuss the problem o f the Church in terms o f this criterion a romantic undertaking which makes no serious attempt at theological deliberation?41 However. First. Rules and regulations will be made perfect from the perspective that they will be followed by the members o f the Church as an act o f love. Brunner’s view o f the mysterious power and the miracle o f the Holy Spirit. 288 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. C. The Holy Spirit creates the Church as God’s family with Christ as its head who rules over the Church with his power and authority o f love. . On the other hand. “He [God] made us competent 40 Ibid.686-7. 49. . koinonia. Brunner summarizes the work o f the Spirit.. to the world o f ideas and ideals? . Brunner says. a single ‘body’ . by reducing it to a mere metaphor. Basically. . into a unity. . 4 1 Barth.

this mythology (resurrection etc. . the gifts o f the Holy Spirit for the individual members o f the Ecclesia allow all members to perform the services. There lies his limitation. 45 Brunner. Paul and circumcision). either in dogmatics or in ethics.not o f the letter. o f the various services and those who render them. 289 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. . The birth o f the first church was neither merely a miracle of the Holy Spirit nor an ideal o f human beings. 50-51. .the reality o f the Holy G host45 42 2 Co.) is the thing itself . must be kept .as ministers o f a new covenant . Rather.the New Testament is not a mythological clothing of a universal truth. and so goes off into the typical liberal process of reduction . 8 June 1944. the diakoniai.” My view is that the full content. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. between those who give and those who receive . Brunner says: The New Testament surprises over and over again by the multiplicity of these functions and their bearers.’ as I put i t ” 44 LPP 329. 43 LPP 328. between the active and the passive members o f the body. a ‘positivism of revelation. 8 June 1944. “it was that in the non-religious interpretation of theological concepts he gave no concrete guidance. but o f the Spirit. and that nowhere is to be perceived a separation or even merely a distinction made between those who do and who do not minister.but the concepts must be interpreted in such a way as not to make religion a precondition o f faith (cf. The Misunderstanding o f the Church.43 but he misconstrues them in the sense of liberal theology. including the “mythological” concepts. 3:6.”42 Bonhoeffer said: Bultmann seems to have somehow felt Barth’s limitations. When we who are so accustomed to the judicial organization o f the Church ask how such a “pneumatic” order is possible. and because of it his theology of revelation has become positivist. One thing is supremely important: that all minister. for the letter kills. it was a concrete event in which the Holy Spirit gave birth to the family o f God. and Christianity is reduced to its “essence. Second. but it was once possible thanks to the reality of whose dynamic power we can now entertain scarcely a vague surmise .the “mythological” elements of Christianity are dropped. the answer might be: it is no longer a simple possibility. but the Spirit gives life.44 What has happened on the day o f Pentecost must be understood from the perspective o f the Incarnation.

Based on this, Brunner appears to have ignored the complexity o f the dynamic power o f the Holy Spirit. In a family, there are different roles and responsibilities. In order for a family to function as an organism, there must be the correct relationships between its members. Just as a family is comprised o f parents, children, brothers and sisters, the Church is comprised o f the members to whom the Holy Spirit gave the spiritual gifts to prepare God’s people for works o f service, so that the body o f Christ may be built up.46 The act of giving and receiving in the family o f God does not differentiate the superior from the inferior, because both givers and receivers work towards the same goal o f building up the body o f Christ. In this sense, Brunner seems to have oversimplified the “pneumatic” order o f the Church. Third, Brunner argues that the fellowship o f Jesus is spread through the dynamic energy of the Holy Spirit. Brunner says: People draw near to the Christian community because they are irresistibly attracted by its supernatural power. They would like to share in this new dimension o f life and power . . . There is a sort o f fascination which is exercised mostly without any reference to the Word, comparable rather to the attractive force o f a magnet or the spread o f an infectious disease. Without knowing how it happened, one is already a carrier o f the infection.47 Certainly, one cannot ignore the work o f the Holy Spirit in the Church through its supernatural power. However, there is also a different dimension in the growth of the Church. God’s family grows through the genuine love o f Christ. The love o f Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit is manifest through the loving and caring acts o f the Church members. It is neither the church dogma nor the religious ceremonies, but the brotherly

46 Eph. 4:11-12. 47 Ibid. 52.

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and sisterly love o f God’s family which attracts the people o f this religiously pluralistic world. Therefore, the Church must live the life o f Christ with his love to show the world the true character of the Church as God’s family. The Church come of age will be built upon the love o f Christ as one family of God. Ecumenism of the Church will naturally spring up from the love o f Christ and all the churches will be connected with each other in the act o f love and mutual understanding in order to do the will of God together as one family. The churches come o f age will responsibly come before God to form an empirical body o f Christ by accepting and recognizing each other and by sharing their resources to do God’s work. The earthly hierarchy o f the Church will be replaced by the offices o f the servanthood respected by the church members. In the Church come o f age, Christ will be recognized and honored as its true owner and its source o f life. It may sound too idealistic and remote from reality. Robertson says: Bonhoeffer was a critical supporter o f the ecumenical movement. His main criticism was that it had not developed a theology. This was not a call for an excluding theological statement, but for a new birth of theological earnestness related to the issues o f the day . . . But even as a youth secretary, he saw the falling away o f denominational shibboleths.48 For Bonhoeffer, Ecumenism o f the Church is more than a Christian solidarity. Rather, it meant God’s call for the praxis o f the Church to promote world peace at the time o f conflict.49 When the world come o f age is seeking its unification and the promotion of world peace through the efforts just like the United Nations, the Church come of age becomes visible to the world. In a practical sense, it can be suggested that

48 Edwin H. Robertson, Bonhoeffer's Heritage, 163. 49 See Bonhoeffer, No Rusty Swords, 286-7.

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the Church take the first step towards its unification before God by forming an assembly to call for the repentance of all Christians and churches, and to do the work o f God, salvation o f this world, together in Christ. In the Spirit, the Church will demonstrate to the world the impossibility o f being bom again on its own terms, and reveal the eternal power and glory of the Lord. With regard to the unity o f the Church, H. Richard Niebuhr says: The road to unity which love requires denominations, nations, classes, and races to take is no easy way. There is no short cut even to the union o f the churches. The way to the organic, active peace o f brotherhood leads through the hearts of peacemakers who will knit together, with patience and self-sacrifice, the shorn and tangled fibers o f human aspirations, faiths, and hopes, who will transcend the fears and dangers o f an adventure of trust. The road to unity is the road o f repentance. It demands a resolute turning away from all those loyalties to the lesser values o f the self, the denomination, and the nation, which deny the inclusiveness o f divine love. It requires that Christians learn to look upon their separate establishments and exclusive creeds with contrition rather than with pride. The road to unity is the road o f sacrifice which asks o f churches as of individuals that they lose their lives in order that they may find the fulfillment of their better selves. But it is also the road to the eternal values o f a Kingdom of God that is among us.50 Ecumenism is not an ideal but what is demanded by the gospel o f Jesus Christ. Without unity as a visible expression o f the love o f Christ and as an empirical evidence of the reality of Christ in this world, the Church cannot pose as the living body o f Christ. The World Council o f Churches was formed in Amsterdam in 1948. Since then, the organization has been promoting solidarity o f the churches and assembled together for a theological study and a public utterance.51 The WCC is not a visible structure that is sufficient for an external form o f the Church come o f age. A more functional structure

50 H. Richard Niebuhr, The Social Sources o f Denominationalism (Gloucester, Mass: Peter Smith, 1987), 284. 5 1 Robertson, Bonhoeffer's Heritage, 164-5.

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would be needed for the Church come o f age to work together God’s praxis for the world, which will be discussed next.

The Praxis of the Church Come of Age
When the Church attains its maturity, it should ask the question, “What should we do as the Church come o f age?” With regard to BonhoefFer’s hermeneutical model of community, Luca D'Isanto says, “The true response o f the church consists in rendering the hidden God visible and interpretable in the ecclesial praxis o f contemporary individuals . . . because no interpretation o f God’s being can be authentically validated without moving into action.” 52 The praxis o f the Church cannot be summarized in a few terms. However, for the present discussion, its meaning will be reviewed from several key aspects: didache, koinonia , diakonia, and latreia (worship).

The Non-religious Didache The history o f humankind has proven that it is the collective power o f the enlightened members of a society, which can transform a given society. In order for the Church to take a new shape, individual Christians need to be enlightened through non­ religious instruction and teaching. Regarding Christian teaching, Bonhoeffer interpreted Acts 2:42 from the perspective o f didache : The testimony o f the Apostles following Peter’s sermon is called didache. In contrast to any form of religious speaking, instruction, the imparting o f past events, is meant here. That something has happened is testified, is taught - and also that something is to happen (Acts 2:38f.) The content of what is to be said is therefore fixed, it needs only to be handed on. Didache is the work o f mediation between firm facts and an audience -

52 Luca D’Isanto, Bonhoeffer's Hermeneutical Model o f Community in Wayne Whitson Floyd, Jr. and Charles Marsh, eds. Theology and the Practice o f Responsibility: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994), 146.

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mediation understood in a purely formal way, and nothing else. Didache has itself no “religious” character.53 Here, Bonhoeffer seems to emphasize several points. First, didache does not attempt to teach something new. Its purpose is not to satisfy one’s curiosity. Rather, it hands over things that might be already known to an audience. It reminds an audience what God has done for them. Second, it is not related to religious rituals o f any kind. However, teaching in general is for something not already known to an audience. To impart something already known sounds senseless and superfluous. Based on the “steadfast” attitude of the disciples, Bonhoeffer reasoned that there must be something that keeps didache from being superfluous. He continued: There must therefore be something in this didache which distinguishes it from any other, so that it does not make itself superfluous. The steadfastness is essential and necessary. Why? Is there a sense c f duty, that the assembly must be kept up? Is it responsibility for the others? i.e. has this “steadfastly” an ethical . . . emotional basis? All this, as we can see today, would not have the power to build a community.54 Obviously, he is linking didache with a community, the first Church. It seems that he considered didache essential to build a Church-community. Then, what made those disciples learn “steadfastly” from the Apostles? Bonhoeffer finds the answer from the Holy Spirit: It lies in the fact that this testimony, precisely as didache , is a work of God, o f the Holy Spirit himself. The Holy Spirit himself speaks in this didache. He himself is the fact o f this didache. And because the church is the church o f the Holy Spirit, it builds itself up daily through this didache. The Holy Spirit exists in the didache .55

53 WF 49. 54 Ibid.

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Bonhoeffer observed that the Holy Spirit had chosen the Apostles as his special instruments to be the witnesses of Christ. They are used as the living link o f the Holy Spirit with the teaching. Bonhoeffer considered that the true sermon must be able to be called apostolic preaching in this sense. Didache can be linked with Christian education. If the purpose of general education is to help individuals to form a character suitable as a member o f society, the purpose of Christian education, as edification, is to help individuals to grow up as mature members o f God’s family and citizens o f the kingdom o f God. Everett Ferguson states, “Edification (the building up in the faith) is a natural outgrowth from evangelism. The persons converted by the missionary preaching and evangelistic work then had to be instructed how to live as members o f the church.”56 The fundamental difference between a general education and Christian education is that the former aims to produce socially responsible individuals. Whereas, the latter aims to create koinonia. The former is performed by trained professionals whereas the latter is performed by the Holy Spirit through the gifted servants o f Christ. Based on the preceding discussion, one can conclude that: 1) Christian education is a didache; a non-religious teaching act o f the Holy Spirit. In other words, its purpose should not be to form a religious character, but a whole-person o f Christ. 2) Christian educators should consider themselves as God’s instruments and witnesses o f the Holy Spirit. Christian education is not a personal choice o f profession, but rather, God’s calling to build a kingdom community o f Christ. 3) Christian education should be made in the

56 Everett Ferguson, The Church o f Christ, 286.

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koinonia of Christ and the Holy Spirit through which the fellowship o f faith is possible. Such koinonia is created by didache , the preaching o f the Word. 4) Christian education should be done “steadfastly” on a daily basis o f prayer and thanksgiving. Sunday school cannot be equated with Christian education. 5) Christian education should encompass people of all ages. As the first didache was for every disciple, all Christians must be taught on a daily basis. 6) Christian education must be prax/s-oriented in contrast to knowledge-oriented. It means that Christian education must be able to teach a person how to live for others as Christ demonstrated through his cross and his present suffering for “others” in a religiously pluralistic world. Therefore, the ultimate goal o f the present Christian education should be to enlighten and animate individual Christians through non-religious instructions. In doing so, a transformation o f the present Church in adolescence to the Church come o f age existing for others will be seen.

The Koinonia o f Family o f God In addition to the fact that didache is the work o f the Holy Spirit, Bonhoeffer found that didache creates koinonia: It [didache] does not leave the listener as an individual, like any other simple imparting o f facts, such as a lecture. Each one does not take up his things and go home - this didache creates koinonia. . . . Brotherly fellowship grows only with the hearing o f the Word, and all brotherly life in turn stands in the service o f proclaiming the Word. It is not without significance that koinonia is mentioned in between the teaching o f the Apostles and the breaking o f the bread. That is in fact the place of Christian brotherliness. Founded on and made possible by the preaching, fulfilled by and directed towards the breaking o f the bread, in the

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‘o f the blood of Christ’ (1 Cor. Peter C. flows the hidden life o f the primitive community.the new ethos of the fellowship and its members. of thanksgiving. 6). and o f intercession. Fellowship stands between Word and sacrament.57 He concluded that the goal and the fulfillment o f the brotherly/sisterly fellowship is the fellowship in the Lord’s supper: “Koinonia is the waiting to share in the eternal Lord’s supper that Christ will drink with us new in his Father’s kingdom. From this unity. 14. . in the sense that koinonia is the matrix in which faith occurs . individual faith flows out from koinonia with the Lord. The significant mark and the essential being o f this communion consist in the quality o f agape . Hodgson says o f koinonia: Although we are accustomed to speaking o f the Church as a ‘fellowship of faith.the koinonia o f Christ. ‘o f the Spirit’ (2 Cor 13.’ this may be a somewhat misleading expression taken alone and is found only once in the New Testament (Philem. 1:9. We hear more commonly o f the koinonia ‘of the Son’ (1 Cor. . .2:1). 6). implying therefore a unity o f “logos” and dynamic energy which lies beyond all comprehension. between the earthly feast and the eternal feast. on the contrary. 58 Ibid. The Misunderstanding o f the Church. Individual acts o f faith do not together constitute a communion. . and ‘in the gospel’ (Phil. 59 Brunner. based on the faithfulness o f God. both o f the fellowship and of its moral power. 10:16). for upon the inspiration o f the Holy Ghost rests the Koinonia.3. the fundamental equality o f all and their mutual subordination each to other. 297 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.community o f the body o f the Lord. 1:5). the fact that they are knit together in an organism which includes both equality and difference. Phil. It is not our faith that constitutes koinonia but the reverse. 1 John 1:. It forms the secret. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. The Word o f God is truly and effectively in the Church as the word o f the Holy Ghost. As well as the communion o f men with each other.59 The importance o f koinonia lies in the fact that it is not created by the faith of individuals but. .”58 It is a fellowship of prayer. 53. . . rather the 57 WF 50. Brunner says o f koinonia.

36.condition for the emergence o f faith is the new possibility o f communal praxis represented by the koinonia 60 Koinonia.”63 Second. . . 1985). Bonhoeffer differentiates a spiritual community from all other communities. Bonhoeffer said: Self-centered love loves the other for the sake o f itself. in any way whatsoever. . is more than fellowship. It is the praxis o f the love in which Christ exceeds the brotherly and sisterly love o f this world. James Burtness observes that Life Together. This togetherness is solely based on the reality o f Christ among Christians. 1988). and an idol it worships. Shaping the Future: The Ethics o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. . spiritual love loves the other for the sake o f Christ . . an ‘immediate’ relationship o f one to another. Hodgson. is christocentric. 63 LT 26. 298 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. “Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize. Revisioning the Church. He said.62 Bonhoeffer points out that the greatest danger to Christian community is “the danger o f confusing Christian brotherhood with some wishful idea o f religious fellowship. koinonia is a spiritual love rather than the “merely emotional” love o f a neighbor. 6 1 LT 38-41. . Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm (Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 32. Self-centered love makes itself and ends in itself. Koinonia has several characteristics which distinguish it from a mere fellowship. . It turns itself into an achievement. Within the spiritual community there is never. but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate . which is from the Finkenwalde period. First. 60 Peter C. koinonia consists o f a togetherness o f Christ and all members o f a church community. 62 James Burtness. as the matrix in which faith occurs.”61 In this regard.

In many cases.”65 The busyness of modem life pushes people more and more to their private comers. however. it was the spiritual love manifested through the life o f those who were filled with the Holy Spirit.”64 As a spiritual love. Today. It is something completely strange. even the Pastor’s home visitation is considered a nuisance by some Christians. and giving to anyone as he/she had need was not a mere mishap o f the first church which was caused by misconstrued eschatology. Rather. it serves him alone. 2:46. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Self-centered. emotional love can never comprehend spiritual love. 299 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Spiritual love. the Church come of age should connect the life o f individual Christians together in their homes and in their local churches through the love o f Christ and the transforming 64 LT 42-43. Third. which is filled with the Spirit. They become too weary and tired o f their life to share their life together. selling their possessions and goods. In the Church come o f age. koinonia requires self-denial and sacrifice o f its participants. The act o f having everything in common. . Each Christian home has become an island. the privatization of faith is the biggest enemy the Church has to fight. In this highly individualized world. comes from Jesus Christ. In today’s church. koinonia opens the door o f Christians to others. its members will become more generous in giving to the needy not simply because of their compassion but rather because o f their love o f Christ. and incomprehensible to all earthly love.. . . for spiritual love is from above. 65 Ac. gathering together in their homes becomes an annual “open-house” rather than a life-sharing event of “breaking the bread and eating together with glad and sincere hearts. Many individual Christians keep their life in secret and do not want to share their life problems with other fellow Christians. new.

and to give his life as a ransom for many. assigned by the Holy Ghost to the various individual members who were thus equipped to perform their special services . 20:25-28. and by the Holy Spirit not by human desire. the diakonia for the Church is enabled by the power from above and by the charisma o f the Holy Spirit. and whoever wants to be first must be your slave . the Church certainly needs an organizational structure to support its functions. First. The Church come o f age practices the koinonia which flows out of the hearts of individual Christians who are enlightened with the didache o f the Word o f God. just as the koinonia for the Church is from above not from below. 300 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. The Misunderstanding o f the Church. . Brunner points out. and their high officials exercise authority over them. . not by human capability. diakonia is misidentified as an office within the Church. The office o f the Church has been instituted with the spiritual gift. Not so with you. 66 Brunner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. but to serve. . Instead. The Diakonia o f Servanthood In an institutionalized church.just as the Son o f Man did not come to be served. “You know that the rulers o f the Gentiles lord it over them.’ For an office belongs to a public organization. Jesus defined the nature o f diakonia for the Church when he said.power o f the Holy Spirit. “There was in the Ecclesia a regulation o f the functions . it should not be a corporate structure in which an office is given certain authorities or privileges over other members of the Church. 50.”66 As a living organism.”67 Diakonia can be understood from several aspects. 67 Mt. However. an office is part o f an institution.falsely represented as ‘offices.

Hans Kiing says. The members o f the congregation perceive that the church officials are the ones who are elected by them.”70 he asserts.Many Protestant Churches seem to neglect this spiritual nature o f the office o f the Church. Thus. 1976). “The operation o f God is the Spirit is directed towards these individuals in the Church. .69 “The charism cannot be subsumed under the heading of ecclesiastical office. “If the charisms o f individual Christians were discovered and furthered and developed.. it is the congregation. 70 Ibid.” “to see after.”71 Second. With regard to the church structure based on the charisms o f the Holy Spirit. In that sense. 7 1 Ibid. 235-6. it is something concrete and individual.” 68 Hans Kiing. 250... diakonia should be understood from the perspective o f servanthood. However. This becomes clear when we describe pneumatic reality o f the Church in terms o f what may be called its charismatic structure. The charismatic structure o f the Church can be realized when all individual members o f the Church are empowered by the charisms of the Holy Spirit. but all Church offices can be subsumed under charism.” “to care for. what life and movement there would be in such a community. becoming the elector o f the church officials. 69 Ibid. and reduce it to a mere governing body o f the Church. such a Church. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. what dynamic power. As the verb diakoneo means “to serve. he suggests. The Church (New York: Doubleday. 301 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” and “to wait on. 244ff. the Church come o f age recognizes the sovereign power and authority o f the living Christ who builds up the Church through the charisma o f the Holy Spirit.”68 Kiing says that the great variety o f charismatic gifts is not concentrated and centralized in a few individuals or the leaders o f the church community. not the Holy Spirit. 245.

Jesus showed the supreme example o f this servanthood. They serve others in their obedience to their master and to his commandments alone. but allowing one-self to be caught up into the way o f Jesus Christ. in order to serve the needs o f this world. That is metanoia : not prioritizing ones own needs. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. it can be learned that individual Christians born-again by the Spirit 72 LPP 362. diakonia. fears. sins. Rather.diakonia does not carry any notion o f ruling over others. into the messianic event. demands even one’s life in serving others. Bonhoeffer said. problems. However.73 From Acts. and counseling centers. The Church come o f age should start building more Christian schools. 302 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. diakonia is to participate in the sufferings o f God. Third. therefore. 7 3 Readers should keep in mind that the author does not deny the need of institution or organization to support what the Church should do to be obedient to God’s will. it denotes the acts of a servant who is waiting to serve others. He came to serve by giving his life as a ransom for many. . hospitals. vocational schools. In other words. but participation in the sufferings o f God in the secular life. Christians are the servants o f the Lord. not o f human beings. orphanages.”72 Thus. through his service through his cross. In order for the Church to do the work. the boundary o f diakonia should not be limited within the Church. Diakonia. 53. “It is not the religious act that makes the Christian. there has to be an organization or institution that can support and manage those projects. this servanthood should not be understood as directed towards other human beings. shelters. 18 July 1944. Rather the Church should be in the midst o f the world serving its spiritual as well as worldly needs. nursing homes. thus fulfilling Isa. The author’s concern is the Church’s “institutionalization” of its structure as the end goal.

are the elements o f the Church come o f age. “Being born-again” is not an abstract concept but an actual transforming act of the Spirit. When individuals are transformed into a new creation, the Spirit also creates a new community called the Church. It first forms local communities of believers. Then, those local Churches are connected together to form a body o f Christ. O f course, in reality, it is not as simple as it is described here. However, no matter how complex the Church organization might be, if it is based not on the hierarchical power structure but on the servanthood and humility o f Christ, the form o f the Church come o f age can be realized. Fourth, diakonia is the praxis o f responsibility o f the Church come o f age. Bonhoeffer found a genuine experience o f God in our encounter with Jesus Christ who is there for others: Encounter with Jesus Christ. The experience that a transformation o f all human life is given in the fact that “Jesus is there only for others.” His “being there for others” is the experience o f transcendence. It is only this “being there for others,” maintained till death, that is the ground o f his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Faith is participation in this being o f Jesus (incarnation, cross, and resurrection). Our relation to God is not a ‘religious’ relationship to the highest, most powerful, and best Being imaginable - that is not authentic transcendence - but our relation to God is a new life in “existence for others,” through participation in the beings o f Jesus.74 “Being there for others” can be viewed as responsibility as the responsiveness of human life to the reality of the world out there.75 Wolfgang Huber argues that responsibility has a twofold structure: responsibility to and responsibility fo r. Huber says: “Responsibility for” is often interpreted as care. Bonhoeffer himself seems

74 LPP 381, Outline fo r a Book. 75 Cf. Wolfgang Huber, Bonhoeffer and Modernity in Wayne Whitson Floyd Jr. and Charles Marsh, eds. Theology and the Practice o f Responsibility: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994), 14.

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to favor such an interpretation with his concept o f “existence for others” or proexistence. But “responsibility for” involves more. It is not simply care (“Fursorge”), but prospective care (“Vorsorge”), namely the prospective care for a shared realm o f living together. This is precisely the sense in which Bonhoeffer summarizes his ethics o f responsibility in the text “After Ten Years” : . . 76 Therefore, it can be said that diakonia has a dimension o f our responsibility for God and for humanity not only by caring for our neighbors but also by caring for the generations through the transforming praxis o f living together. Huber continues to explain another side o f the structure o f “responsibility” in the following terms: “Responsibility to” originally means responsibility to a judge. The transfer o f this idea from the sphere o f law to the sphere o f law to the sphere of ethics was historically possible only under the influence o f the Christian idea that all humans have to give a last account to a divine judge at the end of history, in the fullness o f time . . . The Christian tradition links this universalization o f responsibility back to the life of the individual. Here the parable o f the last judgement (Mt. 25:31-46) has a fundamental as well as an exemplary function. On the one hand this parable portrays the last judgement as the fulfillment o f time, when the actions o f all individuals can receive their definitive meaning in light o f the actions o f all other individuals. But, on the other hand, it portrays a present situation on the basis of which one’s action are judged - namely the needs o f the weak and oppressed, the fears and hopes of our poor and marginalized brothers and sisters. The legitimacy or illegitimacy o f our actions is decided in our interactions with those who are weaker than we are. That seems to me to be the adequate explication o f Bonhoeffer’s notion o f “existence-forothers” in the framework o f an ethics o f responsibility.77 In general, as in the case o f Huber, Bonhoeffer’s concept o f “being there for others” has been interpreted from the perspective o f the oppressed and the poor. Undoubtedly, Bonhoeffer was influenced by the suffering o f the Jews to develop this theological theme o f “being there for others.” However, our contemporary situation is

76 Ibid., 15. 77 Ibid., 15-6.

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different from what Bonhoeffer had to face in his time. In order to find out how we can be “responsible to” God or stand “before God”78 in our situation, we need to ask, “Who are the oppressed in the context o f our pluralistic society?” It seems that liberation theology did not go far enough to touch on the liberation o f human souls from the realm o f religion. The liberation o f humanity must be viewed as a liberation o f human being as a whole: body, soul and spirit. Therefore, this way o f understanding diakonia as our “being there for others” renews the meaning of evangelism o f Christianity.

The Latreia o f Religionless Christianity. The early Church was a worshipping community; “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor o f all the people.”79 Arguably, their worship was not a superficial act o f religion. Their communal life was not limited to the daily meeting in the temple courts. “The ‘religious act’ is always something partial; ‘faith’ is something whole, involving the whole o f one’s life. Jesus calls men, not to a new religion, but to life,”80 said Bonhoeffer. The early Christians were converted from the religion o f Judaism, as well as other religions, to a new “way” o f life. First, latreia , worship, can be understood from the spiritual aspect. Regarding the worship of Christian community o f life together, Bonhoeffer said: Life together under the Word begins at an early hour o f the day with a worship service together. A community living together gathers for praise and thanks, Scripture reading, and prayer. The profound silence of morning is first broken by the prayer and song o f the community o f faith.

78 See LPP 360. 79 Ac. 2:46-47. 80 LPP 362.

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After the silence o f the night and early morning, hymns and the Word of God will be heard all the more clearly. Along these lines the Holy Scriptures tell is that the first thought and the first word o f the day belong to God .. ,”81 The day o f a Christian begins with the Word, hymn, and prayer. The term, “non­ religious Christianity,” means one’s total submission to the Lord. It does not deny the spiritual aspect o f a Christian life. On the contrary, it demands one’s wholly dedicated life through the secret disciplines o f a more sincere and genuine spiritual worship. As Jesus said, true worshippers do not limit the place o f their worship to the church ground. The reason being that, spiritual worship is not something partial or, in that sense, religious, but holistic. Mature Christians live their individual lives as worship. However, what is the meaning o f religionless worship and prayer? What does the Eucharist mean for religionless Christianity? Clearly, Bonhoeffer did not intend to create a secret Christian society with the secret discipline o f worship and prayer. Yet, the meaning o f religionless worship and prayer needs to be clarified. Barry A. Harvey views that the Eucharist is never simply a fellowship meal with Jesus or with our neighbors, but concretely embodies the divine summons to share in God’s sufferings at the hands o f a
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godless world.

Harvey says:

The Christian practice of everyday life, linked eucharistically by God’s own sufferings in Jesus Christ to the victims o f suffering and oppression subversively challenges the hegemony o f the (post)modem world to justify itself in light o f the human cost which it involves, but it also extends in a concrete manner the divine offer o f new life in the servant 83 community.

8 1 LT 51. 82 See Barry A. Harvey, Religionless Christianity in Wayne Whitson Floyd Jr. and Charles Marsh, eds. Theology and the Practice o f Responsibility: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994), 53. 83 Ibid. 54.

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Religionless worship does not eliminate the corporate worship service from the community o f believers. Rather, it intensifies the meaning o f worship service as praxis o f the Holy Spirit who transforms individual Christians into spiritual beings. Through worship and prayer, Christians as an individual and a community, enter into the fellowship with God. Worship will include repentance, the Word, the bread and wine, thanksgiving, praising, healing, witnessing, confessing, life sharing, and glorifying God. The spiritual nature of worship should be understood from the perspective o f personal edification as well as communal growth and maturity which will become visible when the whole community o f believers come before God as a suffering community for others. Second, latreia , has a corporate nature. Christians gather together to worship God. The early Christians met in the temple court as well as in their homes. The home church can be a place for Christians to meet together, but the early Christians did not avoid meeting in the temple court where non-Christians also came to worship. In this sense, the temple court represents the religious world. Every day they gathered there to worship God who brought salvation to the world, and to witness the gospel o f Christ to the Jews who were religiously waiting for “Messiah the Prince”84 and to the Gentiles. From house to house they broke bread.85 Sacrament as a part o f worship represents Christians’ togetherness in Christ. By breaking the bread and drinking the cup together, they remembered what Christ had done for their sake and remembered that they are members of the Body of Christ, the Church. Third, latreia does not mean a mystical religious ceremonies or rituals where God

M Dan. 9:25. 85 Ac. 2:46.

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is removed from the reality o f this world. Rather, it means a true worship where the Lord’s presence in this world is recognized and praised. True worship does not distinguish the life in the church community from the life in the world. Non-religious Christianity does not nullify the worship service on Sunday. Rather, it transforms the Pharisaic and superficial worship service into something that is “liberating and redeeming.”86 In a true worship, baptism will be understood not merely as a mark of Christians. On the one hand, it will symbolize one’s belonging to the eternal kingdom of God and also one’s total commitment o f their life for the Church and for the Lord. On the other hand, baptism will be understood as a symbolization o f the commitment of the church community to the service of each member in which the Church come of age shares the life o f each member, just as the Lord received his baptism as a sign o f his commitment to humanity as a whole. Therefore, in reality, the Church and its members become one through the baptism o f the Holy Spirit. The worship in truth always unites Christians and the churches under the name o f Christ because he is the truth.

Christianity for the Religious Others
What should the Church do in the religiously pluralistic world? This is the initial question raised by this thesis. First, the Church come o f age must exist for the religious others who are under the grips of false religion. Clearly, in order for the Church to exist for the religious others, it cannot remain as a religion because “a blind man cannot lead a blind man.”87 Therefore, as previously stated, the Church must first be bom again by the Spirit as a religionless Christianity. Without the Spirit, the Church will have to remain as

86 LPP 300. 87 ML 15:14.

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a religion, and it can do nothing for the religious others in this religiously pluralistic world. Second, once the Church is bom again as a religionless Christianity, which is the true identity o f the Church as the body of Christ, it should dialogue with other religions just as Jesus spoke with Pharisees, Sadducees, and Samaritans. Jesus did not speak to them on the same plane. They were religious people, but Jesus was not. With his perfect knowledge o f the Father, religion could only be superfluous to him. Jesus was able to talk freely to those religious others because he is the Lord even o f the Sabbath.88 In order to dialogue with the religious others, the Christian Church should know who they are and what they believe. True compassion comes from one’s understanding o f others. Therefore, the Church must understand the differences and similarities between Christianity and other religions in order to communicate effectively with them. Third, the Church, with humility, should be willing to learn from how the religious others put their faith into practice in their daily lives. Jesus, for example, did not discount the Pharisees’ sincerity and vigor in practicing their faith: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that o f the Pharisees and the teachers o f the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom o f heaven.”89 The Church come o f age is not afraid o f facing the truths of other religions. Bonhoeffer urged, “The church must come out o f its stagnation. We must move out again into the open air of intellectual discussion with the world, and risk saying controversial things, if we are to get down to the serious

88 Mk. 2:28. 89 ML 5:20.

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1997). is fundamentally different from other religions in the fact that Jesus can also lay claim to the religious others. the truth. In summary. however. Bonhoeffer fo r a New Day: Theology in a Time o f Transition (Grand Rapids. MI: Eerdmans. 152-4. as Jesus did. should answer the question of “Who is Christ for us today?”93 by proclaiming to the religiously pluralistic world that Jesus Christ is the way.problems o f life.”90 Fourth. 3 August 1944. Ethicsfo r the Renewal o f Life in in John W. but Jesus speaks his words in the present tense as the resurrected Lord. and the life for us today. 93 LPP 279. de Gruchy. and the life. the meaning o f Christ’s being the way and the truth and the life will be discussed next. 310 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Since they have died. 30 April 1944. 92 Jn. Mohammed. Christianity cannot claim it is the visible community with God’s presence. and other founders o f religions might have understood “the truth.” but they could not claim that they themselves are the way. Those similarities seem to have caused religious pluralists to believe that all religions are essentially the same.91 When the other religions claim that their moral values and standards are higher than Christianity. As the conclusion of the present thesis. Christianity. the truth. their words can only be in the past tense. there are some similarities between Christianity and other religions from the perspective o f morality and the values they teach. therefore. The Church for the religious others.”92 Buddha. 90 LPP 378. “I am the way and the truth and the life. 91 See Hans Pfeifer. . 14:6. the Church must have credibility in its way o f living. ed. and their communities practice more authentic love among themselves and for the world. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

the Truth. needs to be redefined. Christianity. it should be noted that the term in the following discussion is used strictly to mean non-religious Christian faith or the person o f Christ and the witness o f his disciples.Je su s Christ as the Way. Jesus came to the world as the light. and the Life The Church come of age does not promote Christianity as a religion because it now knows that Christianity cannot be a religion because it bears the name o f the one who came to transform all religions o f the world and to liberate humanity. 1:4-10. 311 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. the religious world did not understand it. I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. “The light shines in the darkness.”95 Today. How can the Church proclaim Christ as “AN UNKNOWN GOD” who revealed himself to the religious world. and Confucius? First o f all. the Christian mission is to proclaim “AN UNKNOWN GOD” to the religious world. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects o f worship. “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. which evaluates Jesus only as one of the most respectable saints in human history along with Buddha. The Apostle Paul once found himself at Areopagus in Athens.” wrote John. Paul said. but the darkness has not understood it. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. . 94 Jn. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. Although the light has been shed upon the world. “Christianity” is the term describing Christian faith as a religion. Therefore. 17:22-23. Unless it is redefined as something non-religious in nature.94 The darkness o f the world can be interpreted as the darkness o f religion that covers human souls. Mohamed. the meaning of the term. the present discussion becomes meaningless. 95 Ac.

“the Way” is holistic. “the Way” points to a certain destiny. “The ‘religious act’ is always something partial. non-religious Christianity has several dimensions. 8:18. First. which can be categorized in terms o f logos. praxis and koinonia. By knowing “the Way” human beings learn that their life on earth is only temporal. It is a road to which Jesus takes all humankind. 97 Ac.” As he was God-human. It lets human beings know who they are: sojourners. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Jesus is “the Way. 9:2. Rather. Christianity was initially called hodos (the Way)96 by non-Christians.” 1) The Way Christ claimed himself as “the Way. ‘faith’ is something whole. the Church p ro -claims that Christ is the way. involving the whole o f one’s life. It leads humanity to a certain direction: to the Father. “the way. These categories will be explained through the self­ characterization o f Jesus. Paul said to Felix. “the Way” is a way that is wholly human and wholly divine. 24:14. “I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower o f the Way. the truth. which they call a sect.” Some aspects o f “the Way” can be described. the term “Christianity” seems to have replaced the expression “the Way. 98 Ro. 99 A Chinese term which means “the way.”97 Unfortunately. and the life.” Thus. Bonhoeffer said.” 312 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner." “The Way” shows us how to live as a whole person in this world. It is the logos. It is the true Tao.”98 Second.Clearly. and that they should not be discouraged because “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Jesus 96 Ac. .

a temporal way. in which all human beings can meet with mutual understanding and compassion. For I tell you the truth. 15. but to life. It is the way for all Christians to walk together in their daily life. and your ears because they hear. . . “the Way” enlightens human beings. 18 July 1944. you are the branches. 1 0 1 Jn. There is no hatred in “the Way”. slave nor free. 3:38. 102 Mt. It is not the way only for Sunday or only on the church ground. . It is “the Way” for all humankind. apart from me you can do nothing . It is the light which brings an understanding o f God’s mystery to human beings. “There is neither Jew nor Greek. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 13:16-17. many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it. not to religion. male nor female. The events o f Jesus’ healing the blind should be understood in spiritual way. If a man remains in me and I in him. but only love. It is universal from the perspective that it unites.calls men. and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” 100 “The Way” teaches humankind how to live a life filled with complete joy. Third. for you are all one in Christ Jesus.5-9. it is for all humankind. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. but “the Way” is the divine way to unite all humankind with genuine love o f Christ which leads 100 LPP 362. The United Nations is a human way. he will bear much fruit. 313 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. “I am the vine.” 10 1 The Way is not a broken but a contiguous line. it is the true way to the Enlightenment. it is not the way for the West or for the East.”102 Fourth. to unite all humankind. It is the true way to nirvana. “the Way” is universal. it is not the way for the white or for the black. 1 03 Gal. “But blessed are your eyes because they see.” 103 It is not the way for chauvinists or feminists.

The German word Nachfolge means “following.106 2) The Truth First. “The Way” is a way that one can walk only with “simplicity” 105 o f his/her action in obedience to God’s will. the will of God. “The Way” calls for actions o f humankind. 1999). Let the postmodernists and religious pluralists be dissatisfied on this point. “The knowledge o f Jesus is entirely transformed into action. the important thing. “the Truth” is the origin o f all truths. Those things belong to Pharisees. Costly Discipleship in John W. de Gruchy. without any reflection upon a man’s s e l f . his deed is no longer one possibility among many. 104 314 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. UK: Cambridge University Press. It is not knowledge that one keeps in his/her head.” 104 says Bonhoeffer. whereas ethics and morals come from below. . . Bonhoeffer argued that the new knowledge o f Jesus is entirely contained in the doing o f the will o f God. which is the way to a morality grounded in what God determines to be good and right. “The Truth” o f Christ cannot be compromised with the human-made truth of religion. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 106 See Haddon Willmer. . The Cambridge Companion to Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Cambridge. 105 E 30-41. but the one thing.” as in “run along behind me!” “The Way” is the content o f discipleship Christians must follow. Fifth. he can speak nothing but the truth. It is above and beyond all religious truths o f this world. “the Way” is not a method but a commitment of faith. “The Way” comes from above. “The Way” is a way to be followed. ed.humanity to the Father through the salvation. It is not a human ethic nor a human based morality. No religious truth can counter the truth o f Jesus: “They were unable to trap him [Jesus] in what he had said E 38. Because Jesus is the truth. 175.

the poor. 109 Jn. they asked him for a sign from heaven. 11:16. The Truth o f Christ has to be put into practice: “Therefore everyone who hears these words o f mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’” 111 Those miracles were performed out o f his truthful compassion for the sick. To test him. 19:3. 22:18. Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer put in practical terms: In its unity which embraces the whole o f human life and in its undivided 107 Lk. ‘Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth. and risk saying controversial things. 110 Jn.” 112 The Truth o f Christ is also God’s concrete commandment. and the oppressed. Lk. The miracles performed by Jesus should be understood as the manifestation o f the Truth. no sign will be given to it. Cf. 10:2. Mt. 20:26. And astonished by his answer. Jesus can claim that he is the Truth because he speaks just what the Father has taught him. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Bonhoeffer said. We must move out again into the open air o f intellectual discussion with the world. “the Truth” is not an abstraction but the living truth: the praxis of love. 10:30. 315 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.” 108 The Church should face the challenges of the religiously pluralistic world with a conviction that there is only one truth.109 The truth o f Jesus is not his own but flows from the relationship in which “I and the Father are one. 108 LPP 378.” 110 Second.”107 The Truth silences all other truths o f religion. “The Church must come out o f stagnation. they became silent. Jn.there in public. 10:25. 8:11. Mk. 112 M t 7:24. 3 August 1944. 8:11-12. Jesus did not perform those miracles to demonstrate a superpower in order to impress people: “The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. if we are to get down to the serious problems o f life. He sighed deeply and said. 8:28. 8:6. 35. 12:15. 1 1 1 Mk. . 16:1.

claim to man and to the world through the reconciling love o f God, God’s commandment, revealed in Jesus Christ, confronts us concretely in four different forms which it alone unites: the Church, marriage and the family, culture and government.113 The Truth is not only for the Church but it is also for the world. The Church seems to be at a point of retreat from the matters o f this world. For example, the racial issues are still rampant in our society. However, there is very little voice heard from Christian circles that deals with those issues. Drug and alcohol became serious social issues, but there is not enough visible effort from the Church other than making its facilities available to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) which has very little to do with Christianity. The Truth must be demonstrated through the concrete actions o f the Church, the life of Christian family, the Christian culture and value, and the obedient acts o f Christian politicians and government officials. When the Truth is practiced in all different dimensions o f Christian life, the world will know that Jesus Christ is indeed the Truth, as he claimed. Third, “the Truth” embraces all other truths o f religion. It does not stand against the truths o f Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism. Rather, it rebukes and corrects those truths claimed by religions, but embraces those truths as the father embraces his prodigal son. The Truth understands them as the consequences o f the Fall; as the outcome of the knowledge o f good and evil.114 The Church should not be in conflict with the religious others, but it should know how to embrace them without compromising the integrity o f the Truth o f Christ.

113 E 281. 114 See Part I The Love o f God and the Decay o f the World in Bonhoeffer’s Ethics.

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Fourth, the Truth liberates. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The Truth of Jesus Christ liberates the religious others from the bondage of religion. The preaching of the word of the Truth is the true event o f an Exodus o f humankind from the land of religion. The Sabbath imparted from Jesus can be attained only in the land o f freedom where those high places are demolished and peace exists.

3) The Life First, Christ is “the Life.” When Jesus claimed that he is the life, he undoubtedly meant that he lives in the midst o f this world. The Great Commission can remain as a commission for the present Church not because it is a written commandment in the Scripture but because Jesus promised the Church, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 115 In other words, Christian mission is possible not simply because o f the Church here and now. Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two o f you on earth agree about

anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” 116 The Life is with us human beings and lives with us. The Life is Immanuel: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, ‘God with us.’” 117 Not only is Christ with us, he is at the center o f everything. In regard to the centrality of

115 Mt. 28:20. 116 Mt. 18:18-20. 11 7 M t 2:23.

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Christ, Bonhoeffer stated: It is the nature o f the person o f Christ to be in the center, both spatially and temporally. The one who is present in Word, Sacrament and Church is in the center o f human existence, o f history and o f nature. It belongs to the structure if his person to be in the center... Christ is the mediator as the one who exists pro me [for me].118 What does God’s being with humanity mean to the religious others? It means they no longer have to seek God through their religions because God is already here in the midst of all human beings. Jesus Christ, Immanuel, is the answer for all religious questions. Religion becomes meaningless before God who is with us and lives with us. Second, “the Life” is the source o f all lives. The Life is the first fruit o f the resurrection, the second Adam.119 The Apostle John wrote, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son o f God does not have life.” This is not a thought but a testimony o f John that in Jesus Christ “we” received eternal life from God. Although John meant Christians by “we,” certainly his testimony is for all humankind including all religious others. A man asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 120 Clearly, this is the most important question that a religion must be able to answer. In fact, all religions have interpretations for the answer to this question. However, religion can give an answer only in the future tense: ”By doing this and that, you will attain eternal life or nirvana .” The Life on the other hand, declares in present tense, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” 121 It means that religion can only offer humankind a possibility o f

1,8 CC. 60. 1191 Co. 15.

120 Mk. 10:17, Mt. 19:16-29, Lk. 18:18-30. 1 2 1 Jn. 3:36.

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eternal life which the Life has already made available in the present for all humankind. Third, “the Life” is found in the relationship o f the triune God. The Apostle John was convinced that “God is love.” 122 It is obvious that love requires “the other.” Without the triune relationship o f the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, John’s statement, “God is love,” is not possible. Undoubtedly, God is love even before the event o f Creation. God timelessly loves within the structure o f trinity: “The Father loved the Son and placed everything in his hands.” 123Therefore, love explains why God must be in trinity. God is perfect love within the triune relationship. Jesus described his relationship with the Father in terms of love of the Father and the obedience o f the Son: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” 124 “All that belongs to the Father is mine.” 125 This loving relationship of the triune God must have been a part o f Imago Dei that the first man and woman bore before the Fall. Through Jesus Christ, God restores the image o f God that humanity had once lost: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” 126 Therefore, reconciliation between God and humanity can be understood as the restoration o f God’s image o f love in human beings. Through Jesus, human beings can love the Father, and love each other. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for

122 1 Jn. 4:8. 123 Jn. 3:35. 124 Jn. 15:9-10. 125 Jn. 16:15. 126 Ro. 8:29.

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his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” 127 Jesus laid down his life for his friends: all humankind. There is no greater love than his. However, his love demands humanity to obey his command: “Love each other as I have loved you.” Jesus as “the Life” calls humanity to be in a loving relationship. Love is the nature of the community o f Christ. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 128 Jesus, the Life, gives humanity the communal life o f love through which human beings can have it “ to the full.” How, then, can Life be interpreted for the religiously pluralistic world? Bonhoeffer said: The Christians cannot simply take for granted the privilege o f living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst o f his enemies. In the end all his disciples abandoned him. On the cross he was all alone, surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies o f God. So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their w o rk .129 To be in the midst of the world filled with religions is the mission o f the Church of Christ. The scope o f the Christian mission seems to be much larger than sending out missionaries to countries overseas. The importance o f the missionary work cannot be discounted. However, the Church as the whole must realize that its true mission is to love God by simply being obedient to the command o f Christ: “Love each other as I loved you.” In his obedience to the Father, Jesus fulfilled his mission on earth: “I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” 130 Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be

127 128 129 130

Jn. Jn. LT Jn.

15:12-14. 15:12-14. 27. 15:9.

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loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Jesus did not fulfill his mission with earthly devices or methods. He did not invent many different programs or organizations to love his friends and the world. His cross demonstrates the simplicity o f his obedience by which he loved the Father and the world. All the churches on the face o f the earth should come before God to repent for their disobedience. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. The words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” 13 1 The Church must confess that it does not love one another “as Jesus loves his Church.” The mission o f the Church is to love God before it loves humanity. The Church has placed its own agendas - Church growth, equipping the saints, and maintaining the order and structure o f the Church - before its love o f God and in doing so it has neglected to obey his command o f loving one another. Bonhoeffer called for the Church’s transformation to a spiritual community: Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise o f all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more Calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it. Because Christian community is founded solely on Jesus Christ, it is a spiritual [pneumatische ] and not a psychic [psychische] reality. In this respect it differs absolutely from all other communities. The Scriptures call pneumatic or “spiritual” \geistlich] what is created only by the Holy Spirit, who puts Jesus Christ into our hearts as lord and savior. The Scriptures call psychic or emotional [seelisch] what comes from the natural urges, strengths, and abilities o f the human soul.132

1 3 1 Jn. 14:23-24. ,32LT 38.

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How should the Church be categorized based on Bonhoeffer’s analysis? According to the previous discussion, the present Church in adolescence could be called a community o f a psychic reality rather than a “spiritual” community.133 For the Church to serve God’s purpose for the sake o f a religiously pluralistic world, the Church should acknowledge the lordship o f Christ and become a mature spiritual community created by the Holy Spirit. The Church come of age knows that it must follow its master, Jesus Christ, into the world. Douglas John Hall says: The church which follows Jesus Christ into the world will have to experience humiliation; and surely Bonhoeffer understood, what has become more inescapable in the half-century since his death, that this humiliation would have to include, eventually, the very demise o f that form o f the church which for some sixteen centuries dominated the Western world and still dominates our mental and spiritual processes even when it is quantitatively and qualitatively obsolete. It is the humble and simple life o f Jesus that the Church should learn from in order to live its life as his disciple community. The Church must renew itself to live a new life. It must acknowledge that its current way o f life does not conform to the life o f Christ the Lord. It must make a radical decision to follow Jesus into the world. Jesus asked his disciples, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.135 The presence o f Christ will suffice the needs of the Church. When the Church lives the life of Christ with humility and simplicity, the transforming power o f the Holy Spirit will flow from its gate into the world to fulfill the

134 Douglas John Hall, Ecclesia Crucis in Wayne Whitson Floyd Jr. and Charles Marsh, eds. Theology and the Practice o f Responsibility: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994), 71. 135Lk. 22:35.

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de Gruchy. The world has become mature and much more complex. who came to this world to humanize humanity through liberating humankind from the oppression o f false religions. One might argue that all religions comfort human souls rather than oppress it.will o f God for the suffering world. have questions and perplexity about the identity o f Christianity. throughout the discussion. it has been suggested that the human condition in terms o f religious oppression did not change over the course o f human history. However.136 Selby is correct in that we have the new day o f our own. The new day brings new perplexities in the form o f issues about democracy. “My peace I 136 Peter Selby. 323 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. ed. about the vision o f humanity which informs our common life. in our time. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Peter Selby says: The day is indeed new. this thesis argued that Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious interpretation” is relevant in the present context o f a religiously pluralistic world. . Who Is Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer fo r a New Day: Theology in a Time ofTransition (Grand Rapids. like some o f us gathered at this Congress. and not just for this society. In this instance. For example. 37-8. thus “non-religious interpretation” as the authentic meaning o f Christianity will stay relevant as long as the world remains religious. This is so because a “non-religious interpretation” points to the original meaning o f the gospel as intended by Jesus Christ. 1997). Among those who face the new day will be those who. fo r Us. Jesus said. Religion with its inherently superstitious nature certainly enslaves human souls. the deceitfiilness o f religious comfort and peace can be easily understood from the perspective o f the truth o f the gospel o f Christ. In conclusion. and indeed o f Christ himself. about the economy. MI: Eerdmans. Today? in John W. one can argue that even the ancient Egyptian religion comforted the souls o f Pharaoh and his people and gave peace to their minds. Clearly. our new day raises new challenges for Christianity.

138 LPP 383. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.” 139 137 Jn. In order for the Church to become mature. should be able to proclaim that: Jesus Christ is the way. the Church should be united in and by the Holy Spirit. 139 Jn. so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples. A religionless Christianity. it needs to take off the religious garments and be bom again as a religionless Christianity. but in the form o f God’s family. The Church come of age will know how to love God by obeying a new command o f the Lord: “Love one another. Since Bonhoeffer could not finish what he had started due to his untimely death. 14:27.” 137 It was also suggested that the Church is still adolescent while the world has become mature. it was suggested that the Church must come before God and repent for its disobedience of not loving one another. This should be done not in the form o f an institution. as Bonhoeffer suggested. As I have loved you. through its non-religious praxis o f love for the religious others. 324 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. In order to love the religious others in a religiously pluralistic world. and the life for all humankind. . if you love one another. 13:34-35.”138 Finally. I do not give to you as the world gives. his effort o f a “non-religious interpretation” should continue in order to help “the Church’s future. the truth.give you.

B. and Hamilton. J. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.. Bethge. 1941. New York: Touchstone. ------------------------. 1993. Systematic Thelogy. Letters and Papers from Prison. 325 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Altizer. --------------------. ed. 19%. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. MI: WM.J.J. Anderson. ed. Toward a New Christianity: Readings in the Death o f God Theology. Dietrich. Beckham. -------------------. 1995. 2000. William. Houston. Man o f Vision.B. Thomas J. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Westminster: Paulist Press. 1966. The Social Construction o f Reality. -------------------. Thomas J. 1975. J. Charles N. Bent. Reshaping the Church fo r the 21st Century. The Death o f God Movement. New York: Anchor Books. Altizer. Radical Theology and the Death o f God. A Theological Study o f the Sociology o f the Church. Grand Rapids. -------------------. 1996. John W. D. New York: SUNY Press. A treatise in the sociology o f knowledge. Act and Being Transcendental Philosophy and Ontology in Systematic Theology. Colorado: Helmers & Howard.J. 1967. Man o f Courage. ed. ------------------------. 1997.. New York: Harper & Row.. III: Inter Varsity Press. ------------------------.. A Theological Exposition o f Genesis 1-3. Altizer. Louis. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company. Volume 5. Berkhof. Ministry on the Fire line: A Practical Theology fo r an Empowered Church.. Friendship and Resistance. Volume 2. Eberhard.B. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Louisville... Downers Grove. Works. --------------------. 1967. Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Biography. and Family. Speidell. Eerdmans Publishing. 1997. London: Collins. Sanctorum Communio.BIBLIOGRAPHY Altizer. Society.B. Works. The Soul o f Ministry. William A. Harcourt: Brace & World. 1970. The Contemporary Jesus.. Bonhoeffer. and Luckmann. Peter L. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1997. 1996. Incarnational Ministry: The Presence o f Christ in Church. 1966. 1970. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.. Grand Rapids. Kettler and Todd H.. Thomas J. MI: Eerdmans. Thomas. Bonhoeffer: Exile and Martyr. A Study o f Gabriel Vahanian: Paul Van Buren: William Hamilton: Thomas J. Berger. . Colorado Springs. de Gruchy. --------------------. Eerdmans Publishing. MI: WM. 1975. The Second Reformation. Kentucky: John Knox. TX: TOUCH publications. 1990. D. Creation and Fall. S. Grand Rapids. Ray S. Historical Transcendence and the Reality o f God: A Christological Critique. Christian D.

1970.B. ed. 1999. ed.. Cobb. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 1960.. Brunner. and tr. tr. London: Collins. New York: Touchstone Book. ed. D. --------------------------. 2001. The Way to Freedom: Letters Lectures and Notes from the Collected Works. The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response. 1966. Grand Rapids. New York: Crossroad. London: The Trinity Press. Daniel ft. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 1999. 1997. Bauman. James H. The Cost o f Discipleship (English edition). --------------------------. Many Gods Many Lords: Christianity Encounters World Religions. Zygmunt. Cox. --------------------------. The Secular City (Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective). --------------------------. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Witness to Jesus Christ. --------------------------. 1995. ----------------------------. The Cambridge Companion to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Guy. Christ the Center. Fant. . Julia. New York: Touchstone. 326 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. New York: The MacMillan Company. Robertson. ed. Bonhoeffer's Ethics. Works. Ethics. Ching. Christ and the World Religions. Emil.--------------------------. Edwin H. Burtness. Volume 4. John W. 1966. James’s Place. John B. --------------------------. Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. Minneapolis: Fortress. --------------------. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Jr. 1991. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jr.B. 1991. Life Together. D. Callahan. Harvey Gallagher. --------------------------. 19%. Grand Rapids. Vol II. 1966. Carter. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Wordly Preaching (Lectures on Homiletics). Edwin H. 6th edition. New York: The MacMillan Company. Louisville. Shaping the Future: The Ethics o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Reclaiming the Church. MI: Baker Books. Kampen: Kok Pharos. Davis. ed. Chinese Religions. Paul F. John B. Volume 5. 1959. Knitter. 1962. John W. Eberhard Bethge. ed. de Gruchy. Spiritual Care. The Secular City Debate. New York: Orbis Books. Transforming Christianity and the World. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press... etal. Old Europe and New Frontiers. London: Routledge. Intimations o f Postmodernity. 1997. 19%. Clendenin. Charles. Works. MI: Eerdmans.. St. The Misunderstanding o f the Church. 1953. by Clyde E. 1985. New York: Orbis Books. 1985. eds. de Gruchy. Bonhoeffer fo r a New Day. 1970. Cobb. 1987. 1991. Robertson and John Bowden. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. Daniel ed. San Francisco: Harper. Discipleship. Maryknoll.

Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Hordern. eds. St. James W. 1996. I (November 1963). Guthrie. Grenz. New York: Crossroad 1991. Geffrey B. Leitch. Kent R. The Church o f Christ. 1989. Revisioning the Church. Feil. Georg. Andr& Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian ofTeality. MI: William B. New York: Penguin Books. The Honest To God Debate: Some Reactions to the Book 'Honest to God'. Green. 1985. 1996. Georgia: Smyth &Helwys Publishing Inc.. Shirley C. Ebeling. Valley Forge. Always Being Reformed: Faith fo r a Fragmented World. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press. 1963.. Bonhoeffer. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. Grand Rapids. 1988. 1994. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 1971. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Revised Edition. ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. Bonhoeffer's Concept o f Religion. and Marsh. Jencks. no. Hopper. ed. Clifford. Ethical Responsibility: Bonhoeffer's Legacy to the Churches. Stanley J. . 327 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. David L. Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. Edwards. Grand Rapids. Godsey. ed. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Peter C. A Biblical Ecclesiology fo r Today. 1963. and tr. John D. A Primer On Postmodernism. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. MI: Eerdmans.. Liberating Faith: Bonhoeffer's Message fo r Today. Maryland: National Book Network. The Portable Nitzsche. 1976. Macon. Charles. Fant. Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International.A Dissent on Bonhoeffer. Making the Church Work. ------------------. John D. 1993. Geffrey B. New Directions in Theology Today. Grand Rapids. MI: Baker Books. 1960. The Other Bonhoeffer: An Evangelical Reassessment o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Huntmann. and Kelly. Chicago: Union Seminary Press. tr. Walter.Philadelphia: Westminster Press. What is Post-Modernism?(Fourth Edition). MI: Eerdmans. ed. 1982.. Ernst The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1966. The Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1996. Theology and the Practice o f Responsibility: Essays on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Grand Rapids. Hammett. 1963. William. Ferguson. Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Everett. Wayne Whitson Jr. Charles. New York: Macmillan. David H. Floyd.Dumas. A Theology o f Sociality. Edward H. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House. Gerhard Word and Faith . 1984. Converting the Church fo r the 21st Century. Clyde E. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 19. Kaufmann. Kelly. 1999. Louisville. Godsey. Moving the Church into Action. Hunter. Worldly Preaching: Lectures on Homiletics. Hodgson. 1975. 1996. Eerdmans Publishing. 1997. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing House.

1976. Burton. 1995. and Weborg. 1959. H. Kenneth. Korea: Dongnyuk. Is There Only One True Religion or Are There Many? Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press. 1995. F. Grand Rapids. (New York: Abingdon Press. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Theory and History o f Literature. Fuller and Ilse Fuller. 1995. tr. The Gay Science (1882) in The Portable Nitzsche. 1873. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Public Church: Mainline . Ogden Schubert M. Life in O ne’ s Stride. Hamilton. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. New York: Orbis Books. Rasmussen. Hyungu. The Social Sources o f Denominationalism. in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost o f Discipleship (English edition). Niebuhr. Kelly. San Francisco. 1981. Grand Rapids. Lyotard. Kim. . New York: Crossroad. New York: Doubleday. MI: Eerdmans. Moltmann. MI: William Eerdmans. New York: Touchstone. Geffrey B. Grand Rapids. G. Knitter. Larry L. 1981. 2000. Kaufmann. Two Studies in the Theology o f Bonhoeffer. 328 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Richard. Friedrich. Germany. 1976. Nelson. The Meaning o f the Death o f God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding o f the World in A Bonhoeffer Legacy: Essays in Understanding.. On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense. John A. Oriental Philosophy Essay. Calif. Georgia: Smyth & Helwys. 1985.. Mass: Peter Smith. and Nelson. 1967. J. Hans. 111: Covenant Publications. 1967. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Nietzsche. 1984. Phillips. Gloucester. Gyobin and Lee. 1968. A. New York: Harper & Row. Reality and Resistance Studies in Christian Ethics Series. San Francisco.: Harper SanFrancisco. Reflections on Bonhoeffer: Essays in Honor o f F. trans. Pangritz. 1998.Kelly. Memoir. John C. 1992. Leibholz. Walter. F. Jean-Frangois. Christ fo r Us in the Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1987. Jurgen.: Harper SanFrancisco. Marty. Burton Nelson. A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bernard. Mary. Geffrey B. Paul F. Macon. ed. ed. Calif. Glanzener. MI: William B. The Story o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Resistance to Hitler. 1999. Chicago. New York: Random House. No Other Name? A Critical Survey o f Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions. Andreas. Kung. Reginald H. New York: Penguin Books. 1972. Murchland. Eerdmans Publishing. ------------------------. Seoul. 1959. Jurgen and Weissbach. Volume 10). Burton. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Martin E. Klassen. A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. ed. The Church.Evangelical-Catholic. Karl Barth in the Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Cup o f Wrath.

Minneapolis: Fortress Press. TX: Touch Publications. Chicago. Radical Renewal. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press. Smith. Smart. Gregory Bruce. Houston. 1984. The World's Religions. 1966. 1957. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1960. 1966. The Way to Freedom. Edwin H.. IL: The University of Chicago Press. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1989. Selby. Carl Hermann. Richmond. New York: Touchstone Book. ------------------------. Edwin H.. -------------. Secular Christianity. Margaret A. True Patriotism. Smith. Rose. MD: University Press of America. Shenk. Robertson. 1996. Honest to God. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 1963. 1973. Howard A. 1991. 329 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Heidegger and the transition to postmodemity. New York: Harper Collins. 1988. Bonhoeffer's Heritage: The Christian Way in a World without Religion. ------------------------------. Lanham. The Post-modern and the post-industrial. Cambridge.. and Voss. MA: Cowley Publications. 1991. 1988. Robertson. John Arthur Thomas. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. No Rusty Swords Letters. England: Cambridge University Press. World Come o f Age.. . Lookfo r the Living: The Corporate Nature o f Resurrection Faith. The Problem o f Wineskins Today. Bertrand. Virginia: John Knox Press. A World Come o f Age. The Coherence o f Life Without God before God (The Problem o f Earthly Desires in the Later Theology o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer). Scottdale. Ronald Gregor. New York: Harper & Row. Peter. The Shame and the Sacrifice: The Life and Martyrdom o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer.. London: Billing and Sons Ltd. Smith.Rausch. Lectures and Notes 1939-1945from the collected works o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer Volume III. Ronald Gregor. On Being the Church in the World. Russell. 1996.. Reynolds. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company. 1989. Golbal Gods: Exploring the Role o f Religions in Modem Societies. London: Hodder& Stoughton. The World's Religions. World Religions: Our Quest fo r Meaning. Ninian. Lectures and Notes 1928-1936from the collected works o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer Volume I. 1965. ed. ------------------------. Robinson. -------------------------------. 1976.. David W. New York: Harper & Row. Terrence. Pennsylvania: Herald Press. Lectures and Notes 1933-1939from the collected works o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer Volume II. 1992. Snyder. 1967. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 1966. David A. Smith. Huston. Nietzsche. ed. New York: Harper & Row. --------------------------------------. 1995. Cambridge. Why I Am Not a Christian. New York: Harper and Row.

Charles. 1990. A Spoke in The Wheel. A Theology o f Life. Wiistenberg. 1998. MI: Eerdmans. MI: Baker. Grand Rapids. 1963. Wagner. . Miroslav. After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image o f the Trinity. 330 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Peter.Van Buren. The Secular Meaning o f the Gospel (based on an Analysis o f its Language). VanEngen. God's Missionary People. C. MI: Eerdmans. Grand Rapids. Ralf K. CA: Regal Books. Wind. Ventura. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. MI: Eerdmans. Grand Rapids. 1990. Paul Matthews. New York: The MacMillan Company. Territorial Spirits in Wrestling with Dark Angels. 1998. 1991. Grand Rapids. Volf. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Renate.

It defends the relevance o f Bonhoeffer’s theology to the world o f postmodemity and o f the Generation-X. Buddhism.” “non-religious interpretation o f the gospel and biblical concepts.” “the Church for others. the world without God or the death of God. can his thesis still remain meaningful in the world o f modernity and postmodemity with many religions? This paper answers those questions in three parts. Mormon.” “ religionless Christianity.” “deus ex machina (God of the gaps). It presents stocktaking o f Christianity based on the adolescent nature o f the Church.” “holy worldliness. Hinduism. The 21“ century is in transition from a state o f modernity to postmodemity.ABSTRACT This dissertation attempts to find out the relevance o f Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology in a religiously pluralistic world. . Theological Mentor: Ray S. Jehovah’s Witness. then. The postmodern society is open to many religions including Christianity. and tried to answer the question. Religious plurality and openness o f the contemporary world are challenging the Church from the perspective of evangelism. toleration o f differences. The third part applies Bonhoeffer’s Outline fo r a Book to the present context.” The second part examines the characteristics o f the modem and postmodern world based on the rejection o f universal truth. Judaism.” On the contrary to his worldview. Ph. “Who is Christ for us today?” with “non-religious interpretation. Words: 350 331 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. and religious pluralism. The first part presents an overview o f Bonhoeffer’s theology mainly focusing on the concepts o f “the world come of age. Islam. Its adolescence and immaturity should be overcome by “the Church come o f age” where its adulthood and maturity are attained through the praxis o f the Church as the community o f life together in a communal structure.D.” “worldly Christianity. relativism and the problem o f hermeneutics. Taoism.” “non-religious Christianity.” and “etsi deus non daretur (even if there were no god). individualism and communalism. How. folk-religions. this world seems to be religious more than ever. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. How can the Church witness the gospel o f Jesus Christ when the world no longer considers Christianity the supreme religion? Bonhoeffer understood that “the world come o f age” had become religionless. Anderson. Confucianism. and many different spiritual movements.” “secret or arcane discipline.