Monday, May 01, 2006


Some seasonal words (below) from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who I keep coming back to again and again: a theologian of unquestionable commitment whose intellectual and spiritual gift was to recognise that faith without critical questioning tends towards religious illusion – but, equally, questioning without critical cognisance of tradition leads to humanistic hubris. Both theological ‘liberals’ and theological ‘conservatives’ would be wise to observe this critique. What we need instead, beyond the traditional battle lines drawn up by neo-orthodoxy and classic modernism, is a renewed Christian radicalism of both roots (radix) and routes (frontiers).

Moreover, within Bonhoeffer’s observation about the ‘beyond’ of God being other than the 'beyond' of either cognitive capacity or epistemological transcendence, lies - I believe - the central clue to the recovery of articulable theological meaning for the conditions of postmodernity. That is, to 'resurrecting theology', in both senses of that term.

“I find all this talk about human limits [boundaries] questionable... I always have the feeling that we are merely fearfully trying to save room for God; I would rather speak of God at the centre than at the limits, in strength rather than in weakness, and thus in human life and goodness rather than in death and guilt. As far as limits are concerned, I think it best simply to remain silent and to leave the unresolvable unresolved. The belief in resurrection is not the 'solution' to the problem of death. The 'beyond' of God is not the 'beyond' of our cognitive capacity. Epistemological transcendence has nothing to do with God's transcendence. God is 'beyond' our lives. The church is found not where human capacity fails, at the limits, but rather in the middle of the village.” (Tegel Prison, 30 April 1944)

“It is not from avoiding death but from the resurrection of Christ that a new, purifying breeze can blow into the present world …. If even a few people were really to believe this, much would change. To live from the perspective of the resurrection: this is Easter.” (Tegel Prison, March 1944)

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