Monday, February 20, 2017

"Our" Time

In 1942, while in prison, the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a compelling reflection on the ethical challenges posed by his times. Bonhoeffer is known for addressing the intersections of social action/politics and theology.
At the end of his life he was revising his theology, and provided an outline of a new book focusing on the “real meaning of Christian faith.” His core thesis of this work is:
“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 being of Jesus. The transcendental is not infinite and unattainable tasks, but the neighbor who is within reach in any given situation.”
Bonhoeffer was very good at asking penetrating questions about the intersections of trust and optimism, freedom and responsible action, and of the nature of evil and the power of folly.

Whichever way you lean in these times, the tension in the air is hard to miss. Differences seem to be outweighing commonalities and wedges are appearing in places where wedges had previously been rare or non-existent. But, our time is not unique. It is reminiscent of many times in our history. Some of us have lived through one or more of those times, some have only read about them.

It makes me consider where my own theology has evolved during the past three years – or maybe it hasn’t. What does my theology challenge me to do now? How does it comfort me? What does it offer me and others?

I supposed these questions are not tied to this moment in time. They’re maybe not more relevant than they had been, but they seem to seem more relevant, at least to me.

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