Re: Scientist Christians on the (European) Continent

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Tue Feb 04 2003 - 11:54:21 EST

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    Ian writes:

    > Within German and American churches I don't believe there is a big
    > difference between the percentage of attendees who have a real
    > with Christ and those who, for any number of reasons, feel compelled to
    > participate in the social function called "Religion".
    > Many in both continents miss the point: Christianity is not a religion,
    > is a relationship with Christ. I don't have much use for "religion"
    > Having grown up in a very legalistic, Independent Baptist Church I learned
    > first hand how easy it is to confuse rules/religion/legalism with the
    > simplicity yet profound depth of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
    These words remind me of the views of the German theologian, one I admire
    greatly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was martyred by the Nazis in the closing
    days of WWII. In some of his letters written in a Gestapo prison cell to
    his dear friend and fellow pastor Eberhard Bethget, Bonhoeffer drew a
    distinction between "religion" and "Christianity." The former, he said, is
    a garment people put on, and various forms of Christianity have been such a
    garment over the centuries. If that is the case, how do we speak of a
    "religionless Christianity" in a world that has become so secularlized and
    no longer needs "God" as a working hypothesis? He was working his way to an
    answer theologically and ecclesially when his life was cut short.

        In one letter, he wrote, "Jesus calls men, not to a new religion, but to
    life." And in another: "Here is the decisive difference between
    Christinaity and all religions. Man's religiosity makes him look in his
    distress to the power of God in the world: God is the _deus ex machina_.
    The Bible directs man to God's powerlessness and suffering: only the
    suffering God can help. To that extent we may say that the development
    towards the world's coming of age outlined above, which has done away with a
    false conception of God, opens up a way of seeing the God of the Bible, who
    wins power and space in the world by his weakness (Matt. 8:17)."

        When I taught Bonhoeffer's letters to students and talked about his
    distinction between religion and Christianity, my Baptist students usually
    nodded their heads in agreement.

    Bob Schneider

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