Crises

finding the start

We are often confronted with problems that often demand attention. Such problems will be the focus of a forthcoming book series that I am co-editing/advising. Yet, the attempt to solve such challenges are often coupled with further attempts to construct theologies conceived by the problems themselves, inevitably coercing one to think of God from the wrong vantage point. Such thinking, unfortunately, is quite common … and I am certain that I am culpable of such hasty rather than Holy speech.

Consequently, I think it is appropriate to be reminded from time to time of the proper pattern of speech when thinking about God in relation to himself but also in relation to the world, in which we do experience real trial. So where should we begin?

The kind of thinking that starts out with human problems, and then looks for solutions from that vantage point, has to be overcome–it is unbiblical. The way of Jesus Christ, and thus the way of all Christian thought, is not the way from the world to God but from God to the world. This means that the essence of the gospel does not consists in solving worldly problems, and also that this cannot be the essential task of the church. However, it does not follow from this that the church would have no task at all in this regard. But we will not recognize its legitimate task unless we first find the correct starting point.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. DBW vol. 6, Ethics, p. 356.