Saturday, July 02, 2005

the church without christ

image copyright: nellis 2003

Flannery O'Connor wrote Wise Blood, a story about a man who preached the "church without Christ" and wound up going mad, burned his eyes out with lime. If there is no Christ, there is no grace. In contrast, the invitation is to be a "church without religion." Bonhoeffer opted for a “religionless Christianity” which was profoundly christocentric and therefore gave itself to encounter and solidarity with the other in a world of difference. Jesus Christ was fundamentally the “man for others”- in the salvation available to all in his incarnation, life, death and resurrection.

It can be argued that to embrace Christ is to drink the cup that he drank, and to drink it to the dregs- an earthly cup of solidarity with the other- a cup of suffering, unto death. So now, la via cruci (the way of the cross) is no longer an inward, exclusive religion, but it is the way unto difference- a vulnerable return to the other and a return to the world in its turmoil and struggle:

"The God of the cross is a God who reveals the relationships
between particular human beings, relationships that hold out
the promise of healing but are also susceptible to injury and
rupture. To become vulnerable for an Other is to welcome her
into one’s life, to pay attention to the detailed contours of his
face, and perhaps in the process to be changed."- Jensen, 2001

in response to:

Jensen, David H. (2001) Religionless Christianity and vulnerable discipleship: the interfaith promise of Bonhoeffer’s theology. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 38, 0022-0558. Retrieved March 14, 2005, from Academic Search Premier database.

Nouwen, Henri (1996). Can you Drink the Cup? Ave Maria Press: Notre Dame, IN.

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