Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bonhoeffer vs. Spong

Is there anything new under the sun?

Bonhoeffer versus John Shelby Spong by Scott Stephens, posted at Faith and Theology, is a great read.

Stephens begins:
Anyone who has read John Shelby Spong – whose books I’ve always found very easy to put down, and almost impossible to pick back up again – will by now be familiar with his pretentious appeal to Bonhoeffer’s “non-religious Christianity.” His strategy, of course, is to position himself as the heir to Bonhoeffer’s legacy, the realization of his dream. But nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is it outrageous to pass off the bilious swill that Spong mass produces as being in the same league as Bonhoeffer, but Spong effectively destroys his own intellectual credibility by failing to recognize that he is implicated in Bonhoeffer’s critique of religion.

Later, Stephens explores Bonhoeffer's concern over the state of the church at the time, and it is a testament to both the vitality of the message and the timelessness of Bonhoeffer's timely delivery of it that he might as well be writing about the state of the church in our day:
There had been, in Bonhoeffer’s reckoning, a chronic malfunction in the church’s life which all but neutralized any effective witness it might have to the world. Somehow “grace” had ceased being the power which binds us to Christ, which elicits the repetition of the drama of death and resurrection in the lives of members of the church. It had instead been cheapened, and re-tooled so as to consecrate indiscriminately all the banality, idolatry and godlessness of culture.

When the church peddles a form of “grace” aimed at making people “feel more secure in their godless lives,” it frankly ceases being the church, insisted Bonhoeffer.

More beating of Spong with the Bonhoeffer bat follows.

(HT: Boar's Head Tavern)

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