Religionless Religion

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General Social Survey data on confidence in the leadership of major institutions show that younger people particularly are not as confident as older adults when it comes to institutions like the press, government and churches. But I think trust is not the whole story. For one thing, there has been a long list of scandals in recent decades, such as Watergate, that have undone the reputations of major institutions the Greatest Generation trusted.

And these institutions have let people, particularly young people, down. There used to be this view that there was a religious life cycle, that when you got older and married and had kids you got more active in organized religion. With respect to the Catholic Church — lack of trust is fueled by the sexual abuse scandals in the church. What we see across all denominations is a gap emerging between politically liberal and moderate young people and leadership among conservative churches who are taking political positions on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues.

Moderates show the same tendency, just not as clearly. On a couple of measures of religiosity — namely belief in heaven and hell and willingness to share their faith with others — Millennials do seem more similar to older Americans. Why is this the case? I think you see higher levels of these things among Millennials because they require very little in the way of institutional involvement. I think people assume that people who do not belong to an organized religious group reject religion altogether. Some people find God in the woods rather than in a church. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.

It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us Mark. The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God. There are important points to be noticed in this last statement.

First, God is spoken of in conjunction with the "without God". Second, the intellectual honesty of modern man and the testimony of Christian faith meet in a unique way. This means that the world in its adulthood "is no really better understood than it understands itself, namely on the basis of the gospel and in the light of Christ. It is evident, then, that Bonhoeffer had no intention of constructing a theology by eliminating the living God of the Bible after the manner of the death-of-God theologians.

It would be more appropriate to say that while Altizer, Hamilton and van Buren were concerned about the "death of God", Bonhoeffer took the issue with religion. Bonhoeffer also accepted the view that religion as historical phenomenon was the fruit of human speculation. Barth said that it is only the forgiving and reconciling presence of God in human religion that can give it reality, and that this is to be found only in Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and human being. He tells us therefore that human religion has no worth nor truth in itself.

Since a way has been opened up into the presence of God in and through Christ, all previous religions, or religions outside of Christ, are displaced and robbed of any claim to truth. Justification by grace reveals that religion can be the supreme form taken by human sin. This applies to Christian religion as well. Barth, however, does not deny the universality of religion. He emphasizes the need for charity and caution in the evaluation of religion.

God speaks through the Christian faith not because of any superiority of Christian religion, but because of His grace. Barth writes:. If man tries to grasp at truth of himself, he tries to grasp at it a priori. But in that case he does not do what he has to do when the truth comes to him. He does not believe. If he did, he would listen; but in religion he takes something for himself.

If he did, he would let God Himself intercede for God: but in religion he ventures to grasp at God. If through religion man had been able to find God, this revelation would not have been necessary. The very fact of revelation proves religion to be inadequate, and now the whole field of religion must be looked at in the light of this fact.

Apart from faith religion becomes idolatry. In a typically lengthy footnote, Barth goes on to describe with great insight how religion is thought of as idolatry in the Bible. This is a self-centered way of erecting barriers against God. Our pious efforts to reconcile God to ourselves must certainly be abomination in His sight.


Barth makes his position clear in this statement:. And this faith invariably consists in the fact that man makes the mystery of his responsibility his own mystery, instead of accepting it as the mystery of God. It is this faith which is religion. It is contradicted by the revelation attested in the New Testament, which is identical with Jesus Christ as the one who acts for us and on us.

This stamps religion as unbelief. Barth again and again emphasizes that the church exists as the church not insofar as it possesses some inalienable human form but only as it lives by divine grace. Whenever it tries to create an animating principle of its own, the church ceases to be the church of Jesus Christ and becomes an organ of that religion which is the enemy of faith. Now we turn to Bonhoeffer. He starts, like Barth, from the fundamental principle of justification of the sinner by grace alone. This justification removes from us all false props, all reliance upon external authorities, and all refuge in worldly securities, and throws us not upon ourselves but upon the pure gracious act of God in His unconditional love, so that the ethical and religious life are lived exclusively with Jesus Christ as the centre.

Bonhoeffer, however, differs from Barth when the issue of the religious a priori becomes more pointed. Barth does not deny that man has an inherent tendency for religion. Religion is one rooted in his divine origin in that:. The religious relationship of man to God which is the inevitable consequence of his sin is a degenerate form of covenant relationship, the relationship between the Creator and the creature. It is the empty and deeply problematical shell of that relationship.

But as such it is a confirmation that relationship has not been destroyed by God, that God will not be mocked, that even forgetful man will not be able to forget Him. In the midst of all his criticism of religion, Barth still finds religion as an inescapable element in human consciousness. There is an a priori element behind the manifold expression of religion in human history.

Barth agrees that this a priori element is not important when it comes to the validity and justification of religion. But Bonhoeffer goes a step further. Thus he is able to speak existentially where Barth spoke exclusively in terms of revelation.

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By bringing close to faith such a concept as discipleship Bonhoeffer stresses the human side of the event of revelation:. From the point of view of justification it is necessary For faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience. We cannot make a chronological distinction between faith and obedience, nor determine which is the logical consequence of the other.

It is evident from this that Bonhoeffer never denies the theological primacy of the revelation. Faith for Bonhoeffer is not a priori, not something always there in man waiting to be discovered: "Faith itself must be created in him. This is the reason, Bonhoeffer says, that religionlessness is hopeful. For Bonhoeffer the affirmation of faith is the negation of religion.

Freedom from religion liberates faith to be attentive to the call of God; freedom of faith is the freedom received of God. Quoting Barth, Bonhoeffer effectively asserts that " Faith addresses persons with an eye to their humanity and has no other aim than that they should be really human. Being a Christian does not add anything to being a human being, but puts our humanity into force.

The basis of faith is "enduring reality before God. To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself a sinner, a penitent or a saint on the basis of some methods or other, but to be a man not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. This is a new thought in Bonhoeffer, whereas he had earlier thought that one can acquire faith by trying to lead some sort of holy life. The following lengthy quote illustrates the point. I remember a conversation I had in America thirteen years ago with a young French pastor.

We were asking ourselves quite simply what we wanted to do with our lives. At the time I was very impressed, but I should like to learn to have faith. I thought I could acquire faith by trying to live a holy life, or something like it One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman a so-called priestly type! In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world- watching with Christ in Gethsemane.

That, I think, is faith; that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian. Thus the enduring of reality makes one a "whole man"-- not "man on his own", but "man existing for others". The man of faith is released from self-preoccupation, on the religious level; as well as on other levels, to identify with his neighbour in the day- to- day affairs of the world, the place m which he knows God and enjoys life.

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If Bonhoeffer were merely formulating this concept of faith on the basis of premises derived from cultural-historical analysis, he would be indistinguishable from many liberal theologians. He was convinced that theology has a message to the world only when it proclaims, from the perspective of faith, the maturity of the world and the religionlessness of man.

The world may certainly grow mature, but "the world must be understood better that it understands itself. We have already touched on these themes, but now we shall examine them more closely as Bonhoeffer develops them as guidelines for the life style of the "religionless Christian" who believes, in contrast to Marx, that his humanity becomes meaningful only in obedience to his Lord.

Holy Worldliness. For Bonhoeffer, holy worldliness is the only genuine form of holiness possible for the contemporary Christian -- anything else is an illusion.

Religion-less Christianity?

The idea of holy worldliness can be found early in his thought, in Ethics, where we find the theological presupposition of this concept. That God loved the world and reconciled it with Himself in Christ is the central message proclaimed in the New Testament. It is assumed there that the world stands in need of reconciliation with God but that it is not capable of achieving it by itself. The acceptance of the world by God is a miracle of the divine compassion. In the body of Jesus Christ God took upon himself the sin of the whole world and bore it.

There is no part of the world, be it never so forlorn and never so godless, which is not accepted by God and reconciled with God in Jesus Christ. Whoever sets eyes on the body of Jesus Christ in faith can never again speak of the world as though it were lost, as though it were separated from Christ; he can never again with clerical arrogance set himself apart from the world. The world belongs to Christ, and it is only in Christ that the world is what it is. Dag Hammarskjold Wrote: "In our era, that road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.

He believed that the ability to move freely, amiably, and intensely in the present can only come of a commitment to the future and to the eternal He described this commitment in the "Stations on the Road to Freedom:. Faint not fear, but go out to the storm and the action, trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow; freedom, exultant, will welcome your spirit with joy.

Religionless - definition of religionless by The Free Dictionary

The church is the church only when it exists for others. To make a start, it should give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live solely on the freewill offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling. The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others.

He considers each of these qualities as important characteristics of the Christian, living a holy life before God in the world. The first quality is that of knowing God in the blessings He sends us. Bonhoeffer says, "The intermediate theological category between God and human fortune is, as far as I can see, that of blessing. The second quality which Bonhoeffer describes and to which he summons us is that of strength. On another occasion Bonhoeffer remarks that according to St. Speaking of his cellmate in prison, who used to laugh at others for whining while he himself moaned, Bonhoeffer says:.

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I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of people who can be very hard on others and talk big about a dangerous life and so on, and then collapse under the slightest test of endurance. I told him that it was a downright disgrace, that I had no sympathy at all with anyone like that.

The third quality is that of sharing with God in His suffering in the world. Although God wishes human beings love God from the centre of their lives, in their joys and blessings, it is also true that God wishes people to remain faithful in suffering. Of this quality Bonhoeffer wrote:. Not only action, but also suffering is a way to freedom. In this sense death is the crowning of human freedom. Whether the human deed is a matter of faith or not depends on whether we understand our sufferings as an extension of our action and a completion of freedom.

Bonhoeffer very often uses the phrase "participating in the suffering of God in the world". From the poem "Christians and Pagans" we get clue of what he means:. Men go to God when he is sore bested, Find him poor and scorned, Without shelter or bread, Whelmed under weight of the wicked, the weak, the dead; Christians stand by God in his hour of grieving. Christ did not come in glory and lay claim to a worldly throne. He was born in a stable and died on a cross. For Bonhoeffer it was the suffering and powerlessness of Christ that made God real for him. One can speculate that the whole prison experience was instrumental in making vivid for Bonhoeffer this dimension of the Biblical faith.

What was meaningful was faith in the God revealed in Christ who was suffering with him in the world. Christians stand by God in his hour of grieving; that is what distinguishes Christians from pagans. Theology of Responsibility. Bonhoeffer had already dealt with this theme in an academic way in his Ethics, where he spoke of the structure and pattern of responsibility. It has its foundation "in the responsibility of Jesus Christ for men, on the basis of our knowledge that the origin, essence and goal of all reality is the real, that is to say, God in Jesus Christ.

Thus, Bonhoeffer defines responsibility as "the total and realistic response of man to claim of God and of our neighbour.

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