Archives For Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Entitled ‘Gideon: God is my Lord’ [i] and preached in Berlin on February 26, 1933 ‘Bonhoeffer gave his first sermon’ since Hitler had been enshrined as chancellor 27 days prior.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to preach from the Old Testament was deliberate. In my opinion, he couldn’t have picked a more controversial figure, at the time, to make a political point.

Nazism, much the same as Communism, is an industry built on victimhood. These systems need a perpetual sense of victimization and sympathy in order to maintain membership and political momentum.

Bonhoeffer understood this. He chose Gideon in a deliberate attempt to preach against the imagery used in Nazi propaganda. In a way Bonhoeffer was reaching for Martin Luther’s epic treatise ‘Bondage of the Will’, to challenge Nazism’s ‘Triumph of the Will.’[ii]

For example: Larry Rasmussen suggests Bonhoeffer contrasted a ‘young [powerless] man chosen by God to save Israel from their enemies and turn them away from the worship of false gods’ with ‘Siegfried, the unconquered Germanic hero figure (of the Nibelung saga), idealised by the Nazis.’ [iii]

Expanding on this Isabel Best writes that Bonhoeffer sets out to ‘describe God’s power in contrast to human might, and finally from Martin Luther’s ‘A Might Fortress,’ to assure his hearers that even now the power, and the victory, are God’s alone.’[iv]

Gideon’s message is God’s grace to the Israelites and through the witness of Gideon this message is also about God’s graciousness towards humanity.

Bonheoffer expresses this clearly:

‘Gideon, we recognise your voice only too well; you sound just the same today as you did then…
Who would be willing to say that he or she has never heard this call and has never answered, as Gideon did: Lord, with what I am supposed to do such great things?
But Gideon is silenced; today as just in those days, he’s told to shut up. You’re asking, “With what?” Haven’t you realised what it means that this is God calling to you? Isn’t the call of God enough for you; if you listen properly, doesn’t it drown out all your “with what” questions?
“I will be with you” – that means you are not asked to do this with any other help. It is I who have called you; I will be with you; I shall be doing it too. Do you hear that, Gideon of yesterday and today?
God has called you, and that is enough. Do you hear that, individual doubting Christian, asking and doubting Christian? God has plans for you, and that does mean you.
Be ready to see to it. Never forget, even when your own powerlessness is grinding you down to the ground, that God has phenomenal, immeasurable, great plans for you. I will be with you.’ [v]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is someone I’d heard of, yet never read with any serious interest until I started college. Since then I have made inroads into understanding his life, theology and influences.

Most Christians who’ve heard of Bonhoeffer might only know him as a an obscure martyr; others will be able to match the name in more detail with the context and images of an era when Europe was consumed by an industrial military complex, imposing new cultural laws, issuing forth blitzkrieg, euthanasia, and mass murder; inciting euphoria through the progeny of Darwinian Socialism, the false doctrines of Nazi dogma.

The latter was swarming the globe, enraging some, and finding recruits in others. All through the promise of a new dawn for humanity – one embossed in the appearance of allegiance with Christianity, when instead it was firmly based on the survival of the fittest, racial supremacy, socialism, scientism, and pagan religion.

Faced with the uncertainty of the times, Bonhoeffer reaches for a tangible example from the Biblical text.

Some of us may find the times confusing. Some are frustrated, and feel powerless in the face of new industries built up around victimhood. Those of us in this category, who have a decent amount of knowledge of history, also lament at how those new victimhood industries are fast reflecting the old.

The truth is that we are witnessing a new wave of organized chaos that has to some degree breached walls where restraint has remained the stalwart of freedom. We are dragged into a fight for freedom and the Western world. A battle that must now be fought, but one we didn’t desire, nor ask for.

In the midst of this, Bonhoeffer and Gideon’s story speaks, reminding us to carry this burden without compromise, to maintain Christ-like integrity in the heat of battle, with the knowledge that though the enemy calls our faith weakness, God calls it strength. He still reigns, and we must trust that He, in His mercy will provide the means to address the challenges of today, and the challenges of tomorrow.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – (Philippians 4:6, ESV)


References:

[i] Best, I. (Ed.) 2012 The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer Fortress Press, p.67

[ii] Veith, G. E. 2010. The Spirituality of the Cross, Concordia Publishing House

[iii] Rasmussen, L in The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer, Isabel Best, (Ed.) 2012  Fortress Press, p.67

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid, pp.67-74 & Stroud, D.G. (Ed.) Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich  Wm.B Eerdmans Press, pp.51-61

An updated version of Gideon Speaks & Sounds Just The Same Today As He Did Then  from September 24, 2014.

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th November, 2019.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019.

Last month I was a guest on an Ever Vigilant podcast. Joe Prim and I discussed the importance of political theology in regards to Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the historical parallels relevant to us today.

Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are well positioned to be our guide now, and through a very real darkness, should that darkness engulf Western Civilisation entirely.

Links to said podcast:

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Freedom of the press requires a societal framework that empowers free speech. So it’s rare to witness the Australian media unite together in order to tear down an Australian politician for speaking his mind.

However, what most in the Australian media expressed to the world in their dealings with Fraser Anning this week, is that free speech is only available to a select, and authorized few.

It would appear that Senator Fraser Anning’s biggest sin wasn’t his poorly timed press release; but the fact that he spoke out of turn about things that should not concern him. In other words, Anning is not “approved opposition”.

Had Senator Anning been a woman, or someone of minority status, the 17 year old perpetrator, who filmed himself physically assaulting an elected Australian official, would have been toast by now.

He’d have been dragged through the mud, and beaten until he, his friends, his parents and some fifth cousin, in some backwards town (someone, living somewhere, he rarely ever saw), were all forced into admitting he did the wrong thing, and was consequently made to attend mandatory cultural sensitivity “classes”.

Those well acquainted with the globalist media, and the Leftist cult of modern liberalism in general, know this is exactly how it would go down.

Instead, the crime was applauded, the perpetrator hailed a hero, and Senator Anning, was further driven towards the guillotine, by a Leftist lead mob, hell-bent on his destruction.

This same mob, who were right to condemn the premeditated, internet streamed, Eco-fascist terrorist attacks in New Zealand, now seem only too happy to give applause to premeditated, internet streamed, physical assault.

The condemnation of Anning also included ridiculous attacks on the 69 year old Queensland senator for exercising his right defend to himself.

Anning’s reaction was slammed as unbecoming of a statesman, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying, ‘the full force of the law should be applied[1] to the Senator – presumably because Anning hit back.

In addition, Seven news ran an online poll which showed significant support for the Senator’s arrest. It also showed a poll which suggested support for, what amounts to the police turning a blind eye to the actions of the assailant.

It doesn’t take a security expert to know that Anning would have a long list of death threats already made against him. Those are bound to make anyone giving a public appearance reason enough for concern for their own personal safety.

Prime Minister’s have a security detail for this very reason.

The largely Leftist controlled media cannot have it one way, then another.

For example, when in July 2010, ‘a 55-year-old small business owner was charged by police for throwing an egg at Julia Gillard in her first visit to WA as Prime Minister.’ (WaToday)

If a 55 year old throwing an egg at an elected politician is considered a crime, why isn’t a 17 year old smashing an egg into the head of a politician treated differently?

None of this has been taken into consideration. Suggesting that thinking rationally about why a high profile politician would defend himself is counter-productive to the group-think used to suck in the gullible.

Anning stuffed up with the timing of his press release, but demonizing him, just because he doesn’t hold to the globalist views of most in the elitist Australian media, is opportunistic.

The same can be said for not showing any level of fairness, or understanding. It feeds the self-interest of Anning’s enemies, to selectively use some of Anning’s points to further build the “white supremacist” narrative they appear to be determined to construct, not just around Anning, but everyone who doesn’t side with them.

This determination to link what happened in the New Zealand with everyone not of the Left was exemplified by the violent mistreatment of Pauline Hanson[2], when she was interviewed on Sunrise, by David Koch and Darryn Hinch. Yet, there was no outrage from the usual quarters, accusing Koch and Hinch of “mansplaining”, “toxic masculinity” or “misogyny”.

Qantas joining the press posse[3] looking to lynch Anning only goes to prove my point. Qantas management jumping on the virtue-signaling bandwagon, are doing so because they see a profit in capitalizing on a shell-shocked and angry public. Adding the Australian corporation to the list of globalist voices trying to not only to somehow link Fraser Anning to the New Zealand shooting, but label him a terrorist, gets them publicity. Cui Bono? (Who benefits?)

Don’t miss the irony. Carrying out a premeditated act of violence is a crime. Whether it be committed via egg or gun; dismissing the former, gives quiet approval to the latter. It’s hypocritical to laugh at the former. Then condemn the latter.

If the media and celebrities can get away with their attempt to destroy Fraser Anning, and get away with justifying the actual crime committed against him, don’t think they wouldn’t do the same to you.

As warned by ex-leftist, turned Conservative Philosopher, Roger Scruton,

‘Once again I was forced to acknowledge that crimes committed on the Left are not really crimes, and in any case those who excuse them or pass over them in silence always have the best motives for doing so […] From the beginning, labels were required that would stigmatize the enemies [of the Communist movement] within and justify their expulsion […] The success of those labels in marginalizing and condemning the opponent fortified the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words […]The purpose of communist Newspeak, has been to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things.’[4]

For Leftism to gain total control, it requires Leftists to seek the total destruction of anything not of the Left. Any crime or injustice committed, by the Left, in the process of achieving this, is not considered to be unjust or a crime. It’s simply a means to an end, and the end justifies the means.

Anning isn’t completely innocent. He often appears reactionary, not all that unlike the late, Bruce Ruxton. Is there a place for some of Anning’s points, absolutely! Is there a place for hotheaded, reactionary politicians, no.

One of Anning’s strengths, however, is that he is no mediocre politician. He doesn’t come off as self-serving, and he has the balls to say what many think; or are concerned about, but fear speaking. He can do better and should aim to do better.

However, given the activism, diatribes and vitriolic standards set by Leftism, will the Leftist dominated society we now live in, take notice of anyone else? They haven’t so far. And they’ve successfully silenced those who have sought to dialogue with the Left on fair terms.

When you send smart delegates into a diplomatic meeting between two camps, and one camp all-but executes the other, the time for “niceness” is probably at an end. A new strategy of diplomacy and communication needs to be applied.

I don’t condone all of Anning’s words, or approve of the timing of them, but when is the right time to discuss the discomfort many Australians feel about having new cultural laws imposed upon them?

The Leftist doesn’t want coexistence, they are out to destroy, control and dominate. Not just the Right, but the traditional Left as well. It’s unjust, naive and senseless, to sit back and let that happen.

If that means not beating about the bush with the truth, and hurting a few feelings in the process, so be it.

We all would benefit from keeping in mind the words of Margaret Thatcher in her 1984 address to the United States Congress:

“Let us not forget the 1930’s […] from good intentions can come disastrous results.”

Appeasement only serves those being appeased. It rarely serves those doing the appeasing.

We would also benefit from keeping in mind the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said,

‘the ultimate possible rebellion, is that the lie [of the serpent] portrays the truth as a lie. That is the abyss that underlies the lie—that it lives because it poses as the truth and condemns the truth as a lie [and we fall for it].’[5]

This is the dark precipice we are being guided towards by many of our leaders. It’s a precipice that few will survive, if the socio-political trends of the past two decades are allowed to continue, unchallenged and uncorrected.

In the process of pushing back against this, may we ALL be drawn back towards the words of Jesus Christ, as he lowered himself in the defense of a woman facing a Pharisaic death squad, “let he who is without sin, throw the first stone” (John 8:7, ESV).


References:

[1] Paul Karp, The Guardian, 17th March 2019

[2] Pauline Hanson’s Official Facebook page sourced 19th March 2019

[3] As reported by Radio FiveAA, and the Australian, 18th  March 2019

[4] Roger Scruton, 2015. On Marxist Newspeak in Fools, Frauds & Firebrands Bloomsbury Publishing

[5] Bonhoeffer, D 1937, Creation & Fall, Fortress Press (pp.109-116)

(Originally published on Caldron Pool, 19th March 2019)

Photo ‘Chains’, by John Salvino on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Some time ago I took up a detailed exchange on twitter with a lady who had proudly stated that she was cutting out “hate the sin” from the phrase, ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’.  She was happily proclaiming her decision to stick with ‘’love the sinner’’ because this was apparently more biblical.

Her post won her a few retweets and likes, but I disagreed and gave good reasons for doing so. The biblical imperatives such as: “Let love be genuine, abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9) mean that there is a distinction between love for the sinner and sin. To remove the “hate the sin” clause is to leave too much room for  “love the sinner” to easily become “ignore the sin” or worse “love the sin as much as the sinner”.

The distinction between loving the sinner and hating the sin, is at the very core of Jesus Christ’s reconciliation of humanity with God. Without a separation  between sin and sinner grounded in God’s act in Jesus Christ, there can only be a further separation of the sinner from God. For sin separates the sinner from the Sinless. Only in Jesus Christ can the sinner be freed from sin and reconciled to God.

In a rebuttal to my response, an academic (I presume a theologian) proudly stepped in. He then decided to lecture me on the error of my ways.

In response, I brought up Bonhoeffer:

‘Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, as sacrifice, a work; he wants you alone.  You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him […] He wants to be gracious to you. You can dare to be a sinner [dare to be who you really are before God; a sinner]. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but Hates the sin.’ (Confession & Communion, Life Together, 1954)

My interlocutor huffed with pride. He said that he’d read everything of Bonhoeffer’s work and was sure that Bonhoeffer had never used the phrase. So I provided page, date, book title, chapter and verse. Then pointed out, “loving the sinner, hating the sin” isn’t something Bonhoeffer spoke as a one off. Bonhoeffer had also included it in The Cost of Discipleship,

‘May we be enabled to say ‘No’ to sin and ‘Yes’ to the sinner. May we withstand our foes, and yet hold out to them the Word of the gospel which woos and wins the souls of men.’ (p.xxxiv)

After I provided the reference which proved him wrong, he dismissed my thoughts and ended his correspondence. The lady maintained her position. Then had to have the last word by tweeting at me her reasons for doing so.

It will not make me popular, (because it didn’t) but standing by the exegetical accuracy of Bonhoeffer’s statements on the issue, is far safer ground than building an unbiblical ethic around subjective human ideas of God. Standing on what, where and in whom God reveals himself, is far safer ground than making deceptive theological statements which repaints Christianity as solely being about an ethic of “niceness”.

I’ll end this with Reinhold Niebuhr, who very aptly hinted at the same thing when he wrote:

‘A position of detachment destroys our responsibilities in life’s controversies for the sake of avoiding sinful corruptions of those responsibilities. We ought to be angry when wrong is done; but we must learn the difficult art of being angry without sinning.’
(R.Niebuhr, Discerning The Signs of the Times.)

References:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D. 1954. Life Together, HarperCollins Publishers

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. 1934. Cost of Discipleship, SCM Press

[iii] Niebuhr, R. 1946. Discerning the Signs of the Times 

Artwork: John Martin, 1840 ‘Calvary’ 

My daughter, who has been homeschooled for the majority of her education, is doing her higher school certificate this year and she’s starting to feel the pressure. In fact, we all are. In passing one day, I randomly encouraged her to “be like Maverick and engage.” Understanding the context of the reference, she smiled back.

As I am known to do from time to time, I started to think a bit deeper about the meaning of those words.

At the end of Top Gun (1986), Maverick sits waiting as back-up. He’s in an F-14, waiting as “ready-five” or ”ready-alert“, things don’t go well for the team and he’s then called into the fight. Once he gets there, he wavers. At this point in time he has a choice whether to engage or disengage. He chooses to engage.

Another example from 1986 comes from the film ‘Iron Eagle‘. When retired Air Force Colonel, Chappy Sinclair chooses to engage with the rescue of a friend, who is being held as a P.O.W. Sinclair chooses to help his friend’s son pilot an F-16 into a war zone. His most memorable words were:

“God doesn’t give people talents that he doesn’t want people to use. And he gave you The Touch. It’s a power inside of you, down there where you keep your guts boy! It’s all you need to blast your way in and get back what they took from you.” (I.E, 1986)

Although Maverick (Pete Mitchell – Tom Cruise) and Chappy (Louis Gossett Jr.) are fictional characters, there are sound examples throughout history of men and women, who were called into the fight.

One of those was Winston Churchill. At the age of 65, after many years of being dismissed for his warnings about the state of the world, he was called into the fight. He had the same choice as Maverick and Chappy. Engage or disengage. He chose to engage.

If you’re feeling the pressure today, and no doubt you will, because all of us do, remember these examples. Remember that God did not waver when He created you. He freely and decisively chose to engage in life with you, that you may freely and decisively engage in life with him.[i]

You have a God-given, grace enabled freedom, and you are called upon by God to live that out. Engage in life with Him through Jesus Christ, and engage in life with others. This freedom comes with responsibility; His grace confronts us with a choice. We choose daily, whether to invite God into our decisions, and be for others or for ourselves. That choice can be tough. Faith can be tough.

But we don’t put our faith in our circumstances. We don’t put our faith in faith. We put our faith in God, learning from that which He has given and anticipating where He will guide us, based on what He’s given and already done in the past for us. We have a history with God, even if we don’t want to acknowledge it. We are summoned to ‘trust in the Lord with all our heart, [to] lean not on our own understanding, [to] submit all things to Him, and he will make our paths straight.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

One of the other great historical examples comes from theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He reminds us of the choice to engage, while when in a Nazi prison, he wrote:

‘In me it is dark, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but you do not abandon me.
I am faint-hearted, but from you comes my help.
I am restless, but with you is peace.
In me is bitterness, but with you is patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know the right way for me.’ [ii]

 

So whatever we might meet in the coming day, be like Maverick and engage. Be like Churchill and engage. Be like Bonhoeffer and engage. Ultimately, be like Christ and engage. Stand with Christ and engage. They could have chosen differently, refused the fight, and disengaged entirely, but they chose not to. As a result, we are confronted by their example.

de Vivre Selon Dieu


References:

[i] In this statement, I’m drawing from Karl Barth.

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. BDW:8, Letters & Papers From Prison, Fortress Press (p.195)

Image: Iron Eagle,  Sidney J. Furie, Tri-Star Pictures, 1986 (Use of this image is considered to be within the boundaries of fair use, given that the image is applied here, for the use of teaching, and comment in a not-for-profit context, and it contains clear credit and promotion of the film as a whole.)

John M. Perkins is an American civil rights campaigner. His 2017 book, ‘Dream with Me’, is a brave step forward in seeking to create better dialogue between both black and white communities. Overall, ‘Dream With Me’ is a call for both black and white Americans to unite, in their diversity, under God. This review will focus on two primary strengths of Perkins’ work.

The first strength is the presence of a Theology of Christian Liberation. Perkins refuses to take the easy path of perpetual anger, condescension and resentment – both traits found in Black liberation theology (which is largely tainted by Marxism). Instead, Perkins leans towards the rules of solidarity[i] and subsidiarity[ii]. In doing so, he proclaims a social doctrine, not the social gospel[iii].

The significance of this distinction is, in the former, Jesus Christ remains at the core of the gospel and isn’t replaced by attempts (found in the latter) to synchronise Karl Marx with Jesus Christ[iv]. In addition, a social doctrine allows the freedom to affirm and critique the issues impartially. The social doctrine, in this context, is greater than the social gospel, because the Gospel remains free of any ideological lens (particularly atheist and theistic Marxism).  The Gospel (read Jesus Christ) is allowed to speak for Himself without being muffled by Marx.

Unlike the social gospel, which tends to ‘stray from Scripture’ (D. Bonhoeffer[v]), Perkins’ social doctrine doesn’t respond to injustice through a lens of victimisation, double-standards, excessive-unbridled egalitarianism (dismissive tolerance and irrational equality), dependency on the state, or entitlement. He, instead, advocates for a ‘new alternative’[vi], building on what he calls the ‘three R’s’: ‘relocation, reconciliation and redistribution.’(p.88)  Here, Perkins upholds the uniqueness of Christian liberation, which holds to God’s liberation of humanity from slavery to sin[vii].

‘White people need to take responsibility for centuries of imperialism and failing to repent, but black people  also need to take some responsibility for the breakdown of our families (p.70) […] Things only get fixed – truly fixed – when they are mended by God through faith. Often we have it backwards trying to fix things for God rather than letting God fix things through us (p.81).

The secondary strength of ‘Dream With Me’ is that Perkins doesn’t sugar coat reality. He’s up front about racism, the impoverishment of some Americans (in general[viii]), and is outspoken in his call for the renewal of efforts that move America towards justice[ix]; towards lived reconciliation. Such a lived reconciliation will require jettisoning the shackles of identity politics.

For Perkins, progress towards this goal involves reclaiming the word reconciliation. Perkins believes that

‘‘Issues related to ethnicity and tribalism may divide us, but we are one race – the human race (p.54) […] we have taken God’s definition of reconciliation and made room for bigotry by inserting race into the concept. Racial reconciliation is not a biblical term. People use race as a slave master.’ (p.84)

What he calls for instead is a reconciliation firmly grounded in God’s reconciliation of the sinner to Himself.

‘I will call for – what I believe the gospel calls for – unity across ethnic and cultural barriers’ (ibid)

Perkins’ quest is to attain genuine equality (as opposed to any false utopian idea of supremacy[x] or the fool’s quest of seeking perpetual payback, in order to make things equal). He is adamant that Americans should build on the faith, approach and doctrine of the early civil rights campaigners. This road is difficult, but it should, and must be travelled.

Perkins offers no instant-fix formulas. What he does offer is a roadmap for how this can be achieved.  At the heart of ‘Dream With Me’ are ‘the three R’s: these are relocation where the old informs the new; reconciliation, free of victimization and identity politics; redistribution, not of wealth, but of opportunity’ (pp.74-89). What Perkins means by relocation is a readiness to be available; a readiness to be where, and to do, what God has called the individual to. Redistribution is about ‘stewardship[xi]’ (p.85) and reconciliation ‘is a way of life that displays God’s redemptive power’ (p.84).

Dream With Me’ is a careful discussion about the issues that face African-Americans. Perkins acknowledges (with great care) the historical wrongs suffered by African-Americans at hands of racial hatred. He acknowledges historical abuses by returning to his own experiences. Referring to his own suffering, Perkins sets the example:

‘On February 7, 1970, while I lay on the floor of the Simpson County Jail in Brandon, I made the decision to preach a gospel stronger than my racial identity and bigger than the segregation around me.’ (p.56)

Dream With Me’ brings the civil rights movement out of the museum, and it takes reconciliation out of the hands of race baiters, who seek to keep African-Americans down purely for political advantage.  ‘Dream With Me’ challenges the status quo of racial divisions by inviting change through humility and understanding.

Perkins doesn’t play the blame game. He seeks to end the cycle of abuse by encouraging others to not engage in reciprocating stale responses veiled by resentment and forced tolerance, all of which are underpinned by unrepentant hearts, pride and a fraudulent reconciliation, grounded in toxic identity politics.

In sum, ‘Dream With Me’ brings the practice of reconciliation to life. Perkins provides a viable way forward. This is a brave book written by an elder in the Civil Rights movement. Whether Americans can move beyond stale cultural slogans and tribal segregation; beyond blame and shame[xii], is an open question. It’s one that can only be answered when and where people are freed from the prison of ‘isms’ – racism, sexism, ageism, classism, and so many other divisive systems’ (p.50)

This book is for anyone who has been dealt blows by the hands of injustice, ostracism, abuse and uncalled for hostility. It’s for those who want to move beyond the logical fallacies which manipulatively assume that because someone has a certain type of skin colour, their melanin predetermines their heart, character and how they view the world around them; for those who want to keep Jesus Christ at the centre of justice, reconciliation and stewardship toward our neighbour.

Dream With Me’ is a call to prayer-filled action, which falls in line with Paul the apostle’s command and prayer for the Church in Corinth: ‘aim for restoration.’ (2 Cor. 13:9 & 11, ESV)


References:

[i] Defined as proactive empathy, as opposed to the spectator-sympathy.

[ii] Community and government groups play an auxiliary role in supporting initiatives; helping, not controlling or taking away individual responsibility; ergo offering a hand-up, not a hand out.

[iii] Teachers about Jesus’ teaching, not about Jesus Christ; turning Christianity into a list of ethical principles. In effect, Christless Christianity e.g.: “Who needs Christ? If I follow his example by being a good person, then I’ll be able to save myself, make God happy and get into heaven.”

[iv] See Jacques Ellul’s brilliant criticism in Jesus & Marx, 1988.

[v] ‘The contempt for theology is outrageous. Rauschenbusch’s own “theology for the social gospel” clearly shows, like its successors, that a lack of obedience to Scripture is characteristic for the teaching of the social gospel.’
(Bonhoeffer, DBW 12, Memorandum: The Social Gospel, p.242)

[vi] Perkins, J.M 2017 Dream With Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win, Baker Publishing Group, (p.85)

[vii] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1984, Instruction  on Certain aspects of the Theology of Liberation, (Source)

[viii] ‘To be honest, I had never given a second thought to poor whites. I still regarded them negatively – as redneck, trailer park white trash. The wealthy white people could help me, but what good were the poor whites to me? But then this poor white couple showed up at my doorstep. My automatic response was to treat them the way whites had treated poor blacks – to patronize them. But these people were teaching me, John Perkins, the guy who was supposed to be leading the church in reconciliation; a lesson in what it really means to be reconciled to one another.’ (pp.56-57)

[ix] ‘Justice is an act of reconciliation that restores any part of God’s creation its original intent, purpose, or image’ (p.207)

[x] ‘Wealthy whites also used the poor whites as tools of oppression — having blacks beneath [poor white folks] made those [folks] feel superior.’ (p.60)

[xi] ‘We’ve gotten away from the understanding that all of resources belong to God, and that we are stewards of whatever portion of those resources He has entrusted us with.’ (p.85)

[xii] ‘…we need to start getting beyond this stuff. Issues related to ethnicity and tribalism may divide us, but we have to start recognizing that we are one race – the human race’ (p.54)

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration for this review, in any form.

25th April 2016 007Anzac Day comes with a caveat.

Absent of any understanding about what causes war and the case for just-peace. Absent of the moral restraints of the message about Christ’s act and command to love God and love one another as we love and care for ourselves, Anzac day becomes a celebration of chaos, not life; a day of hero-worship, not sincere remembrance and gratitude.

We surely remember the sacrifice of our ancestors, but with it we remember God’s summons to hear the importance of His commandments that empower us to stand against the continuing brutality of war. It’s because God comes to humanity that this word can be received as true word. A word we did not speak ourselves. A word that we’re encouraged to test and try out, because God is not insecure about who He is or anxious about what He has planned.

Anzac day is for humanity to stand before the past, under God, towards the future. It’s a time to mourn, a time to recollect, a time to reconsider and lament the effect of war.  Not only on those who didn’t return, but on those who did.

Traditionally, on this day Australia and New Zealand commemorate, not war, or the sins of it, but engrave, through Christian prayer, a deep gratitude and remembrance, of and for, the freedom and life given by those who sacrificed their lives to give it.

But, Anzac day comes with a caveat.

If we jettison Jesus Christ from Anzac day, our remembrance spirals into the worship of chaos, hatred of our enemies and as it deteriorates into the empty worship of our ancestors. Without the Prince of Peace and those He represents, Anzac day has no real message of peace or hope, only war, the hype and devastation of it.

This is exemplified by the words of Anti-Nazi German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who in 1932 preached to a solemn gathering of Germans,

‘when the church observes Memorial Day, it must have something special to say. It cannot be one voice in the chorus of others who loudly raise the cry of mourning for the lost sons of the nation across the land, and by such cries of mourning call us to new deeds and great courage. It cannot, like the ancient singers of great heroic deeds, wander about and sing the song of praise of battle and the death of the heroes to the listening ears of enthralled young people. On this day the church stands here so strangely without ceremony, so little proud, so little heroic. The Church is like the seer of ancient times who when all are gathered… is wholeheartedly present but suffers because he sees something that others do not see and must speak of what he sees, although no one wants to hear it…the one who loves most is the one who sees deepest, sees the greatest danger. A seer has never been popular. That is why the church will also not be popular, least of all on days like this.’[i]

“Jesus is victor.”

Any real human victory begins in Him.

In no other way and by no other name can Anzac day be what it should be, a time and place when our hearts are directed, not towards human ideological constructs of peace, but towards the Prince of peace and therefore towards just-peace. Our memory and treatment of those who gave up their very lives for us is only enriched by this. Our mourning turns into hope, as we hear from chaplains, pastors and Christians, throughout both nations, at most remembrance services, we are asked to carry away with us the challenge of the message of just-peace.

‘Memorial day in the Church! What does it mean? It means holding up the one great hope from which we all live, the preaching of the kingdom of God. It means seeing that which is past, and which we remember today, with all its terrors and all its godlessness, and yet not being afraid, but hearing the preaching of peace […] Now pass on the message of peace, for the sake of which their death had to be, and preach it all the more loudly.’ [ii]

The one whose own broken body was laid in a tomb guarded and then, against, and to the shame of the chaos and all that stood in proud victory over Him, was resurrected from the dead.

Any real human victory begins in Him; all just-peace follows the Prince of peace who was judged become judge.

‘Where the power of darkness wants to overpower the light of God, there God triumphs and judges the darkness.’ [iii]

Any real peace follows from the one who is peace, not the one who through media, machine or human, only gives lip service to it. Or who through a mask of peace seeks through a will to dominate, only to expand a human empire.

The importance of Christian participation in Anzac Day is the reminder that peace comes to humanity from outside itself; from outside our ability to save ourselves. Through conviction, through just-justice, through covenant, through commandment the chaos is answered with purpose. It’s lifeless ‘mass, rebellion and tumult against true life is conquered, transformed as the One who ‘hovers over it speaks [and because He does, decisively acts].’[iv]

Jesus the Christ doesn’t seem to be. He is, was and will be.

That is our starting place and EVERY Anzac day what was once their march, but is now ours, must begin and end here.

For as Bonhoeffer noted:

‘wherever the word of Christ is truly spoken, the world sense that it is either ruinous madness or ruinous truth, which endangers it’s very life. Where peace is really spoken, war must rage twice as hard, for it senses that it is about to be driven out. Christ intends to be its death […] Memorial Day in the church means knowing that Christ alone wins the victory! Amen.’ [v]

References:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press

[ii] ibid, (p.21)

[iii] ibid, (p.17)

[iv] Bonhoeffer, D. DBW:3 Creation and Fall: A theological exposition of Genesis 1-3, (p.41) [parenthesis mine]

[v] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press (pp.20 & 21)

(Originally published, 25th April 2016)