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Bonhoeffer II

Just wanted to post a brief follow up to a discussion Dale and I have been having on the prominence of the resurrection vs the incarnation vs the crucifixion. In a previous post, I had reacted against Peter Rollins’ claim that our faith ought not to depend on the triumph or victory of the resurrection. At issue is where we ought we to locate the primary significance of the redeeming work of Christ.

I was reading Ethics again tonight and while Bonhoeffer can be really ruthless and harsh at times and difficult to even understand at others, sometimes he explains things in a way that just makes things click for me. For Bonhoeffer, the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ form an indissoluble unity that we tear apart at our peril:

In Jesus Christ we have faith in the incarnate, crucified and risen God. In the incarnation we learn of the love of God for his creation; in the crucifixion we learn of the judgment of God upon all flesh; and in the resurrection we learn of God’s will for a new world. There could be no greater error than to tear these three elements apart; for each of them comprises the whole. It is quite wrong to establish a separate theology of the incarnation, a theology of the cross, or a theology of the resurrection, each in opposition to the others, by a misconceived absolutization of one of these parts.

The resurrection still seems to somehow be uniquely important to me if only because it testifies to the consummation and validation of both the incarnation and the crucifixion, but I think that Bonhoeffer’s words are wise ones indeed. The three cannot be broken apart.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. yeah, I think that is a good perspective.
    the crucifixion and resurrection have received too much attention in the traditional evangelical world view. It seems we often mitigate the tranformative power of Christ’s ministry by highlighting the cognitive task of accept Christ’s death and resurrection as atonement. I becomes more important to know than to obey. We forget that both of these tasks are needed for belief to exist.

    February 12, 2007
  2. Craig #

    I really like Bonhoeffer’s insight on this one. Thanks for finding that, it cuts to the heart of the discussion for me.

    February 14, 2007

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