Some Theses on the Church in North America Today (2)

2.    Because the church is identity and DNA-deprived it cannot get from where it is to where it ought to go. Indeed, it cannot even understand where it is much less imagine “where” it ought to go.

a.    “But our entire nineteen hundred years of Christian preaching and theology are built on the “religious a priori” in human beings. ‘Christianity’ has always been a form (perhaps the true form) of ‘religion.’ Yet if it becomes obvious one day that this ‘a priori’ doesn’t exist, that it has been a historically conditioned and transitory form of human expression, then people really will become radically religionless—and I believe that this is already more or less the case (why, for example, doesn’t this war provoke a ‘religious’ reaction like all the previous ones?)—what does that then mean for ‘Christianity’? The foundations are being pulled out from under all that ‘Christianity’ has previously been for us, and the only people among whom we might end up in terms of ‘religion’ are ‘the last of the knights’ or a few intellectually dishonest people.”[1]

b.   That “religionless” age has arrived. The “Churchianity” long mistaken for Christianity has lost is credibility and viability and it passing away (see #1). This is in part what Bonhoeffer means by a “world come of age.” This is where we are and we must come to terms with that and begin to discern the possibilities for new forms of church within that reality.

c.    The forms and structures of religious Christianity which are dying/dead do not facilitate but indeed hinder forming the relational infrastructure intrinsic to and necessary for the church to be and do what God wants in the “world come of age.”

d.    “Business as usual” will no longer work. Working harder, doing “church” better, new programs or techniques will not help. We are in new territory, new conditions and what we think we know will mislead us.

e.    The attitude we have to have in facing this crisis is reflected by Rod Dreher[2]:

Text Box: “I don’t think most of us will be able to (engage the struggle for a new church). But I’m talking to the people who want to fight. I’m talking to the people who know why the martyrs died as free men and women, and why their stories rightly give us hope. You can follow Your Best Life Now to the death of Christianity, but some of us, we will find another way to go, even if we have to pioneer it ourselves.”

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison: DBW 8 (Augsburg Fortress. Kindle Edition.) Kindle Locations 10242-10249.

[2] Rod Dreher, “Christianity in the Brave New World,”


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