Christianity And Socialism

Chaitanya Jyothi Museum Opening, 2000

In the Name of The Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit, Amen.



The Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ruminations on religionless Christianity I shared recently with a clerical friend.

The friend replied:

I like his thought that the Church stands not where the human powers give out, on the borders, but in the centre of the village.  Might have to preach on that some day.

I replied:

Good idea.  A couple of addenda to that:

Looters want stability.  Builders want opportunity.

Mohammed needed an army.  Jesus made do with fifteen men.

Then I replied again:

Another thought: Bonhoeffer meant that metaphor in the sense you take it — the Church is the power of a society — but also in the sense Jesus gives it using another metaphor: leaven and loaf.

Leaven is indeed the power of the loaf, and different chemically and operationally — i.e. substantively and mechanically — from the loaf (wheat).  However also, leaven is all but indistinguishable from the loaf, at least to ordinary perusal.  And the loaf nearly always claims to raise itself, although of course it does not.

Bonhoeffer is looking at, trying to grasp the phenomenology of an unchurched Church, a Church that is all but invisible to the society it powers, and where visible, under direct and lethal attack by official and unofficial subsidiary powers.

Bonhoeffer is dealing in this passage with the condition of the churches in Socialist Germany. He is tasting before we have what jumped the Atlantic to become now our condition: Socialist genocidal totalism, at the center of which is insatiable hostility to the Church and anyone thereof.

The churches’ leadership in Europe and here, in Bonhoeffer’s day and ours — to include Roman Catholics (especially now, and especially Jesuits) — responded to Socialist hostility — which is deep, total and fearsome — in complete and utter cowardice.  They essayed to represent Christianity as proto-Socialism (Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists) or Socialism as Christianity perfected (Roman Catholics, Greek/Russian Orthodox).  Church leaders adopted Socialist language and political objectives, hoping to avoid true Socialists’ stink eyes.

That has not worked, of course, and it will not work.  Christians cannot protect themselves by sounding like Socialists or aping Socialist politics.  Any time Christians use the Trinitarian Formula — and they cannot be Christians without using it — and any time Christians regard Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of History — and they cannot read the Bible or recite the Liturgy without announcing the fact — they add their names to Socialists’ list for liquidation.  Socialism is, at essence, genocide of Christians.  And there is no hiding from that fact or its consequences.

This is what Bonhoeffer saw already in the 1930s.  His assessment of conditions drove him to the neologism religionless Christianity, by which he meant Christianity that does not try to hide from hostility by aping its language and politics — he certainly did not — but carries on as Christianity unrecognized as can be while fearlessly practical as need and occasion present.  Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.

Christianity is at the center of the village but unseen as leaven is and unchurched given the political rampancy of Socialism.  It is not an easy concept, either to understand or to practice.  Today, the village is Socialist and the Church is in the middle of it, but damn well not of it.  And, to change the metaphor but not the meaning, today, Socialism is the loaf and the Church is the leaven, and damn well different from the loaf.

The Church never is in decay or decline.  How could She be, the Bride of Christ?  Does He rot and die?  The Church adjusts to conditions.  Today, that is one of thorough-going persecution with a view towards genocide.  Good luck with that!  The churches rise and fall relative to their fidelity to the Church, the transcendent Spiritual Community.

Then I replied again:

From first revelation and forever, Christianity has inside Her a vector of anti-religion, or as Tillich calls it, religion beyond religion, religion transcending religion.

This is not irreligion, nor profanity, nor yet unbelief.  It is integral with the reach for the trans-mundane, for the sempiternal.  It is not rebellion, it is sublimity.  Not irrationality, sagacity.

This vector inside the Church is of a piece with experiencing and contemplating the powers of Christianity on their own, corporeal yet independent, at liberty, beyond all boundaries of reason and the mind, emerging in the Absolute/God, the Church without the churches.  It is more something beyond time making time than in time subject to time.  And very rare.  Nor hardly an universal aspiration, much less experience.

Yet, when contemplating mortality of the body — and for some lucky ones even before that — religion beyond religion is a palpable proximity.  Such is the case of Bonhoeffer observing and ruminating upon religionsloses Christentum.

Update 1: Christians cannot hold a prominent position in British politics.  Related.

Democratic Party contempt for Roman Catholics, and here, and here, and here.

Gleichshaltung in the UK … also here

Update 2: It’s ironic – but not surprising – that spiritual tourism is increasing as commitment to institutional religion is declining.

As I said, the Church is well and thriving.  Next I expect to see developments of monasteries, including for families with children.  Among Christian women in North America already there are shoots of a monastic nature sprouting.

It doesn’t take many.  Jesus needed only 13, or 15 if one counts Judas, who is integral to the Gospel story, and Jesus Himself.

Update 3: Ron Dreher: Trump Can’t Save American Christianity

Update 4: Socialism is not Christianity, it is a mockery of Christianity, as the Orcs were made in mockery of the elves.  Glenn Reynolds


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Texas White Male Oppression

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