les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Metaxas on Bonhoeffer

I mentioned that I'm reading the Metaxas biography of Bonhoeffer, and that I am hoping for ripping yarns etc. I also mentioned that the style sometimes drives me nuts (marmoreally memorialised...)

But I'm not just reading it for style and story, but also to try and understand something about the difference I see in US and UK Evangelicalism such as I live it. In the US the list of guys who are seen as card-carryin' Bible-preachin' evangelicals is a bit different from the UK's.

For example C S Lewis. I mean, he was Anglo-Catholic. Strongly so. Did he identify with the Bible-preaching evangelical ministries of his day ? Why would Bible-preaching evangelical ministires today identify with him ? He's Anglo-Catholic. His books are useful but with that proviso.

And Bonhoeffer ? Well he was theologically Barthian. So why the eager appropriation into the ranks of those whom he didn't espouse in life ?

It's questions like these that I thought might get answered by Metaxas' biography.

However, the book raises other, huge questions about the way we think today :

For example Bonhoeffer's Christian upbringing is described.

"the Bonhoeffers rarely went to church.... The family was not anticlerical... but their Christianity was mostly of the homegrown variety." His mother "was a woman who was serious about her faith and hired governesses who were serious about it"

Because I have the Kindle edition I can't cut and paste passages to quote, but the impression is given of a devout Christian family which went to church only for baptisms, weddings and funerals, not even Christmas and Easter...

Now the questions that raises for me are these :
In what sense is someone a Christian who almost never attends church ?
What is this Christian faith that leads one to separate oneself from any confessing community, from the people of God ?
Is this anything like what we see in the Bible, where God calls a people together ?
Have we gone so far from a Bible definition of what is and isn't a Christian ?
Have we so completely lost the plot ?

A friend more travelled than I says "Yes, Alan. It's that bad."


Alan Davey : said...

I know that going to a garage doesn't make you a car, but I never had a car that never went to the garage, only the factory, the showroom and the crusher.

Emmanuel said...

Your friend is probably right, although it is probably even worst than that.