I found this quote on ‘folly’ in Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison. Keep with me as it is some way down the page. I have often wondered why intelligent men and women adopt Christian beliefs that diverge from the simple gospel of the Kingdom. Many are well educated and articulate, but their gospel is a gospel of moralism and in some cases a ‘gospel of the law’ that upends the cross and undoes our inheritance in Christ, while leaving folks in Adam. Watchman Nee used the term sub-christian to refer to such gospels while a noted author on discipleship urged that it leaves Believers as clubs of conformity.
NEW CREATION LIGHT
So why do intelligent and well educated, Believers attach themselves to beliefs that are not just a variation of Christian practice but ‘another gospel’ as in a gospel that negates the gospel of Jesus, Paul and John.
REASONS FOR DISABILITY
Some had such a chaotic childhood that a law-based gospel looks like a solution to such chaos.
Others came to Christ through Bible studies that presented a ‘gospel’ skewed to the law assisted by a chain of unconnected scriptures.
Others through ‘socialisation’ as in the social construction of reality in which people build their own reality in terms of the ideas they have absorbed from their community, sect or cult. As a result, they spend a large portion of their lives in a bubble of semi-truth that immunises them against the genuine gospel of Jesus and the apostles.
There are people who live in un-gospel, who live their entire lives not knowing who Jesus really is and who they really are. Lies rob us of God and rob us of our real selves. Fortunately, they cannot rob the Believer, no matter how misguided of eternal life.
SLOGAN AND RELIGIOUS ICONS
It may be remembered that Bonhoeffer died for his beliefs; that he was a person who stood for the truth no matter what the cost and was not the kind of person to accommodate himself to nonsense for the sake of an identity with the herd. He writes, “The fool can often be stubborn, but this must not mislead us into thinking he is independent. One feels somehow, especially in conversation with him, that it is impossible to talk to the man himself, to talk to him personally. Instead, one is confronted with a series of slogans, watchwords, and the like, which have acquired power over him. He is under a curse, he is blinded, his very humanity is being prostituted and exploited.”
One need not be a fool to live so insulated inside this barrel of acquired ideas. One can just be a person who values their self-made identity more than an uncomplicated identity in Christ our life. But here’s the thing. When naked to Christ we are clothed in an identity that is eternal and which is us. When Christ is our life, we do not need additions and we do not need the law. We are clothed in Christ and we are Christ. This is the real meaning of the Body of Christ – people who are the manifestation of Jesus by incarnation. Hidden in His life we have a real identity.
Bonhoeffer paid for his commitment to truth with the loss of his body. But he became a companion of Jesus in his commitment to truth.
OTHER GOSPEL DEPENDENT
Contained in the bubble of her misguided beliefs an ‘other gospel addict’ is almost immune to the truth. Encounters with God, teaching that is wisdom and revelation and light from ‘truth tellers’ resulting from a higher loyalty pass by this captive like sparrows flying from a barn. The truth is deflected by the shields of habitual fictions.
The captive continues in her bubble of deception – aware that something of moment has occurred but at a loss as to what it was. Why? As Bonhoeffer perceives, “It is impossible to talk to the man himself, to talk to him personally. Instead, one is confronted with a series of slogans, watchwords, and the like, which have acquired power over him” and that act like the shield a spaceship might deploy to deflect an attack. But which in this case was an attack of the truth and an encounter with God. There is a solution. This person sees through a glass darkly when he has as much access as anyone to the Jesus lens. But what is required is not only Jesus, but an intention to follow Him wherever He should lead. The pure in heart see God. The double or triple minded see only what they choose to see.