One of Bonhoeffer’s primary goals in “Christ, Reality and Good” is to challenge traditional Lutheran theology with its assertion of two discrete kingdoms (or realms). Bonhoeffer suggests instead that “there are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is God’s reality revealed in Christ in the reality of the world” (58). The revelation of Jesus Christ incarnate means the unity of the world.

Yet, Bonhoeffer does not deny that there is a division in our world. The Bible speaks to spatially divided realms, statically in opposition. Bonhoeffer writes that it would be “very dangerous to overlook this, to deny the visibility of the church” (63). The church would then be devalued as a purely spiritual entity. However, when God embraces a space in the world (say the stable in Bethlehem) “God embraces the whole reality of the world in this narrow space and reveals its ultimate foundation” (63). The role of the church is to give witness to this foundation – that the whole world has been embraced in Jesus Christ. The world is loved and reconciled to God in Jesus, God among us. For this reason, “when one therefore wants to speak of the space of the church, one must be aware that this space has already been broken through, abolished, and overcome in ever moment by the witness of the church in Jesus Christ” (64).

Bonhoeffer speaks to the fact that we also conceptualize in terms of “worldly” and “Christian.” To this end, he suggests that the unity of these realms is preserved in the polemical relationship within this opposition, a contention that will “mutually prohibit static independence of the one over against the other.” In this way they witness to a common reality (this sounds to me a lot like Yoder’s contention that the church needs those outside the church to teach it how to be the church). But what does this mean for those spaces, say the concentration camps, where the Devil is clearly at work? Bonhoeffer reminds us that even the Devil has been put under the foot of Christ. It is precisely this evil that is being reconciled to God.


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