Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bonhoeffer quotes:

(taken from Ethics) --

“In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best the object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success.”

"One is distressed by the failure of reasonable people to perceive either the depths of evil or the depths of the holy. With the best of intentions they believe that a little reason will suffice them to clamp together the parting timbers of the building."

“It is only through God’s being made man that it is possible to know real men and not despise them."

“Justification by grace and faith alone remains in every respect the final word and for this reason, when we speak of the things before the last, we must not speak of them as having any value of their own, but we must bring to light their relation to the ultimate.”

“What is the penultimate? It is everything that precedes the ultimate, everything that precedes the justification of the sinner by grace alone, everything which is to be regarded as leading up to the last thing when the last thing has been found. It is at the same time everything which follows the ultimate and yet again precedes it. There is, therefore, no penultimate in itself; as though a thing could justify itself in itself as being a thing before the last thing; a thing becomes penultimate only through the ultimate, that is to say, at the moment when it has already lost its own validity. The penultimate, then, does not determine the ultimate: it is the ultimate which determines the penultimate.”

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

So...what is the penultimate?

BFC

Jeff Dean said...

Most people don't know this, but Colton Houston was actually named after Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

True story!

John Zahl said...

BFC,

I think Bonhoeffer gives us his answer in this quote (I repeat):

“Justification by grace and faith alone remains in every respect the final word and for this reason, when we speak of the things before the last, we must not speak of them as having any value of their own, but we must bring to light their relation to the ultimate.”

If "justification by grace and faith alone remains in every respect the final word", then everything else (i.e., ethics, sanctification, infusion...) is penultimate. That's where I stand anyway.

Bioluminescently, JZ

Anonymous said...

JZ,

I agree: all things receive their validity through the 'ultimate'.

What that means is that Grace is prior to our ‘being’. Great! I agree. And if the corollary is true that “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) then it must also be true that our 'ways of being' ought to be like his. I don't mean that we earn our own validity, but simply that God shares his life with us.

But if God shares his life with us, God's life necessarily ought to shape how we live and move and have our being, i.e. how we act.

But, that is grace too.

So, as I have argued before, God gives us the unction to act according to his will. And, because what it is to be human is to be both a recipient and an actor, Christian action must be thought of as a kind of receptive one: a kind of active receptivity - or perhaps, passive activity.

That's not the same thing as saying that we earn our salvation or justify ourselves. Rather, it is to say like Christ, “I only do what I see my Father doing.”

In other words, it is all grace.

We receive God's grace because God first gives us the grace by which we are able to receive. We act by grace because God first gives us the grace to act - that is the Spirit's fruit. And, we deliberate by grace because God first graciously outfits us with a rational capacity that is designed to reflect his Glory.

Now, if that is true, then it makes perfect sense to talk about what is normative for Christian life and action.

If that is what you mean: I agree! The penultimate receives its being from the ultimate.

Ever,
BFC

Also, work out?

Anonymous said...

No, we hate God, that is all we can do. So like you said-"it is all grace"

bpzahl said...

Hi Frank! How are things in Oxford?

I was just thinking about what you said: "We receive God's grace because God first gives us the grace by which we are able to receive. We act by grace because God first gives us the grace to act - that is the Spirit's fruit. And, we deliberate by grace because God first graciously outfits us with a rational capacity that is designed to reflect his Glory.

Now, if that is true, then it makes perfect sense to talk about what is normative for Christian life and action. "

I think it's a little more complicated than that...I mean, if "normative" means "the norm", then I would say (by observation) that maybe 1.5% of Christians feel that they actually live the way you described, and the other 98.5% don't.

My problem isn't even so much how the Christian life _looks_, but the Christian awareness of how it's _supposed to_ look. As in, I think that anytime self-awareness (of how "Christian we are becoming" or how "close to God we feel") creeps in, we're in a dangerous spot.

Grace puts us in a vulnerable position, don't you think? It means always having your hands open to receive, with nothing to offer. It mean being _subjected_ to whatever God desires to be good for us, even if it makes us feel 10,000 miles from God.

So when you say that receiving grace and all its outcomes is "normative", I agree. It's just that the receiving part _and_ the outcomes part are not what we think they should be.

I think it is entirely true that "in him we live and move and have our being". But I would say that "having our being" has to be "in him", and being "in him" doesn't always bear the kind of fruit that we expect it to look like!

(I love PZ's shirt that says "I bring nothing to the table" or something like that.)

Joshua Corrigan said...

I have one of those T-shirts too! I found them 3 years ago at Super Target in a special Valentines rack for $5.00. So I got one for me and one for PZ!

Target...really
ever,
JMC

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite PZ sermons ever was one on the Ultimate v. Penultimate at the Advent...I thought it was his original idea...
... maybe Bonhoeffer stole it from Paul in a time-travel warp/alien substitution kind of thingy....something like that could happen to him, you know...