“Not ideals or programs, not conscience, duty, responsibility or virtue, but only the consummate love of God can meet and overcome reality” Bonheoffer
Wowzas. I have taken on Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (executed for being on an assasinate-Hitler committee). Intensity of intensity! Its not bedtime reading: it makes my brain ache… but there are a lot of gems in there, shivers…. It is all put in a profound and unique light when you consider that he is writing in the context of of the Nazi regime and the Christian community’s complacency about it.
In his chapter “Ethics as formation” he discusses the 6 orientations that guide behaviour: Reason, ethical fanaticism, conscience, duty, free responsibility and private virtue and how these all fail to impact our world/society/reality.
I was struck by Ethical Fanaticism - those motivated by strong principles of justice and truth but get caught up in insignificant battles rather than seeing the whole picture. That is me. I fumed my way through our visiting preachers talk this morning because of a few unthinking remarks he made. Blinded by my principles.
Bonheoffer describes the orientation that can impact reality:
“the one who keeps in sight the single truth of God… not fettered by principles…this single minded person does not also cast glances at the world while standing next to God, and therefore is able, free and unconstrained to see the reality of the world. … so they know that reality can be helped neither by the purest principles or the best will but only by the living God”