During this Holy Week, I am reading more of Bonhoeffer and the similarities of thinking at times between him and Louis Putz CSC. The concept of a “religionless Christianity” seems to be having more appeal today, especially in the US and Europe. Even though, as a historian, I would at first knee-jerk say it would seem impossible. The paradox is always head-scratching. I want to think of Bonhoeffer and his work as an approach to a better understanding of the concept of “religion” and being “religious” with some caution.
Therefore the idea that there may be such a thing as “religionless” Christianity is most intriguing and worth exploring. Religionless Christianity is naturally from Bonhoeffer’s critique of religion. Thus, we have first to understand what it is about “religion” that he dislikes before we can begin to imagine Christianity without it.
When I see what what has been rejected, I think many “religious people’ will find comfort in what remains. And what remains is then seen for what it is in the Christian message. I think for Bonhoeffer this is what is meant by the phrase “religionless Christianity” when he finally came to introduce it in 1944, just months before his death.
I am finding it interesting how this “fullness” of understanding comes before death. And Why? Maybe because for Bonhoeffer, there is a paradox in the importance of discovering a personal wholeness of life when we in the face of life’s challenges and death in particular, otherwise always fragile assumptions of purposeful coherence.
We as human beings are on a theological journey from beginning to end in search of understanding “what it is all about Alfie” —then for Christians comes the question “Who is Jesus Christ?” And Why Jesus? I don’t think religionless Christianity has been presented in quite this significant and holistic way before.