Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ethics for December 3

“It is the encounter of Jesus with the Pharisees that most clearly highlights the contrast of the old and the new. The proper understanding of this encounter is very important for understanding the gospel as such; the Pharisees are not an accidental historical phenomenon of Jesus’ time, but human beings for whom nothing but the knowledge of good and evil has come to be important for their entire lives. The Pharisee is the epitome of the human being in the state of disunion. Any caricature of the Pharisees takes away the seriousness and importance of Jesus’ confrontation with them. Pharisees are those human beings, admirable to the highest degree, who subject their entire lives to the knowledge of good and evil and who judge themselves as sternly as their neighbors—and all to the glory of God, whom they humbly thank for this knowledge. For Pharisees, every moment of life turns into a situation of conflict in which they have to choose between good and evil. In order to avoid wrongdoing, all their thought day and night are intensely focused on the unfathomable number of possible conflicts in order to think them trough in advance, come to a decision, and determine their own choice. Innumerable facts have to be taken into account, weighed, and distinguished. The more minute the distinctions, the more indisputable the correct decision. Life in all its variety is certainly taken into account.”—Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pages 309-310

<idle musing>
Wow, talk about an impossible task! But, that seems to be what a lot of christians do. They want to make sure that God is pleased, so every possible scenario is examined under a microscope…Bonhoeffer is calling us to freedom. The freedom of surrendering all decisions to the grace of God. Listening to the Spirit and walking in true freedom. I’ll take that any day over hyper-analyzing every decision.
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Me too. I have seen the same thing. One good brother told me that the Christian life is all about making the right choice. That this is true in everything. Wow. I just think this misses the boat, making one element of the whole to be the whole. Grace bringing freedom brings us something far better, as you say here.