Among the current theological fads is that of “religionless” Christianity. The “religionless” Christian takes his cue from Barth’s significant utterance that “in religion man bolts and bars himself against revelation by providing a substitute, by taking away in advance the very thing which has to be given by God” (Church Dogmatics, I, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Pt. 2, Edinburgh, 1956, p. 303). He then concludes with Bonhoeffer that religion is incompatible with true Christianity and that “he must therefore plunge himself into the life of a godless world, without attempting to gloss over its ungodliness with a veneer of religion or trying to transfigure it” (from Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers From Prison, Macmillan, 1953, p. 222).
Now Christianity, however understood or misunderstood, has indeed posed obstacles to God’s will for man, and orthodoxy should be reminded of its need to repent of its idolatries and of its distortions of the Gospel. No sincere Christian is justified in believing that he or his church is free from fault. On the contrary, he should stand ready to be chastened by Barth or Bonhoeffer or anyone else for having allowed the love of God that was in Christ to go out of his life and the life of his church. Indeed he ought to realize that the church itself is sometimes its-own worst enemy. He should admit that the truth is open to misrepresentation and abuse by its proponents.
But the “religionless” Christian does not just remind the evangelical of this. He lays claim to a new revelation, a revelation that nowhere says exactly what Christianity would mean, or could mean, or how a church or belief open to the new revelation could properly be called Christian at all. How could we know, asks Leon Morris, ...1
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