Dorothy Soelle: Christ is buried in our churches because we’ve betrayed his revolution in our obedience to and fear of authority

is buried in our churches, because we have betrayed
his revolution in our obedience to
authority and our fear of it.
I believe in Jesus Christ who rises again and
again in our lives so that we will be free from prejudice and arrogancefrom fear and hate and carry on his revolution and make way for his kingdom**

If I try to follow him, . . .  “Come along,” he says, and that above all, “Come along into God’s kingdom — to our home country, where no one is beaten, no one is thrown out and shoved away. Look and see,” he says to me and shows how the lame begin to walk. He does not say, “close your eyes; I’ll do everything.”*

Soelle warns what hagiography can do to us: We put people (Jesus included) on pedestals often to get them out of our hair so we don’t have to change our lives or be bothered with their distant greatness. Following Christ is very different from idolizing him. 

It is doing what he did, healing and carrying on his work, since he cannot do everything. Is this your experience? Have you ever felt “safer” idolizing someone, seeing their greatness as beyond you? Can you replace that notion with the Christ of mysticism and being “in Christ”? The Christ of panentheism, Christological panentheism — we in Christ and Christ in us? https://www.youtube.com/embed/JS5nHBZnT_s?feature=oembed

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, public theologian and ELCA Minister on her journey from addiction to ministry. Pastor Nadia’s story showcases the power of grace and meeting people where they are at.

Consider this poem by Soelle:

every day I am afraid that he died in vain
because he is buried in our churches, because we have betrayed
his revolution in our obedience to
authority and our fear of it.
I believe in Jesus Christ who rises again and
again in our lives so that we will be free from prejudice and arrogancefrom fear and hate and carry on his
revolution and make way for his kingdom**

Soelle laments what has happened to Jesus’ revolution. She is afraid on a daily basis that he might have died “in vain,” for he is often “buried” in ecclesial institutions and thereby “betrayed.” How does this happen? By our obedience to and fear of authority. Soelle believes that his resurrection is ongoing “in our lives,” not a past event, and this will one day empty us of fear, hate, arrogance. Thus would his kingdom/queendom be born. 


*Dorothee Soelle, Theology for Skeptics: Reflections on God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), p. 92.

** Dorothee Soelle, Dorothee Soelle, Revolutionary Patience (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1977), p. 23.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, pp. 275, 271.

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