Theological Fragments: Bonhoeffer on “In the beginning…”

“When the beginning can be spoken about only by those who are in the middle and worry about the beginning and the end, those who tug at their own chains, those who — to anticipate for a moment something that comes later — know only in their sin about having been created by God, then it can no longer be asked whether this beginning is God’s own beginning or God’s beginning with the world. This is because for us God as the beginning is no other then the one who in the beginning created the world and created us, and because we can know nothing at all of this God except as the Creator of our world. Luther was once asked what God was doing before the creation of the world. His answer was that God was cutting sticks to cane people who ask such idle questions. In this way Luther was not cutting the questioner short; he was also saying that where we do not recognize God as the merciful Creator, we can know God only as the wrathful judge — that is, only standing in relation to the middle, between the beginning and the end (Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall, pg 31).

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