theologies of the third-way: David Bosch
October 3, 2008
I was visiting Annemie Bosch, the wife of David Bosch, yesterday to attempt to get some answers to questions I have. It was a deeply spiritual experience, in that it brought to life the theology with which I’ve been struggling for the past few weeks. Although I’ve been gripped by the writings of David Bosch for at least a year now, the conversation with her in a way deepened a personal commitment, a spiritual commitment, to that which I have been thinking about intellectually.
One story really stood out: While she and David Bosch attending a colloquem by Karl Barth, Barth said that “if I was on guard in the war, and my best friend was part of the enemy, and came walking over the bridge, I would shoot him”, to which a young man responded out loud: “No you would not”. Bosch wispered into the ear of Annemie “that man is a Mennonite”… that man was John Howard Yoder.
Bosch became good friends with Yoder, ever since the 1970’s if I remember correctly, and the theology of Yoder made a very deep impression on Bosch. It was not the only impression, and Bosch cannot be called a pure Anabaptist. From the beginning Bosch also had a very deep appreciation of Reformed theology, and found his own ecclesiology somewhere between the two, saying that that the Reformed tradition drew too direct a line between church and world, and the Anabaptists too sharp a distinction.
That was the value of Bosch though, the amazing way in which he could keep the creative tension between different perspective. All through his life the Anabaptist influence remainded, although it is not clearly visible to the reader of Transforming Mission not aware of this, since he later-on stopped using the ‘alternative community’ concept which he borrowed from the Anabaptist tradition. But if aware of this, you will find it in Transforming Mission, and even more clearly in Believing in the Future, where he reacts very positively towards Stanley Hauerwas.
Bosch’s is an approach in creative tension. His vision was that of a distinct community (the concept he used in the place of alternative community when writing Transforming Mission), but without rejecting the insights of Reformed ecclesiology, or even (in his later writings), liberation theology! Bosch could truely be considered a third-way theologian. This is clear in the way in which both Apartheid and Stuggle theologians was highly uncomfortable with him, but also had the greatest respect for him. It is especially clear in the way he interprets Jesus all through his career.
Some of this came from the research on my dissertaion. Will hopefully have a first draft ready within 24 hours, and then upload it here. I need to print in by middle next week somewhere, but would appreciate any feedback, would obviously appreciate feedback afterwards as well, but I can consider it before printing that would be especially nice:-)