The Trouble with the Church: A Call for Renewal (Harper &
This is Thielicke's attack on the German Lutheran Church, all the
more powerful because it is so soberly and clearly written. Specific
to this time and setting, but wonderfully applicable to the current
Thielicke has a lot to say about the
ineffectiveness and shamming of the church - proclaiming a message
its own leaders don't really feel any more. This isn't conscious
hypocrisy, he is quick to say, but despair. The church no longer
consumes the medicine it prescribes and people know this.
Much of his argument focuses on preaching.
The struggle to say something that hits home, the typical falling
back on the pot of Christian clichés, these are used by Thielicke
to focus attention on how the church is saying nothing and saying
What [Jesus] meant by
hypocrisy was an objective contradiction in one's own existence, a contradiction
which the person involved may not be aware of at all. (...
on church leaders) p. 10
The German preacher often
begins in heaven and never comes down to our living earth. The American
preacher, just because he remains in vital contact, begins with downright
earthly life and its social and psychological problems and, often enough,
never reaches heaven. p. 30
Because you yourselves no longer feel the influencing
power of faith within you, you try to substitute tactical cleverness for
the missing suggestive aid of a strong soul. And when you do that you
sink ever deeper into the realm of no response.
-- Hans Domizlaff, advertising man. Quoted in Thielicke,
p.xiii. (A summary of Thielicke's point)