Christian main page Helmut Thielicke
His call for reform.

Helmut Thielicke
The Trouble with the Church: A Call for Renewal (Harper & Row, 1965)

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 American situation.

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 it badly.

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)
Last updated 1/11/2007; first posted 8/5/2003; © 2003, 2007 John P. Nordin