The foundation of ethics (and its rival) (Ethics chapter 3)

So, if reason, moral fanaticism, conscience, duty, freedom, and private virtuousness all fail to produce a foundation for Ethics, what is the foundation for ethics? How can we find a solid foundation for understanding and living out right and wrong?
Bonhoeffer’s answer is love. But not just any love, because even love can end up as another failed foundation. It is easy to misunderstand it and manipulate it. Bonhoeffer has a very specific love in mind. The foundation for ethics is love as displayed in Christ.
The problem is that people do not want this for their foundation. The sacrificial love of Christ is not a good foundation for our world because, Bonhoeffer says, people crave success and the sacrificial love of Christ is foreign to that craving. The world views success as the foundation: “The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success…Success alone justifies wrongs done. Success heals the wounds of guilt. Success intoxicates us so that we identify it with the good. Once we identify success as the good, it is a small step to say, ‘Only the successful is good.’
The crucifixion undoes the ethics of success as a foundation: “The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.” Successes and failures do not set us right before God. Only Christ on the cross can do that: “Only in the cross of Christ…do men achieve their true form.”


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