About a year before he was hanged by the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his prison cell to one of his friends. In his letter, he said ‘The question I keep constantly asking myself is, “Who really is Jesus Christ for us today?” ‘ Germany had had a great Christian past, but when Bonhoefferj was writing, the people in that country had moved not only into secularism but had embraced a definitely anti-Christian ideology Fifty years after Bonhoeffer, we have to ask the same question, and Christians throughout the entire Western world have to ask it.
The Christianity that was for so many centuries the spiritual inspiration of the West has, to a large extent, collapsed. What significance still attaches to Jesus Christ? Is he no more than a first-century Palestinian peasant? Has he been completely superseded in the advance of our scientific and technological culture?
For many people, he has become a shadowy figure. They cannot see that he has anything of importance to contribute to our contemporary problems.
The answers once given to the question, ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’ are met either by disbelief or are simply not understood.