I am so pleased to present the 189th Christian Carnival, which I have labeled The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Edition. I wrote about Bonhoeffer back in April, on the anniversary of his death. I couldn’t resist returning to this compelling character, most well known for his martyrdom at the hands of Hitler. When I ran into a Christian friend of mine at the library about six months ago, lamenting to her that our little library had no Bonhoeffer books, and she replied, “who is Bonhoeffer?” – well, I would like to introduce you to him, if you also have not been acquainted with this German pastor, theologian, Christan, and man for his times.
The posts for this Christian Carnival will be organized around various Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes and other passages from the book that sits in my lap as I type, the 1000+ page biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eberhard Bethge. This is a monumental book, and should be in every Christian’s library. No, I don’t agree with every bit of theology that Bonhoeffer espoused, but do not miss this complex and fascinating man.
The misunderstood relationship between Law and Gospel, that is, a forgiveness of sin that does not affect the earthly, civil life of people. People are still told they are sinners, but are not called out from their sinful structures. How are we, who go on sinning in the expectation of grace, to go on taking seriously the forgiveness of sins and prayer to God? We make grace cheap and with the justification of the sinner through the cross, forget the cry of the Lord that never justifies sin. p.209, Bonhoeffer speech to Berlin Christian Student Movement
Michael presents Resisting Temptation posted at Chasing the Wind. Temptation comes from outside; sin comes from within. How do we deal with temptation? Did Jesus give us an example? A study of Matthew 4.
One characteristic of Bonhoeffer’s concept of religion expressed in the letters from prison, namely, that religion is passing away, has already been mentioned. It should be considered once more, although Bonhoeffer never clarified the relation of Barth’s systematic concept of religion to this historical one. Can faith ever escape becoming a religion, whether western, eastern, or African? But precisely in order to make faith possible, Bonhoeffer explains “religion” in its “Western form” as something we can do without and as a relic of past ages. His judgment here is so certain because he regards the age of Jesus as something different from the age of religion. p. 877, Eberhard Bethge
One can’t preach the Gospel tangibly enough. A truly evangelical sermon must be like offering a child a fine red apple or offering a thirsty man a cool glass of water and then saying: Do you want it? p. 234, Bonhoeffer preaching in Berlin
Richard H. Anderson presents I will gather the lame, the outcasts and the afflicted posted at dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos.
Let us learn to do what is just without words for a while….He who knows himself close to death is decisive, but he is also silent. Without words, yes, not understood and alone if need be, but he does what is necessary and just, he makes his sacrifice… p. 830, Bonhoeffer from his jail cell in Tegel
Luke Houghton presents Does it pay to do the right thing? posted at Luke Houghton. Luke says, “I am a Christian and I do what’s right all the time… does it help? NO. So what can I do about it? Read on to learn more.”
Paula [Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s mother] gave the children their first schooling. In her youth, with a spirit of independence that was shocking at the time, she had fought for and obtained permission to take the qualifying examination for women teachers. She gave lessons at home to the older and younger children together, along with the children of some of her husband’s professor friends, and at the year’s end she was always able to register her pupils successfully for the state examination, where they did very well. Thanks to the excellent start she gave them, they were able to skip entire grades and eventually take the school graduation examinations at a remarkable early age, as Dietrich did. p. 17, notes by Bethge on Childhood and Youth
Renae presents Fulfilling the Purpose of Education, Reason 4 of Why I Home School posted at Life Nurturing Education. Renae is certainly in good company with Paula Bonhoeffer!
This is the end – for me the beginning of life.” p. 927, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s last recorded words
Chris Brooks presents Homeward Bound: 5 questions to help your devotions posted at Homeward Bound. Questions to help you get to the juicy goodness when your devotions take you to more difficult passages.
It is not difficult at present to talk of freedom, and to do so in such a way that a German’s passions are roused and so completely agitated that he forgets everything else. In present-day Germany there may be many like the ancient Israelites in captivity who, deeply absorbed in themselves, were able to dream of nothing but liberty, and saw great visions of it and grasped for it, until they awakened and the vision faded….p. 237, Bonhoeffer sermon in July 1932, one week before 38 percent of the German electorate voted for Hitler’s party.
Ian Spencer presents Dispensationalism and the Interpretation of Scripture Part 3: Modern Israel and Biblical Prophecy posted at Philosophical Orthodoxy. Does Modern Israel fulfill Biblical prophecy?
And there is a word that among Protestants has the sound of something infinitely commonplace, more or less indifferent and superfluous, that does not make their hearts beat faster; which they associate with a sense of boredom, or, at any rate, which does not lend wings to our religious feelings – and yet our fate is sealed if we cannot acquire a new or perhaps a very old meaning for it. Woe to us if that word does not soon become important to us again, if it does not become a matter of concern in our lives. Yes, “church” is the word whose sense we have forgotten, and whose glory and greatness we want to examine somewhat today. pp. 63-64, Bonhoeffer sermon in Barcelona
Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic….Do not defend God’s Word, but testify to it….Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity! p. 442, Bonhoeffer sermon at Finkenwalde
One should not spend a longer time in Africa without preparation, the shock is too great and increases from day to day, so that one is glad to return to Europe. p. 59, Bonhoeffer’s diary recounting a trip to Africa
It is impossible to become a new person as a solitary individual….The new person is not the individual believer who has been justified and sanctified, but the church, the Body of Christ, Christ himself. p. 455, Bonhoeffer from The Cost of Discipleship
He did a great deal to keep some of the weaker brethren from depression and anxiety. He spent a good deal of time with Wasily Wasiliew Kokorin, Molotov’s nephew, who was a delightful young man although an atheist. I think your brother divided his time with him between instilling the foundations of Christianity and learning Russian. p. 924, letter from fellow prisoner at Flossenberg, 1945
Tom Gilson presents Evolution is Easy: It Just Takes An Infinite Number of You posted at Thinking Christian. There’s an easy solution to the improbabilities of evolution, some say–just have enough worlds and it’s bound to happen. Here’s a response to one such theory.
The church must be able to say the Word of God, the word of authority, here and now, in the most concrete way possible, from knowledge of the situation, or it will say something else, something different and human, the word of impotence. Thus the church must announce no eternally valid principles, but only commandments that are true today. For what is “always” true is not true “today.” To us God is “always” God “today.” p. 255, Bonhoeffer speech at Ciernohorske Kupele
I shall soon be handing in my postdoctoral thesis…and soon I shall be going to Barcelona for a fortnight’s visit to my congregation, of which I am very fond, and I feel in general that academic work will not hold me for long. On the other hand, I think it very important to have as thorough an academic grounding as possible. p. 128, Bonhoeffer comments on his purpose in life
Bonhoeffer was all humility and sweetness; he always seemed to diffuse an atmosphere of happiness, of joy in every smallest event in life, and of deep gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive. There was something dog-like in the look of fidelity in his eyes and his gladness if you showed that you liked him. He was one of the very few men I have ever met to whom his God was real and ever close to him….In fact my feeling was far stronger than these words imply. He was, without exception, the finest and most lovable man I have ever met. p. 920, Writings of fellow prisoner in Buchenwald, Payne Best
I hear you know that we have suffered greatly and lost two sons and two sons-in-law through the Gestapo. As you can imagine, this has taken its toll on us old folk. For years, we endured the tension, the anxiety about those arrested and those who were not yet arrested but in danger. But since we all agreed about the necessity of action, and my sons were also fully aware of what they could expect if the plot miscarried, and had resolved if necessary to lay down their lives, we are sad, but also proud of ther straight and narrow attitude. We have fine memories of both sons from prison…that move both of us and their friends greatly. p. 933, Letter of Dietrich’s father, Karl Bonhoeffer