Bonhoeffer is quoted a lot. I am familiar with folks who use Bonhoeffer as part of sermon illustrations, especially if they relate to Christian discipleship. I have done that very thing myself. But reading his works provided me a new appreciation for him. Why? There did not seem to be a schism–a divide/separation/gap—between Bonhoeffer’s orthodoxy and orthopraxy. To put it perhaps too plainly, he practiced what he preached. He was not a ‘Sunday Christian’. He was a Christian.
Some folks want to continually divide over Bonhoeffer’s role and relationship to the planned assassination of Hitler. But no matter how many times I read Bonhoeffer’s writing, and I read of his fellow prisoners’ testimonies of Bonhoeffer’s faithfulness to them as pastor, theologian, suffering servant-shepherd, Christian, martyr, et al, I am moved to the depths.
He was a sinner, no doubt. His theology was imperfect. Who among us does not have blind spots? He was the first to admit his need of Christ as Savior and Lord. But he put skin in the game. He walked the walk. And he was hanged for it. And some of us still read him today. Because he was the real deal. And in a world of staggering pretense, facades, and inane superficiality that all characterize our thoroughly pagan, largely illiterate, degenerate society, it’s refreshing to see that some men knew what it meant to count the costs of being a believer and being obedient to the end.
3 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Bonhoeffer Read”
The devotional, “A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer”, is some tough reading in spots (I mean that some of what he writes is hard to understand – at least for me) but it is encouraging and makes one stop and think about one’s own responses to His call. It pulls me down to the roots of my faith much the same way that Pastor Edwards does even though his preaching is not the easiest reads either. I think we miss a lot by reading so much contemporary Christian literature while ignoring some of those who actually, as you mentioned above, had so much skin in the game. It makes it difficult to justify why I am not where I should be in my relationship with Christ. James
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Powerful words, James. I completely agree and identify with your sentiment and experience.
I watched the Bonhoeffer movie of his life years ago and remember the prayer he said for a fellow prisoner: Lord, it’s dark in me and You is day, I am alone but you will stay, I am afraid, You’ll never cease. I am at war and You is peace.