April 9th, 2012 | Tags: • Christ, church, communion of saints, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, discipleship, faithfulness, forgiveness, Germany, God, grace, history, martyrdom, WWII
“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters Papers from Prison
“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“The question of why evil exists is not a theological question, for it assumes that it is possible to go behind the existence forced upon us as sinners. If we could answer it then we would not be sinners. We could make something else responsible…The theological question does not arise about the origin of evil but about the real overcoming of evil on the Cross; it ask for the forgiveness of guilt, for the reconciliation of the fallen world ”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall / Temptation: Two Biblical Studies
“Christian community is like the Christian’s sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?…
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER was born on 4 February 1906 in Breslau. A twin, he grew up in a comfortable professional home. His father was an eminent psychiatrist and neurologist. It was nominally a Lutheran, though not a profoundly religious, environment and the young Bonhoeffer caused something of a stir when he announced, at thirteen, that he would go into the church. After school he enrolled as a student at the University of Berlin, the city in which the family now lived and in whose university there gathered a host of brilliant thinkers. Intellectually, Bonhoeffer was striking. But he was determined to expand his horizons, too. At the age of eighteen he went to Rome and was powerfully moved by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1930-1 he studied in New York, at Union Theological Seminary, and regularly attended Services at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Here too he became increasingly drawn to ecumenism. Three times he made plans to travel to India and visit Gandhi, whose life and teachings he found compelling.
In 1933 the leader of the radical, racialist Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler, became chancellor and then dictator of Germany. In power, the Nazi movement sought to create a new totalitarian state: the Third Reich. Bonhoeffer saw Nazism to be a counter- religion and a danger to Christianity. He became an active participant in the dispute which broke out in the Protestant churches between those who sympathized with Nazism and those who sensed that the new politics threatened the integrity of the church. In October 1933 Bonhoeffer moved to England to be pastor to two German-speaking parishes in the London area. Here he searched for allies and met his greatest British advocate, Bishop Bell of Chichester.
On his return to Germany, Bonhoeffer ran an illegal seminary for the so-called Confessing Church at Finkenwalde. It was shut down by the state security police in October 1937. He continued to write. In 1939 he sailed to the United States, and once again to New York. But war was imminent. He chose to return to his own country, knowing what costs may lie before him, and remarking that the victory of Nazism in Europe would destroy Christian civilization.
By then he and members of his own family had for some time been on the fringe of circles that were opposed to the Nazi regime. To Bonhoeffer, true discipleship now demanded political resistance against this criminal state. He wrote that the Christian must live maturely and responsibly in the world, and live by God’s grace, not by ideology.
He was increasingly implicated in the work of groups committed to the overthrow of the government. In March 1943 he was arrested and incarcerated. On 20 July 1944 a final attempt was made by German citizens to destroy the Hitler regime for themselves. It failed disastrously, and hundreds of political prisoners were executed afterwards. Bonhoeffer himself survived as a prisoner until 9 April 1945. He was executed only a few days before the end of the war, as the Soviet armies moved across the diminishing face of the Third Reich to victory. – Westminster Abbey, “Famous People and the Abbey” [http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/dietrich-bonhoeffer]
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