Saturday, February 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
was born 106 years ago today. He was born on February 4, 1906. He is one of the world's greatest pastor-theologians. His prophetic voice and passion for justice provide a cogent example to the contemporary Church. As a leader of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer was arrested in April of 1943 and eventually executed on April 9, 1945 - just 23 days before the Nazis surrendered.

Bonhoeffer was a prolific writer and has contributed many important books to the conversation of the Church. In honor of this incredible follower of Jesus, here is a collection of quotes. If you have a favorite Bonhoeffer quote, please share in the comments section.

"The pauline question whether circumcision is a condition of justification seems to me in present-day terms to be whether religion is a condition of salvation." - [Witness to Jesus Christ, ed. John De Gruchy, 278]

" 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 5:10). ... With this beatitude Jesus thoroughly rejects the false timidity of those Christians who evade any kind of suffering for a just, good, and true case because they supposedly could have a clear conscience only if they were to suffer for the explicit confession of faith in Christ. ... Jesus cares for those who suffer for a just cause even if it is not exactly for the confession of his name; he brings them under his protection, takes responsibility for them, and addresses them with his claim. Thus the person persecuted for a just cause is led to Christ. Thus it happens that such people, in the hour of their suffering and responsibility - perhaps for the first time in their lives, in a way that is strange and surprising to themselves, but nevertheless as a most deeply felt necessity - call upon Christ and confess themselves to be Christian..." - [Ethics, 346-347]

"The best wisdom is recognizing the cross of Jesus Christ as the insuperable love of God for all people, for us as well as for our enemies. ... The cross is nobody's private property, but belongs to all; it is intended for all humanity. ... remember that God hung on the cross for your enemy too, and love God as God loves you." - [A Testament to Freedom, 286-286]

"... Our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. ... The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God." - [Letters and Papers from Prison, 360]

"And we cannot be honest unless we recognize that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur [even if there were no God]. And this is just what we do recognize - before God! God himself compels us to recognize it. So our coming of age leads us to a true situation before God. God would have us know that we must live as men who manage our lives without him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34). The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God. God lets himself be pushed out of the world to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt. 8:17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering." [Witness to Jesus Christ, 112-113]

"The space of the church is the place where witness is given to the foundation of all reality in Jesus Christ. The church is the place where it is proclaimed and taken seriously that God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ, that God so loved the world that God gave his Son for it. The space of the church is not there in order to fight with the world for a piece of its territory, but precisely to testify that the world is still the world, namely, the world that is loved and reconciled by God." - [Ethics, 63-64]

"The first call which every Christian experiences is the call to abandon the attachments of this world." - [The Cost of Discipleship]

"In Christ the form of humanity was created anew. What was at stake was not a matter of place, time, climate, race, individual, society, religion, or taste, but nothing less than the life of humanity, which recognized here its image and its hope. What happened to Christ happened to humanity." - [Ethics, 96]

"Here is the decisive difference between Christianity and all religions. Man's religiosity makes him look in his distress to the power of God(!) in the world: God is the deus ex machina. The Bible directs man to God's powerlessness and suffering; only the suffering God can help." - [Letters and Papers from Prison, 361]

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