Saturday, April 09, 2016

Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~ 9 April 1945


We remember the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was assassinated 71 years ago today by order of Heinrich Himmler at the Flossenbërg concentration camp.  He was a brilliant theologian, gifted pastor, and a martyr for the Faith.  I've posted just a few quotes that were some of the organizing principles for my Master's Thesis on Ecclesiology ... take a moment to give thanks for Bonhoeffer and his life and witness.


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“The church is the hidden Christ among us.”[1] 
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer


God is concerned not only with the nations, but has a purpose for every community no matter how small, every friendship, every marriage, every family.  And in this sense God also has a purpose for the church.  There is not only the culpability of individual Germans and individual Christians, but also the culpability of Germany and of the church.  It is not enough for individuals to repent and be justified; Germany and the church must likewise repent and be justified.[2]


We are certainly not Christ; we are not called on to redeem the world by our own deeds and sufferings, and we need not try to assume such an impossible burden.  We are not lords, but instruments in the hand of the Lord of history; and we can share in other people’s sufferings only to a very limited degree.  We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer.  Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behaviour.  The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for whose sake Christ suffered.[3]

[1] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich No Rusty Swords : Letters, Lectures and Notes – 1928-1936- From the Collected Works, Volume I (Collins, London: 1965), 68.



[2] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (Minneapolis, Fortress: 1998), 119.


[3] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Letters and Papers from Prison, New Greatly Enlarged Edition (New York, Touchstone: 1997), 14.



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