Originally posted on Christ. Literature. Culture.:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship, or the Cost of Discipleship, deserves to be read, primarily for Unknownthe first section on grace and discipleship. Bonhoeffer challenged my thinking in regards to radically pursuing Christ. The second section of the book proved to be encouraging, though I am not sure that I quite agree how Bonhoeffer uses the text of the Beatitudes. His conclusions are great, I’m just not sure if I would get there the same way. The final section, the Church, proved to be a bit more difficult to read. This section seemed ethereal, because he uses language that is not concrete in describing the nature of the church. I believe that this section reveals that Bonhoeffer’s Christology is not quite evangelical. However, because I had difficulty interpreting all that he was communicating in this section, I hesitate making that claim based on the last section of this book.

I encourage reading…

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Photo: Ned Frisk/Blend Images/Newscom

For years, those in favor of same-sex marriage have argued that all Americans should be free to live as they choose. And yet in countless cases, the government has coerced those who simply wish to be free to live in accordance with their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Ministers face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

Just this weekend, a case has arisen in Idaho, where city officials have told ordained ministers they have to celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time.

The Idaho case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, both ordained ministers, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel. Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

A week of honoring their faith and declining to perform the ceremony could cost the couple three and a half years in jail and $7,000 in fines.

Government Coercion

The Knapps have been married to each other for 47 years and are both ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. They are “evangelical Christians who hold to historic Christian beliefs” that “God created two distinct genders in His image” and “that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.”

For the rest of the article…

The Cost of Discipleship (audio)

The Cost of Discipleship (audio)
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The Cost of Discipleship (audio)

by Bonhoeffer, Dietrich

christianaudio, Fortress Press

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.

$13.58
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Overview

This book is quite simply one of the most profound and important books of the twentieth century. Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived his witness, and was both a thoughtful and engaging writer. He focuses on the most treasured part of Christ’s teaching—the Sermon on the Mount with its call to discipleship—and on the grace of God and the sacrifice which that demands. Viewed against the background of Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer’s book is striking enough. At the same time, it shares with many great Christian classics a quality of timelessness, so that it has spoken, and continues to speak powerfully, to the varied concerns of the contemporary world.

Audiobooks add new dimension to your digital library. When you listen in Logos, your audiobooks sync across devices—pause a book anytime on your home computer, then pick up where you left off in your car or on your laptop. Listen on your lunch breaks, as a family, or as part of your personal devotional time. Tap into the power of Logos Bible Software in a whole new way.

Check out the Logos edition of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 4: Discipleship for a text version.

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The high-profile resignation points to new realities for leadership.

In light of this week’s events, the PARSE editors are lifting our longstanding ban on the discussion of Mark Driscoll to share this piece from William Vanderbloemen. – Paul

This week, amidst mounting pressure, Pastor Mark Driscoll resigned his position as Senior Pastor of Mars Hill Church, which he founded in 1996 and grew to14,000 in weekly attendance over 15 campuses. His resignation was sudden, would have been unforeseen by most even a year ago. There was no sexual scandal. His board took over 1000 hours to review his work and decided that while Pastor Driscoll had made mistakes, he was not unfit for ministry and they had not called for his resignation.

This high profile a resignation as a voluntary act of a founding pastor is unprecedented. It has created a firestorm of online speculation.

Regardless of what opinion people have on Pastor Driscoll or Mars Hill Church, this resignation signals a new day in pastoral leadership, and a shift in how leadership is both validated or invalidated in at least three critical ways:

1. Social media has impacted church leadership even more than it has businesses.

There’s an undeniable pattern in church history: every major church growth breakthrough happens on the heels of a communication breakthrough.

Every major church growth breakthrough happens on the heels of a communication breakthrough.

Rome built roads, and then Paul planted churches. Alexander conquered the then known world and gave it one common language, and the New Testament was canonized in his Koine Greek. The printing press was invented, and Martin Luther put a Bible in the hands of anyone who wanted one. Now, as we sit on the heels of the most seminal communication breakthrough ever, the church is poised for enormous growth and expansion.

Mars Hill Church was one of the first churches to leverage social media to help grow a platform and a congregation (Pastor Driscoll has nearly half a million Twitter followers alone). Many other churches followed suit, and now, evangelical pastors are viewed by Twitter as powerhouses. Enough so that some time back, Twitter moved a key executive to Atlanta just to be close to the high number of evangelical pastors in the area.

But with that opportunity comes danger as well. Just as social media and the hyper connected internet age helped catapult Mars Hill onto a national scene, they also played a key role in the turbulence at the church that led to Pastor Driscoll’s resignation. Daily blogs from across the country criticized the church, the board, and/or Pastor Driscoll. Some of the most popular posts were from people who have never even attended Mars Hill.

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There’s a good piece by Andrew Walker in First Things on a popular international church network called Hillsong’s apparent equivocation on marriage. At a recent New York press conference, the ministry’s leader, Brian Houston, declined to answer whether the ministry affirms the biblical position. Instead, he stresses the church’s need to stay “relevant.”

Earlier this year the pastor of Hillsong’s New York’s congregation, the ultra hip Carl Lentz, shared similar views with CNN. His wife added: “It’s not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That’s their journey.”

Hmmm. If it’s not the church’s place to tell anyone how to live, then what is the church’s purpose? Entertainment? Affirmation? Socialization? And if it’s not the church’s role to counsel how to live, then who or what should? Perhaps it’s the central message of our age that each autonomous individual chooses his/her own path without reference to others.

But of course, absent transcendent authority, individuals, no matter how independent, hearken to temporal influences in their life choices, often the passing fads of their culture and age. Typically transient fads are not helpful, reliable guideposts for life fulfillment. So most of humanity does and has looked to religion, at least at times, for more permanent guidance.

All religion, even its most permissive forms, aims on some level to tell its adherents how to live. Otherwise it has no purpose. Certainly Hillsong preachers must fill their sermons with admonitions. A sermon from Lentz in 2013 spoke of complete surrender to Christ: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” He added: “When you take a bite of me, when you really follow me, everything in me goes in you—you can’t pick and choose.”

Indeed, but the more recent Hillsong comments imply there can be some picking and choosing, at least on sexual ethics. Perhaps the Hillsong preachers still privately adhere to Christian teaching on marriage but don’t want to risk public controversy. At his New York press conference, Pastor Houston explained:

“And to me, the world we live in, whether we like it or not is changing around and about us. Homosexual marriage is legal in [New York City] and will be probably in most Western world countries within a short time. So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church. So that’s a vexing thing. You think, ‘How do we not become a pariah?’ So that’s the world we live in.”

The challenge is that the Cornerstone, Founder and Lord of the Church was crucified as the ultimate despised pariah, and He warned that His followers would often be pariahs. Yet somehow this collection of pariahs, across the centuries, in every culture, preaching the Gospel of an executed but risen pariah, has made His message the most “relevant” message of all time, everywhere.

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Two New Books: Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus

I’d like to mention two new books on Bonhoeffer.

I haven’t read Reggie Williams’s book, Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance, but I did hear him speak at a Bonhoeffer Conference in November 2011 at Union Theological Seminary and have little doubt this will be a fascinating read. As I remember, both he and John de Gruchy talked about how blacks in both the US and South Africa, de Gruchy’s home, already understood Bonhoeffer’s theology of a view from below: it was whites who needed to understand this perspective. de Gruchy and Williams theorized that whites could absorb this theology from a well-heeled German male schooled in a European theological traditional in a way they couldn’t from blacks or other marginalized groups. In addition, the influence of Harlem on Bonhoeffer is an area that deserves more focus. Bonhoeffer immersed himself in black literature and culture while in the US, and clearly made a connection between American oppression of blacks in the 1930s and the National Socialist treatment of Jews.  I have included the Amazon blurb below:

“Williams follows Bonhoeffer as he defies Germany with Harlem’s black Jesus. The Christology Bonhoeffer learned in Harlem’s churches featured a black Christ who suffered with African Americans in their struggle against systemic injustice and racial violence—and then resisted. In the pews of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, under the leadership of Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Bonhoeffer absorbed the Christianity of the Harlem Renaissance. This Christianity included a Jesus who stands with the oppressed rather than joins the oppressors and a theology that challenges the way God can be used to underwrite a union of race and religion.”

I have read Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together and can recommend it as a solid, well written book with a strong focus on a ministry that helped lay the groundwork for Bonhoeffer’s seminaries.

Bonhoeffer Against the World

Image: Mike Benny
Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Book Title:

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has always been one of my great heroes of the faith. Such appreciation, of course, hardly makes me distinct. Bonhoeffer, the German pastor-theologian who opposed the Nazis and was executed in a concentration camp, is passionately admired by millions of Christians.

One could even compare him to Athanasius, the defender of Christ’s divinity whose brave stance also drew state persecution. The fourth-century bishop’s unflinching willingness to defy even emperors and their armies was honored with the title “Athanasius contra mundum” (against the world).

Charles Marsh’s welcome biography, Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Knopf), paints a painstaking portrait of a faithful disciple every bit as resolute against Aryanism as Athanasius was against Arians. Marsh’s exquisite eye for detail reveals the sheer unlikelihood of Bonhoeffer’s emergence as the boldest opponent of efforts to Nazify the German church.

Athanasius was bishop of Alexandria, the most powerful ecclesiastical figure in the Eastern empire. He wielded so much influence that emperors were afraid of opposing him too forcefully, lest they provoke a popular uprising.

But what power did Bonhoeffer wield in 1933? He was 27 years old, financially dependent on his parents, and virtually bereft of experience in the working world. His sole professional appointment was an unpaid, non-tenure-track position as a voluntary lecturer. Adjunct professors don’t normally stand athwart emperors.

Yet Bonhoeffer did. Within weeks of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer declared in public that the Führer was offering a false path to salvation—and, in private, that Hitler was an antichrist. When the Nazis called for ethnically Jewish Christians to be expelled from the churches, he alone insisted that the gospel was at stake. (Initially even Karl Barth, like other anti-Nazi dissenters who founded the Confessing Church, claimed that this was merely a question of church order, not a theological issue.) Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia, makes a convincing case that by 1933, Bonhoeffer was the most radical and outspoken opponent of Nazi church policy.

Quirky Humanity

I have read numerous books on Bonhoeffer. I have also seen documentaries and dramatizations and visited commemorative sites in Germany. For me, one of Marsh’s greatest contributions is putting on display the quirky humanity of his subject. If you are used to accounts that emphasize the mythic Bonhoeffer of faith, this one will help you grapple with the eccentric Bonhoeffer of history.

To take a trivial example, Bonhoeffer was endearingly preoccupied with dressing well. You could illustrate almost every momentous turning point in his life with sartorial commentary. When he takes a pastoral internship in Spain, he bombards the senior minister with written inquiries regarding the proper formal wear for dinner parties. The poor, overworked man eventually remarked sarcastically that the new intern should bring his preaching robe.

For the rest of the post…

 

Unity With the Persecuted

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).

<img src=”http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=8&c2=15579784&c3=65203&c15=&cv=2.0&cj=1″ />saAddressing the “In Defense of Christians” (IDC) summit on Wednesday morning, September 10, U.S. Representative Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) declared that every “freedom-loving man, woman, and child must be engaged” in the fight to defend persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Would that members of the media, particularly Christian and/or conservative journalists, had actually been engaged in this fight to defend religious minorities for a while! If they had been, they would be able to write more knowledgeably about the scourge of global jihad. They would have had experience with U.S. political leaders that have actually given more than lip service to the issue of religious persecution. And they would have known that Texas Senator Ted Cruz is regarded as a strong advocate for persecuted Christians, as well as for Israel, by those of us who actually spend our days and years working on behalf of the persecuted.

If that had been the case, IDC’s Wednesday evening gala with Cruz as keynote speaker might not have become such an issue. As it was, though, the messages given by other speakers in the remaining hours of the summit such as the terrific keynote on Thursday by Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy author Eric Metaxas, have been all but ignored by the media. They preferred to go after Cruz for what they perceived as his insensitivity to Middle Eastern Christians. Metaxas’ speech (sermon, really) was important in its own right, but was also important as a response to what took place the night before, over the gala dinner of braised short ribs of beef and Chilean sea bass.

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Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
by Charles Marsh
knopf, 528 pages, $35

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s appeal is no mystery: charismatic pastor, brilliant theologian, dedicated ecumenist, and anti-Nazi conspirator whose death at the age of thirty-nine terminated a life still ripe with promise. Interest in him in the English-speaking world blossomed when his prison writings first appeared in translation, and it has only grown with time. In recent years, however, that legacy has been complicated by those who have exploited his moral prestige by inducting him into the culture wars currently dividing the churches.

Admittedly, Bonhoeffer, a man of many turns, lends himself to a number of widely different readings. Do we favor the student of Harnack or the devotee of Barth? The pacifist or the conspirator to kill Hitler? The child of privilege who never lost his taste for the finer things or the man who identified with the marginalized and the outcast? The celebrator of the earthy sensibility of the Old Testament or the proponent of “a new kind of monasticism” who never married?

Charles Marsh’s Strange ­Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer approaches these questions on Bonhoeffer’s terms rather than our own. Marsh, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, gives us a sympathetic and theologically informed portrait that emphasizes Bonhoeffer’s close and enduring ties to Christian orthodoxy, but also his restless curiosity and experimentalism. This balance extends to his treatment of Bonhoeffer’s personal life, which gives us the man in full, freed from sentimental projections.

Marsh has the right idea in bringing Bonhoeffer down to earth. Hagiography is not history, and Bonhoeffer’s story is so compelling that apotheosis is hard to resist. It’s refreshing to be reminded that not everyone who met the zealous young advocate for life in community and the Sermon on the Mount was ­equally impressed—Hardy Arnold, son of the founder of the pacifist Bruderhof near Frankfurt, thought Bonhoeffer a bit of a dandy and a romantic when Bonhoeffer visited there in 1934. We learn about Bonhoeffer’s fussiness about dress, his financial dependence on his parents (to the point of mailing his laundry home), and his pleasure in traveling first class. These habits weren’t dented by the Depression, from which he seems to have been wholly insulated. But none of this is a serious mark against the overall character of the man, whom Marsh regards with unabashed affection and profound respect.

That applies too to his candid presentation of Bonhoeffer’s friendship with Eberhard Bethge, his former student, collaborator, interlocutor, and eventual relative after Bethge married Bonhoeffer’s niece Renate. Readers of this review probably know by now that Marsh treats the friendship as a de facto love affair, at least from Bonhoeffer’s side. On the evidence he presents, in the form of quotations and accounts of various incidents, the characterization is convincing. This was a rich and deep friendship, and its intensity did not lack a certain erotic charge. I don’t know how that can come as a great surprise to anyone with much experience in human friendship, whether same-sex or different-sex. Simply put, Bonhoeffer was in love. While we should hesitate to pass an anachronistic judgment on his behavior, we can at least restrain the celebrations of his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, as his true love, the heroine for the perfect hero—celebrations that were inspired by the publication of their correspondence in Love Letters from Cell 92. Von ­Wedemeyer would never match the role that Bethge played in ­Bonhoeffer’s intellectual and ­emotional life.

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Bonhoeffer on abortion

Matthew Schmitz quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, emphasizing how the theologian is forcefully pro-life, while also speaking pastorally about those who commit this sin.

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And this is nothing but murder.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2014/09/bonhoeffer-on-abortion-2/#ixzz3G9W9yWq7

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