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German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer loved the Bible. As he pursued his studies as a theologian, he deliberately read the Bible with pause and reflection. David Mcl. Gracie writes in the Introduction of Meditating on the Word by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that Bonhoeffer’s meditation probably led to his conversion:

“Regular, meditative reading of the Bible was practiced by Bonhoeffer from the time when the time when, as a young theologian, he became a Christian. ”Becoming a Christian’ seems, in fact, to have been the result of his discovering the Bible as the personal message of God’s love for us. When we read his biography, as well as key passages (Psalms 37, 119)…(and) it seems that the text from the Epistle of James is most appropriate to describe Bonhoeffer’s spirituality. He received with meekness the the implanted Word, which was able to save his soul” (10).

The meditation of God’s Word became a crucial part of Bonhoeffer’s spirituality. In the coming days, we will look further into his regular practice of scripture meditation.

Until then, let us all delight ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37.4).

Bryan

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Tonight at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska is a typical Wednesday. At 5:45 pm, there is a church dinner. At 6:45, there is the children’s clubs program. Middle School youth group meets at 7:00; and the adults will meet in the sanctuary for Bible Study and Prayer.

What would Dietrich Bonhoeffer think about such an arrangement? Well, I would like to think that the emphasis placed on the Word of God in several age groups is a good thing. Bonhoeffer placed a high premium on the Bible.

He, himself, spent much time in study and meditation of the scriptures.

May we do the same.  

At least once a week, I post a reminder about the purpose of this this blog about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is to share with my fellow pastors and preachers the impact that Dietrich Bonhoeffer can have on our preaching and our lives. There are six reasons why Bonhoeffer can make a difference in twenty-first century preaching:

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer placed a high premium on the meditation of the Scriptures (posted on 02/25/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer stressed the importance of Christian fellowship (posted on 03/03/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer emphasized a non-compromising faith (costly grace) (posted on 03/10/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood against evil in society (posted on 03/17/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer exemplifies serving Jesus in the severest of trials (posted on 03/24/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced the grace of living well and dying well (posted on 04/01/08).

The creation of this blog and the feedback I receive from those who visit it will help me in the completion of my Doctor of Ministry degree through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. My D.Min. track is called The Preacher & the Message“. It is under the leadership of Dr. Haddon Robinson (picture on the right). 

Thank you for the feedback.

It is important that I continue to receive feedback. You can click the “Evaluation Form” at the top of the page or leave a comment on any post. You may also e-mail me, if your desire, at bryan@harveyoaksbaptist.org.

Your brother in the Lord,

Bryan Galloway

A couple of years ago, BBC News Magazine published an article on Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s involvement in the resistance against Adolf Hitler. While some details are left out, it is a pretty good read…

Many people might have no doubts about being prepared to kill Hitler. But what if you were a prominent theologian? A noted pacifist? What then? That was exactly the dilemma that faced Dietrich Bonhoeffer, born 100 years ago, and one that led to his own death.

In the grey early morning of 9 April 1945, only weeks before the end of the war in Europe, a 39 year-old German Lutheran pastor was led naked to the gallows at Flossenbürg concentration camp in Bavaria.

As he walked to his death, he could hear the American artillery, the liberators who would arrive just 11 days later.

An SS prison doctor, who witnessed the scene, described the condemned man “kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God”.

Click to read the rest of the article.

In June of 1939, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was invited to to leave Germany for a teaching position at Union Seminary in New York. He accepted the position and made the trip across the Atlantic.  However, once he arrived, it didn’t take long for him to realize that he made a mistake.

How could remain in the United States during the war when his own people were suffering? His struggle is seen in part of the June 9 entry of his diary:

“…Great projects always simply lead us to where we stand ourselves. But we ought only be found where He is. Indeed we can be nowhere else than where  He is. Whether you are working over there, or I in America, we are all only where He is…Or have I run away from Him after all, from the place He expects me to be? The place where He is for me?” (quoted in Larry L. Rasmussen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Reality and Resistance, 59).

Bonhoeffer only stayed in the United for one month before he returned to Germany with a renewed determination to take a more active role in the resistance against Hitler. His involvement would ultimately lead to his arrest and execution.

I sometimes think about the possibility that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not executed. Imagine if Bonhoeffer stayed in America and comfortably taught in a Seminary for the remainder of the war. Imagine if he lived another 30, 40 or 50 years. Think of all the additional books and articles that he could write.

It is fun to imagine. But I also believe his impact in the world and on the church would be far, far less.

Bryan

Today, I ran across yet another site about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is bonhoefferstudies.com.  It is dedicated to the research of Bonhoeffer. Students can submit their work to be posted. Even annual awards are given to the best research on graduate and undergraduate work.

Again, this tells us that interest in Bonhoeffer is not going to fade away anytime soon.

What is it about Dietrich Bonhoeffer that causes us to read his works and learn more about him? Why are there blog sites and web pages devoted to his life and writings? Why are there annual conferences focused on him?

W. A. Visser ‘T Hooft wrote: “All over the world people who are trying to find meaning and joy in life, despite the disorder of the world, are listening attentively to what (Bonhoeffer) says, because he was granted the great opportunity of confirming his message through his life and death” (quoted in Stephen R. Haynes, The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon: Portraits of a Protestant Saint, 98).

If I understand that quote, then at least one reason we are attracted to Bonhoeffer is because he lived and died in such a way that backed up his teachings on following Jesus.

What do you think?

Bryan

The purpose of this blog is to get the word out that Dietrich Bonhoeffer can make a difference in the lives of preachers who proclaim the Word of God in the twenty-first century. For that to occur, the work and life of Bonhoeffer must somehow change how we live. The deeper meaning of this is that the Holy Spirit can use Bonhoeffer to shape our hearts. His writings are not scripture.

Yet, his Christ-like example and scripture-rich writings can be used by God to encourage us in the twenty-first century.

So, I encourage you to read of this German pastor who stood for the cause of Jesus in Nazi Germany.

One of the resources I used in my work on my Doctor of Ministry degree about the impact of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on twenty-first century preaching and preachers was Mark DeVine‘s book, Bonhoeffer Speaks Today: Following Jesus at All CostsI found the book to be very helpful and practical. Below is a review by Steve Baker… 

In the author’s introduction, DeVine qualifies the title by specifying that his work is an attempt to apply certain aspects of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thought to the contemporary religious life of evangelical Christians. He acknowledges that this specificity is somewhat problematic in itself. This is due to the difficulties of defining evangelical in today’s church environment. In fact, I would further qualify his intent by saying that it seems pointed most directly toward certain “popular” elements of contemporary American evangelical Christian life. In the end, DeVine accomplishes much of what he sets out to do. Most importantly, he does so in a way that is accessible not only to well read clergy but the serious lay audience as well.

The first chapter consists of a brief overview of the life and work of Bonhoeffer as a way of giving historical context to the application in the following chapters. This reader found the chronology a bit confusing at times. It left me wanting a fuller treatment of his life, particularly the last decade when Bonhoeffer found himself increasingly entangled in German church struggles and state intrigue. Perhaps this was due to the limitations of space in such a work as this. At any rate, this is not a major impediment to grasping the critique that Bonhoeffer’s work brings to popular American evangelicalism.

To read the rest of the review… 

I have to admit that I am having a blast working on this blog about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. What is my purpose? It is to share with my fellow pastors and preachers the impact that Dietrich Bonhoeffer can have on our preaching and our lives. There are six reasons why Bonhoeffer can make a difference in twenty-first century preaching:

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer placed a high premium on the meditation of the Scriptures (posted on 02/25/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer stressed the importance of Christian fellowship (posted on 03/03/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer emphasized a non-compromising faith (costly grace) (posted on 03/10/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood against evil in society (posted on 03/17/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer exemplifies serving Jesus in the severest of trials (posted on 03/24/08).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced the grace of living well and dying well (posted on 04/01/08).

The creation of this blog and the feedback I receive from those who visit it will help me in the completion of my Doctor of Ministry degree through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. My D.Min. track is called The Preacher & the Message“. It is under the leadership of Dr. Haddon Robinson (picture on the right). 

I love the feedback from you. Your comments have stretched me, and I know that many know more about Bonhoeffer than I. I will continue to learn.

It is important that I continue to receive feedback. You can click the “Evaluation Form” at the top of the page or leave a comment on any post. You may also e-mail me, if your desire, at bryan@harveyoaksbaptist.org.

As Always, Thank you,

Bryan Galloway

April 2008
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