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Well, Stephen R. Haynes and Lori Brandt Hale, in their book Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians decided to begin at the beginning of Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s life…

Many recountings of Bonhoeffer’s biography begin at at the end, suggesting that the meaning of his life can only be comprehended by looking backward from his anti-Nazi resistance, imprisonment, and execution.  But wee will attempt to view Bonhoeffer’s life as it was lived–from beginning to end.  It started in a relatively idyllic time when terms such as “world war,” “fascism,” and “genocide” were not yet part of the European lexicon

(Stephen R. Haynes and Lori Brandt Hale, Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians, 1).

It is called Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians by Stephen R. Haynes and Lori Brandt Hale.  Below is a review at CBD

This latest volume in the ever-popular WJK Armchair series turns its sights on contemporary theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). Born in Breslau, Germany, Bonhoeffer led quite an intriguing life. This book, with dozens of illustrations by artist Ron Hill, highlights Bonhoeffer’s background and theological education; his time at Union Seminary in New York City; his involvement in the resistance movement against Adolf Hitler; and his participation in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned by the Nazis, who hanged him in 1945 but, thankfully, his ideas did not die with him. His life and thought continue to have an enduring impact on Christianity today.

Volume XXV (2005) Spalten 1465-1472 Columns 1465-1472 Autor: Rüdiger Weyer Author: Rüdiger Weyer

WEISSLER, Friedrich, a lawyer, born 28 April 1891,† Chorzów, Upper Silesia (now Chorzow, Poland), † 19 February 1937, Sachsenhausen. – W. was born as the son of a lawyer Adolf W. and occurs occupationally in his footsteps.

Adolf W. was born into a Jewish family, but turned away from Judaism and had his three sons, including Frederick Evangelical baptized.

In Halle an der Saale, he gained high reputation as a lawyer and notary, legal, partly because of his outstanding publications. As an ardent nationalist hurt him the humiliation of his country by the Treaty of Versailles, so much so that he was on 25 June 1919 shot. – Frederick W. has been completed at this time his legal studies and in 1914 his doctorate.

World War II, he participates as a volunteer at the military and survived numerous theaters of war without injury. In 1917, he replaced the Iron Cross, Second Class and promoted to lieutenant. After the war he joined a volunteer corps against revolutionaries.

Being quick legal path continues: Continuation of the clerkship, 1920 Assessor, 1925 as an assistant judge and magistrate in the country (so-called double Judge) in Halle / Saale, 1930 Vice Chairman of the Labor ibid. 1932 Promoted to Director at the Regional Court in the District Court of Magdeburg. Many started by his father’s publication series (including Prussian archives, book form for voluntary jurisdiction, Commentary on the land policy, which appears as short comments Beck’sche Vol 8 still without naming to W.), he continues, he also published numerous articles in legal journals. W. will be released in July 1933 from the civil service, using the so-called Aryan clause.

And although in similar cases – demonstrated excellent World War II participants ( “veterans”) of Jewish descent – was an application of the “Law for the Restoration of the Professional” is often postponed. Was the dismissal for cause is his very moderate, perhaps providing a penalty that he imposed in February 1933 against a defendant who illegally in SA uniforms appear in court, or fruitless W’s refusal to salute in March of this year, publicly endorsed the swastika flag. Mit einem Male ist er ohne Arbeit und ohne Aufgabe, seine Karriere ist abrupt beendet. Suddenly he is no work and no job, his career is abruptly ended.

In numerous petitions and complaints addressed to W. Justice, and even in the realm of the Reich Chancellery, he identifies in detail the violation of the law upon his release. W. desperate as accurate and reliable lawyer, who often began successfully for greater justice to the injustice of the state, which he will now face himself. – 1935 W. published in the journal “Young Church”, the organ of the Confessing Church, an article titled “From the legal significance of the confession.” In it he writes, inter alia, that a different yardstick is inadmissible in addition to or even above the confession, because it contradicts the sole claim to sovereignty of God.

Is a measure bekenntniswidrig, they have within the Church has no legal effect, they may go out, by whom she wanted. Otherwise, would deny the Word of God himself, by his agency to the whim of a valid secular power. “That would rule the world about God.” He turns to during those years all over Christianity and use all his legal acumen on this burning topic of the current church history. This is all the more necessary, as at 1 July 1935, a law comes into force, something beyond the ordinary courts of any jurisdiction in disputes of the church. The Confessing Church is thus largely lawless.

In the first Provisional Church (VKL), the Confessing Church W. is from November 1934 served as legal advisor in the new Provisional Administration (VL), he became in 1936 head office and head of the Office of Ecumenism and the press. May 1936, which is not initially intended for the public. It is concerned with seven major points and 28 plants with supporting documents submitted by W. contributing in large numbers, for an explanation of the VL to secularization and Christianization, destruction of religious orders and the destruction of morality and justice, abuse of the election and oaths, setting of concentration camps and lawless ravages of the state police and education on anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity.

It is the clearest voice of the Church to the Nazi state. W. takes off this time, often in conjunction with the vicar of the Confessing Church, Werner Koch, who has good contacts with the foreign press. After his transfer to the pastorate to W.-Barmen will cook their correspondent activities with the help of his Berlin-based friend Ernst Tillich further. This may be towards the end of May 1936 by W. for a night, the memorandum “for information only” type from the safe at the office.

Tillich makes a complete copy and sells them without the cook and especially without the knowledge of W’s 15 July 1936 about the Reuters news agency. June 1936 had been submitted the memorandum in the chancellery for Hitler. Tillich goes on his pass so assume that the whole matter of weeks after the handover to the main addressee is not so tricky. July The New York Herald Tribune in detail about the occasion and the contents of the memorandum, 12 days later on the front page.

July, the entire memorandum, together with a selection of the plants, which are incorporated in the text (!). September 1936 is dismissed from the service of the W. After long, painful struggles within the BK one notes that the published memorandum, against our will and without any responsibility for the Confessing Church […] in the foreign press, and thus also known in Germany “was. One seeks the “guilty” in his own ranks, even with the involvement of the Gestapo…

There they are repeatedly exposed to long interrogations. Perhaps the published version of the memorandum is incorporated with the comments but back to the Berlin-based journalist and former pastor Hermann Kötzschke. Maybe even the Gestapo had passed the memorial specifically to members of the BK then arrested on a pretext to.

Koch, W. Tillich and would then be the victim of a conspiracy like they from 13 February 1937 brings to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. Under W. prisoner number 000526 will be taken into protective custody in the block so-called 07th Da Sach. As for Jewish inmates of Sachsenhausen is not actually provided, it is the only inmate in the cell block with single cells, the “bunker”, where later incarcerated Martin Niemoller. Because nights of brutal beatings W. died in the night in February 1937. His death is initially presented as suicide. Was the dead body is released only at the insistence of the VL and under strict conditions for the funeral. While W. is not set in his prison at the intercession of BK lists, call the pastor is now in the services to for his widow and two sons do intercession.

The first “martyr” of the Confessing Church, a converted Jew.

The Finkenwalde seminarians increasingly became the avant garde in the Confessing Church; however, the young radicals and their “ringleaders” sometimes also felt this to be a burden.  But the intensified pressure from outside led to even more resolute positions (Renate Wind, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel, 115).

Their example can certainly encourage us twenty-first century Christians and pastors

In Memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Michael A. Rizzotti

February 4th 2006 marks the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A remarkable German theologian. Bonhoeffer was involved in several clandestine missions to help Jewish people escape Nazi Germany. He also participated in failed plots to overthrow and assassinate the Fuhrer. His unpatriotic actions led him to the gallows. He was executed on April 9th 1945. A few weeks before Hitler committed suicide and the end of the war.

Bonhoeffer took part in a little known resistance movement against Hitler. He had been a spy and was determined to publicize to the world the existence of Nazi concentration camps and Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. Bonhoeffer’s had also worked with contacts in England, particularly Bishop George Bell. He had hoped that the British government would show support for the resistance of which he was a part. He also tried to convince his British contacts to participate in a military coup against Hitler. History reveals that due to their distrust of him and the Germans, England’s help never materialized.

What made Bonhoeffer exceptional is that he could have taken a cushy job teaching at good University or become a minister in an affluent parish. He could have blended in with the crowd like most of his countrymen and ignore Hitler’s folly. He could have stayed in the US after his latest visit instead of returning home. However, he could not leave his family and friends behind, or abandon his country at a crucial time.

He came from a good and affluent family. His father was a well respected professor of psychiatry and neurology. His mother had obtained a university degree. A rare feat for the time. She undertook to educate her children at home and explaining that: “Germans have their backbones broken twice in life: first in schools, then in the military”.

Bonhoeffer was torn between his passion for the Word of God and the love for his country. The German Church of the time was split between the emotional grips of patriotism and the commands of the Gospels. What made Bonhoeffer stand out from all other theologians of his era was his commitment to Christ. And to this day he remains an example of what it means to be an authentic “disciple” of Jesus Christ.

Like Jesus he stood up for the outcast. He was opposed to anti-Semitism and expressed his views publicly against the racial policies of the Nazis. He stood against the predominant views of appeasement by the so-called Christian Church of his country. The Gestapo eventually caught up with him and forbid him to teach or preach. Before he finally was imprisoned he spent two years secretly teaching and supervising his students illegally in small parishes. He was arrested in April 1943. And until his death he remained a man of faith and stood steadfast against the delusion of tyranny and misplaced patriotism.

Germany was divided between a predominant German Evangelical Church and a religious right faction called the Deutsche Christen ─German Christians. The German Evangelical Church had a strong nationalist tradition and had a history of being subservient to state authority. Whereas, the German Christians became the more predominant voice of Nazi ideology. They even advocated the removal of the Old Testament from the Bible. With their help, Anti-Semitism became widespread and enthusiasm for Nazism took over Germany.

To this day many questions remain unanswered. How could a majority of Christians living in Germany not stand up to Hitler? How could they condone his racial policies? And how could they overlook the illegal invasion of other countries, justify hatred and war? The answer might lie in the art of casuistry!

Casuistry is the theological discourse that deals in resolving special moral cases of conscience especially in regards to matters of conflicting duty or responsibility. Mostly it appears in the form of sophistry: A justification of an act that is morally wrong making it appear to be morally right. For instance, the Church was able to morally justify acts violence during the Inquisition, contradicting the messages in the Gospels. It did this by diverting the issue away from the killing of innocent victims by demonizing them. The Nazi did the same thing with the Jewish people. Making them the victims and scapegoats of unresolved conflicts within their own German culture.

Bonhoeffer’s preoccupations were confronted by both theological and political issues. The racism of his country had finally convinced him that the religious traditions of his time were spiritually bankrupt. Disillusioned about his Christian contemporaries he described them as living a “religionless Christianity”. Where moral values were being replaced by cynicism and ideology. He realized that tribalism and patriotism had overtaken religion and the universal principles of true spirituality. Living the consequences of a religionless Christianity first hand from his embattled position, incarceration and execution.

In the face of his moral turmoil, Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship literally lays out his Christian position: To stand up morally against the tyranny of war, racism and hatred. Such a moral stand however has a cost. And since he was a man of his and God’s Word, he paid the price with the sacrifice of his life.

Most of all, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is among a few in history of Christianity who deserves to be called a Christian. To this day I cherish his memory, his moral example and character. He will remain an undisputable model of what is to be a “Christian”, especially amidst times of ethical and political morass.

When the Nazi state began to clamp down even tighter on the Confessing Church, the students at the Preacher’s seminary were encouraged not face the trials alone…

When the first illegal probationary ministers began their illegal service in the widely dispersed Confessing communities, a period of intensive visiting and support began: no one who offered himself as the embodiment of the true church of Christ to an uncertain future was to be left alone.  When state pressure on the Confessing Movement grew, Eberhard Bethge wrote in the Finkenwalde circular letter:

“Dear Brethren,

Let us promise ourselves that whenever the trials over the way of the Confessing Church become too strong, we will turn to a brother who stand firmly in the Council of Brethren or to Finkenwalde.  We owe this to our brotherhood”

(Renate Wind, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel, 112).

January 15, 1984 (Morning)
Bethlehem Baptist Church
John Piper, Pastor

(Hebrews 3:12-14)

Fifty years ago evangelicals in Germany formed what became known as the Confessing Church. They opposed the German Christian Church Movement sponsored by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. As Nazi dominance increased, the Confessing Church was forced underground. In 1935 the Confessing Church formed a preachers’ seminary near Zingst on the Baltic Sea, which soon moved to Finkenwalde. The principal and main teacher of the twenty five students was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 29-year-old pastor and university professor from Berlin. Bonhoeffer led the students in a disciplined life together that included daily prayers, meditation, worship, study, recreation and work. All the seminarians knew they lived on the edge of eternity in those frightening days. In September, 1937, the seminary was closed by the Nazi police, and in November the seminarians were put under arrest. That same year Bonhoeffer published a book entitled, The Cost of Discipleship, and in September of 1938 put in book form the lessons of Finkenwalde, entitled Life Together. Here we have insights into how to be Christians in a community when life is being lived on the brink. In March, 1943, Bonhoeffer participated in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was arrested April 5th, and two years later, April 9, 1945, Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Gestapo in the Flossenberg concentration camp at the age of 39.

One of his students in the Finkenwalde days recollected,

Bonhoeffer wanted a genuine, natural community in the Preacher’s Seminary, and this community was practiced in play, in walks through the richly wooded and beautiful district of Pomerania, during evenings spent in listening to someone reading …, in making music and singing, and last not least in worship together and holy communion. He kept entreating us to live together naturally and not to make worship an exception. He rejected all false and hollow sentiment. (I Knew Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p. 155.)

Bonhoeffer’s little book, Life Together, is a word for our times because we are plagued in America by a kind of laissez faire Christianity that lacks the vigorous camaraderie and discipline that unites a kingdom in wartime. We don’t have a wartime mentality and therefore our young men and women do not gather late at night in basement rooms and plot their strategies to detonate Satan’s bridgehead and liberate some of his captives. We don’t see ourselves as insurgents in the alien territory of sin planting explosives of righteousness and truth at every fortified wall; and so our eyes don’t meet with a flame of eternal friendship on Nicollet Mall and say without a word amid a thousand aliens: “You and I will die for this cause and join hands in the resurrection.” We don’t feel like a fifth column devoted with all our strength to sabotage the rule of Satan in this world; and therefore our life together is not intense but petty. There are no coded handshakes of joy, or secret passwords. And there are few tearful embraces and songs of thanks because a squad of witnesses has returned safely even bringing some liberated captives home.
Bonhoeffer’s words about “life together” have the ring of authenticity for us because they were written not at the nerve center of comfort but on the brink. They have the taste of radical commitment that all of us dream about, many of us crave and only a few pursue.

He wrote,

The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer … It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden underfoot by those who have the gift every day … Among earnest Christians in the Church today there is a growing desire to meet together with other Christians in the rest periods of their work for common life under the Word. Communal life is again being recognized by Christians today as the grace that it is, as the extraordinary, the ‘roses and lilies’ of the Christian life. (Life Together, pp. 8-10.)

Then Bonhoeffer comes to a very solemn point that I want to emphasize this morning. He writes,

If somebody asks [a Christian], Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ which assures him of salvation and righteousness. He is as alert as possible to this Word. Because he daily hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he daily desires the redeeming Word …
But God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek him and find his living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore, a Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain; his brother’s is sure. (Life Together, pp. 11-12.)

Turn with me to Hebrews 3:12. I want to show you from Scripture how true and essential Bonhoeffer’s words are for us today at Bethlehem. The question to ask yourself as we read these verses is: How important is it to live with other Christians in such a way that I can give to them and receive from them the Word of God every day?

Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.

Three observations from this tremendously important text: 1) Sin wages a constant battle to deceive and harden the hearts of professing Christians. If it succeeds, a person slips into unbelief and falls away from the living God. 2) The evidence and confirmation of whether we have any share in Christ is whether we hold our first confidence firm to the end. Hebrews sees two possibilities for professing Christians: either they hold fast their first confidence to the end and show that they have really become sharers in the life of Christ, or they become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and fall away from God with a heart of unbelief and show that they did not have a share in Christ. 3) The means appointed by God to enable the saints to persevere to the end is daily exhortation from other saints. “Exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘Today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
It is written that the saints will persevere to the end and be saved. Those who have become sharers in Christ by the new birth will hold their first confidence to the end and be saved. But one of the evidences that you are among that number is that when God reveals in his holy Word the means by which you will persevere, you take him very seriously, you thank him and you pursue those means. This text makes it very clear that the means by which God intends to guard us for salvation (I Peter 1:5) is by Christian community. Eternal security is a community project. Not just prayer, not just worship, not just the sacraments, not just Bible reading, but daily exhortation from other believers is God’s appointed means to enable you to hold your first confidence firm to the end.

One of the most important questions facing the leadership of this church is: What should we do to encourage and enable you to live together or meet together in smaller groups where you can obey this text and exhort each other with the promises and warnings and commands of Scripture? How can we make the priesthood of all believers a reality? How can we help you to form the kind of group life or community life that makes Hebrews 3:13 a fact and not a fairy tale? “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Part of the answer for us at Bethlehem is given in Hebrews 10:23-25. Here the writer is concerned not only how to help people hold fast their faith but also how to help them become ablaze with love. Faith toward God and love toward men — how shall they be stirred up and preserved?

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging (same word as in 3:13) one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The closer we get to the second coming of Christ the more we ought to meet together to encourage each other to hold fast our hope and to pour ourselves into acts of love. The text envisions not just haphazard meetings on the street but planned gatherings for the purpose of exhortation. Bonhoeffer said, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” Hebrews says: “Meet together!” “Meet together!” Meet in homes. Meet at work. Meet in restaurants. Don’t neglect meeting. How else can we exhort each other to hold fast to our confidence? How else can we stir each other up to love and good works? And when you meet, don’t throw it away with glib conversation: Consecrate it with the Word of God and prayer.
Do you see the warning in this text? “Don’t neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” Professing Christians are always in danger of forming the habit of not meeting with other Christians to encourage and be encouraged in faith and love. Have you fallen out of that habit? Are you a part of a regular gathering of Christians which is small enough so that you can give and receive personal exhortation from Scripture? Bonhoeffer was speaking Biblical truth when he said, “A Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged …”

Let me try to put this ministry in a wider context. Over the past year the pastoral staff has worked through a philosophy of ministry that shapes what we do and how we plan. That philosophy says that there are three relationships of life which every maturing believer must pursue. First and most important is your personal relationship with God, characterized by trust, devotion, worship and obedience. Second is your relationship with other believers in the body of Christ, characterized by mutual exhortation to strengthen each others’ faith and stir each other up to love. Third, and flowing out from the first two, is your relationship to unbelievers and to Christ’s global purpose of redemption, characterized by witness in words of hope and deeds of love.

Now you can see the wider context of today’s message. Last Sunday provided the Biblical foundation of priority number one: going hard after the holy God. Today provides the Biblical foundation for priority number two: helping each other endure to the end as believers. Next Sunday, Lord willing, will provide the Biblical foundation for priority three: extending to unbelievers the joy of salvation.

A radical, all out God-centeredness will remain priority number one under our leadership at Bethlehem — I don’t think you would have it any other way. That’s why we stress worship and seek to guard this one hour in the week from the ever-present encroachments of the horizontal. All our relationships with each other and with the world will be deepened and empowered and purified if in this hour we focus our minds’ attention and our hearts’ affection on God himself. Even when I preach, as I am today, about the horizontal dimension of life in Christ, l try to do it in such a way that it is not chatty or familiar, but rather has behind it the authority of God, the aroma of his sovereignty, and the tremendous seriousness of heaven and hell.

From this philosophy of ministry and from Ephesians 4:12 we believe that we are called as pastor-teachers to study the Word of God and to pray and to equip you to do the work of the ministry — ministry toward God in worship, ministry toward each other in Biblical exhortation and ministry to the world in witness. Nothing will bring us more joy than to see our people growing to maturity in each of these priorities while the Lord adds many people to the church.

We will be praying and thinking and planning in this year how we can better help you to exhort each other every day lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief. We will be studying how we can successfully urge you all to be a part of a regular meeting of Christians small enough to allow you to give and receive personal Biblical exhortation to help you fight the fight of faith and be fired up to love and good works.

In the meantime, why don’t you go ahead and take the initiative to seek out some fellow-believers. If we knew that the Gestapo was closing in on us, if we knew that at any time some could disappear from our number never to be heard from again, we would gather often in our homes and in secret rendezvous to strengthen our hands in God. And love would cover a multitude of sins, and our handshakes and embraces and the meetings of our eyes would be like gifts of roses and lilies from the bottom of the heart. Well, we are in war time. We are in enemy territory. Thousands of lives hang in the balance. The danger of hard hearts and unbelief and cool love and American luxury lurks everywhere. O, how we need to exhort one another every day to have strong confidence of victory in Christ, and to dream of new strategies of love to sabotage the enemy’s concentration camps of unbelief!

Last Friday I called Daniel Fuller in Pasadena to ask if I could quote a letter he sent me a few weeks ago. He is a priceless friend and Professor of Hermeneutics at Fuller Seminary, and son of Charles Fuller. He is a mature Christian with more knowledge of Scripture than anyone in this room. Therefore what he says should inspire all of us to obey Hebrews 3:13. He wrote,

I believe you read my exhortation about the need for churches to build situations where people can carry out the commands of Hebrews 3:13f and 10:24f. If we are really supposed to exhort each other daily, then we must have small groups meeting to help each other fight the good fight of faith. Since you are a pastor and know what it’s like to be a pastor, tell me what you think can be done to carry out these imperatives of Hebrews. Do you see any way we could get people willing to meet regularly with a few others to help themselves with the fight of faith? Your sermons help me and others much in fighting the good fight. But I need more, and I think others feel the same need … your ministry is extending to one fledgling cell group in Riverside. I am praying much that this group will not fall apart, for everybody needs to be in one. I’ve got to get into one somehow soon. I can’t fight the fight of faith alone even with the help of your very beneficial sermons. I have to have people exhorting me in a small group. Otherwise I am discarding one important ‘means of grace’ commanded by Scripture.

Your cohort to shepherd the multitudes distressed and scattered abroad, with much love,

Dan Fuller.

© COPYRIGHT 1984, 1998 John Piper.

Along with Eberhard (Bethge), Dietrich attempted a new social form: with three other candidates they founded the House of Brethren, a kind of Protestant community whose members committed themselves to do without possessions, to share goods, to celibacy, and to sacrifice for the cause of Christ in the world.

In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich wrote:

“The life of Jesus Christ on earth is not finished yet, for he continues to live in the lives of his followers”

(Renate Wind, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel, 111).


Bethgedid not come from the upper-middle class and in some ways could act as an intermediary between the director and the candidates.  He was different from Dietrich, but just as sovereign in his own way.  Later, in the prison cell in Tegel, Dietrich described the beginning and meaning of this friendship in disguised form in the fragment of a novel…

“I would rather say that at the time we first became human beings through each other…The decisive thing was not what we both lost, namely our claim to stand alone in the world as demigods, but what we gained, namely human life in community with another human being” (Renate Wind, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel, 111).

This relationship would deepen Bonhoeffer’s understanding of fellowship.

God is a God of comfort, and many times God will comfort by providing another Christian to encourage us.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer needed such a man at the Preacher’s Seminary at Finkenwalde…

Things became easier for him when after initial difficulties he struck with a member of the first course a close friendship which supported him over the next few years.  Eberhard Bethge was the ideal supplement to Dietrich, who was often so buttoned up; his fellow students recall that Eberhard had an “infectious liveliness” (Renate Wind, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel, 111).

Bonhoeffer and Bethge, though different, became very good friends.

February 2010


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