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He who offers a cup of cold water to the weakest and poorest who bears no honourable name has ministered to Christ himself, and Jesus Christ will be his reward. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 246.

God’s love for man means the cross and the way of discipleship. But that cross and that way are both life and resurrection. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 244.


C. Everett Koop (1916-2013)

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop went to be with the Lord earlier today, February 25, 2013.

Born in Brooklyn, he earned the A.B. degree from Dartmouth (1937) and his medical degree from Cornell (1941). Just a year after receiving the Doctor of Science (Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania (1947), he became Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

It was there that he met Francis and Edith Schaeffer (1948). In his new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality, William Edgar tells the story:

[The Schaeffers’ daughter] Priscilla contracted a strange illness, causing her to vomit violently. At the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital the doctors were baffled. A thirty-two-year-old physician named C. Everett Koop walked into the room, examined Priscilla, and diagnosed her with “mesenteric adenitis,” a disease he had just been studying. He had learned that most often the condition could be cured by the removal of the appendix, for reasons not clear to medical science. Edith mentioned to Dr. Koop that they were moving to Switzerland to become missionaries. Koop had just become a believer through the ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church on Seventeenth and Spruce Streets. He performed the operation himself. Just before he wheeled Priscilla into the operating room, a telegram came in from Fran, who was traveling in Nashville, saying, “Dear Priscilla, Remember underneath are the everlasting arms. Love, Daddy.” Dr. Koop was deeply moved by the marvel of this kind of faith. Later, Fran [i.e., Francis Schaeffer] and he would meet and forge a friendship that led, among other things, to casting the film Whatever Happened to the Human Race?

Years later Dr. Koop explained during a Wheaton interview the way in which he would bring his Christian worldview to bear upon his own view of surgery and care for the family. He would always tell the families:

Let me assure you that if I thought that I was walking into that operating room in my own steam, my own power, my own knowledge and was going to operate upon your child—and its survival depended upon me—I wouldn’t open the door. I believe that I am a servant of the Lord and that I am going to that operating room with gifts that he has given me. But your child is in his hands, and he will guide me, and I will let you know everything I can about the future of your child.

Koop himself lost a child, David, who was a junior at Dartmouth when he died during a mountain climbing accident.

Dr. Koop became Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 1959 and Professor of Pediatrics in 1971.

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Jon Walker in his book, In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work:  Life Together writes in chapter 30 about how confession is a break-through in the community of believers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote…

In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.

Walker writes that The Big Idea of the chapter is…

Our sin hides in the darkness and whispers to us that it should remain unknown. And when we keep it in the darkness, it spreads within us like a toxin, and because we are a part of the Body of Christ, it seeps into our fellowship, eating away at obedience to Jesus. Even those who are spiritually mature can stumble into sin, and then be tempted to keep it in the dark.

Walker added:

…Bonhoeffer notes that when our sin is brought to light, it loses power over us–and over the community.

…we belong to a fellowship of sinners who live within the grace of God and so we should not fear confession because, in a community submitted to Jesus, confession brings us back in to alignment with God and one another. Our confession should, in a community submitted to Jesus, bring us in to great intimacy with each other because we are able to remove the final mask that keeps us truly knowing one another.

…To be like Jesus…

We must walk in the Light in faithful obedience to the truth that confession reduces the power of sin.

…In confession, we reveal, but God heals! 

(Jon WalkerIn Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work: Life Together, Chapter 30)

The peace of Jesus is the cross. But the cross is the sword God wields on earth. It creates division. The son against the father, the daughter against the mother, the member of the house against the head–all this will happen in the name of God’s kingdom and his peace.  

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 243.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If we have been true to Jesus in this life, he will be true to us in eternity. But if we have been ashamed of our Lord and of his name, he will likewise be ashamed of us and deny us

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 243.

The time is short, Eternity is long, It is the time of decision. Those who are true to the word and confession on earth will find Jesus Christ standing by their side in the hour of judgment. He will acknowledge them and come to their aid when the accuser demands his rights. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 243.

What did Bonhoeffer think of this century’s most influential theologian?
Dr. John D. Godsey is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and author of The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Westminster, 1960). | posted 10/01/1991 12:00AM

Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968) rocked the world of theology when he published his commentary on Romans in 1919. His focus on God as truly God and his return to Scripture “destroyed the older liberalism,” in one scholar’s words. Later, Barth helped draft the Barmen Declaration (1934) that declared the true German church could never give ultimate allegiance to the Nazi state.

How much did Barth influence Bonhoeffer, who was twenty years younger?

Bonhoeffer studied theology at the great liberal faculties of Tübingen and Berlin. At the University of Berlin, he was especially stimulated by his study of Martin Luther. But the greatest theological influence on Bonhoeffer came from the writings of a Swiss theologian who was then teaching in Germany—Karl Barth.

Bonhoeffer never studied with Barth, but he devoured his writings. Barth led the new “dialectical theology” movement that was rediscovering the great themes of the Reformation and the “strange new world” within the Bible.

Like Barth, Bonhoeffer rejected the nineteenth century’s liberal theology, with its focus on human religion. He embraced Barth’s theology of grace revealed in Jesus Christ as the Word of God, attested by Scripture and proclaimed by the church. Barth’s battle cry, “Revelation, not religion!” would remain a fundament of Bonhoeffer’s theology to the end. (But, like Luther, Bonhoeffer would stress that God’s revelation is deeply hidden “in the likeness of sinful flesh.”)

Bonhoeffer finally met Barth in the summer of 1931. “I was even more impressed by his discussion than by his writings and lectures,” Bonhoeffer said. The two remained friends, and they became allies, especially in the struggle against the “German Christian” theology that tried to amalgamate Christianity and Nazism.

But Bonhoeffer was an independent thinker. Quite early he criticized Barth for interpreting God’s freedom as more a freedom from the world than a freedom for the world.

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As is the master, so shall the disciple be, and as the Lord, so the servant. If they called Jesus a devil, how much more shall they call the servants of his household devils. Thus Jesus will be with them, and they will be in all things like unto him.

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 239-240.

Dale has worked in the transport industry since 1979 at Caterpillar and GM, lived in Troy since 1988

Bonhoeffer Biographer to Speak in Troy

Posted on February 16, 2013
New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas will speak at Woodside Bible Church at 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 19 on the life of German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The Confessing Church in Germany

Bonhoeffer became a leader of the Confessing Church in Germany, a dissident church that resisted the state-controlled German Christians.  He wrote his most famous works The Cost of Discipleshipand Life Together while teaching at the Church’s underground seminary in the 1930s.

A Visit to America

According to his friend Jean Lasserre, Bonhoeffer became a pacifist while watching the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front” in New York City. They observed American children laughing and cheering when Germans, from whose point of view the story was told, were killing the French.

Thin Theology in America

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had studied and taught with the best of German theologians and wrote home about Union Seminary, “There is no theology here …”

Bonhoeffer was disgusted with the preaching, too: “The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events.”

Metaxas writes, “the one, notable exception, Bonhoeffer again observed, was in the ‘negro churches’”, such as the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

Later he would connect the status of blacks in America with Jews in Germany.

In New York City at the time, modernism was in vogue and Harry Emerson Fosdick, a Union graduate was now the pastor of the new liberal Riverside church. Fosdick had been featured on the cover of TIME magazine; the church had been modeled after the Chartres cathedral in France.

Background – The Presbyterian Controversy

In 1922 Fosdick had preached a sermon “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Metaxas writes that in it he laid out an “Apostate’s Creed,” raising doubts about many of the basics of the historic Christian faith, including the virgin birth, the resurrection, miracles, atonement and divinity of Christ, and the Bible as the Word of God.

J. Gresham Machen fired back with “Shall Unbelief Win?” This controversy raged throughout the 1920s and 1930s and ended with some conservatives withdrawing over unbelieving missionaries being sent overseas. Whole congregations that withdrew from the Presbyterian Church lost their property much as Episcopal churches have today.

Theology and Property Battles in 2012

The historic Falls Church, founded in 1732, which gave the Virginia town its name and whereGeorge Washington attended, must leave its historic building with 75 people to take care of it while a thriving evangelical Anglican congregation of 4000 must start over by renting space in schools and other churches.

Return to Nazi Germany

In 1939 Dietrich Bonhoeffer left the safe haven of America to return to Hitler’s Germany to advance the gospel of Christ there. Bonhoeffer was also opposed to Nazi rule and Hitler’s euthanasia program.

Bonhoeffer realized that Hitler’s racism against the Jews, Poles and all other non-Aryans must be stopped. He likened it to a drunk driver on a crowded pedestrian street.

Eventually he participated in a plot to assassinate Hitler, was imprisoned, and finally was executed by the Nazis as the Allies closed in on Flossenbürg, the concentration camp he and others had been transferred to from Tegel prison in Berlin.

“The Only Good German is a Dead German”

I’d heard this said of the Native Americans – it’s understandable once the bullets start flying. There are sometimes atrocities on both sides, but mostly it’s people defending their homes and livelihoods.

When I was younger I watched “Das Boot”, the story of a U-boot crew told from the German perspective with English subtitles. I grew up on Hogan’s Heroes and of course knew that the Germans were not bumbling idiots as POW captors.

I was shocked to read in Metaxas’ biography that “The Only Good German is a Dead German” was told in the latter parts of the war in England – understandable, though, when your sons are being killed in battle in the second world war started by Germans.

From Pacifist to Conspirator

Not all Germans were Nazis; some were, and others stood by out of fear. Some just didn’t know about the Nazi atrocities, or didn’t want to know. Among the high ranking military officers some resisted the ethnic hatred of the SS and secretly plotted to stop Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels.

Hans von Dohnanyi and Admiral Canaris of the Abwehr (German military intelligence) were conspiracy leaders. Some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s family members were involved and eventually he joined in.

Fast-forward to the end of the story, told at the end of Eric Metaxas’ engaging four page introduction.

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February 2013


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