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Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45) was a German theologian and pastor who spoke out against the Nazi regime during World War II. His resistance against Hitler’s regime culminated with him being hung in a concentration camp at Flossenbürg.

Today, Bonhoeffer’s works are loved by many. His writing, despite time, is still youthful, enlightening, and inspirational.

Additionally, Bonhoeffer is most known for his rich writing on discipleship. In celebration of the Easter season, we thought it would be timely to share his comments on discipleship and the cross. [Plus, we asked if you all wanted to read something from Bonhoeffer on our Instagram account. The answer was a resounding: YES!]

So, check out Mark 8:31–38 because it’s the passage Bonhoeffer discusses in the following excerpt. Then… read and be encouraged!


The call to discipleship is connected here with the proclamation of Jesus’ suffering. Jesus Christ has to suffer and be rejected. God’s promise requires this, so that scripture may be fulfilled. Suffering and being rejected is not the same. Even in his suffering, Jesus could have been the celebrated Christ. Indeed, the entire compassion and admiration of the world could focus on the suffering. Looked upon as something tragic, the suffering could in itself convey its own value, its own honor, and dignity. But Jesus is the Christ who was rejected in his suffering. Rejection removed all dignity and honor from his suffering.

It had to be dishonorable suffering.

Suffering and rejection express in summary form the cross of Jesus. Death on the cross means to suffer and die as one rejected and cast out. It was by divine necessity that Jesus had to suffer and be rejected. Any attempt to hinder what is necessary is satanic. Even, or especially, if such an attempt comes from the circle of disciples because it intends to prevent Christ from being Christ.

The fact that it is Peter, the rock of the church, who makes himself guilty doing this just after he has confessed Jesus to be the Christ and has been commissioned by Christ, shows that from its very beginning the church has taken offense at the suffering Christ. It does not want that kind of Lord, and as Christ’s church, it does not want to be forced to accept the law of suffering from its Lord. Peter’s objection is his aversion to submitting himself to suffering. That is a way for Satan to enter the church.

Satan is trying to pull the church away from the cross of its Lord.

So Jesus has to make it clear and unmistakable to his disciples that the need to suffer now applies to them, too. Just as Christ is only Christ as one who suffers and is rejected, so a disciple is a disciple only in suffering and being rejected, thereby participating in crucifixion. Discipleship as allegiance to the person of Jesus Christ places the follower under the law of Christ, that is, under the cross.

For the rest of the post…

Note: What do you think? I believe we need to be careful what statements we put on church signs. ~ Bryan

The other day, I posted this picture of a church sign created by someone who clearly lacked self-awareness.

17879957_10155204924134568_315700429073642464_oI had so many questions for the pastor who signed off on this…

Did he think the torture of Jesus was funny?

Was he trying to be cool and hip? (Because he was neither.)

Who was he trying to impress?

I had no clue. But the only thing the sign seemed good for was giving atheists a good laugh.

My Patheos colleague Jonathan Aigner, an evangelical Christian, didn’t get it either. He thought it was in bad taste, at the very least, so he left a message saying as much on the Facebook page for . This isn’t what he sent them, but it summarized his concerns:

It’s an obvious pun, when humor is clearly inappropriate. We’re talking about murder, and not just any murder, we’re talking about the violent, grotesque crucifixion of our beautiful Savior. While these good Baptists may have meant it well, there’s an inescapable glibness in the words.

The church definitely saw his message because this happened not long after he pressed “Send”:

About 20 minutes later, the phone in my office rang. “Hello, this is Jonathan,” I answered as usual, expecting to hear a choir member with a question, or perhaps a return call from that publisher I’d recently contacted.

Nope. It was none other than Living Hope’s pastor, whom I do not know. He had apparently found my name, looked me up, and called me at my office. I was dumbfounded.

He didn’t really seem angry. He was confused. Incredulous, even. “This is straight from Scripture. I can’t believe someone would think this was in bad taste.”

It gets even more interesting from there, and I would urge you to read about their conversation here.

When it comes down to it, though, it looks like the church tried to “sell” the story of Jesus to an otherwise uninterested audience and chose an awful way to get the message across.

They also issued a statement on Facebook Thursday night. There’s no apology or even any acknowledgement that it came across the wrong way. They basically said that Jesus getting nailed to the cross is in the Bible (get it? GET IT?) as if that’s supposed to clear everything up.

For the rest of the post…

Good Morning!

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday! We get to celebrate the greatest event in history: the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead!

Worship begins at 10:15 am. There will be special music and a children’s sermon (no Children’s Church). I will preach about the resurrection and how it can make a difference in our lives based on Matthew 28:1-10.

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

Pastor Bryan

By Trevin Wax


April 5, 2015


(See the previous post: My Jesus – Dead.)

Mary Magdalene went
and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord!” 
(John 20:18)


He is alive! This man from Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the world.

With the breath of creation, He speaks of peace, faith, and mission.

With lungs full of air, He breathes on His disciples and grants His Spirit. My Jesus – alive!

The eyes that saw the darkness of death now drink in the sunlight of Easter. My Jesus – alive!

The arms that hung from a cross of wood now embrace a a world of grief. My Jesus – alive!

The hands that bear the scars of love now lift the head of doubters. My Jesus – alive!

The ears that were deafened by death are now filled with the joy of God’s people. My Jesus – alive!

The lips that that cried out, “Finished!” now promise ”I make all things new!” My Jesus – alive!

The voice that lay silent in the grave now sings the song of life. My Jesus – alive!

The feet that were wrapped in grave clothes now stroll the shores of Galilee. My Jesus – alive!

The heart that bled for sinfulness now beats again in righteousness. My Jesus – alive!

The Bread from heaven, a feast for earth.

The Light of the world, chasing away the shadows.

For the rest of the post…


In a new piece for Christianity Today online, Andreas Köstenberger and I look at Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon. Here is a comment on the role of the women that may be helpful to remember:

As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail.

In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law.

Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable “because of the levity and boldness of their sex.”

Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a “hysterical female . . . deluded by . . . sorcery.”

This background matters because it points to two crucial truths.

For the rest of the post…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes an Easter letter to his parents during his first month in prison. He is allowed to send one letter every ten days. He refers to his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, who was about 19 at the time. He was about 37 when he wrote the letter.

Easter Sunday, April 25, 1943

Today the tenth day is finally here again, so that I may write to you. How glad I am to let you know that I am celebrating a happy Easter here. The liberating thing about Good Friday and Easter is that one’s thoughts turn far away from one’s personal fate toward the ultimate meaning of life, suffering, and everything that happens, and one clings to a great hope.

Since yesterday it has been amazingly quiet in this prison house. The only sound heard is “Happy Easter” as everyone calls to each other with no envy, and no one begrudges the fulfillment of their Easter wishes to those who labor here in these difficult conditions.

Good Friday was Maria’s birthday. In the past year she bore the death of her father, her brother, and two especially beloved cousins with such a firm heart. If I didn’t know that, I would worry about her. Now Easter will console her, her large family will stand by her, and her work in the Red Cross will keep her completely occupied.

Greet her warmly, tell her that I long for her very much. Tell her not to be sad but brave as she has been til now. She is so very young! That is the hard part.

For Link…

Apr 4, 2010

He is Risen!

Here is an empty post in remembrance of an empty tomb.

Posted by Charles at 7:00 AM

April 7, 2006

Palm Sunday, April 9, will mark the 61st anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death. Bonhoeffer, a 20th century German Lutheran pastor who was executed for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, wrote The Cost of Discipleship, among other volumes, on the demands of Christian calling and witness. His faith and theology continue to inform us as to the meaning of the cross: both suffering and hope.

Recently the Minnesota Public Radio series Speaking of Faith dealt with Bonhoeffer, and I downloaded a podcast of the program. The show’s host, Krista Tippett, interviewed Martin Doblmeier, the producer of the film Bonhoeffer. The documentary, which was shown in small theatres across the country, had its public television premiere in February of this year, the 100th anniversary of Bonhoeffer’s birth. I’ve listened to the podcast several times. When my daily runs have taken me through wind and snow or rain, I’ve found them easier when I’ve been totally absorbed in something as profound and challenging as Bonhoeffer’s life and faith. The podcast inspired me to view Doblmeier’s movie. All that is to say that I’ve been immersed in Bonhoeffer of late.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to assassinate Hitler has always challenged me. Bonhoeffer entered that conspiracy even as he continued to espouse a pacifist position and insist that violence is inconsistent with the gospel. Seeing the documentary helped me to place his decision in a historical context. We know that Jews and others were rounded up and forced in concentration camps. It is chilling to hear in the documentary Hitler’s use of religious imagery and Christian symbolism and his screaming prayers to God, to rally “good” people to his cause. The stakes were very high for those who claimed to follow Jesus, who resisted the established Church’s acquiescence to Hitler’s brand of Christianity.

In his interview with Tippett, Doblmeier describes how he learned in high school about Bonhoeffer. His religion teacher gave Doblmeier’s class a copy of Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. Doblmeier says, “I fell in love with the book. I took it to the baseball field; I read it in the dugout. I couldn’t put it down. I read it again and again, and within a couple of weeks, I was offering myself to go to social justice programs, to get involved in soup kitchens that the school was doing, and I think, in part, it’s part of the reason why I decided that I wanted to study religion when I went to the university.” Bonhoeffer’s witness of faith changed Doblmeier’s life.

The book I was reading at the time is Diana Butler Bass’s The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church (Alban, 2004). At one point she describes how she would never “forget the first time I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” She was a college student at the time and The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together had a tremendous impact upon her and her faith, as Bonhoeffer had on Doblmeier’s. (Neither Butler Bass nor Doblmeier are ordained clergy.)

Like Doblmeier, she says, “I realized that as a young adult I wanted authentic Christianity, coherence of message and practice, and the transforming power of God in community.” She goes on to reflect that she has been surprised at how many people have been affected by Bonhoeffer.

In this Holy Week, as we live out of the passion narrative, let us all renew our own need for authentic and challenging discipleship. Young people, the “nones” (who have no religious affiliation), longtime Christians, clergy, and laity hunger and thirst for a discipleship that matters as much in our historical context as it did to Bonhoeffer in his. We all have a responsibility to make that kind of discipleship a part of our faith as well as the witness of our church and its ministry.

The closing days of Bonhoeffer’s life are like the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday brought forward 1,900 years in another politically and religiously charged time. On the morning of April 9, Bonhoeffer led prayers with his fellow prisoners. The guards came and said, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, get ready and come with us.” He hastily wrote a message to his family and friends: “This is the end, for me the beginning of life. . . .” He walked to his execution, where he was killed with five other members of the resistance group—some of them his own relatives.

Yet there’s an Easter image in his final days. The film depicts that shortly before his last week, Bonhoeffer’s fiancée, Maria, came to visit him. They were made to sit side by side on a sofa, talking loudly enough for the guards to hear their every word, and not touching. When the visit was declared over, Maria went to the door at one end of the room and Bonhoeffer was taken to the door at the other end. Just as Maria was about to go out of the room, she turned and ran across the room, away from the reach of the guards, and rushed into Bonhoeffer’s arms—an image of human love.

Bonhoeffer said that living a Christian life is to be engaged in this world, “living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God”—an image of trust in divine love.

When the time came, Bonhoeffer threw himself completely into the arms of God, as Jesus did on the cross.

May the passion narrative of this Holy Week enliven your passion for an authentic faith and a life of discipleship.

May the hope of Easter allow you to throw yourself unreservedly into the arms of God.

April 2019
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