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Earlier this month, I posted that on June 17, 1940 (the day France surrendered to Germany), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was with his close friend Eberhard Bethge “in the Baltic village of Memel. They were relaxing in an “open-air café when suddenly a special announcement came over the loudspeaker that France had surrendered. This moment was a defining point for Bonhoeffer! Bethge “asserts that Bonhoeffer’s ‘double life’ truly began. This Confessing Church pastor and theologian became deeply involved in the resistance movement against Hitler and the Nazis.”
For the next three years, until his arrest on April 5, 1943, Bonhoeffer lived an unsettled life. He became a courier for the resistance group operating out of the Office of Military Intelligence (the Abwehr), even as he continued to teach and minister to the young seminarians and pastors of the Confessing Church.
DB was a seminary professor and involved in the resistance movement against Hitler. He was dedicated in preparing young men for the ministry and he was dedicated in stopping the Fuhrer.
Earlier this month, I post that on June 17, 1940 (the day France surrendered to Germany), Dietrich Bonhoeffer was with his close friend Eberhard Bethge “in the Baltic village of Memel. They were relaxing in an “open-air café when suddenly a special announcement came over the loudspeaker that France had surrendered. Bethge wrote:
The people around the tables could hardly contain themselves; they jumped up, and some even climbed on the chairs. With outstretched arms, they sang “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles” and the Horse Wessel song. We stood up, too Bonhoeffer raised his arm in the regulation Hitler salute, while I stood there dazed. “Raise your arm! Are you crazy?” he whispered to me, and later: “We shall have to run risks for very different things now, but not for that salute!”
This was a turning point for DB! Bethge “asserts that Bonhoeffer’s ‘double life’ truly began. This Confessing Church pastor and theologian became deeply involved in the resistance movement against Hitler and the Nazis.”
Wow! I have had numerous discussions with people over the years about why a Christian like Bonhoeffer could take an active role in the resistance. Many are troubled because Jesus said to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43).
I have struggled other it was well. Yet, we were not there. DB was! And somehow, he joined the resistance to stop a mad-man from murdering innocent people. Somehow, DB reconciled being a disciple of Jesus and plotting to kill Hitler.
from chapter 4 in Paul House, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision.
1. Bonhoeffer believed that seminary is a time for students to learn how to lead a faithful Christian community.
2. “Let them thank God on their knees and realize: it is grace, nothing but grace, that we are still permitted to live in the community of Christians today.”
3. Without Christ, students’ egos would keep them from loving one another.
4. But the greatest danger to Christian community is a wishful image. Only when all such images are broken, and disillusionment sets in, can the community begin to be what it should be in God’s sight.
5. Students did not always stay at Finkenvalde. Bonhoeffer himself wished to get away. People grumbled. The Confessing Church did not always live up to its promise. Visions of the future got crushed.
6. “God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idealized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly.”
Original Posting At http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/allanbevere/ROss/~3/sL0P9AD7SyU/dietrich-bonhoeffer-on-solitude-and.html
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and given an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting God’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. “The challenge of death comes to us all and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone…. I will not be with you then, nor you with me” (Luther).
But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.
One evening, after his young students at the underground seminary of Finkenwalde had finished their supper, Dietrich Bonhoeffer went alone to the kitchen to wash the dishes.
He began the work alone, then requested the help of his pupils. But the seminarians did not budge, leaving Bonhoeffer alone scrubbing silverware. When no one offered to serve alongside him, he locked the door. When the students realized what he had done, they felt badly and finally offered to help. The door, however, remained locked and Bonhoeffer finished the work alone. His lesson was simple: service and leadership go together, and true service does not stem from lazy pity.
Each of the students at Finkenwalde had a number of these experiences when, because of his intense desire to teach them, Bonhoeffer would do or command something unusual in order to underscore the radical nature of life within the kingdom of God. To make disciples of Jesus in this upside-down kingdom required hyperbole and dramatic expression. And on one occasion, it meant locking the door while washing the dishes.
Thinking and doing
My introduction to Bonhoeffer came through his small book entitled, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. My wife had taken it off her stepmom’s bookshelf when we were in high school and dating. Near the end of that little book, Bonhoeffer’s best friend, Eberhard Bethge, wrote “A Biographical Sketch” of the pastor and theologian. In this section, Bethge describes his friend’s time as a leader of the secret, underground seminary.
‘[At Finkenwalde] he shared with them his personal belongings—material as well as spiritual—his time, and his plans. He was magnanimous … many students were at first startled by his strength and power of his thought but soon discovered that no one was able to listen to them so well and so completely, in order to be able to advise them and to make demands on them which none previously had been able to make with success. Here in the seminary everything was done in a fresh way.”
This short passage piqued my interested in Bonhoeffer, leading me to read Life Together and his Letters and Papers from Prison.
From the beginning, then, I was associated with Bonhoeffer’s training of ministers for the Confessing church. A close friendship resulted, and I accompanied him wherever he lived and worked. In 1940 I followed him him to Berlin, where I often stayed at his parents’ house, and in 1943 I married Renate Schleicher, the daughter of Bonhoeffer’s sister Ursula, who lived next door. Finally, he and I conducted an illegal correspondence that began after Bonhoeffer had survived the first dangerous series of interrogations in Tegel military prison. Eventually, this correspondence led to worldwide discussion. I also saw him several times in Tegel prison, until our contact was finally broken off as a result of my own arrest in October 1944. The Gestapo explored my relation with the Schleicher family, but neglected to investigate my ties to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Thus, I survived!
Make no mistake about it, but there are a number of similarities between Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s time and our time. Hate. Suspicion. Discord. In his classic work on Christian community, Life Together, Bonhoeffer writes on what he calls Christian brotherhood. For Bonhoeffer, Christian brotherhood is not an ideal spawned by human ingenuity. Rather, it is a divine reality that has been opened up for us in and through Jesus Christ, for all eternity.
With the hate, suspicion, and discord that often come through religion, politics, and issues of race and ethnicity, I offer the following from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together for our consideration.
“The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity.
Though this reality has been created through Christ, we must realize it as Christians. This will take effort on our part. Neither can we simply pray for its realization. We must pursue it in tangible ways. This why Paul says, “We must make every effort to keep the unity fo the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
A good post on Bonhoeffer and preaching…
If you aren’t familiar with the story of Detrich Bonhoffer, you should change that.
A lesser-known part of Bonhoffer’s ministry centers on the two years he headed up an underground seminary in Finkenwalde (1935-1937). During these years he trained future pastors—preparing them for ministry in a turbulent, hostile society.
Some of his lectures from Finkenwalde are preserved in Volume 14 of The Detrich Bonhoffer Works. I found his lecture on preaching to be fascinating. While I differ with some of his views (for example, he dismissed the need for sermon introductions, conclusions or applications), I’m convinced Bonhoffer has much pastoral and homiletical wisdom to pass on to all who preach or teach God’s Word:
Here are a few of his insights that I…
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