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According to Eberhard Bethge, a good and close friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • First, there was simple resistance.
  • Then came the open ideological stance that characterized the churches and men like Bishop von Galen, Martin Niemoeller, and Bishop Worm, although they did not conceive of a new political future and work towards it.
  • Third, there was the stage of being informed accessories to the preparations for the coup, some church official such as Asmussen, Dibelius, Gruber, or Hanns Lilje belong in this category.
  • Then came the fourth stage of active participation for the post-revolt period; its most representative was Moltke, but Theodor Steltzer, Harald Poelchau, and Oskar Hammelsbeck were part of this as well.
  • Finally there was the last stage: active conspiracy.

Very few made it to the fifth stage.  Bonhoeffer was one of them.(Editor’s Introduction to the English Edition of to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 9).

Recently, I have been referring to Creation and Fall and Temptation by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Below is a good synopsis of it found at the Barnes & Noble website

In this enlightening study, renowned twentieth-century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a careful textual analysis of the story of creation, approaching the biblical tale with the eye of a philosopher and the soul of a true Christian.

“Creation and Fall” is Bonhoeffer’s lucid, brilliant analysis of the first three chapters of Genesis. Here he discusses the seeming scientific naivete behind the creation story, God’s love and goodness, and humanity’s creation, its free will, and its blessedness. Bonhoeffer also tackles difficult questions that are raised in the first book of the of the Bible, questions about the seemingly redundant second story of creation, about God’s own beginning, about the source of the light that was created on the first day. The author then expounds on Adam and Eve’s fall from grace: How could they, creatures made in God’s image, have thought to oppose God so foully? Where did the first evil come from? How did humanity lose its right to live in paradise?

In “Temptation,” Bonhoeffer questions how temptation appeared in the midst of Eden’s innocence, and he explores the very nature of evil. Bonhoeffer explains that Jesus Christ helps us to understand and conquer physical and spiritual temptation through His grace and goodness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains in his work, Creation and Fall; Temptation that that when we are tempted, there is help from heaven. 

Believers suffer the hour of temptation without defense. Jesus Christ is their shield. And only when it is quite clearly understood that temptation must befall the Godforsaken, then the word can at last be uttered which the Bible speaks about the Christian’s struggles.

From heaven the Lord gives to the defenseless the heavenly armour before which, men’s eyes do see it.

Satan flees (144)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that Jesus will intercede on our behalf when we are tempted. The following is from Creation and Fall; Temptation:

The prayer of Jesus Christ which he promised to Peter: “Simon, behold, Satan has asked to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I made supplication for thee” (Luke 22.31) represents our weak prayer before the Father in heaven, who does not allow us to be tempted beyond our powers (143).

German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains that when we are tempted, we must flee to the Cross and look to Jesus. Only when we look to Jesus is there help. The following is from Creation and Fall; Temptation:

All temptation leads the believer into  the deepest solitude, into abandonement by men and by God. But in this solitude he finds Jesus Christ, man and God. The blood of Christ and the example of Christ and the prayer of Christ are his help and his strength. The Book of Revelation says of the Redeemed: “They overcame…because of the blood of the lamb” (Revelation 12.11). Not by the spirit, but by the blood of Christ is the devil overcome. Therefore in all temptation we must get back to the blood, in which is all our help (143)

“The temptation of which the whole Bible speaks does not have to do with the testing of my strength, for it is of the very essence of temptation in the Bible that all my strength–to my horror, and without my being able to do anything about it–is turned against me; really all my powers, including my good and pious powers (the strength of my faith), fall into the hands of the enemy power and are now led into the field against me. Before there can be any testing of my powers, I have been robbed of them.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall/Temptation: Two Biblical Studies, p. 112

Bonhoeffer’s reflections on the nature of temptation and how to resist it are profound and if you haven’t read them, you should. Temptation is such a horrific thing precisely because the enemy with which you are faced is you. You are your own Judas. You must combat your sinful desires with your holy ones and often, considering the strength of your holy desires, your prospects of overcoming temptation do not look good. It is not a matter of strength of will, for the will is the instrument, the modus operandi, of virtue and vice alike and the stronger the will, the more easily it can act in the face of conscience. Even your pious powers do not really overcome temptation for in overcoming your Corinthian self by reliance upon your piety alone you become your Pharisaical self instead.
The only antidote is being remade by Him who makes all things new.

Romans 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains that when we are tempted, we must flee to the Cross and look to Jesus. The following is from Creation and Fall; Temptation:

Here I preceive the forsakeness and abandonment of any fleshly condition and the rightoues judgement of God’s wrath on all flesh. Here I know that in this lost condition I could never have helped myself against Satan, but that it is the victory of Jesus Christ which I now share.

But here also I find ground for the attitude in which alone I can conquer all temptations–for patience (James 1.2ff). I ought not to rebel against the temptations of the flesh in unlawful pride, as though I were too good for them.

I ought to and I can humble myself under the hand of God and endure patiently the humiliation of such temptations. So I discern in the midst of Satan’s deadly work the righteous and merciful punishment of God.

In the death of Jesus I find refuge from Satan and the communion of death in the flesh under temptation and of life in the spirit through his victory (133-134).

According to German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the presence of Jesus will defeat the power of desire and Satan when we are tempted. Part of the process is flight! Another crucial element is looking to Jesus. The following quote is from Creation and Fall; Temptation:

Flee–that can indeed only mean, flee to the place where you find protection and help, flee to the crucified. His image and his presence alone can help. Here we see the crucifed body and preceive in it the end of all desire; here we see right through Satan’s deceit and here our spirit again become sober and aware of the enemy… (133)

But how often do we do look to our crucified savior when we are tempted?

According to German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the presence of Jesus will defeat the power of desire and Satan when we are tempted. Part of the process is flight! The following quote is from Creation and Fall; Temptation:

Therefore the Bible teaches us in times of temptation in the flesh to flee: “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6.18)–“from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10.14)–“youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2.22)–“the lust of the world” (2 Peter 1.4). There is no resistance to Satan other than flight. Every struggle afainst lust in one’s strength is doomed to failure.

Flee–that can indeed only mean, flee to the place where you find protection and help, flee to the crucified… (133)

Great advice!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer points out that the presence of Jesus will defeat the power of desire and Satan when we are tempted. His words are from Creation and Fall; Temptation:

Now I know that the death of the flesh is manifested in the temptation of the flesh. The flesh dies because it kindles lust and desire. In the temptation of the flesh I share in the death of Jesus in the flesh. So the temptation of the flesh which draws me into the death of the flesh, drives me into the death of Christ, who died in the flesh but who is raised in the spirit.

The next statement then is the summary…

Only the death of Christ rescues me from the temptation of the flesh (133).

Praise the Lord that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

June 2017
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