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“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and really yet not small) gifts”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I have been a fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer since I was a student at Bethel College in St. Paul, MN back in 1970s. Over the years, the person and works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer have been embraced by evangelicals, liberals, Jews and Catholics. He is also the champion of both the right and the left. He has been described as a “flamingly gay“.

No matter the issue, people from both sides of the issue look to Bonhoeffer for wisdom and guidance. The issue may be same-sex marriage, gun control, abortion, immigration, politics and politicians.

If Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived today, let’s say in America, what side would he take? Back in 2016, would he vote for Hillary or Trump? Voters for both candidates would build a case that Bonhoeffer would certainly see their point of view.

My thesis for my Doctor of Ministry degree focused on the impact of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on twenty-first century preachers, but I am far from being an expert on Bonhoeffer. But I did do enough research then and since then to say that Dietrich Bonhoeffer cannot be boxed in.

He was only 39 years old when he was hung. Imagine if he lived another thirty or forty years and was able to develop his ideas and theology further.

What side would he take? My take is this: Dietrich Bonhoeffer would teach us to pray, read the Bible and meditate on God’s Word. He would also not to place our trust in people (like Presidents) but in God alone. He would tell us to love others who are vastly different than us. I think he would say that even though, we live is an age of outrage, Christians, are to be at their very best and represent Jesus.


When Grace is not so Amazing

Bonhoeffer by Eric MetaxasWell Bono’s words about Karma and Grace have proved to be a bit popular – so far over 170,000+ people have shared it on facebook.  But what is it about Bono’s words that so connected with people?

The power of grace

Some of it relates to the interest in what celebrities say.  Some of it is due the arresting combination of raw language and passionate conviction. But a key part is the subject matter itself: because the grace is at the heart of Christianity and Bono’s words captured something visceral and urgent about its relevance and power.

Ethical problems

And yet…doesn’t grace present ethical problems?  Isn’t Karma a lot more fair: you get what you deserve. Doesn’t all this talk of grace give people a free licence to do whatever they want?  If people are simply forgiven by unearned grace, how do we make sense of the Bible’s consistent message about loving your neighbour? And what about Jesus’ teaching about the radical generosity, justice and love in the kingdom of God?

Too often protestant theology has turned grace into a theory or formula which is detached from any ethical demands on how we live.  Grace is presented almost as a ‘get out of jail free’ card to evade God’s wrath and secure your place in heaven. In some churches it is even lined up against concerns for community action or social justice.  Such works are tainted as a ‘social gospel’ where people are seeking to earn their salvation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The most eloquent and authentic voice against this form of grace is the German Pastor/theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who ministered during the Nazi regime. He wrote The Cost of Discipleship in 1937 while running an illegal, underground seminary for trainee pastors.

No country had more of a heritage of reformed, grace-based theology than Germany.  But Bonhoeffer was deeply distressed with how ineffectively the Lutheran Evangelical Church made any stand against Hitler’s atrocities.

Cheap grace

Bonhoeffer coined the term ‘cheap grace’ to describe the way that his church’s emphasis on grace had stripped out the radical demands of Jesus:

‘Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate…Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.”

In 1943 Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Gestapo.

For the rest of the post…

GUEST EDITORIAL (The Hartsville Messenger): Leaving a legacy in education

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 9:41 am

Dr. David Blackmon

Casting a vision is associated with possessing a dream or anticipating future events. We envision a future which promises to be a better way of life for those who follow. A challenge is presented in a quote by noted author and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

Bonhoeffer’s observation should stir us to act.

For the rest of the article…

41 years after Roe v. Wade, abortion still demands consideration

Posted on Jan. 19, 2014

For The Maine Campus

Wednesday is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. About 57 million fetuses have been aborted in the U.S. since then.

Looking back at history, we often struggle to understand how people can be blind — or just silent — to the evils around them. We don’t understand how the idea that racism and slavery are normal and unproblematic could be popularly held, or how Germans under Hitler could fail to notice the persecution of millions of Jews. But we are so much a product of our own time that it is nearly impossible to step back from ourselves and identify what we are doing wrong, and even if we do, we are usually too scared to say or do anything. This is not merely a passive mistake. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor during World War II who was executed for his participation in a plot to assassinate Hitler: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

This is not a sideline issue: If these are human beings being aborted, then since 1973, as a nation, we are guilty of 57 million murders. That is what is at stake if you think abortion is right and you are actually wrong. To apathetically write this off is to choose to ignore a practice with more than nine times the death toll of the Holocaust.

For the rest of the post…

If our hearts are entirely given to God, it is clear that we cannot serve two masters; it is simply impossible–at any rate all the time we are following Christ. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 ed., 195.

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