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Category Archives: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Advent and the end of religion

There’s a somewhat famous quote from Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison (November 21, 1943, pp. 188-89) on the nature of Advent: “By the way, a prison cell like this is a good analogy for Advent; one waits, hopes, does this or that — ultimately negligible things — the door is locked and can only be […]

Good Friday

Ethics and religion and church all go in this direction: from the human to God. Christ, however, speaks only and exclusively of the line from God to human beings, not of some human path to God, but only of God’s own path to humans. Hence it is also fundamentally wrong to seek a new morality […]

Only the devil has an answer

Bonhoeffer’s discussion of Jesus’s encounter with the Rich Young Man seems to me to be a fitting post for Ash Wednesday indeed: The young man’s question [of which commandments he ought to obey] shows him up for his true colours. He is — man under sin. The answer of Jesus completes his exposure. Jesus simply […]

Bonhoeffer conference at Notre Dame

CALL FOR PAPERS New Conversations on Bonhoeffer’s Theology A Graduate Student Conference at the University of Notre Dame April 10-11, 2011 Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45) remains one of the most prominent and contested modern German theologians. His theology has been at the center of important discussions on pastoral theology, practical ethics, political responsibility, and the role […]

Bonhoeffer and the body of Christ

Too often we tend to talk about the church as the body of Christ in a way that occludes the distinctly Christological and soteriological importance of this biblical image. The way the image tends to function in much theological discourse is to append Christ to the church in such a way as to bolster the […]

Between me and all others

Emotional, self-centered love cannot tolerate the dissolution of a community that has become false, even for the sake of genuine community. And such self-centered love cannot love an enemy, that is to say, one who seriously and stubbornly resists it. Both spring from the same source: emotional love is by its very nature desire, desire […]

Prayer and action

Our church has been fighting during these years only for its own self-preservation, as if that were an end in itself. It has become incapable of bringing the word of reconciliation and redemption to humankind and to the world. So the words we used before must lose their power, be silenced, and we can be […]

The church as the presence of the humiliated Christ

More Bonhoeffer, this time from the new translation of his Lectures on Christology (popularly published as Christ the Center) in the Berlin: 1932-1933 volume: With the humiliated Christ, his church must also be humiliated. It cannot seek any visible authentication of its nature, as long as Christ has renounced doing so for himself. Nor may […]

The kingdom of resurrection

Yet more from Bonhoeffer’s “Thy Kingdom Come! The Prayer of the Church-Community for God’s Kingdom on Earth” (in the Berlin: 1932-33 volume of the DBW series): “Thy kingdom come” — this is not the prayer of the pious soul of the individual who wants to flee the world, nor is it the prayer of the […]

Praying for the kingdom

Bonhoeffer’s 1932 essay, “Thy Kingdom Come! The Prayer of the Church-Community for God’s Kingdom on Earth” (in the Berlin: 1932-33 volume of the DBW series) is nothing if not stirring: If we are to pray for the coming of the kingdom, we can pray for it only as those wholly on the Earth. Praying for […]

The gift of life together

I was rereading Bonhoeffer’s Life Together the other night. Definitely a book to consistently return to. On thing that struck me afresh was Bonhoeffer’s insistence in the early pages of the book on the nature of life together as gift. Thus “The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians” […]

The Possibility of a Protestant Church

“[T]he struggle regarding the church government is actually the question necessarily emerging from church history regarding the possibility of a Protestant church for us. It is the question whether, following the separation from papal and worldly authority in the church, an ecclesial authority can be erected that is grounded in word and confession alone. If […]

Bit of Bonhoeffer

“The Word of God seeks out community in order to accept it. It exists mainly within the community. It moves on its own into the community. It has an inherent impulse toward community. It is wrong to assume that one the one hand there is a word, or a truth, and on the other hand […]

Bodily Presence

“Jesus’ community with his disciples was all-encompassing, extending to all areas of life. The individual’s entire life was lived within this community of the disciples. And this community is a living witness to the bodily humanity of the Son of God. The bodily presence of the Son of God demands bodily commitment to him and […]

The Time of Grace

“The time of grace is the final time in the sense that one can never reckon with a further, future word beyond the word of God that confronts me now. There is a time of God’s permission, waiting, and preparation; and there is an ultimate time that judges and breaks off the penultimate. In order […]

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