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Old Sep 19, '05, 12:36 pm
Linda 1011 Linda 1011 is offline
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Question Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What do you know about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? A priest quoted him in his homily. I was impressed with what he said and wanted to learn more about him, but before I do, I want to be sure he is a good source for me to read. Your help is appreciated.
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Old Sep 19, '05, 12:50 pm
contemplative contemplative is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Try this thread
Diettrich Bonhoeffer: The Case for Discipleship
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Old May 8, '08, 1:32 pm
Crumpy Crumpy is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There are three old threads on Bonhoeffer, and I'm jump starting this one, or trying to.

I'm reading his The Cost of Discipleship, which is a difficult read.

It's difficult because it's not Catholic, it's Lutheran. He's 100% Lutheran, and pointedly anti-Catholic.

Luther's big theological proclamation, which is a heresy from Catholic teaching, is his teaching on justification by faith alone.

As I read recently, the only thing scripture actually says about justification by faith alone, is to deny that justification is by faith alone.

consider: JMS 2:24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (NAB)

So, see? Luther and Bonhoeffer are digging themselves out of a hole, to begin with.

I'm still just past about page 100 of this paperback edition of the book (which was listed as one of the most influential books by readers of Christianity Today, in an anniversary edition of that magazine in 2006).

with his scripturally incorrect position as a starting point, he's always whipping anybody who even thinks "what shall I DO for my salvation?" As soon as you think that, you're damned.

The CCC has a couple pages on Justification, as a gift of pure grace of God, followed by a discussion of "Merit" of which we have none, none of us earns our salvation.

What's compelling about Bonhoeffer is his emphasis, so far, on obedience to the call of Christ.

He has a really great explanation of the relationship of the disciple to Christ, but it is lacking the Catholic element of sacramental baptism.

You know? The gospels record how the original twelve disciples were called by Christ and followed him, but it does not say anything that they were ever baptized (as I recall). So, Bonhoeffer is free to expound about discipleship without any mention of baptism as a requirement (of course, excepting Mt 28).

In particular, he examines the gospel account of the rich young man who comes to Jesus to ask "good master, what must I do to have eternal life?" etc.

Jesus tells him to sell what he has and to give the money to the poor and to follow him. The man instead went away saddened,
DB points out that there was no salvation in getting rid of his earthly possessions. It is the following of Jesus, after ridding himself of earthly attachments that brings discipleship.

And, yes, Jesus did say that.

DB expands on this inspirationally to point out our new relationship with Jesus, that our relationship to God, to each other, and to "the world" is through Jesus Christ. Very good, very inspirational. Lots of scripture to quote here, but DB doesn't do that, as I would expect from a committed sola scriptura practitioner.

but consider 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things of the world. * If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (NAB)

From a Catholic point of view, I like some of the things he says. But, he leaves my head spinning at times. In one place early he says that the "Roman Church" was teaching true radical discipleship only in the monastic orders, but later he condemns the voluntary poverty of the orders as being "works" -- not true discipleship. The closest I can come to the cutting edge of DB in his own words is to say this: The monks fall short of true discipleship by substituting their own man-made poverty as a substitute for radically following Jesus.

I've been reading a few things, so I may be mixed up here. I think he cites Abraham as an example. God tells Abraham to leave his homeland and move to another, so Abraham the true disciple does that. And, God tells him to sacrifice his son, and Abraham sets out to do that, until stopped by the angel.

And, significantly, Abraham has a new relationship with Isaac starting with the journey down the hill. So, too. our discipleship creates a new relationship in our family, for example.

I guess I will go along with him and finish reading the book, to figure out how one becomes a disciple without doing any thing.

Written in pre-war Germany and published in 1937, DB obviously failed to halt the Nazi run-up to war. Wikipedia says he was not only accused, but that he factually was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler, for which he was hung, in April, 1945.
I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord.
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Old May 14, '08, 5:32 pm
sidonius sidonius is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a hero and a believer in Jesus Christ. I would not characterize him as an anti-Catholic, but who am I? I think his works, especially The Cost of Discipleship and Letters and Papers from Prison are well worth reading by any Christian, whether they are Roman Catholic or of the Separated Brethren.
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Old May 17, '08, 5:37 am
Tsuwano Tsuwano is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I agree with Sidonious. Bonhoeffer was not Catholic, but that doesn't mean he isn't worth learning about or listening to. His Christianity led him to renounce Hitler and he paid the ultimate price for it. He was a man who took his faith seriously, and that's a lot more than can be said for many Christians, Catholic or Protestant.
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Old Jun 19, '09, 2:37 pm
Abscondita Abscondita is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I just read a quote of Bietrich Bonhoeffer that interested me:

" The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism, which has
only in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the sermon on the
mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this."
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Old Jun 20, '09, 12:02 am
DebChris DebChris is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I read Cost of Discipleship which dispelled much of what I thought Luther taught.
Dietrich Boenhoeffer died under Hitler in defense of his faith. Unlike an earlier poster, I did not sense anti-Catholicism when reading the book.
We are not saved by faith alone, rather it is faith which allows us to perform works.
I have quoted Boenhoeffer on threads that question why we, as Catholics, go to confession.
When Hitler was in power, a national church was established. Boenhoeffer, along with a few other ministers refused to be part of this national church and banded together in defense of the gospel.
I do not have a copy of the book. I returned it to the person from whom I borrowed it.

The focus of the book, Cost of Discipleship is our response to God. Boenhoeffer differentiates between "cheap grace" by which some continue to live life as they always have. Cheap grace takes salvation for granted. When we consider the price, the ransom, that Jesus paid for our sins, we will respond in kind. We will turn from our sins and be converted to the Gospel. We will strive to follow in His footsteps.
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Old Jun 22, '09, 6:19 am
Bob Crowley Bob Crowley is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I've got a book which has extracts from Bonhoeffer's writings, so it probably has his best bits without having to wade through all of it. Bonhoeffer was definitely Lutheran, but I didn't sense that he was anti-Catholic. He did make the comment somewhere that Catholics tended to just go along with the church, which in pre-Vatican II times they did tend to do.

He's worth reading as he will make you think. And he was executed very close to the end of World War II, implicated in a plot to assassinate Hitler. Exactly what his role was has never been made clear. I suspect he was included for his ethical and spiritual reputation, and was probably not very involved in the actual plan to kill Hitler. But I have no doubt he knew what the plot was about. For a German brought up with the Lutheran teaching on duty to the state, that was a radical situation, which I think Bonhoeffer agonised over, perhaps more so than some other cultures might do.

His writings were Protestant based, but he had some valuable things to say, particularly about discipleship.

An extract from "Letters from Prison" ... "And we cannot be honest unless we recognise that we have to live in the world etsi deu non daretur. And this is what we do recognise - before God! God himself compels us to recognise it. So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. God would have us know that we must live as men who manage our lives without him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34). The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God. God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt 8.17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering."

If someone is in prison, with a good chance of being executed on a charge of treason, only the suffering, powerless God makes much sense. The God of all omnipotence will not reach down and deliver the prisoner. He is nowhere to be seen.
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Old Apr 13, '10, 9:59 pm
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dsears dsears is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I know that this is an old topic, but we just looked at Bonhoeffer today in Ethics. He was not only a moral leader to those in the assassination attempt at Hitler, but because he had traveled extensively (all over Europe and even to New York) he was to work with the allies after Hitler was dead to negotiate peace. Bonhoeffer was a great man. He knew the risk, but had to do what was right in the face of Hitler. He could have worked at Union Seminary (in NY city) if he wanted to, but he felt that his homeland was where God wanted him.
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Old Apr 16, '10, 2:32 pm
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JReducation JReducation is offline
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Default Re: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer was Lutheran, he also died for his faith. He is not an anti-Catholic writer. His Letters From Prison were required reading the North American College in Rome back in the 1970s. The NAC is one of the most conservative pontifical schools in Rome, right up there with the Angelicum, Gregorian and Holy Cross.

His work is extemely important in understanding the spirituality of German Christians during the Nazi era. Very little spiritual writing came out of Germany during that era, because of the fear and the oppressive government. The same was later true in the Soviet Block. So whatever small fragments of spiritual thought we can get from that era, help us to create a picture of what was happening in the souls of men at the time in such a horrible situation.

Let's not make a leap that because someone is Lutheran or does not believe in something that we Catholics hold dear, that person is anti-Catholic. This is not always the case. Look at Br. Roger the founder of Taize. He was Lutheran and very close to the both Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger. He was so pro-Catholic that Cardinal Ratzinger allowed him to receive holy communion at the funeral mass of John Paul II. He gave it to him, himself.

Brother Roger was succeeded by a Catholic monk as the superior of Taize. And the Taize community has the approval of both John Paul and Benedict.

I bring up Taize, because Br. Roger was very influenced by the spirituality of Bonhoeffer, especially when Bonhoeffer writes that a new kind of monasticism rooted in the beatitudes in greatly needed. Bonhoeffer also made a case for Christian unity beginning with prayer, which is the message of Taize.

Elie Wiesel, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Victor Frankl and John Paul II give us the best portrayal of the Holy Spirit's workings in the human soul during that era, since not much was published by those who suffered under the Nazi regeme. There are a few other spiritual writers, but they are not as well read or as easy to read either. Edith Stein wrote a great deal during that era, but she can be very difficult for the average person to read. She tends to use a lot of metaphore, hyperbole, and anallogies in her writing. What she writes is not usually what she wants you to take away from her writing. She was deliberately intricate, because this was the way that her philosophical brain worked. Her writing style is much closer to that of Benedict XVI's books.

If you're looking for a portrait of the faithful soul under great duress, Bonfoeffer is a very good read. Remember, that when we apply the term faithful to Bonhoeffer, we're applyiing it to being faithful to those elements of the truth to which he had access and which were part of his Lutheran tradition. We can't call him unfaithful to Catholicism, because he was never a Catholic. Therefore, it does not apply to him. But he's not anti-Catholic.



Brother JR, FFV

"Forget not love."

Helping hannds . . .
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