A Focused Faith

Chris Castaldo: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a Protestant pastor, was one of Germany’s leading scholars of the twentieth century. He courageously returned from Union Seminary in New York to oppose Adolf Hitler. His great desire was for Christians to follow Christ whatever the cost. It was a cost he knew only too well: he was arrested, imprisoned, and executed (just days before the end of the Second World War) for his opposition to the Nazi regime. In his most famous work, The Cost of Discipleship (1937), he urged Christians to throw off everything that hindered their wholehearted allegiance to Christ, including the accumulation of wealth. Jesus does not forbid the possession of property in itself. He was man, he ate and drank like his disciples, and thereby sanctified the good things of life. These necessities, which are consumed in use and which meet the legitimate requirements of the body, are to be used by the disciple with thankfulness . . .

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Life Together

  Justin Taylor: Bonhoeffer on What a Christian Under the Cross Can Offer that a Secular Therapist Cannot Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: Whoever lives beneath the cross of Jesus, and has discerned in the cross of Jesus the utter ungodliness of all people and of their own hearts, will find there is no sin that can ever be unfamiliar. Whoever has once been appalled by the horror of their own sin, which nailed Jesus to the cross, will no longer be appalled by even the most serious sin of another Christian; rather they know the human heart from the cross of Jesus. Such persons know how totally lost is the human heart in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin—and know too that this same heart is accepted in grace and mercy. Only another Christian who is under the cross can hear my confession. It is not experience with life but experience of the cross that

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Bonhoeffer: Beware of Community, Beware of Being Alone

Justin Taylor: From a man who died alone and yet not alone: 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 refused 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

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Are You Frustrated with Your Local Church?

By grace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ. This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. . . . let [the pastor or zealous member] nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the

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The Message of the Bible: It’s God’s call, not ours

“If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature.  But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not at all congenial to me.  This place is the Cross of Christ.  And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands.  This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament . . . .” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, quoted in Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer (Nashville, 2010), page 137. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Salvation is not found in my story, but His

A great reminder from Michael S. Horton about living our story in light of Jesus’ Story: When we try to fit God into our “life movie,” the plot is all wrong—and not just wrong, but trivial. When we are pulled out of our own drama and cast as characters in his unfolding plot, we become part of the greatest story ever told. It is through God’s word of judgement (law) and salvation (gospel) that we are transferred from our own “life movie” and inserted into the grand narrative that revolves around Jesus Christ. In the process, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us, We are uprooted from our own existence and are taken back to the holy history of God on earth. There God has dealt with us, with our needs and our sins, by means of the divine wrath and grace. What is important is not that God is a spectator and participant in our life today, but that we are attentive listeners and

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Bonhoeffer on the Difference Between the Counsel of Psychiatry and Christianity

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (pp. 118-119): The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

From John Piper: Today [April 9th], sixty-four years ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He is known by many for one main sentence. It is worthy of Holy Week. Here is the context of his most famous quote: The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our  lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first

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