Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Christian fellowship

I am working on Romans 15 at the moment, and have just come across the following quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. To me, the three profound words are:

“God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image.”

“The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.”

“The proud throne of the judge no longer lures him; he wants to be down below with the lowly and the needy, because that is where God found him.”

I think we can recognise elements of Romans 8, 12, 14 in the above.

Here are the longer quotes.

God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image. I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that comes solely from God’s free and sovereign creation. To me the sight may seem strange, even ungodly. But God creates every man in the likeness of His Son, the Crucified. After all, even that image certainly looked strange and ungodly to me before I grasped it.

Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.

Not self justification, which means the use of domination and force, but justification by grace, and therefore service, should govern the Christian community. Once a man has experienced the mercy of God in his life he will henceforth aspire only to serve. The proud throne of the judge no longer lures him; he wants to be down below with the lowly and the needy, because that is where God found him. “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Rom. 12:16).

Advertisements

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on “grace”

The following quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM Press, 2001), can be confronting. But they are profound.

On cheap grace

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The Church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God. (Page 3; Emphasis added)

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. (Page 3)

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (Page 4)

On costly grace

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has… It is the kingly rule of Christ,…, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. (Page 4)

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God. (Page 5)

Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a world of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Page 5)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on suffering and the Christian life

Perhaps because of my cultural background and the type of churches I used to go to, I did not come across Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s works until a few years ago (maybe seven years?). But I have to say that I really like what he says. Here are two quotes I found recently from his Letters and Papers from Prison.

We must learn to regard human beings less in terms of what they do and neglect to do, and more in terms of what they suffer.

It is not a religion that makes someone a Christian, but rather sharing in God’s suffering in the worldly life. That is, “μετάνοια ,” [repentance] not thinking first of one’s own needs, questions, sins, and fears but allowing oneself to be pulled into walking the path that Jesus walks, into the messianic event, in which Isa. 53 is now being fulfilled.