I posted on my Facebook page on August 27, 2013, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letter from prison:
To Eberhard Bethage, July 21, 1944:
During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man, as Jesus was a man…
That solicited more conversation with my sister (she doesn’t miss a thing):
Rob, this is taken out of context. The letter was written after Bonhoeffer heard of the failed assassination attempt (Valkyrie and the Stauffenberg plot). Here is more of it:
During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man, as Jesus was a man….I don’t mean the shallow and banal this-worldiness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable, or the lascivious, but the profound this-worldliness, characterized by the discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection.
I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith….One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman…a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world-watching with Christ in Gethsemane.
Rob, Did you see this quote on the Unsettled Christianity blog?
Sister, I could have expected “this from you,” but did not. Thank you for inquiring. As we find meaningful passages in the Bible that support our theological premises, so it is with my reading any book, including Bonhoeffer. I have his Letters and Papers from Prison, but in this case, thinking of those Christians who do not fit the popular Christian mold, I knew Bonhoeffer addresses what was called a “religionless Christianity,” so I Googled it: what better, more authoritative way to do scholarly research? I found this quote at http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/. This is a site that inquires into what it really means to be Christian in the modern world.
Bonhoeffer was in New York when he deided to return to Germany. He knew the American Christian response to the horror of Hitler and, perhaps contributing to the statement you more fully produce, he was shocked that there was no Christian response to that horror. Of course, the US stayed out of the war, except for shipments of material support to Britain, until Pearl Harbor.
Just to be clear, my theological premises are based on what I find in scripture, not the other way around.
Do we too often over-analyze? I believe Jesus has a special place in his kingdom for children and the mentally handicapped. They just see things simply and love without reserve. Isn’t that what God really wants? By the way, we’re going home Sunday. Hooray. Still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there.
Yes, [Friend S.], I believe we do over-analyze. Like children we should take God’s Word at face value as His very voice which is what it claims to be and Jesus affirmed. Doing so we find that all the pieces fit together and discover the unexpected claims about God, humanity and salvation that are made. We discover God’s amazing grace and love for sinners and His readiness to transform them when they turn to Him. Amazing Grace being put on display.
Well, I’m back. Did I miss anything? Oh, did I!First, my good friend, fine musician and organist, Friend S., announces that she and her husband are going home Sunday. That IS a miracle! They survived a head-on crash, awful injuries to head and rest of the body, ICU, multiple surgeries, each, and long therapy and recovery, which will continue. S and B, so happy you are going home and to loving church family!
OK, I feel obligated (as I truly believe) to step out in faith as others have courageously shared their faith:I also want to be clear. I am not trying to convince anyone that their Christian faith is inadequate or that my own is right. I trust that I am growing in my faith, as in my living, which necessarily implies change.